|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 enterprises work to take advantage of Big Data technologies, they frequently become distracted by product-level decisions. In most new Big Data builds this approach is completely counter-productive: it presupposes tools that may not be a fit for development teams, forces IT to take on the burden of evaluating and maintaining unfamiliar technology, and represents a major up-front expense. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Warfield, CTO and Co-Founder of Coho Data, will dis...
Feb. 6, 2016 07:15 PM EST
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusion, a leading provider of cloud services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Fusion, a leading provider of integrated cloud solutions to small, medium and large businesses, is the industry's single source for the cloud. Fusion's advanced, proprietary cloud service platform enables the integration of leading edge solutions in the cloud, including clou...
Feb. 6, 2016 03:30 PM EST Reads: 704
With the Apple Watch making its way onto wrists all over the world, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a staple in the workplace. In fact, Forrester reported that 68 percent of technology and business decision-makers characterize wearables as a top priority for 2015. Recognizing their business value early on, FinancialForce.com was the first to bring ERP to wearables, helping streamline communication across front and back office functions. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kevin Roberts...
Feb. 6, 2016 03:15 PM EST Reads: 324
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
Feb. 6, 2016 02:30 PM EST Reads: 351
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
Feb. 6, 2016 01:30 PM EST Reads: 341
SYS-CON Events announced today that VAI, a leading ERP software provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. VAI (Vormittag Associates, Inc.) is a leading independent mid-market ERP software developer renowned for its flexible solutions and ability to automate critical business functions for the distribution, manufacturing, specialty retail and service sectors. An IBM Premier Business Part...
Feb. 6, 2016 01:00 PM EST Reads: 536
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, will provide an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data profes...
Feb. 6, 2016 11:00 AM EST Reads: 117
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, will discuss the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filte...
Feb. 6, 2016 11:00 AM EST
Fortunately, meaningful and tangible business cases for IoT are plentiful in a broad array of industries and vertical markets. These range from simple warranty cost reduction for capital intensive assets, to minimizing downtime for vital business tools, to creating feedback loops improving product design, to improving and enhancing enterprise customer experiences. All of these business cases, which will be briefly explored in this session, hinge on cost effectively extracting relevant data from ...
Feb. 6, 2016 09:00 AM EST
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 ad...
Feb. 6, 2016 05:00 AM EST Reads: 328
Most people haven’t heard the word, “gamification,” even though they probably, and perhaps unwittingly, participate in it every day. Gamification is “the process of adding games or game-like elements to something (as a task) so as to encourage participation.” Further, gamification is about bringing game mechanics – rules, constructs, processes, and methods – into the real world in an effort to engage people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Endo, owner and engagement manager of Intrepid D...
Feb. 5, 2016 09:00 PM EST Reads: 772
Eighty percent of a data scientist’s time is spent gathering and cleaning up data, and 80% of all data is unstructured and almost never analyzed. Cognitive computing, in combination with Big Data, is changing the equation by creating data reservoirs and using natural language processing to enable analysis of unstructured data sources. This is impacting every aspect of the analytics profession from how data is mined (and by whom) to how it is delivered. This is not some futuristic vision: it's ha...
Feb. 2, 2016 02:00 PM EST Reads: 402
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.
Feb. 2, 2016 04:30 AM EST Reads: 838
Learn how IoT, cloud, social networks and last but not least, humans, can be integrated into a seamless integration of cooperative organisms both cybernetic and biological. This has been enabled by recent advances in IoT device capabilities, messaging frameworks, presence and collaboration services, where devices can share information and make independent and human assisted decisions based upon social status from other entities. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Heydt, founder of Seamless...
Feb. 1, 2016 05:00 AM EST Reads: 922
The IoT's basic concept of collecting data from as many sources possible to drive better decision making, create process innovation and realize additional revenue has been in use at large enterprises with deep pockets for decades. So what has changed? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Prasanna Sivaramakrishnan, Solutions Architect at Red Hat, discussed the impact commodity hardware, ubiquitous connectivity, and innovations in open source software are having on the connected universe of people, thi...
Jan. 31, 2016 09:00 PM EST Reads: 717
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, provided an overview of this technological shift, including associated business and consumer communications impacts, and opportunities it may enable, complement or entirely transform.
Jan. 31, 2016 07:15 PM EST Reads: 1,135
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, showed 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 received the download information, scripts, and complete end-t...
Jan. 31, 2016 10:00 AM EST Reads: 1,197
For manufacturers, the Internet of Things (IoT) represents a jumping-off point for innovation, jobs, and revenue creation. But to adequately seize the opportunity, manufacturers must design devices that are interconnected, can continually sense their environment and process huge amounts of data. As a first step, manufacturers must embrace a new product development ecosystem in order to support these products.
Jan. 31, 2016 10:00 AM EST Reads: 798
Manufacturing connected IoT versions of traditional products requires more than multiple deep technology skills. It also requires a shift in mindset, to realize that connected, sensor-enabled “things” act more like services than what we usually think of as products. In his session at @ThingsExpo, David Friedman, CEO and co-founder of Ayla Networks, discussed how when sensors start generating detailed real-world data about products and how they’re being used, smart manufacturers can use the dat...
Jan. 30, 2016 07:45 PM EST Reads: 772
When it comes to IoT in the enterprise, namely the commercial building and hospitality markets, a benefit not getting the attention it deserves is energy efficiency, and IoT’s direct impact on a cleaner, greener environment when installed in smart buildings. Until now clean technology was offered piecemeal and led with point solutions that require significant systems integration to orchestrate and deploy. There didn't exist a 'top down' approach that can manage and monitor the way a Smart Buildi...
Jan. 30, 2016 03:45 PM EST Reads: 1,258