|By Shelly Palmer||
|December 31, 2012 10:41 PM EST||
We have become addicted to catastrophes and end of days predictions. We have become, in a word from Gary Alexander: Apocaholics. In a 2007 web essay, Alexander began a long list on Armageddon- that-never-were with the following preamble:
Hi, I’m Gary and I’m a recovering Apocaholic. I am currently Apocalypse free for nearly 18 years. I left the church of the Religious Apocalypse in 1976, over 30 years ago, and I resigned from the secular church of the Financial Apocalypse in 1989. Yes, I still feel the urge to proclaim the end of all things, from time to time, but I white-knuckle my way to a history book for a little perspective, and then I breathe easier. If you wish to join AA, the only requirement is that you give up the adrenaline rush of media-fed fantasies.
Since I spoke to you last on this subject, in 1994, we have survived “Bankruptcy 1995” (the original epidemic of Hockey Stock charts), the Big Bang in Hong Kong, years of Y2K scare stories, a SARS epidemic, Mad Cow disease, Bird Flu, a real threat on 9/11, Triple Deficits (Budget, Trade and Balance of Payments), wars in Serbia/Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan, Deflation in 2003, Inflation since then, The Perfect Storms of 2005 (Katrina, Rita and Wilma, the 3 Witches of the Bermuda Triangle), and today’s reigning fears of Global Warming, $200 Oil and the Sub-prime Housing Loan Crisis Implosion.
But before we go from today’s Sub-prime to the ridiculous claims of imminent collapse, let me introduce the depths of my past addiction to the Apocalypse. I was born in July 1945, the day the first atomic bomb exploded in Alamogordo, New Mexico. That mushroom crowd has haunted our lives ever since. As a teenager, I became convinced the world would end before I was 30. Too soon old…too late smart, I was very, very wrong.
Taking a cue from Alexander, Matt Ridley, a columnist for The Wall Street Journal and author of The Rational Optimist, produced a well-researched and balanced look at apocaholism for WIRED magazine called “Apocalypse Not” (8/17/12).
He observes: “The past half century has brought us warnings of population explosions, global famines, plagues, water wars, oil exhaustion, mineral shortages, falling sperm counts, thinning ozones, acidifying rain, nuclear winters, Y2K bugs, mad cow epidemics, killer-bees, sex-change fish, cell-phone-induced brain cancer epidemics and climate catastrophes. All of these specters tuned out to be exaggerated.”
Ridley’s piece highlights the adverse effects of being a world of apocaholics. We make bad personal and policy decisions. Level-headed, middle ground approaches to real issues like climate change are not considered, and the moderate “lukewarmers” are never given a voice.
Ridley ends his piece like this: “We will combat our ecological threats in the future by innovating to meet them as they rise, not through the mass fear stoked by worst-case scenarios.”
In a world of apocaholics, there is nothing but extremes. You have two choices: Tuesday or Doomsday. There’s no in-between. This can be dangerous. We’ve seen this played out recently with climate change. In the apocaholics’ view, the world is either going to end or everything is fine. (Apocaholics and most any –aholics are really good at denial). Climate scientists have suffered from this bipolar conundrum. For years we’ve been told that we’re either all going to die from climate change or we’re told that everything is fine. Of course, neither of these is correct.
The trouble with real problems is that they aren’t as clear as a massive planet on a collision course with the Earth, nor are they prophecies from an ancient civilization that give an actual day and time when everything goes to hell. The sober truth is that real problems are not as simple as Tuesday or Doomsday. I love a good end of the world story as much as the next person, but to solve the real problems facing us, our children and our planet we need to grow up.
“I take everyone’s extreme interest as a compliment,” Joe told me as we finished up our conversation. He’s extraordinarily level-headed that way. “The reason why people love apocalypses so much is that they love science and just don’t know it. It lets them get interested in the sun and science and the future and the wonderment of the natural world. Also, the end of the world makes us all the same. It doesn’t matter if you’re from a red state or a blue state… all the petty reasons we fight and argue don’t matter anymore. If they sun blows up and the world ends, it’s bad for all of us.”
Staring Down Both Barrels of the Earth’s Shotgun
I spent my apocalypse in Cannon Beach, Oregon. The evening of 12/21/12 found me standing on the back deck of the Surf Sand Resort, watching the raging Pacific Ocean in the moonlight. In December, the coast in the Pacific Northwest is cold and rainy and windy. The surf is violent and loud as it smashes into the sand and spreads debris across the beach. It was a perfect place to watch the world end.
