100 years ago, goods from afar were unique. Now local goods are.

This happened due to the shifts in connections. 100 years ago, the only people to depend on were groups from the same village or area. However, this wasn’t always ideal. It meant limited diets, limited fashions, and limited lives.

As society grew more industrial, automobiles became common, trains were booming, and we started finding connections from afar. That continued to grow until the digital age when the internet connected all sorts of groups based entirely on ideologies rather than geographies. Believe in organic foods? There’s a group for that. Believe in dirt as shampoo? There’s a group for that.

Unfortunately, in the 20 years or so since the internet became mainstream, society started forgetting about it’s neighbors. It’s geographic community. Local good advertisements are a return to that. It helps ensure the health of schools, communities, and local jobs by making sure enough money stays in the local economy.

The world is constantly seeking it’s equilibrium in distributing goods, and it will continually shift, with a large trend towards improvements over long time spans (think centuries), though there are likely to be decades where things head the wrong ways.

We live in a time of unprecedented mobility.

At times it doesn’t feel that way.

The reason?

We’re in a transition between industrialism and the digital age. The tactics that have worked for 100-200 years aren’t entirely accurate anymore, though there are plenty of people still telling people the wrong information. The problem is when we trust someone, like our grandfather, and take his advice, it may not work as well in our time as it did his.

There is an opportunity everyday to see others, to be seen and to connect. However, it’s not done by the tactics of yesteryear. You don’t do it by phone, or wagon, or smoke signal. You do it on the web. You write, talk, record and share. You find a group your work resonates with whether it’s fixing up old cars, creating paintings, writing music, giving self-help advice, making digital art, programming, mathematics. No matter what you do there is a group waiting for you to find them. Not only is it fun to find them, when you find the right group, it’s the key to a great career and an even better life.

Types of problems to be solved.

There are many different types of problems to be solved, some that I can list off are:

  • Finances, Legal, and Education
  • Technological Discoveries, Education and Improvements
  • Societal/Systematic Imbalances
  • Entertainment
  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Research and distribution of academic information
  • Political issues.
  • Life Improvement.

These are broad categories, but they are there to jog your creativity.

There isn’t an argument from the center.

I’m generally moderate on most topics. I see things from a lot of different perspectives, and it’s become obvious to me, someone who falls in the middle of an ideological spectrum is never seen as being in the center.

Recently, there has been an outbreak of the measles, and while I believe modern medicine is good, I have skepticism for big pharma. I’m skeptical that some medicines are more than placebos, and some may be harmful, but in the face of big money and marketing, normal people don’t know much about the actual risks. With that stance in mind, I’m seeing some hurt caused by the anti-vaxxer movement. And I sympathize with them, only wanting the best for their children, but I also sympathize with people suffering outbreaks of previously eradicated illnesses. We’re falling below the herd immunity threshold.

Any time I voice this concern to either side of the argument, I’m immediately seen as the opposite of the spectrum, far past where my own position and beliefs actually put me. Society mostly sees things as binary. You’re with us, or against us.

Here are a few conclusions:

  1. If you’re trying to change someone, you may be seen differently by them.
  2. If you’re not okay with being seen as more extreme than you actually are, it’s better to say nothing.
  3. When politicians make crazy promises, far past what you can tolerate, don’t worry too much, they just need to go far for arguments sake, the reality will likely be more moderate.


Baby Shark and The Boxer make it easy to understand the song and lower cognitive load by replacing words with sound. They use “doo doo doos” and “Lie-la-Lie’s” respectively.

These sounds keep the feeling going, while making sure the listener doesn’t have too much to process. More times than not, in communication it’s the feeling that matters anyway. Only 7% of communication is the words we choose.

This presents an opportunity. If you’re making a presentation and showing slides, perhaps you don’t have to explain them all, create a set of rapidly advancing slides that make the point you’ve been leading to without having to explain. This is the presentation equivalent of the repetitive sounds in song. It’s also a bit unusual, so it will create some tension, which is good for a presentation.

Being a professional is learning to not make a mess

Chocolatiers and painters are two professions where messes are easily visible. The skill in both professions can be judged by how clean they are.

