Save the Children from Big Business Companies
Senator Franken is no noob when it comes to yanking the chains of what his political base would call, “Big Business”, or, “The Companies”. Both of these terms are nasty pejoratives among rank and file Democrats, and as the ranking lefty on the Senate Privacy, Technology and the Law subcommittee he found a perfect opportunity to flex his guns, protect the children and take a shot at, “The Companies”.
When the Electronic Frontier Foundation cried foul on the discovery of a synchronization component on Google Chromebooks deployed in the education space and made their findings public, Senator Franken issued a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
This letter was pretty respectfully worded, but makes some fairly specific points. Before we get into what the Google does, let’s delve into how we, as a society and as a culture, enable it and allow it to happen…and through our own ignorance…even praise and recommend it.
Tech and Culture
When it comes to technology, ethics and privacy, there is nothing better than a team of folks who put their minds and their muscles together to produce the technology that makes life great. They create with the intent that their creation is to be used for good things. This is known as Acceptable Use. (Thanks Lawyers!) Technology bridges gaps. It makes two people feel closer when they are separated by distance. It makes people stronger, faster and more aware. It presents data in a way that is more effectively consumed.
But technology is a means with which to do something. Technology can’t do things by itself (yet). Until it is picked up and used by people, it just sits there inert…blinking….like a picachu. Not wondering what its next assignment will be. It doesn’t ponder what it has done in the past nor is it dreaming about the future. It is simply a tool. An awesome, shiny toy that can be utilized by anyone, even the smallest of humans.
But because technology is used by humans, technology can also help bad people do bad things. Technology can be used to kill people. It can be used to alienate those we don’t like. It can ruin people’s reputations, and it can mask the evil deeds committed by evil men. It can be oppressive and destructive, but only when in the hands of oppressive and destructive people. The really seedy side of the tech industry, is when a device is created to be used by people where the injustice is committed against themselves and it is done without their knowledge. It really becomes a problem when children are targeted for the same. Again, without their knowledge. While that may sound odd, it happens every day.
It happens at home and at work. It also happens at schools. How did we get here? By attempting to be fair in how we regulate access to technology. While we have broken some barriers, others still stand as a testament to our inhumanity. Let’s look at a few of the victories and failures that, as a society, we have experienced.
The Stupid Barrier
Smart people create technology for smart people. Some technology is only utilized by those who possess the same aptitude for its operation as those who create it. It is created in a reflection of the ability of its creator and how he envisions it will be used. This places limits on the reach of a deployed technology. If it can only be used by those who are smart enough to understand complicated tools, the resulting divide impacts those of us, like me perhaps, who went to public school. It wasn’t very long ago that i would sit around playing with a baby mobile of the solar system. Making sure to let everyone know, “The yellow one is the Sun!’, as they walked by.
Intelligent people, on the other hand, create smart technology for everyone. These are the smart people with compassion and have the ability to relate to the needs of a wider audience. They produce the humanized version of technology. Technology V2, perhaps. Once this happens, those in the industrial vertical markets begin to realize that it is possible to create tools that are easy for everyone to use so that these technological wonders can be used by people who aren’t as smart as those who engineered them.
Through a well thought out and intuitive User Interface, a workflow that makes human sense and guidelines on development that include predictive placement of controls, we don’t have to be an engineer to use it. Those who find traditional learning difficult, those with special accessibility needs and the President of the United States can now use today’s technology. Even I can take advantage of the easy tech revolution. I now enjoy sitting around on my iPad playing with Solar Walk™ letting everyone know, “The yellow one is the Sun!’ Hell, if they parked the Space Shuttle in my drive way for a few weeks, I would probably be an astronaut…just like Matt Damon.
joke credit: Brian Regan
The Moat of Affluence
Everything was great in the technology space. The Club was expanded to accommodate the non-techie. Smart and stupid people using technology together in harmony even in tandem, as they told each other stories of their adventures in far away lands. They showed each other photos of their yachts using their tablets. The videos of their yachts and then of their their jets, occasionally ringing a little magic bell which summoned a floating tray of drinks and sandwiches stabbed with a golden toothpick.
