Simplify Me

Technology Complexity.jpeg

So here’s the monitor in the “modern” and beautiful Fort Lauderdale International airport. 


Can you see the number of electrical plugs, wires, connections, input/output ports, etc. on this device?


Obviously, it is comical and a farce as we near the end of 2015. 


Think about the complexity in building this monitor…in connecting it…in keeping it operational.


Yes, we are moving more and more to cellular and wireless communications, to miniaturization, to simple and intuitive user interfaces, to paperless processing, to voice recognition, to natural language processing, and to artificial intelligence.


But we are not there yet.


And we need to continue to make major strides to simplify the complexity of today’s technology. 


– Every technology device should be fully useful and usable by every user on first contact. 


– Every device should learn upon interacting with us and get better and better with time. 


– Every device should have basic diagnostic and self-healing capability. 


Any instructions that are necessary should be provided by the device itself–such as the device telling you step by step what to do to accomplish the task at hand–no manual, no Google instructions, no Siri questions…just you and the device interacting as one. 


User friendly isn’t enough anymore…it should be completely user-centric, period. 


Someday…in 2016 or beyond, we will get there, please G-d. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Smart Electronic Skin

Bug
I liked this concept reported on in BBC Technology about using swarms of sensors to create a type of electronic or “smart skin.”



Like nerves in our human skin, multitudes of sensors placed on anything that we want to monitor, could create a sensing/feeling and reporting mechanism for evaluating the health or condition of that thing. 



Rather than wait for something to fail or break, we could actively collect information on changes in “temperature, strain, and movement” and other environmental impacts to analyze and predict any issues and proactively address them with countermeasures, maintenance, or fixes. 



As human beings, we are architected with regular monitoring and self-healing biological systems to protect ourselves from daily dangers around us, we can develop homes, factories, transport, robots, and everything important around us with similar properties to be more durable, last longer and be more productive.  



When we emulate in our own development efforts what G-d has created for the good in the world, we are on the right track. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Baby Frog, See You Now

Baby Frog, See You Now

So I took this picture of this baby frog while hiking.

This was the first one we saw–on the foliage it completely blended in, but on the rocks we could see it clearly.

It was so little and cute–I had to zoom in to get this shot.

After this, it actually jumped under a log and I got an action photo of its hind legs in mid-jump–going what seemed like super-frog speed.

Once, I was attuned to the frogs color and motion, I was able to detect many of them in the forest today–all pretty much like this little baby.

It was interesting to me learning from this, how before we are aware of something–it’s as if it doesn’t even exist (even with subtle ribbits in the air); and after you are sort of clued in to the surroundings, you almost can’t help but see them.

To me, it’s like life in general, when you don’t see your own issues or life challenges, you can’t even begin to work on them because your virtually oblivious to them, but once you see yourself for what you are–warts and all–you can begin to work through your problems, as if you have almost transcendental awareness.

A little camouflaged frog, like subtle personal issues may be almost imperceptible in the forest of life, but against a contrasting background, you can get amazing clarity–to self-help and self-heal.

Cute little frog, I can see you now and your not jumping away from me anymore. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Colonize And Survive

Colonize And Survive

It was interesting to read in Popular Science (12 April 2013) that the famous physicist and futurist, Stephen Hawking, stated that humans would face extinction on planet Earth within the next 1,000 years.

Hawking says we need to colonize other planets–and I believe that is sound advice.

While Mother Earth has an incredible ability to rejuvenate and self-heal, let’s face it, the planet cannot sustain us forever in our current state.

According to the United Nations, the world population is expected to hit 9.22 billion by 2075, and life expectancy is expected to rise varying across countries from 66 to 97 by 2100.

Moreover, according to research institution, Transatlantic Academy (May 2012), over the next 10-20 we are likely to see “accelerating demand for most natural resource commodities…increasingly volatile markets, [and] scarcities are likely to be more common.”

In the absence of major technological breakthroughs, increased social equity, and peaceful coexistence on this planet, we will need to find resources outside of Earth and colonize other planets–this is our future.

Already, as reported by National Geographic (10 April 2013), the administration has funded NASA to capture an asteroid and set it in orbit around the moon to not only study and develop capabilities to help protect our planet from a collision, but also to eventually be able to mine asteroids for precious minerals.

As much as we love Earth–although sometimes we don’t show it by being gluttonous with its resources, polluting, destroying the ozone, and generally not following sustainable practices–we need to have a “Plan B” whereby we explore for water, food, land, minerals, and energy elsewhere and be ready to make a move to survive another 6000 years and more. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Repair Robots In Space

This is a cool video by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) on project Phoenix–which is a robot that can repair satellites in space and re-use components from retired satellites around it.

Phoenix can intercept, scavenge, and rebuild satellites in space–while orbiting above the Earth at 22,000 miles!

In the corner of the video, you can see progress being made in the lab, and in the main video frame you can see an animated version of how this would actually be put to use.

Machines working on, building, and repairing machines!

Like the fulfillment of a Terminator-like society, where machines can function with autonomy, eventually learning, self-healing, and even propagating.

I would imagine that these machines can help not only repurpose and recycle material in space to good use and fix things, but also they can clean up the space junk in orbit–similar to street sweeper trucks in Manhattan!

Eventually, these robots will travel to distance worlds–first Mars–to build human colonies and maintain them in inhospitable environments.

