Monthly Archives: March 2017

Some basic premises - often fashioned by leaders and supported by the led - exercise the collective conscience of the led in so far as they stimulate a willed development. The development is usually superior but not necessarily civilized. The premises in question are of this form: "Our level of technological advancement is second to none. Upon reaching this level, we also have to prepare our society for peace, and to guarantee the peace, technology must be revised to foster the policy of war." Technological advancement that is pushed in this direction sets a dangerous precedent for other societies that fear a threat to their respective sovereignties. They are pushed to also foster a war technology.

In the domain of civilization, this mode of development is not praiseworthy, nor is it morally justifiable. Since it is not morally justifiable, it is socially irresponsible. An inspection of the premises will reveal that it is the last one that poses a problem. The last premise is the conclusion of two preceding premises but is not in any way logically deduced. What it shows is a passionately deduced conclusion, and being so, it fails to be reckoned as a conclusion from a rationally prepared mind, at least at the time at which it was deduced.

A society that advances according to the above presuppositions - and especially according to the illogical conclusion - has transmitted the psyche of non-negotiable superiority to its people. All along, the power of passion dictates the pace of human conduct. Whether in constructive engagements or willed partnerships, the principle of equality fails to work precisely because of the superiority syndrome that grips the leader and the led. And a different society that refuses to share in the collective sensibilities or passion of such society has, by the expected logic, become a potential or actual enemy and faces confrontation on all possible fronts.

Most of what we learn about the present world, of course, via the media, is dominated by state-of-the-art technology. Societies that have the most of such technology are also, time and again, claimed to be the most advanced. It is not only their advancement that lifts them to the pinnacle of power, superiority, and fame. They can also use technology to simplify and move forward an understanding of life and nature in a different direction, a direction that tends to eliminate, as much as possible, a prior connection between life and nature that was, in many respects, mystical and unsafe. This last point does not necessarily mean that technological advancement is a mark of a superior civilization.

What we need to know is that civilization and technology are not conjugal terms. Civilized people may have an advanced technology or they may not have it. Civilization is not just a matter of science and technology or technical infrastructure, or, again, the marvel of buildings; it also has to do with the moral and mental reflexes of people as well as their level of social connectedness within their own society and beyond. It is from the general behaviour makeup of people that all forms of physical structures could be created, so too the question of science and technology. Thus, the kind of bridges, roads, buildings, heavy machinery, among others, that we can see in a society could tell, in a general way, the behavioural pattern of the people. Behavioural pattern could also tell a lot about the extent to which the natural environment has been utilized for infrastructural activities, science and technology. Above all, behavioural pattern could tell a lot about the perceptions and understanding of the people about other people.

I do believe - and, I think, most people do believe - that upon accelerating the rate of infrastructural activities and technology, the environment has to recede in its naturalness. Once advancing technology (and its attendant structures or ideas) competes with the green environment for space, this environment that houses trees, grass, flowers, all kinds of animals and fish has to shrink in size. Yet the growth of population, the relentless human craving for quality life, the need to control life without depending on the unpredictable condition of the natural environment prompt the use of technology. Technology need not pose unwarranted danger to the natural environment. It is the misuse of technology that is in question. While a society may justly utilize technology to improve quality of life, its people also have to ask: "how much technology do we need to safeguard the natural environment?" Suppose society Y blends the moderate use of technology with the natural environment in order to offset the reckless destruction of the latter, then this kind of positioning prompts the point that society Y is a lover of the principle of balance. From this principle, one can boldly conclude that society Y favours stability more than chaos, and has, therefore, the sense of moral and social responsibility. Any state-of-the-art technology points to the sophistication of the human mind, and it indicates that the natural environment has been cavalierly tamed.

If humans do not want to live at the mercy of the natural environment - which, of course, is an uncertain way of life - but according to their own predicted pace, then the use of technology is a matter of course. It would seem that the principle of balance that society Y has chosen could only be for a short while or that this is more of a make-believe position than a real one. For when the power of the human mind gratifies itself following a momentous achievement in technology, retreat, or, at best, a slow-down is quite unusual. It is as if the human mind is telling itself: "technological advancement has to accelerate without any obstruction. A retreat or a gradual process is an insult to the inquiring mind." This kind of thought process only points out the enigma of the mind, its dark side, not its finest area. And in seeking to interrogate the present mode of a certain technology according to the instructions of the mind, the role of ethics is indispensable.