It’s an interesting way to reflect on skill. Working clean and organized is the most efficient, as it maximizes the value provided work, the painting or the chocolate making, while minimizing the non-value work, cleaning up.

Thinking about this, it’s true in most fields, though the messes are a lot less visible. As a writer, over the years, I’ve developed a process for piecing things together, and it’s grown cleaner and more efficient over time. Though, I have drafts of things that need to be pieced together from days when I wasn’t as efficient.

This concept could be expanded to any creative endeavor. How efficiently ideation to implementation happens, is the level of skill. At the lowest level, it’s so inefficient, it can’t even be done. You can’t pull off the project no matter how hard you try. At the highest level, it requires no lengthy planning phase, it’s primarily implementation. This is the chef that looks in the fridge sees what he has and immediately knows what he’ll make. He’s skilled.

When judging yourself as a professional, think not of the final product, many people given enough time and resources can make a great final product, instead judge yourself on your efficiency. That’s where the pros make their money.

With a vision, work becomes a joy.

My belief is that most people are unhappy working when they feel it’s not building to anything.

That means the cure is having a vision for your ultimate work. Your crowning achievement. How you want to help. What you want to work on. The projects you want to put into the world.

If you see the end goal, then as long as your current work is adding to it, you’ll see yourself growing. If the progress in your rearview mirror is obvious, you’ll be happier to show up everyday. If that’s not happening, you’ll know it’s time for a switch to something that will put you back on track. The vision is your guide. It’s also your happiness.

They say we live in an instant gratification world, which is true, but with that vision in mind, we can still find a way to find each day gratifying, but it won’t happen without it. Without it, usually there is emptiness.

Books don’t remove fears.

People do.

You’ve probably read a ton of books or articles about something you’re afraid of, or a problem you’re looking to solve, yet little action came out of it. Perhaps, it did convince you to hire that consultant, or to seek out other personal advice.

That’s because books give us a path, but they aren’t a guide. People are guides. They tell us everything will be okay in the tone of voice we need, with a reassuring confidence and poise.

Humans solve problems for other humans, books may illuminate the trail, or show who we should be talking to, but more often than not, it’s not as powerful as a conversation with it’s author would be.

Where is our flying car?

The future everyone once saw as inevitable, including Henry Ford, never arrived. The same visionaries who imagined the flying car being commonplace in the future, likely never predicted everyone would be posting their dinners on Instagram.

The world received Instagram instead of the flying car because of cost. Iterations of code are cheaper than parts. That doesn’t even touch the concept of human capital. Instagram had 13 employees when it was acquired by Facebook for $1 Billion. In addition to the flying car engineers, we need engineers working on flying traffic control systems, vehicle parking systems, building collision protection, and many tangentially-related problems. This would require a coordinated effort among people orders of magnitude, likely 10,000-1,000,000+ engineers! Can you imagine the coordination headaches?!

Along these lines, my dad once asked me, “Why doesn’t society bring together a significant portion of the world’s engineers to make super fuel efficient vehicles?” He was meaning 100+ MPG vehicles. I’ve thought about that in different respects for years, and all I come up with is questions. Who can organize that? Can a government? Do they have the backing of politicians? Can a capitalist, with money in his pocket, or loaned by banks, bankroll that kind of investment? Even with financiers aside, who decides the teams? Who has enough technical background to lead it?

Pretend for a second, that financing issues could be overcome and the right teams chosen. As a huge team of multi-disciplinary engineers, how do we communicate, coordinate, and understand each other when there are so many channels of communication. There is a personal and personnel aspect to it regardless of technology. It requires effort to share progress and to teach others the fundamentals in order to understand our work and use it to expand theirs. 

Due to the economics, coordination, and tangential challenges, the flying car may never happen. And that’s okay, self-driving cars are on the way. It’s the other grand challenges related to energy, clean water, illness prevention and cures, that are lacking. These are challenges we should be dealing with as a collective, and the types of things you should leap at.

Interesting = Challenging

I’ve always wanted to do interesting work. In that quest, I was pushed down many uncomfortable paths, but came out a better, well-rounded person.