Cannon Beach is located on the Northern coast of Oregon. It’s a small town with a picturesque downtown and some really great pubs. It also sits right next to the off shore Cascadia fault, where the Juan del Fuca Plate is sliding under the North American Plates. This plate tectonic action can bring about deep and severe earthquakes out in the Pacific, followed by powerful tsunamis. It’s not a matter of IF… it’s a matter of WHEN. And when it does happen, beautiful Cannon Beach is sitting in the cross-hairs of that destruction.
I watched the violent winter ocean that night, knowing that when a catastrophe strikes this part of the coast, the very deck I was standing on would be destroyed. I was staring down both barrels of one of the Earth’s many shotguns. But it cleared my head of all this apocalypse chatter. I wasn’t scared. (Cannon Beach and many towns on the Oregon coast have a well-planned evacuation route and safe high ground isn’t very far away.)
I looked up at the unseasonably clear sky and thought about Carl Sagan and the quote from his groundbreaking 1980 TV show Cosmos. I could hear him say, “We are all made of star stuff.” It was Sagan’s lovely idea that we are all made of the same things; the elements that make up our bodies come from the stars. We are made of the same stuff that space scientists like Joe Kunches have been watching and tracking with their incredibly powerful telescopes. We have a connection not only to this world but to the entire it cosmos.
In the face of that, all this apocalypse talk became trivial. When we think about our future, are we looking in the wrong places? How would our vision for the future change? Would we continue to fight and bicker about the same problems? If we are all made of stars, all standing on the edge of this lovely and violent planet together, couldn’t we imagine a very different future for ourselves?
It made the end of the world seem silly.
DISCLAIMER: I am Intel’s futurist. I am currently on sabbatical from Intel. My thoughts, observations and analyses are mine personally and I am not speaking on behalf of Intel.
As a company adopts a DevOps approach to software development, what are key things that both the Dev and Ops side of the business must keep in mind to ensure effective continuous delivery? In his session at DevOps Summit, Mark Hydar, Head of DevOps, Ericsson TV Platforms, will share best practices and provide helpful tips for Ops teams to adopt an open line of communication with the development side of the house to ensure success between the two sides.
Oct. 10, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 638
There will be 20 billion IoT devices connected to the Internet soon. What if we could control these devices with our voice, mind, or gestures? What if we could teach these devices how to talk to each other? What if these devices could learn how to interact with us (and each other) to make our lives better? What if Jarvis was real? How can I gain these super powers? In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Chris Matthieu, co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, will show you!
Oct. 10, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 123
Developing software for the Internet of Things (IoT) comes with its own set of challenges. Security, privacy, and unified standards are a few key issues. In addition, each IoT product is comprised of at least three separate application components: the software embedded in the device, the backend big-data service, and the mobile application for the end user's controls. Each component is developed by a different team, using different technologies and practices, and deployed to a different stack/target - this makes the integration of these separate pipelines and the coordination of software upd...
Oct. 10, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 326
Mobile messaging has been a popular communication channel for more than 20 years. Finnish engineer Matti Makkonen invented the idea for SMS (Short Message Service) in 1984, making his vision a reality on December 3, 1992 by sending the first message ("Happy Christmas") from a PC to a cell phone. Since then, the technology has evolved immensely, from both a technology standpoint, and in our everyday uses for it. Originally used for person-to-person (P2P) communication, i.e., Sally sends a text message to Betty – mobile messaging now offers tremendous value to businesses for customer and empl...
Oct. 10, 2015 10:15 AM EDT Reads: 336
SYS-CON Events announced today that Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, will keynote at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Oct. 10, 2015 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 134
The IoT market is on track to hit $7.1 trillion in 2020. The reality is that only a handful of companies are ready for this massive demand. There are a lot of barriers, paint points, traps, and hidden roadblocks. How can we deal with these issues and challenges? The paradigm has changed. Old-style ad-hoc trial-and-error ways will certainly lead you to the dead end. What is mandatory is an overarching and adaptive approach to effectively handle the rapid changes and exponential growth.
Oct. 10, 2015 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 256
The IoT is upon us, but today’s databases, built on 30-year-old math, require multiple platforms to create a single solution. Data demands of the IoT require Big Data systems that can handle ingest, transactions and analytics concurrently adapting to varied situations as they occur, with speed at scale. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chad Jones, chief strategy officer at Deep Information Sciences, will look differently at IoT data so enterprises can fully leverage their IoT potential. He’ll share tips on how to speed up business initiatives, harness Big Data and remain one step ahead by apply...