In mythology, Phoenix is a bird that regenerates and is reborn–in this case, this may be the beginning of the rebirth of human civilization throughout the galaxy. 😉

Resilience In The Face Of Disaster

Statue_of_liberty

This year when ball drops in Time Square next week to usher in the New Year, it will be a little different than in prior years, because rather than blanket cheer, there will be a good amount of consternation as we hit the debt limit of $16.4 trillion as well as the Fiscal Cliff where broad spending cuts and tax increases are to go into effect (whether in full, partial with some sort of deal, or in deferral).

Like the statue pictured here, the strength and resilience of the American people will be tested and we will need to stand tall and strong. 

In this context, it was interesting to read in Wired Magazine (January 2013) a interview with Andrew Zolli, the author of Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back, an exploration of the importance of resilience in the face of adversity. 

Whether in response to natural disaster like Hurricane Sandy or man-made ones like the financial crisis and terrorism, we need to be prepared to adapt to disaster, respond and continue operations, and recover quickly to rebuild and grow. 

According to Zolli, we need shock absorbers for our social systems that can “anticipate events…sense their own state…and can reorganize to maintain their core purpose amid disruption.”

Adaptability is important, so that we can continue to operate in an emergency, but also vital is “self-repair” so we can “bounce back.”

These concepts for resiliency in emergency management are similar to how Government Computer News (December 2012) describes the desire for building autonomous self-healing computer systems that can defend and recover from attacks. 

The notion is that when our computer systems are under cyber attack, we need to be able to defend them in an automated way to counter the threats in a timely fashion. 

Thus, acccording to GCN, we need IT systems that have situational monitoring for self awareness, real-time identification of an attack, continuous learning to adapt and defend againt changing attack patterns, and self-healing to recover from them. 

Thus, bouncing back from social and cyber disasters really requires similar resilience, and for some challenges, it may be sooner than later that we are tested. 😉

(Source Photo: Minna Blumenthal)

Reprogramming Your Inner Software

The importance of positive life energy (or Ch’i) is something that both the Asian culture teaches and which the self-healing industry has picked up on.I remember when my cousin had a brain tumor, and people used to tell him to envision himself healthy and cancer free; he fought for a decade of survival before the tumor eventually took his life.His mother too died from cancer at a young age, hers was leukemia and she didn’t have a fighting chance.

While surrounding yourself with positive people and energy helps us to stay focused, positive, and strong, it, in and of itself, is not a cure-all.

Many extreme athletes and hyper-achieving professionals are often told or tell themselves to envision actually performing unbelievable feats–they do this until they can literally see it happening in their “mind’s eye”–this then supposedly helps them to ultimately perform accordingly.

On Sunday mornings, Joel Osteen’s popular message is the same idea–you are not what others say you are or criticize you to be, rather “you are what G-d says you are.”

Today, Osteen compared us to computers, where often our external hardware is functioning okay, but our internal software is messed up and needs reprogramming. Osteen said you need to hit the delete key–delete those who say that you cannot or will not succeed, and instead fill yourself with faith that you can become what the almighty has designated you to be. One story, Osteen told, was about the father who always told his kid that he was a good-for-nothing, and even on his deathbed, he said, “your brother is a nothing, and you are and always will be a nothing too.”

These words hurt and can haunt people all their lives; the words echo in people’s heads and souls and prevent them from fulfilling their life missions, unless they “hit the delete key” and refocus themselves on the positive message that they are a child of the G-d most high who has breathed life into them, not for nothing, but to achieve their destiny.

I remember hearing a crummy boss at work yell at a subordinate in front of the rest of the office and tell them “you are not half what you think you are.” Similarly, at school, children are notorious for tearing at other kids for being too fat, too thin, too short, too tall, too dumb, and too smart.

At work, at school, and at home, people can be vicious in bringing others down and the impact of these negative messages on people’s lives is crushing.

So surround yourself with positive people and positive energy–people who tell you that you can do it and are genuinely rooting for you to succeed, not in a fanciful way, but in a sincere and loving way; these are your biggest allies in life.

Groucho Marx joked that “behind every successful man is a woman, and behind her is his wife.”  Seriously though, behind every successful person are all those who love, believe, and support them to be able to achieve what they do or as the poet John Donne wrote, “no man is an Island entire unto itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”

In the movie Saints and Soldiers, a group of American and a British soldiers in World War II are on a trek to reach allied forces with vital information to save them from German attack–in one scene the British airman get the others to tell him their personal life secrets, and then when they turn around and ask him what his story is, he says “I’m not going to tell you that, I barely know you.”

While it’s sort of humorous, in life a lot of people are unfortunately that way–they take from you, but then do not give back. For example, at work, the worst bosses may “use you and spit you out” and when you say oh, I’m been loyal to you for X years, the response is cold and muted, like I the British soldier that after taking in their personal stories, responds that he barely knows them.

In families too, this happens when for example, parents sacrifice to give their children “everything”, but later in life, the children don’t even have the inclination to call or visit or “give them the time of day.”

This is like one of favorite songs by Harry Chapin called “Cats In The Cradle,” in this case though the father was always too busy for the son and then later in life the son had no time for his dad–“and as I got off the phone it occurred to me, he’d grown up just like me.”

We can rise above the selfishness, the coldness, and the negative attitudes, and we can be giving to others in our lives–the words we speak and the actions we show have lasting impact.

Rather than being the target of someone’s “delete” button in their life, wouldn’t it be nice to be cherished for their “save” button–and help them to achieve in life what they came here for to begin with.