The most interesting work is the work no one expects. Most people didn’t see Amazon when it first opened it’s doors, nor Tesla, nor Apple. Those companies got to where they are by fighting through the challenges. Amazon faced perception issues with paying by credit card over the unsecured internet. Tesla faced perception issues of what an electric car is. Apple had to convince people they could benefit from a computer at home. You don’t have to dream to be their size, all size of dreams fit this book, but those examples are likely to be in your current perspective.

One problem you may run into is the engineer’s paradox.

Other problems include things like coming up with an idea for a new product, only to find out that you also have to invent a number of components too. Or seeing an opportunity to create a new product line, only to find out you’ll need to work with marketing to prove there is demand.

Since no one is expecting it, you’ll have to get them to see what you see. That part is the biggest challenge, making it the most interesting work of all. Learn to love it as part of the process and you’ll be fine.

Two directions to choose from

  1. The way the world should be going according to you, or
  2. The way the world is going. 

Both are viable paths under the correct set of circumstances. In the former, if we were on the path to better buggy whips, but you had the idea for the automobile, a leap that solves the problem in a unique way that improves several aspects of efficiency and purpose, then perhaps it’s time to show the world it the way it should be going.

For the latter, if you’re thinking you’ll make jellied eel will be the next food craze in the United States, but you can’t even get someone to taste a free sample, well then perhaps it’s better to find a food that fits in with where the world is going.

These are both ultimately choices. Choosing option 1 usually leads to harder path than can have larger success at the end, as if the world didn’t see that path previously, then there isn’t much competition and you become the big player. Option 2 usually leads to a comfortable feeling, knowing there is a market, but everyone sees it, so while you can rest assured someone wants to buy what your selling, you’ll have to compete for it. Which isn’t a bad thing on it’s own.

The truth is, you won’t know either option is the right decision until you make the choice, then you’ll find out if you should pivot to the other.

The Economics of AI

What would 7 Billion Super Computers Cost? What about the sensors they need to gather data?

Applying Moore’s Law. How far in the future would it take to be feasible?

What does the electricity to run them costs?

Something tells me that people that fear Aritficial Intelligence (AI) taking over aren’t currently looking at the economics. Right now, raising a human is about the most economical way to build a super computer. 

Powerful AI, requires powerful computers. Humans are safe from an economic standpoint for quite a while still. 

AR lies somewhere between marketing and engineering.

If you hired a purely technical person to do Augmented Reality (AR) work, you’d end up with a poor quality project. Models that seem too digital, lacking enough shading, textures and care to seem realistic.

If you hired a creative, it’s likely to end with a tangled mess of technology that doesn’t flow, that no one can manage to use.

Great Augmented Reality (AR) projects lie somewhere between these two. It either takes a polymath, or some good people with a mix of technical and creative backgrounds. Bringing all of this together isn’t easy. It’s difficult work managing a mixed bunch with each wanting to lead. Without a strong external vision balancing both, it’s a mess waiting to happen, but the right vision is an amazing marketing transformation opportunity.

Find someone with a vision for AR and it will pay off.

Full time creative vs. Full time consumer

The full time creative is the person who watches no tv. Who participates in no pop culture, who spends nearly all of their time creating. Writing. Painting. Applying their brain power to everything. This person usually seems way out there, because they are not anchored by anything that ties us all together.

The full time consumer is the one that reads People magazine. That watches tons of shows. That shops whenever they are bored. This is the type of person that seems entirely devoid of any real uniqueness. Everything unique about this person has been fabricated by someone else.

That’s why it’s obvious that there exists a calm balance. The creative needs enough understanding to empathize and connect, while the consumer needs enough creativity to not come off as a trope.

If you skew creative, allow just a bit for consumption. If you consume, take some time to create.

Augmented Reality helps lower risk

As I once heard listening to a neuroscientist say, “A human is 86 billion neurons telling themselves a story.”

However, that’s a struggle for anyone selling something, especially if that current story doesn’t support the purchase. This won’t look good. This won’t fit my space. This isn’t for me. Those are all stories, and that might be stories holding you back from making a sale.

The bigger problem is they may all be false, but currently the human telling that story is the one who needs convincing, but there is a way.

Show them.

That’s what Augmented Reality (AR) does. It shows people a new perspective, giving them another story to tell themselves. They may understand that in this space, this does look good, and this is a fit, and this is for me. That’s when you make the sell.