Oct. 10, 2015 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 641
WebRTC converts the entire network into a ubiquitous communications cloud thereby connecting anytime, anywhere through any point. In his session at WebRTC Summit,, Mark Castleman, EIR at Bell Labs and Head of Future X Labs, will discuss how the transformational nature of communications is achieved through the democratizing force of WebRTC. WebRTC is doing for voice what HTML did for web content.
Oct. 10, 2015 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,444
Today air travel is a minefield of delays, hassles and customer disappointment. Airlines struggle to revitalize the experience. GE and M2Mi will demonstrate practical examples of how IoT solutions are helping airlines bring back personalization, reduce trip time and improve reliability. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Dr. Sarah Cooper, M2Mi's VP Business Development and Engineering, will explore the IoT cloud-based platform technologies driving this change including privacy controls, data transparency and integration of real time context w...
Oct. 10, 2015 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 158
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Oct. 10, 2015 07:00 AM EDT Reads: 5,951
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
Oct. 10, 2015 06:00 AM EDT Reads: 826
Nowadays, a large number of sensors and devices are connected to the network. Leading-edge IoT technologies integrate various types of sensor data to create a new value for several business decision scenarios. The transparent cloud is a model of a new IoT emergence service platform. Many service providers store and access various types of sensor data in order to create and find out new business values by integrating such data.
Oct. 10, 2015 04:00 AM EDT Reads: 610
The broad selection of hardware, the rapid evolution of operating systems and the time-to-market for mobile apps has been so rapid that new challenges for developers and engineers arise every day. Security, testing, hosting, and other metrics have to be considered through the process. In his session at Big Data Expo, Walter Maguire, Chief Field Technologist, HP Big Data Group, at Hewlett-Packard, will discuss the challenges faced by developers and a composite Big Data applications builder, focusing on how to help solve the problems that developers are continuously battling.
Oct. 10, 2015 04:00 AM EDT Reads: 521
There are so many tools and techniques for data analytics that even for a data scientist the choices, possible systems, and even the types of data can be daunting. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Harrold, Global CTO for Big Data Solutions for EMC Corporation, will show how to perform a simple, but meaningful analysis of social sentiment data using freely available tools that take only minutes to download and install. Participants will get the download information, scripts, and complete end-to-end walkthrough of the analysis from start to finish. Participants will also be given the pract...
Oct. 10, 2015 03:00 AM EDT Reads: 341
WebRTC: together these advances have created a perfect storm of technologies that are disrupting and transforming classic communications models and ecosystems. In his session at WebRTC Summit, Cary Bran, VP of Innovation and New Ventures at Plantronics and PLT Labs, will provide an overview of this technological shift, including associated business and consumer communications impacts, and opportunities it may enable, complement or entirely transform.
Oct. 10, 2015 02:15 AM EDT Reads: 772
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dyn, the worldwide leader in Internet Performance, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Dyn is a cloud-based Internet Performance company. Dyn helps companies monitor, control, and optimize online infrastructure for an exceptional end-user experience. Through a world-class network and unrivaled, objective intelligence into Internet conditions, Dyn ensures traffic gets delivered faster, safer, and more reliably than ever.
Oct. 10, 2015 02:00 AM EDT Reads: 662
WebRTC services have already permeated corporate communications in the form of videoconferencing solutions. However, WebRTC has the potential of going beyond and catalyzing a new class of services providing more than calls with capabilities such as mass-scale real-time media broadcasting, enriched and augmented video, person-to-machine and machine-to-machine communications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Luis Lopez, CEO of Kurento, will introduce the technologies required for implementing these ideas and some early experiments performed in the Kurento open source software community in areas ...
Oct. 10, 2015 01:00 AM EDT Reads: 788
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome,” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
Oct. 10, 2015 12:00 AM EDT Reads: 185
Who are you? How do you introduce yourself? Do you use a name, or do you greet a friend by the last four digits of his social security number? Assuming you don’t, why are we content to associate our identity with 10 random digits assigned by our phone company? Identity is an issue that affects everyone, but as individuals we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ben Klang, Founder & President of Mojo Lingo, will discuss the impact of technology on identity. Should we federate, or not? How should identity be secured? Who owns the identity? How is identity ...
Oct. 9, 2015 10:00 PM EDT Reads: 455
The buzz continues for cloud, data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) and their collective impact across all industries. But a new conversation is emerging - how do companies use industry disruption and technology enablers to lead in markets undergoing change, uncertainty and ambiguity? Organizations of all sizes need to evolve and transform, often under massive pressure, as industry lines blur and merge and traditional business models are assaulted and turned upside down. In this new data-driven world, marketplaces reign supreme while interoperability, APIs and applications deliver un...
Oct. 9, 2015 08:00 PM EDT Reads: 323