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PostPrivacy and Job Loss vs Opportunities and Dreaming Big (Roman Zhovtulya, USA, 01/27/13 4:30 pm)
In response to John Heelan (26 January) and others, there seem to be two distinct concerns about new technology and the Internet in particular--loss of privacy and the fear of unemployment.
As with anything, there are two sides to the coin here, and I prefer to capitalize on the opportunities, which are usually much greater than the threats.
Somebody once mentioned that "the Internet is the greatest invention since the discovery of fire, for mankind" and just as fire (or any other powerful technology), it has a great potential for good and for evil. Despite the many gloomy scenarios our media feeds us on a regular basis, history shows that we tend to use new technologies overwhelmingly for the good of mankind.
Privacy vs Reputation
As our world becomes more interconnected, the ability to remain completely anonymous will get harder, if we want to participate in and reap benefits from the new global economy.
However, it'll also get much harder to behave dishonestly--any type of "monkey business" will likely get disclosed to a worldwide audience at the speed of light (think http://wikileaks.org, http://ratemyprofessors.com or perhaps even http://dontdatehimgirl.com).
On the other hand, great customer service gets rewarded time and time again, be it on eBay, airbnb or many other websites that thrive on reputation.
Here are some amazing examples of how people capitalize on the opportunities the new technology presents:
The bottom line is, we'll need to adjust our expectations: The default mode will be "public" (we'll need to actively ensure that the setting is private, before sharing any secrets)--not unlike celebrities or public figures nowadays.
I started lifelogging (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lifelog) about 2 years ago for self-improvement purposes (you don't forget anything and you always have a subjective point of reference), and to protect myself and my company (WebServiceCenter was falsely accused of promising to develop certain features and the judge sided with the accuser, despite the fact that those features were never mentioned in the contract. From then on we instituted the policy of recording all customer interactions, so that the next time the judge would have more evidence to decide on, not just who can talk better in court).
The advantages of lifelogging for me have surpassed all expectations. Not only can I re-live any of the fascinating conversations I have on the regular basis here in Silicon Valley (the most recent one being with a co-founder of Y-combinator, the largest startup incubator in the area), I also don't have to worry about remembering any links, books, references, etc., and I can fully focus on the conversation at hand and think how to best contribute to the exchange.
You can also Google "dash cam videos" to see how in-car driving recordings have saved lives, money and dignity for a lot of people.
Overall, the benefits here is an improved security, more courteous people on the streets and safer neighborhoods.
Here's an inspiring talk for those too pessimistic about the future:
Job Loss vs Opportunities
Human progress is a fact of life, almost a law of nature, just like gravity. No matter how a certain Catholic Pope tried to outlaw Newton's law of gravity, he was still crushed by a falling ceiling.
History has shown that the best approach is to emphasize on the opportunities, brought by the new technology, rather than to oppose them.
Among those who maximize on the opportunities are Jeff Bezos of Amazon, the Google guys and a number of other Internet millionaires/billionaires.
Those who like to keep the things the same way should check how it worked out for the Amish:
The problem for many people is that the rate of change is accelerating exponentially and it's getting harder to keep up:
The solution is probably to dream big and get creative--with 100 billion neurons, a typical human brain is much more complex and powerful than any supercomputer, capable of generating new ideas and figuring out how to use the new tools at our disposal, be it Cloud computing or affordable space exploration.
Case in point: Just a few days ago Deep Space Industries announced a first commercial venture for asteroid mining:
Peter Diamandis of XPrize Foundation has long said that the future wave of billionaires will come from private space industry, and it looks like we are witnessing the beginnings of that already.
Finally, here is a great article on the related topic (variation of wealth) by Paul Graham:
His other essays are also as enlightening, controversial and logical at the same time:
So, I think things are better than they look--we just need to learn to recognize and capitalize on the opportunities.
JE comments: Great to post this note from our IT Director, Roman Zhovtulya, who is the most important "invisible" citizen of WAISworld. I hope Roman will be inspired to join our on-line conversations more often. As WAISers can tell from the above, Roman is not only a clever computer guy, he's also an unwavering optimist.
I should stress, however, that the Amish seem to be doing well these days--they are rich in land, which is increasing enormously in value, and many of them are also sitting on top of oil shale. Moreover, they don't waste their money on the toys and gizmos we "seculars" think we need for survival.