Augmented Reality (AR) is a tool for lowering risk, it currently has a lot of easy to see applications in eCommerce, but I’m sure there is plenty being overlooked, that isn’t being taken into account today. People just need to be looking in the right places.

Reducing the purchase fear.

It’s human to want to make the right decision. The reality is though, there is no one right decision. There are many of them. So if you’re a company, your job is to sway the customer to believe what you are offering is the correct choice.

There are a few ways to do this:

  1. Amaze them with artistry
  2. Lower their risk
  3. Move them with emotion.

Items #1 and #3 are the least scalable. Artistry and vision or sales skill aren’t as scalable as providing a solution that lowers their risk. That means it’s easy to bake #2 into your company processes more than #1 and #3, those two items instead require the skills of the specific people doing the work.

Some ways to reduce risk is to a lay out a plan of all the exact costs, as clearly as possible. Another is to show exactly what the delivered item will be. And finally, the hardest, but most effective is to make people aware that you as a company are on their side, that no matter what happens, you’re invested in making their experience successful. That last one is what a strong brand is.

Regardless of what line of business you’re in, reducing the customer’s fear is your job. We’re all scared, whoever makes us feel the least scared is usually the winner.

Marketing and AR.

They aren’t separate. Augmented Reality isn’t just a way to play Pokemon Go or other games. It’s a step toward a lead generation platform. Especially for those brick and mortars looking for ways to lower their costs like their online brethren.

In the furniture business, it may be that Augmented Reality (AR) could be used to help customers order without ever leaving their house, or seeing the couch in-person. This offers the purchaser a hassle-free experience, and it lowers the amount of showcase space the furniture company needs. Win-Win. In some cases, for furniture companies that want to sell direct rather than through distributors, it could offer that level of service.

The power of it as a marketing tool however is that it lowers the customers risk. Before they buy, they can see how a piece will look in their home. Against the backdrop of their wall. And contrasting to their floors. No imagination required, I like it or I don’t.

Whenever you take away a piece of resistance from a potential customers mind, the chance of the sale actually happening are increased. This is the beauty of Augmented Reality (AR) and we are at the tip of the iceberg of what is possible here.

Quality is Rising

The ratchet of remarkable is harder than ever to overcome. With everyone online sharing what they come across and think is worth sharing, most people are bombarded with images of what is great about the world. That’s a double edged sword.

It’s great that it pushes someone to dig deeper to be better, but it’s also hard because it feels like it can’t be beaten. That everything out there has already be done.

That’s not true though. It’s been my experience that the hurdles we imagine in our mind, are just the simple ones that we see, rather than the opportunity that exists.

Imagine that you had an idea for a product, and just as you’re deciding to make the commitment to go for it as a business, you see a version of what you are thinking of, and it’s far better than what you could have done. You despair. What’s the point now?

Here’s the catch, there is still tons of opportunity around the product even if you don’t see it. If that product is successful, that proves the market is real. If that product is successful, it may only be marketing towards a segment of the market, you can find a niche, and sell the exact same product even buying it from the competitor you’re jealous of, and selling it to a different audience. The marketing is part of the quality. Who you’re marketing to matters.

If you don’t believe that, consider a presentation I’m working on, targeted at helping young students navigate their path in life. The world has changed significantly, and there is a traditional path kids take to adulthood and education that may not be as successful as it was in the past. I can market this presentation to the parents or the kids, and they will both need to hit different notes to strike a chord.

The parents will need to know that they are helping their child make smart decisions about the future.

The kids will need to see that this will make them more successful, better liked by their peers, and raise their social status now and in the future.

That is a simple product, and yet there are two market segments, really products can have dozens.

Next time you find yourself looking at something you think is remarkable, could be an ice cream cone, a pair of headphones, or a service, run through the following list:

  1. Who was this marketed at?
  2. How were they successful? Why am I look at it?
  3. How could I make a small tweak and make a different group interested?
  4. How would I make that group share it?

If you can answer those questions, you’ll have taken your first steps towards seeing more opportunities.

Now go out there and observe the world, you’ll be enlightened.

