Posts Tagged ‘CES’

Letter From Claverack 08 2017 And the robots are coming to get us?

January 9, 2017

Outside the cottage, it is a cold winter night.  It’s sixteen degrees and feels like three, per my Weather Channel App.  Tonight, I will be leaving the kitchen cupboard doors open and the faucets dripping.  So far, so good.  No frozen pipes yet.

Soft jazz is playing on the Echo and its Alexa technology was the hit of this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.  Auto manufacturers are integrating Alexa into their vehicles.  It is, apparently, the “Killer App” of this year’s CES, which was, apparently, all about technology coming to automobiles.

Alan Murray, who is CEO of Fortune Magazine and Chief Content Officer for Time, Inc. writes a daily blog called the “CEO Daily.”  I suggest you subscribe.  He wrote this week, from CES, that all companies are becoming technology companies.  It also appears, to me, that all companies are becoming media companies.  It is a huge transformation that is going on.

Despite all the rhetoric about jobs being lost to China and Mexico [and some are], the biggest danger to jobs everywhere is the rise of Artificial Intelligence.  A Japanese insurance company is laying off several dozen people because it has found software they feel will do a better job than the people, an offshoot of IBM’s super brain Watson.

Because of where the cottage is located, I have trouble with my mobile signal.  I have a micro-cell.  It has been giving me trouble tonight.  When I phoned AT&T, I had an entire conversation with a gentleman who was not, in fact, anyone. He was an AI interface.

There is an Echo in my home and so I am experiencing the Alexa technology first hand.  Amazing!

Great fun and a little disconcerting.  And more and more jobs will be lost to AI in the years to come because we are looking at technology to replace us.  There are a lot of Uber drivers out there but what happens to them when self-driving cars become common?  What happens to all the long-haul truck drivers when there are self-driving trucks?  What happens to all the crews of ships when we have self-piloting ships?

We are on the way to being replaced by technology.  And we need to figure this out.  Because it is happening.

Donald Trump is going to be sworn in as President of these United States.  A lot of folks voted for him, I think, because he was addressing the issue of job degradation which has been going on but, I think, it was a backward-looking view because the real worry right now, globally, is not moving jobs off shore.  That is so 2000.  It is about the fact we are losing jobs to Artificial Intelligence.  That is so 2017.  And I don’t hear Trump addressing that.

Since I was a kid, I have loved science fiction and I am living in an age which would have been science fiction when I was a child.  Excuse me, I just ask Alexa for a new jazz station and I get it. I ask her for the weather; I get it.  It’s amazing and now we must deal with the job realities of what we’re doing because jobs will disappear as we create more and more devices to take care of us.

In airports, we have all seen the iPad devices that let us order what we want which is then delivered by a human.  In about two years, there will be robots which will take care of that.  What happens to those human servers?

Oh, and does anyone remember Hoot-Smalley?  It was a bill passed in Congress to restrict trade after the stock market crashed.  It created the Great Depression and I am fearing we will do something like this with the Trump Administration.

Look, I’m lucky.  I am in the third act of my life; I have ridden the great American boom of the last half of the Twentieth Century to the max.  Not rich, not poor, full of life experiences I never thought I would have.  Every day I do my best to remember to be grateful.

And I hope I am not Louis XV, saying “after me, the deluge.”

Letter From New York December 28, 2011

December 28, 2011

Or, as it seems to me…

I am sitting on a couch at the cottage, feeling like an overstuffed gnocchi. It has been several days of feasting and fun; my longest standing friend, Sarah Malone, was here with her husband Jim, their son Kevin, who generously considers me his uncle. Sarah’s sister Mary Clare was here with her husband Jim and their son Michael, who is now on his way to Rio for New Year’s. I spent last Christmas with them; this Christmas they came to me and it was restful and joyful to be surrounded by old friends with whom I have shared so much through all these years.

It’s my hope that everyone’s holidays were as goodwill filled as mine.

The sun is slowly beginning to set, a soft grey is entering the room, the Christmas tree lights sparkle while a fire burns gently in the stove. Soon we will begin cooking for the evening.

The year is ending with a soft sigh; I’m glad for that. It is lovely to begin the march toward New Year’s Eve in the gentle company of Kevin and Michelle.

I am looking forward to 2012. I’ll be attending the CES Show in Las Vegas and will be covering South By Southwest as well as being on a panel there. Hopefully, I will make a pilgrimage to Martha’s Vineyard to Jeffrey and Joyce’s as I have in the last three of four years. It’s my plan to take the Empire Builder from Portland to Chicago, one of the two most beautiful train rides in America, I’m told. I’m sure I will make a trip or two to Minneapolis and there’ll be unexpected business opportunities that will take me hither and yon.

It is a year to look forward to.

It is my hope that readers are also looking forward to 2012. Once a salesman, always a salesman and so I live in hope. But then, so do we all – live in hope. We have to or we would go quite mad I suspect, looking around the world we inhabit.

We have Syria in revolt against Assad, a restless Russia, an Iraq that appears to be splitting along sectarian lines, pirates seizing freighters, an Iran threatening to close the Straits of Hormuz, and a nuclear North Korea run by an untested 28 year old. Put it all together, it’s not a pretty picture. But it’s never been a pretty picture and yet we go on. Why? At the bottom, we live in hope, hope that if in nothing else, in our small corner of the world, we can make a world safe for ourselves, that we can do something that will better our lot and the lot of those around us.

This year, as in some years past, I did not give gifts to friends and family but made donations to causes – the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley, the USO and to a challenged family in Reading, PN so that they might have gifts for their children under the tree. It seemed a better use of resources than to search out trinkets for people with too many of them already.

Having the Malone/Eros clan here was a gift to me and I hope that Christmas communicated to them the gift they are and I hope the gifts I gave in the name of family and friends helped them know the gift they are to me. Listening to NPR one day this season, a commentator was talking about Christmas as a time to show the people we love that we loved them. I hope I did and I hope the people in your world shared their love with you.

Now we move on into the New Year and as the New Year approaches, I will focus on living in hope as it is in hope that we are all able to provide gifts to the world in which we live.

Happy New Year!