Then someone realized that his butler nor his maids were not here at the Club of technology. The Gardner and his grounds keeper were no where to be seen. Surely they should be, it is Saturday!
Just as the barrier that prevented the stupids from access to technology was overcome, another barrier rears its ugly head. It is the limitation of technology to reach those who have the intelligence to utilize technology but who do not possess the economical means by which acquisition of these tools could be possible. That is when we realize that, more often than not, the magic boxes that contain the technology we use comes at a price that is too high for many.
Limits come to the good things that technology can do simply because it is expensive to develop. It is difficult and time-consuming to create. Exacerbating our ability to recognize the real issues behind the propagation of technology is that it has a value which can be complicated to understand. The price tag obfuscates the investment of everything that went into creating the product it is attached to, because in many cases, it is very inexpensive to manufacture.
Commercialized distribution shows everyone possessing this technology, and they all benefit from its use. Those without critical thinking skills, some look at the plastic box with buttons and then at the price tag and cry out, “How is this even fair?”, without a single thought behind the years of development and testing by hundreds of people and the many versions that were created, came up short and then scrapped due to one issue or another. Rarely seen, are the documents or the footage of how many failures were required to finally get one, this one, right.
What they do see, is a technological tool and a wonder that is intended to augment a child as a tool to be used in the critical learning stages, but most adults have a problem fitting this into their budgets so their child is excluded from benefit. Social and economic justice feelings may make an attempt to overwhelm you.
“They made this stuff so the stupids can use it, why can’t they make it for those who are challenged at the cash register?”
That is an excellent question.
The Fog of Entitlement
There are many great philanthropic programs to help economically disadvantaged kids have access to technology. Steve Wozniak, Apple, Bill Gates…they all have foundations to get students the access to technology where they would not otherwise be exposed. With charity, the benefits of your kind gesture might not be readily apparent. As humans, we expect to impact people’s lives when we do something for others. Sometimes the benefits of our good works are never realized. Other times they aren’t even appreciated.
Embarrassingly, there are some who expect those with more to give what they don’t ‘need’ to those who have less because they are expected to do so. Because those with less feel they are entitled to it.
The culture of entitlement has bred a movement of people as the result unintended consequence. It is comprised of people that are less willing to give because their charity and their donations are no longer seen as a charitable offering. It has become a tax. An enforced payment or shake down.
There are some who believe that because one is in possession of an amount of money that is designated ‘too much’ for one person to utilize, and it isn’t fair for someone to have that much. Someone else should have it. Not just anyone else, but it should belong to that person who makes the determination of abundance specifically.
Because of this perceived abundance, these people feel they deserve some of that abundance for no other reason that because they are entitled to it. There is a perception that the surplus of another is the impetus of the deficit in their own lives. The result is resentment in the act of giving. Even though the net ‘loss’ in money and the resulting material situation is identical after the exchange, using an attitude of gratitude scenario as there is in one of entitlement, for some reason a human being is unwilling to give something of theirs to another human being when the person receiving the property feels it is owed to them even though it is mutually agreed upon that the property is unearned.
This philosophy of entitlement is one that has been accepted by many in our society. Ironically, those who did the all the accepting aren’t the ones who do much of the ‘giving’. And those who are expected to do all of the giving, aren’t very accepting of the premise upon which the giving is predicated. Unlike the smart people who made the technology for humans to use as tools and the intelligent people who improved the technology and made it simple so anyone could utilize it, the limitation of reach is still bound by affordability, and the entitlement people failed in their quest to broaden the technology reach by trying to force affluent people into compliance through expectation.
Taking is the new giving
I envy smart people. I see them every day on the TV. They seem to know exactly who I am and what I need to buy to be a better person. They tell me about the whiter toothpastes when I didn’t even know they could see my teeth were all yellered. They tell me about all the time I could save if I had a slap-chop to cut my dinner. I didn’t even know they cared enough to look at my calendar and decided that I needed to find a way to stop spending so much of my day cutting food.
But did you know that there is a society of smart people who are so smart that you have to be pretty smart yourself just to pronounce the concepts of their philosophy? Although they would tell you that you aren’t anywhere near to possessing the intellect required to adequately comprehend why they think the way they do.