Jobs created by augmented reality

There are a number of jobs that will be created by augmented reality. Here are some of them:

  1. Modelers. Building models in software like CAD tools so that they can be imported into the augmented reality (AR) tools.
  2. Rendering Specialists. People who control colors, textures, shading, lighting, etc. Coding skills may or may not be necessary depending on the complexity, but certainly a good eye for details matter, and a desire to tweak until everything looks as real as possible.
  3. File Management Specialists. Augmented Reality (AR) is starting to get up there in the amount of files that have to be managed. In order to do that, systems will need to be created that can make use of and manage all the assets in order to be efficient.
  4. Sustainers. Many of these Augmented Reality (AR) experiences will need to exist on multiple platforms. That makes the need for someone to maintain the software on constantly changing technology a necessity.

Seeing and Smelling

Sight happens near instantaneously. The speed of light is quick, and then the signals to your brain due to proximity are also quick. When we see, we react quickly, it’s not delayed. Which makes sense because if we need to dodge something like an oncoming vehicle or an attacker, we need to do it quick.

Smell on the other hand is slower. It’s volatile compounds diffusing through the air that have to reach our nose. It can be valuable information and point us in the right direction, back to a campground fire for example. Or to the dinner that’s waiting on the table. Smell is slow partially because the physics, but partially because it doesn’t need to be faster.

Now let’s think about distance. Vision can often be extremely short-sighted due to the line of sight. By comparison, bears are thought to be able to smell things that are miles away. I’ve seen claims of upwind bears can smell 20 miles away! Short of being in the flattest spots on earth, rarely is that kind of sight possible.

We’re now in the world of data, but our brains have always been there. They figured out a long time ago, what is needed immediately and what isn’t. What should be long range, and what should be short. When making decisions based on metrics, be sure that you’re using the right tool for taking in the information needed.

The great age of piracy

According to R. Buckminster Fuller, once upon a time the world was ruled by great pirates. There is no written documentation because they were the secret rulers, pulling the strings, making connections with various countries and tribes, and securing resources to supply to kings that kept their kingdoms happy and their people loyal. By being highly tactical, understanding strategies related to political relations, trade, warfare, etc., these pirates were the only ones who understood the full breadth of the world and with the favor of the more widely documented kings, they had the most freedom in the world.

How do we know that pirates were the top of the food chain? Thinking about the classes that existed in feudalism, you had peasants > knights > nobility > kings. In each one of those classes existed more and more freedom. Economically. Mobility wise. As mentioned, their freedom was the utmost pinnacle. Being able to have money, favor in many lands, and the means to get anywhere they wanted to go. They were beholden to no one person. They didn’t have to stay in any particular place.

Buckminster also asserts that it was technology that destroyed the pirates. With advances that were beyond the understanding of anyone not well-versed in science, the strategies the pirates employed began to break down.

Though there is no written history as stated previously, I believe the same as Bucky. Even if the pirates weren’t real, consider the change of ages. Kings fell to industrialists as supplies and great artists and craftsman weren’t enough to compete with the rise of the water and steam power.

Today, we’re undergoing another shift, a new age of pirates. A greater age of pirates. Not in the traditional sense, but in the sense that a new set of tactics is now needed to survive. Corporations aren’t as competitive, as they are dying deaths by a thousand cuts. Up against the pirates themselves, the artisans, craftsman, consultants, that understand how to market, sell, and provide products and services that are rapidly changing without needing a huge number of employees. There aren’t any real rules to this yet, other than doing something that matters for people who care.

You’re now a pirate. You don’t have to pillage and plunder, just define your set of tactics. Pick those you want to supply or serve, and move where and how the world takes you. Your freedom is reaching it’s pinnacle, just grasp it.

Mobility of 1000, 100 and 10 years in the past.

It’s easy to be disenfranchised with the state of our lives. And those thoughts can lead to an idea that some other people in the past had it better. And it’s true, SOME people in the past had it better, but currently the average person has more opportunity than the average person of any other historical period from what we know. Much of this can be attributed to mobility.

When talking about mobility, there are two types I’m concerned with, geographic and economic.

As far as geographic mobility goes, there is no doubt, that it has drastically increased. A 1000 years ago, most people were born, lived and died in a small geographical range, likely the same village. There were horses and boats to move around, but that’s about it.

