*This Editor’s Note will appear in the July/August Edition of WDD.
Technology is a funny thing. It seems, in most instances, technology is more in control of us than we are of it. But what good does it bring? Why do we hate to love technology? Well, for one, it improves quality of life and helps you have better experiences. What once took us 10 minutes, now takes us just one, and we can spend the other nine minutes now doing something we love. (Or, that’s what we should be doing, anyway.) Think of it like Microsoft’s Business Scientist Ric Merrifield does, “Quality of life is the climate you’re living in at any given point and time. Experiences are like the weather you are having at that time.”
Take, for instance, driving to work. One day soon (or sooner than we would like), we may have self-driving cars to take us all the way, without any intervention at all by us humans, but until then we have other important and useful things, such as map applications that tell us when traffic is ahead and sends us on a different, less-trafficked route. We have hands-free calling via Bluetooth so we can chat with our loved ones during the commute. We have driver assistance technology that senses a car coming up in your blind spots behind or alongside of you. What you may miss in a quick glance, your car’s blind spot detection picks up. And these are just in one small facet of our lives, don’t even get me started on the smart home or smart factories.
This brings us to the Internet of Things (IoT) (well, technically we’re already there): The idea that all of this interconnection via numerous computing devices embedded in everyday objects, enables them to send and receive data efficiently and accurately to better our lives. Technology itself is pretty amazing, and it’s that much better when it’s all connected to function as one well-oiled machine. But, what’s the tradeoff? In some cases, it’s privacy. For instance, when downloading certain apps on your phone, you are required to sign some sort of agreement that no one ever reads. You’re likely signing away some bit of your privacy. Take Snapchat, for instance. I bet those photos don’t actually “disappear,” rather they’re housed in some giant cloud that is just waiting to be hacked. (Oh, wait… Indian hackers claim that already happened.) In other cases, you must allow the app to track your location while in use, like in the case of map apps. You’re giving away data that will (hopefully) be used to better your user experience.
Much like technology, in life, when making decisions, there are also tradeoffs. We want to be able to use technology to its full capacity, but with that, we have to expose a bit of our own personal information. Most recently, I made a career decision to leave my position as Editor in Chief of WDD, and as stated above, there are many tradeoffs. One, for instance, is that although it will be an exciting change for me, I will have to leave you, our loyal readers behind, as well as our wonderful team here at WDD. With that, I would like to thank you immensely for listening to me for all these years, and for teaching me all about your world—the world of technology and engineering. It’s one I’ll never forget!
All my best,
Filed Under: M2M (machine to machine)