Which is why I don’t know how in the hell they can come up with the things they come up with. They expect us understand some things because they have done enough thinking for all of us. It would be difficult for you or I to even conceptualize their most simplex of thoughts.
Many of us are fine with that. We know our place. If we need the real answers, we can just Google the question. Everyone else does, so should you.
But if you dig a little deeper, reading their publications where even the conjunctions have four syllables, you will find that their collective mind power seems to bend time and space, bringing an alternate universe where things are the opposite of their not-smart versions that we understand as reality.
A place in the mind where closed is really open, security means being vulnerable, where the end-product of billion dollar projects are free. Where giving away free things is how success is measured. The amazing thing is anyone can be a part of this. All you have to do is train your brain not to believe one of your senses. It is the most elusive of the senses and is called the Common. We all have it, but usage is intermittent, difficult to take advantage of in the most obvious of situations, but only to the observer…never the owner. Research indicates that those in Marketing or in SEO can completely disregard what the common does. Once this happens, you the. have the ability to tap into the realm of Cognitive Perception.
Practicing this, ‘cognitive perception’, is difficult…at least for me. Of course, I have to concentrate just to prevent myself from swallowing my tongue…a lot, so everything is difficult for me. However, once you are enamored with an entity that you know is composed of the greatest engineering minds in the world, who am I to question a Corporation that has a position called, “Captain of Moonshots”?
You aren’t sure what illusory superiority is but when you, ‘Googled’ it, your curiosity was instantly quenched, you felt no more need to persist in your research and you were strangely compelled to buy a Sham-wow and some Ugg boots from the top two links on the returns page.
This is how the current quest for bringing technology to the masses was started. By engineering that is difficult to detect and impossible to comprehend.
So, by simply adjusting our perception and ignoring that silly feeling generated by the sense of the common, we too can be associates of the engineering elite who are responsible for this movement. If you find it difficult to adjust, let me give you a few pointers.
- Think of the kids of the last generation…these millennials.
The current generation of kids talk about Google engineering all the time. About how Google Search has made them marketable in the technology sector where they were not before. Where things like States and capitals had been difficult in the past, they now have the ability to get About 1,070,000,000 results in (0.34 seconds).
They now aspire to be engineers. Instead of wanting to occupy Wall Street, they spend the day walking about the room pressing an air-keyboard to sharpen their Google-Fu…expressing their dreams of someday working there.
- They develop technology that is awesome.
I have seen some the things they make. I did not know men could build such things. Like the face computers. I saw one once. You look at the world through Googley Glasses and see an important data overlay which is integrated into the real world and relevant data begins to augment your vision.
Imagine roaming the earth and knowing exactly how many +1’s everyone has. It was like the Matrix. Truly, I felt as if I were The One.
It is difficult to deny their engineering talent and the prowess of their innovation.
- The bumper stickers they sell say, “Do no evil”, so they can’t.
How can you counter that? ‘Nuff said.
- And everything they create, invent or develop is in perpetual beta and they give it away for free…or like for $5 bucks…or sometimes $10.
It’s the Google. A new way to distribute technology, that is really quite amazing. Imagine Engineering infused with a special kind of perceptive marketing where they use their mind powers. Then, while at the reign of control of advertisers, they possess an ability to give it away. Give what away? All the things! Everything. The things they create…all for free.
With the Google, nothing is expensive.
Need to ‘know’ something?
Need to know how to get to yon from hither?
Send someone a message?
Watch funny videos?
Store all your private documents?
Want Internet service…but only free fiber glass will do?
There is much more that is free. It’s almost all free.
Well, how is it free?
Please, don’t try to grow a brain here, ok? Just take your free Googiglery, and enjoy it. Besides, even if I understood it, attempting to explain it might result in the swallowing of my tongue. There aren’t many things written about their engineering-advertising-marketing-magic.
I tried to use the Google to search about the Google but or whatever it is that makes it all free is also a secret. Is it like a computer…like a sky computer? Or maybe a super robot? What would something like that use for batteries? Or maybe they made it so it could eat stuff like…cars or planes…perhaps…even….people.
I mean…something has to fuel all that free…