100 years ago, the automobile was already invented and the railroads were built, and so geographical mobility increased. Commercial air travel, wasn’t yet a reality, and 10 years ago, we are well established in commercial air travel. Not much mobility wise has changed in the last 10 years, and there isn’t much to be improved upon with actual range, other than space exploration. Efficiency and speed improvements are mostly what remains from a technological standpoint.

Economic mobility has a similar trajectory, and is tied to two things, education and connection, with connection itself being tied at least partially to geographical mobility. Economic mobility is mostly about sales. Can you sell your services, or goods to people who can use them? Education allows for the goods and services to be more marketable through higher knowledge, such as a doctor, or an engineer making a car as opposed to a door stop. And connection helps people find their customers. Even if you’re an employee, you sold yourself to get hired.

What does connection of the past look like?

A 1000 years ago, a medical practitioner probably worked under nobility or the church. They helped people nearby who came to them. In times of war, they may have been called upon to help the soldiers stay healthy. 100 years ago there was two shifts from most of the centuries before, the phone existed, and the car was invented. That lead to the invention of house calls. A doctor could travel between numerous towns in an area, and since the technology wasn’t as advanced, most times this was fine with just equipment the doctor could carry. 10 years ago, the doctor could fly across country if he was specialized enough for an operation to warrant it.

The doctor example leaves out a bit on the sales side of things. So, imagine an enterprising individual selling his goods. 1000 years ago, he may ride town to town. 100 years ago, he may drive town to town. Or try to find customers by calling. 10 years ago, he’s building a website to market his goods, advertising on tv, and advertising on radio. Today, he’s connect on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, as well.

The ability to find and connect with people who want what you are selling, which may be yourself and your skills, is the limiting factor in economic mobility, it’s at the highest level that it has ever been in history.

The problem now isn’t “How would I ever connect with the right people?”

It’s, “Which people do I want to connect with, and what do I want to share with them?”

If there is a negative to the current era, it’s that connecting is so easy, competition for finite attention is rising. That is a new change, one that hasn’t been seen before in history, but the answer that is starting to manifest itself, and will continue will be differentiation. Smaller brands, more products, all seeking their own aesthetic, usefulness, quality, etc, in order to serve specific groups.

The atmosphere of coffee shops and bars

Coffee shops serve stimulants in a calm atmosphere.

Bars serve depressants in a usually upbeat atmosphere.

You would think those would be flipped. However, that doesn’t tell the whole story.

After walking into a coffee shop, with high energy music blasting, energetic people smiling, it’s quite possible that you would gain some energy, and need less coffee.

At a bar, the reverse could lead to the same decreased sale.

Depending on the outcome you want, sometimes you want the complementary effect, and some times the supplementary effect. This is the same as the concept of negative space used by architects.

Be on the look out, you may learn how to apply it to your own craft for maximum effect.

What’s the story a realtor wants their clients to tell about them?

There are a lot of extremes that realtors can tell a story about themselves:

  • Exclusive <—> Available
  • Cheap <—> Expensive
  • Creative/Visionary <—> Logistical
  • Technological Savvy <—> Old School
  • Tough Negotiator <—> Caring Helper
  • Efficient <—> Thorough
  • Professional <—> Casual
  • Competitive/Fierce <—> Friendly

The market is big enough, that the only wrong combination of these is not figuring out where you land for each one, and doing everything possible to support those. Here are some examples:

For an exclusive realtor, she could be unlisted entirely, only working for referrals through her network, however, exclusivity alone isn’t likely to pay the bills, there has to be a demand for additional skills.

For a cheap realtor, they could talk about working efficiently. How they’ve built their knowledge of an area to find homes you would like quickly. How they developed negotiating tactics that close deals quickly, and how all that leads to them needing less commission since they close more deals in a year.

The creative realtor could use design or staging skills. Either showing, or a sharing a vision for a space that the client can’t currently see.

The technologically savvy realtor can use technology to help the customer make the right decisions. That may mean sending comparisons. Using software to photoshop furniture into rooms for vision. Sending contracts to be reviewed quickly.

The professional realtor may keep the conversation about all business. The homes. The tasks ahead. Contrasting to the casual, who may talk more about the person’s life, or their own life.

