A Platform for Good and Evil

JoshCowlsSocialMedia

Prior to the invention of the printing press in the 15th century, the sharing of a message to the masses was almost exclusively reserved for those few who possessed the skills and education to put pen to paper or those who mastered the art of great oration. The advent of the printing press soon saw the power to move an audience to action gravitate to the media barons of print than onto the videographers of the 20th century. The arrival of the information age and digital communication technology ushered in a new era where news not only traveled at lights speed, but was carried virtually unfiltered to the masses through untraditional media outlets called the internet and a plethora of social media venues.

The power of social media has rapidly increased our access to breaking news and current events, and has created an efficient channel for marketers and consumers alike to promote and communicate their messages to specific audiences. More and more people now use social media as their core source for information. The social community is faster than traditional news outlets and allows the recipient the ability to respond personally to world events in real time.  Social media and the internet is a powerful and viral media vehicle that is the major source for news, an effective way for marketers to engage consumers and everyday users to populate their message to the world.

But along with the many good attributes of the internet, and its technological companion social media, comes the bad and the ugly. The far and free reach of the internet is giving radical extremists the ability to connect to millions of disaffected and delusional with their message of hatred and destruction. With the assistance of skilled marketing techniques, new age Jihadists are recruiting an army of zealots to kill the innocent and create havoc and calamity on the worlds established societies.  The recruiters of evil are able to connect with hard-core believers and sociopaths in their own living rooms utilizing graphic and violent, murderous videos. Ed Bridgeman, a criminal justice professor at the University of Cincinnati says of the recruiting efforts, “Among the differences today are the tools of the recruiter’s trade. The Internet is full of opportunities to share and package propaganda in ways never before possible.

”The recent acts of violence in Paris France was reported quickly through digital media;  each ugly act of violence playing out in real time across the screens of laptops, iPads and smart phones all across the world. But while the atrocities of evil ruled in the immediate, a response to the tragedies prevailed through an outpouring of support for the victims and condemnation of the extremist. Soon the bad and ugly were countered by the mobilization of all those who are good among the technology and who tweeted, messaged and texted in solidarity against the atrocities of evil.

Technology Trends for 2016, Will it all be Too Much, Too Soon?

Tech Trends 

As another year begins to wind-down, tis the season to reflect on the past and predict the future for nearly all things, widely interesting or not. Prognosticating the trends of the coming year is becoming trendy itself, particularly when it comes to technology and all things gee-whiz. Last year Gartner’s, the established guru of technology trend predicting, forecasted that technology trends in 2015 would follow three themes; the merging of the real and virtual worlds, the advent of intelligence everywhere, and the technology impact of the digital business shift. So how is are we performing against the trend predictions?

As expected, mobile devices and their use in diverse and expanding contexts appears to proliferate. The chatter is becoming more about what the devices can do for the user and less about all the bells and whistles of the hardware. A new and expanded menu of applications for all our smart toys and tools is leading users to select new and creative uses from a larger array of internet of things. Autonomous vehicles, advanced robotics and virtual personal assistants and smart advisors are well on their way to becoming common place and are threatening to result in most disruptive era in history. Fitness wearables are flourishing in the marketplace and alongside a vast array of interconnected life-style appliances that monitor, record and analyze user’s activities, and deliver even those things we didn’t previously know we wanted to know or do. Advances in 3-D printing, ubiquitous embedded intelligence, cloud computing and risk-based security and self-protection are out of the box and progressing. As David W. Garner vice president and Gartner Fellow, said of the predictions for 2015, “This does not necessarily mean adoption and investment in all of the trends at the same rate. But companies should look to make deliberate decisions about them during the next two years.”

So where are we going from here? What are the predicted top 10 strategic trends in technology for 2016 according to Gartner and reported in Forbes?

– Device Mesh – Personal devices become smarter and collect more data about our activities and interest and begin to work more in concert with each other.

– Ambient User Experience – “Devices and sensors will become so smart that they will be able to organize our lives without our even noticing that they are doing so.”

– Information of Everything – Making sense and managing all that data will be challenging.

– Advanced Machine Learning – Analyzing and making initial decisions about the data will be performed by machines. Will humans successfully evolve to the higher level of technology engagement?

– Autonomous Agents and Things – Robots will continue to master and surpass humans in their ability to undertake human tasks like such as autonomous driving car. 2016 will see such vehicles “break-out” of their controlled, prototype environments.

– Adaptive Security Architecture – Gartner predicts that more tools will be available to go on the offensive against prolific and damaging security threats to our data systems.

– Advanced Customer Architecture – Developers will push the boundaries and design technology that better mimics the human brain.

– Mesh App and Service Architecture – More apps will be engineered to work together with other apps, creating added value.

– Internet of Things Architecture and Platforms – Progress towards integrating a growing collection of the “internet of things” will be made.

While the predictions can be fun to make, their advance to reality and common utilization may be tempered by our resistance to releasing control of those areas of our lives that were once promised to be beyond the ability of mere machines. While we often welcome the benefits of all the wonders of  technology in our everyday lives, at what point in the process will even the most ardent of technology consumers push-back and determine that too much is a little too much, too soon?