Is it morally right to use this kind of technology for this kind of product? And is it morally right to use this kind of product? Both questions hint that the product or products in question are either harmful or not, environmentally friendly or not, or that they do not only cause harm directly to humans but directly to the environment too. And if, as I have stated, the purpose of technology is to improve the quality of life, then to use technology to produce products that harm both humans and the natural environment contradicts the purpose of technology, and it also falsifies an assertion that humans are rational. Furthermore, it suggests that the sophisticated level that the human mind has reached is unable to grasp the essence or rationale of quality life. In this regard, a peaceful coexistence with the natural environment would have been deserted for the sake of an unrestrained, inquiring human mind. The human mind would, as it were, become corrupted with beliefs or ideas that are untenable in any number of ways.

The advocacy that is done by environmentalists relate to the question of environmental degradation and its negative consequences on humans. They insist that there is no justification for producing high-tech products that harm both humans and the natural environment. This contention sounds persuasive. High technology may demonstrate the height of human accomplishment, but it may not point to moral and social responsibility. And to this point, the question may be asked: "In what ways can humans close the chasm between unrestrained high technology and environmental degradation?"

Too often, most modern humans tend to think that a sophisticated lifestyle is preferable to a simple one. The former is supported by the weight of high technology, the latter is mostly not. The former eases the burden of depending too much on the dictates of the natural environment, the latter does not. The latter tends to seek a symbiotic relationship with the natural environment, the former does not. Whether human comfort should come largely from an advanced technology or the natural environment is not a matter that could be easily answered. If the natural environment is shrinking due to population growth and other unavoidable causes, then advanced technology is required to alleviate the pressures to human comfort that arise. It is the irresponsible proliferation of, say, war technology, high-tech products, among others, that are in need of criticism and have to stop.

"Technology in the long-run is irrelevant". That is what a customer of mine told me when I made a presentation to him about a new product. I had been talking about the product's features and benefits and listed "state-of-the-art technology" or something to that effect, as one of them. That is when he made his statement. I realized later that he was correct, at least within the context of how I used "Technology" in my presentation. But I began thinking about whether he could be right in other contexts as well.

What is Technology?

Merriam-Webster defines it as:

1

a: the practical application of knowledge especially in a particular area: engineering 2 <medical technology>

b: a capability given by the practical application of knowledge <a car's fuel-saving technology>

2

: a manner of accomplishing a task especially using technical processes, methods, or knowledge

3

: the specialized aspects of a particular field of endeavor <educational technology>

Wikipedia defines it as:

Technology (from Greek τέχνη, techne, "art, skill, cunning of hand"; and -λογία, -logia[1]) is the making, modification, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems, and methods of organization, in order to solve a problem, improve a preexisting solution to a problem, achieve a goal, handle an applied input/output relation or perform a specific function. It can also refer to the collection of such tools, including machinery, modifications, arrangements and procedures. Technologies significantly affect human as well as other animal species' ability to control and adapt to their natural environments. The term can either be applied generally or to specific areas: examples include construction technology, medical technology, and information technology.

Both definitions revolve around the same thing - application and usage.

Technology is an enabler

Many people mistakenly believe it is technology which drives innovation. Yet from the definitions above, that is clearly not the case. It is opportunity which defines innovation and technology which enables innovation. Think of the classic "Build a better mousetrap" example taught in most business schools. You might have the technology to build a better mousetrap, but if you have no mice or the old mousetrap works well, there is no opportunity and then the technology to build a better one becomes irrelevant. On the other hand, if you are overrun with mice then the opportunity exists to innovate a product using your technology.

Another example, one with which I am intimately familiar, are consumer electronics startup companies. I've been associated with both those that succeeded and those that failed. Each possessed unique leading edge technologies. The difference was opportunity. Those that failed could not find the opportunity to develop a meaningful innovation using their technology. In fact to survive, these companies had to morph oftentimes into something totally different and if they were lucky they could take advantage of derivatives of their original technology. More often than not, the original technology wound up in the scrap heap. Technology, thus, is an enabler whose ultimate value proposition is to make improvements to our lives. In order to be relevant, it needs to be used to create innovations that are driven by opportunity.