If you don’t find a way to portray how you fit these extremes, it’s likely you’re not an edge case, and no one will notice you more than any of the other million realtors out there. Take at least one to the extreme.

This isn’t just true in real estate.

Connection not technology, limits opportunities.

Once upon a time, it took a messenger traveling around on horseback to spread a message. No phones, no cars, no planes, no radio. Just a man, a horse, and an idea to be relayed from a person, likely a king, looking to make a connection. Likely an invitation to the palace, or asking for permission to come himself without fear of being attacked.

At this time, it was boats that made king’s. At least helping the rich and powerful make new connections in far away lands for political and trade alliances.

But communication technologies came far in modern society. TV was owned by big corporations who made it impossible to break into an industry. It was the mainstream marketing through television.

It had a huge impact on the beer industry. Shrinking from 4,000 breweries down to 44 at it’s lowest point, then the internet came along, offering a new channel of connection of small brewers to drinkers. Today, there is over 7,000 small breweries in the world.

This is all possible thanks to connection. Technology empowered that connection, and continues to empower it faster than we can find ways to utilize all the new channels, which is exactly what gives the small guy a chance.

The current trend of history is expanding opportunity to connect. However, with some of the conversations that spin around the web, you would think those opportunities are diminishing.

For the actual amount of connection possible, we’ve probably reached close to the technological limit for this planet. Not that new technologies aren’t possible, just that the ones that currently exist are enough to contact anyone else that has them. The only things left to do is work on scaling them, so that every person on the planet has them, then from there work on interplanetary communications.

Automating your way out of failure.

I’m not sure that automating your way out of failure is possible. A few exceptions may be in huge industries with low margins, where the investment of automation means 1-2% higher margins translating to billions of dollars of savings.

However, automating sales isn’t likely to increase them. If sales doesn’t know how to sell today, who will set up an automated system to do better? Same for marketing. Let’s not even get into the capital requirements of automation, and how that might be a struggle for a failing company.

That’s the ironic part, automation only works in already successful systems. Are the decision makers willing to risk going from some that works to something that might not? It’s much easier for a CEO to find a fix on-going failures than to find the courage to change something that’s working. Usually, that story is told in many different ways, leading to a theme about the status quo and how big companies struggle to change and how it’s a negative. Under the fears of automation, and AI, it’s actually a positive because either the company is already successful, and will resist too much change, or it’s failing and can’t automate out. That’s a built in safety factor for society.

What is AI?

AI is the short-term for artificial intelligence. And it’s current usage actually implies Narrow AI. As opposed to Artificial General Intelligence.

At it’s core it’s a type of programming that builds inferences from training sets to predict future performance, or to classify things. That’s right, it needs data to be trained, that’s the unique part that differentiates it from other types of programming.  In other software, it simply follows the instructions given to it, AI has less instructions given, and seeks to find the most likely answer, but it can be wrong, as it’s probabilistic instead of determinstic.

I don’t see a lot of jobs out there for image classifiers. Or voice recognizers. So these narrow AI applications are likely to augment someones tasks rather than replace their jobs.

There are jobs for people predicting stock prices similar to AI, however, that’s an ongoing field. Even then, these people require understanding new technologies, market pressures, political conditions, and all sorts of things that can’t be formed into clear, concise data for the AI programs. This work is still relegated to people.

One thing to note, is that many of these programs take enormous processing power, like the case of stock data, huge amounts of data is needed, and needs to constantly be updated, retrained, and tweaked. It still requires a human behind that task. It’s not automatic.

Even if I haven’t eased your fears, let me make this point. Data is required to train an AI. And although it seems these companies collect data on everything. How do you create a data set of consoling someone who’s husband died? How do you create a data set of understanding a customer? How do you create a data set of telling a great story? The world is full of incomplete data sets. The tasks it does better than a human, will be as an assistance to a human doing a more complex set of work that requires working where there isn’t data. Creation, connection, invention, will always be part of the human condition. 

Technology is a trend of empowerment.

Prior to industrialism, the word was mostly on the feudal system. Nobles owned lands, and manors, ruling the citizenry that lived with them. The serfs mostly supported the household as farmers, blacksmiths, troops, etc. There wasn’t a concept of specific jobs, just pull your weight somehow. However, surpluses of crops or other resources would be traded in other villagers to get new supplies.

