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Just because a technology can be built, is it acceptable?

Reading the employee microchip article – does it make you shudder?  Observe the development and evolution of modifiers for the word technology.  Words like sustainable, appropriate, autonomous all come to mind. With the micro-chipping of employees – the convenience argument is ultra thin. But why would one think about a microchip for an ailing relative, aka an older adult? (Some say we will all get chipped eventually.)  Consider that these "chips will offer a convenient way to track people — especially those suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia."  But who will opt in to being chipped and tracked in that example?  Employees could opt out – but can a person with dementia opt out?  How different is being micro-chipped from wearing a band with identifying address information? For whom is the 'convenience' of micro-chipping offered?  And because it is possible, should it be deployed?

Robocalls and scams -- a phone-based war against us all

Many years ago, when the phone rang, we eagerly picked it up.  That was then. For good or ill, families want to text, message and chat. And the phone call has turned into a source of harassment and scams. Robocalling is a modern torment, sometimes multiple back-to-back dials from the same source, often spoofing our own cell phone numbers – where answering the phone puts us on a ‘sucker list’ sold to other scammers. Is it Rachel from Cardmember Services or the IRS Phone Scam,  a fake carpet cleaning offer or worse, the disabled veterans scam, or the grandparent 'this is your grandson' scam

We are the guinea pigs in cars and online

Too much road noise, no self-driving information.  So how safe are self-driving cars for us, those pesky consumers who are also the victims of this tech for tech's sake?  Ask yourself – how would you know? Even the NTSB doesn’t want you to know details of accidents involving Tesla’s Autopilot.  Let’s remember the so-called problem being hustled into the market -- to reduce the most recently cited number (40,000) of deaths from auto accidents. They are astonishingly low already, according to a Rand study, at 1 per 100 million miles traveled. According to the Wall Street Journal article, Tesla promised to release safety data on its self-driving tech regularly starting next quarter, though they have not said what sort of data and what could be gleaned from it -- perhaps in advance of another series (see link) of crashes.

Toward an Internet of Caring Things

We have seen the scary future – and it is behind the firewall.  Let’s say it: The Internet of Things almost seemed useful – smart objects connected together was once a great marketing tag line. Now it is becoming an Orwellian nightmare, not just because Google can drive the car while you text. Now we know your car has millions of lines of code in it and is easily hacked by two guys on a couch with a laptop. Volkswagen’s internal hacking, uh, deception to meet emissions standards has given visibility to the Internet of Cheating Things, not to mention the Internet of Hacked Things (from drones!!), and Scammed Things (from the refrigerator!!). And just think how obsolete CES "crap gadgets" will seem after the 2016 CES – the real tech news will be these long-distance and unwelcome invaders from afar, redirecting gadgets on the show floor.

Consumers lose: medical hacking, 911 failure, Google rules

Ho hum – another day, another few million records are hacked. Rant on. It’s a small hack really, only 4.5 million impacted by the UCLA Medical System cyber attack. But what a relief, the impacted individuals will receive identity theft recovery and restoration services and credit monitoring at no cost. That category of service firm is buying plenty of ads all around and may be one of the boom businesses of 2015.  Because of course the 4.5 million must be added to the 22 million Federal government individuals and the 80 million Anthem Blue Cross individuals -- for starters.  And the solution?  A new services industry emerges with vendors popping up in every flavor. As for fines for those that let the data get out of the bag? As for the notorious insurance industry leader, Anthem (first quarter net income $865.2 million) has received a fine of $1.7 million – but fines for data breaches remain rare.

These hacker attacks make Y2K look trivial

Does anyone remember Y2K?  It happened just 15 years ago. The $100 billion in the US -- $350 billion worldwide -- that was spent to convert information systems to move from a 2-digit year to a 4-digit year, well, it seems so last century. The belief at that time: The move from the YYMM format of dates in all systems everywhere (all military, government, and commercial) in the year 2000 would create a "0001" January 1, 2000 date format that would result in disaster. Checks couldn’t be issued, military systems would fail, hospitals and power plants would shut down or off. This was preceded by sky-is-falling anxiety, particularly among IT people who bore the brunt of redirecting work to code this change.

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