Technology as a competitive advantage?

Many companies list a technology as one of their competitive advantages. Is this valid? In some cases yes, but In most cases no.

Technology develops along two paths - an evolutionary path and a revolutionary path.

A revolutionary technology is one which enables new industries or enables solutions to problems that were previously not possible. Semiconductor technology is a good example. Not only did it spawn new industries and products, but it spawned other revolutionary technologies - transistor technology, integrated circuit technology, microprocessor technology. All which provide many of the products and services we consume today. But is semiconductor technology a competitive advantage? Looking at the number of semiconductor companies that exist today (with new ones forming every day), I'd say not. How about microprocessor technology? Again, no. Lots of microprocessor companies out there. How about quad core microprocessor technology? Not as many companies, but you have Intel, AMD, ARM, and a host of companies building custom quad core processors (Apple, Samsung, Qualcomm, etc). So again, not much of a competitive advantage. Competition from competing technologies and easy access to IP mitigates the perceived competitive advantage of any particular technology. Android vs iOS is a good example of how this works. Both operating systems are derivatives of UNIX. Apple used their technology to introduce iOS and gained an early market advantage. However, Google, utilizing their variant of Unix (a competing technology), caught up relatively quickly. The reasons for this lie not in the underlying technology, but in how the products made possible by those technologies were brought to market (free vs. walled garden, etc.) and the differences in the strategic visions of each company.

Evolutionary technology is one which incrementally builds upon the base revolutionary technology. But by it's very nature, the incremental change is easier for a competitor to match or leapfrog. Take for example wireless cellphone technology. Company V introduced 4G products prior to Company A and while it may have had a short term advantage, as soon as Company A introduced their 4G products, the advantage due to technology disappeared. The consumer went back to choosing Company A or Company V based on price, service, coverage, whatever, but not based on technology. Thus technology might have been relevant in the short term, but in the long term, became irrelevant.

In today's world, technologies tend to quickly become commoditized, and within any particular technology lies the seeds of its own death.

Technology's Relevance

This article was written from the prospective of an end customer. From a developer/designer standpoint things get murkier. The further one is removed from the technology, the less relevant it becomes. To a developer, the technology can look like a product. An enabling product, but a product nonetheless, and thus it is highly relevant. Bose uses a proprietary signal processing technology to enable products that meet a set of market requirements and thus the technology and what it enables is relevant to them. Their customers are more concerned with how it sounds, what's the price, what's the quality, etc., and not so much with how it is achieved, thus the technology used is much less relevant to them.

Recently, I was involved in a discussion on Google+ about the new Motorola X phone. A lot of the people on those posts slammed the phone for various reasons - price, locked boot loader, etc. There were also plenty of knocks on the fact that it didn't have a quad-core processor like the S4 or HTC One which were priced similarly. What they failed to grasp is that whether the manufacturer used 1, 2, 4, or 8 cores in the end makes no difference as long as the phone can deliver a competitive (or even best of class) feature set, functionality, price, and user experience. The iPhone is one of the most successful phones ever produced, and yet it runs on a dual-core processor. It still delivers one of the best user experiences on the market. The features that are enabled by the technology are what are relevant to the consumer, not the technology itself.

The relevance of technology therefore, is as an enabler, not as a product feature or a competitive advantage, or any myriad of other things - an enabler. Looking at the Android operating system, it is an impressive piece of software technology, and yet Google gives it away. Why? Because standalone, it does nothing for Google. Giving it away allows other companies to use their expertise to build products and services which then act as enablers for Google's products and services. To Google, that's where the real value is.

postThe development of Wireless technology owes it all to Michael Faraday - for discovering the principle of electromagnetic induction, to James Maxwell - for the Maxwell's equations and to Guglielmo Marconi - for transmitting a wireless signal over one and a half miles. The sole purpose of Wi-Fi technology is wireless communication, through which information can be transferred between two or more points that are not connected by electrical conductors.