When industrialism first came about, water wheels and steam engines were the power sources empowering workers to be more productive. With water powering it, the mill could turn more grain into flour than any worker had in history. The result was an abundance of flour with the mill producing excesses, allowing more to be used to trade for other resources not locally available.

The system created an opportunity for a serf to build a mill on the water, create an outsized contribution through his industrial system, and start to generate “wealth” for himself. That’s the story of the empowerment of technology.

Of course, there are always temporary disruptions. For example, as more people build mills, there is a rising cost to getting into the industry. Rather than needing just a grinding stone, you need a building, and a mechanical system connected to a water wheel. And that old-school miller has to adapt, find a different way to compete, or find a new line of work. But, there are options.

Additionally, the miller who didn’t previously use a water wheel is in quite a bind if he can’t figure out how to engineer one, should there be a competition for work. However, it takes time and effort for ideas like this to spread. In the modern era, this would be product development, marketing, and sales. Nothing happens overnight, even if it feels like it.

Throughout the last 200 years, technology development has accelerated and disruption with it, that’s what’s scaring people. I wrote this to get you out in front of it, to understand what is the right thing to fear, and how to avoid needing the fear altogether.

Education of 1000, 100, and 10 years in the past.

Education is an important aspect of improving life. Traditionally, the word itself is derived from a latin word that means, “a breeding, a bringing up, a rearing.” Which in itself, seems to mean that it was primarily the duty of your family.

Starting back 1000 years ago, there was no printing press. All documents were hand-written, copies had to be transcribed by hand, making all documents expensive, and mostly for the wealthy. Knowing how to read and write itself was uncommon and the bodies of knowledge that existed at the time were much shallower than today, as a result of less sharing and building on top of previous research by others. Most education was by word of mouth, and storytelling. Taught by your relatives to you, in order to learn how to do the work that your family has done for generations.

To dig deep for a benefit of education back then that is better than modern education, it would have to be that if you were one of the rare few scholars, or wealthy, your education was in small class sizes, with likely a lot of personal interaction with your teachers. However, so few people received the privilege of schooling, that it’s not much of a net benefit to society.

Moving on several centuries to a hundred years ago. That puts us in 1919. World War I had ended, and it had been roughly 50 years since all states had adopted tax-subsidized elementary schools. The printing press existed, so textbooks were cheaper, and more widely available to deliver knowledge. The knowledge base of the last 900 years in mathematics, grammar, history, and science had grown considerably.  The availability to learn knowledge that your parents or family didn’t have for lower class families had been happening for a couple generations, and new inventions and creations were starting to happen at a rate that wasn’t previously seen. In 1870, there was around 31,000 patents filed, by 1919, there was roughly four times that amount! Partly as a result of a better educated society.

Compared to 1000 years ago, it’s likely that students were getting less individualized instruction, as a side effect of more children attending school, however, the number of subjects, and the wide availability of study materials were on an entirely different level than prior.

If we fast forward to 10 years ago. We’ve added the invention of the internet, and smartphones, like the iPhone are 2 years old. The instant availability of researching nearly any topic is now possible. Videos can be sent and recorded quickly and easily. High quality learning materials are forming as a result. In between the learning of the theoretical practices that schooling provides, some sites are filled with practical examples of applications of science, medicine, natural history, and just about any topic imaginable is within reach, regardless of who you know.

The downside of the more modern education if there is any by comparison to the previous stages of history, is the class size. As more people than ever are attending schooling, it’s become obvious that the number of teachers available isn’t growing as rapidly. However, with strong educational videos forming, and being cheaply (freely) available to anyone with internet access, those who take their education into their own hands are being provided with the most, and likely the best information that has ever existed for becoming more education.

Today, YouTube is filled with educational videos for those who are looking. They are available to anyone with internet access, or even just access to a public library. For those who want to learn, it’s hard to say that education today isn’t stronger than it was in the past. That’s a good thing too, because as society continues to grow more technologically savvy, there is a rising technical overhead to overcome, and it takes a longer education to reach the state-of-the-art.