Wireless technologies were in use since the advent of radios, which use electromagnetic transmissions. Eventually, consumer electronics manufacturers started thinking about the possibilities of automating domestic microcontroller based devices. Timely and reliable relay of sensor data and controller commands were soon achieved, which led to the discovery of Wireless communications that we see everywhere now.

History

With the radios being used for wireless communications in the World war era, scientists and inventors started focusing on means to developing wireless phones. The radio soon became available for consumers and by mid 1980s, wireless phones or mobile phones started to appear. In the late 1990s, mobile phones gained huge prominence with over 50 million users worldwide. Then the concept of wireless internet and its possibilities were taken into account. Eventually, the wireless internet technology came into existence. This gave a boost to the growth of wireless technology, which comes in many forms at present.

Applications of Wireless Technology

The rapid progress of wireless technology led to the invention of mobile phones which uses radio waves to enable communication from different locations around the world. The application of wireless tech now ranges from wireless data communications in various fields including medicine, military etc to wireless energy transfers and wireless interface of computer peripherals. Point to point, point to multipoint, broadcasting etc are all possible and easy now with the use of wireless.

The most widely used Wi-Fi tech is the Bluetooth, which uses short wavelength radio transmissions to connect and communicate with other compatible electronic devices. This technology has grown to a phase where wireless keyboards, mouse and other peripherals can be connected to a computer. Wireless technologies are used:

· While traveling

· In Hotels

· In Business

· In Mobile and voice communication

· In Home networking

· In Navigation systems

· In Video game consoles

· In quality control systems

The greatest benefit of Wireless like Wi-Fi is the portability. For distances between devices where cabling isn't an option, technologies like Wi-Fi can be used. Wi-fi communications can also provide as a backup communications link in case of network failures. One can even use wireless technologies to use data services even if he's stuck in the middle of the ocean. However, Wireless still have slower response times compared to wired communications and interfaces. But this gap is getting narrower with each passing year.

Progress of Wireless technology

Wireless data communications now come in technologies namely Wi-Fi (a wireless local area network), cellular data services such as GPRS, EDGE and 3G, and mobile satellite communications. Point-to-point communication was a big deal decades ago. But now, point-to-multipoint and wireless data streaming to multiple wirelessly connected devices are possible. Personal network of computers can now be created using Wi-Fi, which also allows data services to be shared by multiple systems connected to the network.

Wireless technologies with faster speeds at 5 ghz and transmission capabilities were quite expensive when they were invented. But now, almost all mobile handsets and mini computers come with technologies like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, although with variable data transfer speeds. Wireless have grown to such a level, where even mobile handsets can act as Wi-Fi hotspots, enabling other handsets or computers connected to a particular Wi-Fi hotspot enabled handset, can share cellular data services and other information. Streaming audio and video data wirelessly from the cell phone to a TV or computer is a walk in the park now.

Wireless Technology today, are robust, easy to use, and are portable as there are no cables involved. Apart from local area networks, even Metropolitan Area networks have started using Wi-fi tech (WMAN) and Customer Premises Equipment ( CPE ). Aviation, Transportation and the Military use wireless technologies in the form of Satellite communications. Without using interconnecting wires, wireless technologies are also used in transferring energy from a power source to a load, given that the load doesn't have a built-in power source.

However, the fact that 'nothing comes without a drawback' or 'nothing is perfect' also applies to Wi-fi technology. Wireless technologies still have limitations, but scientists are currently working on it to remove the drawbacks and add to the benefits. The main limitation is that Wireless technologies such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi can only be used in a limited area. The wireless signals can be broadcasted only to a particular distance. Devices outside of this range won't be able to use Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. But the distance limitation is becoming reduced every year. There are also a few security limitations which hackers can exploit to cause harm in a wireless network. But Wireless technologies with better security features have started to come out. So this is not going to be a problem for long.

Speaking of progress, Wi-Fi technology is not limited to powerful computers and mobile handsets. The technology has progressed enough that Wi-Fi enabled TVs and microwaves have started appearing in the markets. The latest and the most talked-about wireless technology is the NFC or Near Field Communication, which lets users exchange data by tapping their devices together. Using wireless technologies are not as expensive as it used to be in the last decade. With each passing year, newer and better wireless technologies arrive with greater benefits.