Author Archives: welutz

About welutz

Professional services consultant involved in records management, document imaging, technical and proposal (grant) writing and management, transparency and privacy issues as well as socio-political trends. More about me can be viewed via my LinkedIn profile of http://www.linkedin.com/in/williamelutz. My business website is http://welassociates.co. In addition, I am also an author, with my works found here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/search?query=William+E.+Lutz. I also am involved in App development, with my most recent app found here: http://www.taskboard.co. For selected samples of my writing, fell free to visit http://www.scribd.com/welutz. To learn more about my professional background, check out my Google site at https://sites.google.com/site/welutz/ as well as http://williamelutz.brandyourself.com. And lastly, for a few laughs, I also do a Twitter account in which I imagine what if famous / historical figures had a Twitter account: @historywelutz. Enjoy!

Driving / Riding Will Soon Be A Privilege

mercedes-benz-f015_luxury_in_motion_concept_2015_articulo-4_0

Watching my young daughters play act driving a car the other day got me thinking and realizing that they are liking going to be among the last generation to be driving their own vehicle.

Word of the driverless cars (aka ‘autonomous vehicles’ as it is known within the car industry) has long been around, and what was once a concept is soon developing into reality. Some reasons (as stated by Chairman of the Board for Nissan/ Renault, Carlos Ghosn), point to “electric car sales (are) not driven by consumer demand but by regulation of emissions which in turn encourage(d) consumers to buy electric cars.” Despite what Trump and his confederates may say or believe, the support for climate control and developing ‘greener’ alternatives has become big business, with profit to be made in the ‘green energy realm’ which, a mere 20 years ago, was idly dismissed as science fiction largely held up by government subsidiaries.

No more: there’s money to be made in ‘green energy’ products and services.

But before we break out the champagne and celebrate, we need to differentiate between electric vehicles and driverless vehicles: not all vehicles are electric, but driverless cars are primarily electric (and for purposes of this discussion, we’re focusing on driverless cars).

Driverless vehicles are primarily ‘green’ and electric in nature because, well, that’s where things are going. And driverless cars are gaining greater legal acceptance, with such states as Nevada accepting applications for driverless vehicles (but not authorizing their full usage). Still, it’s a major development, especially as insurance companies see this as a boon.

‘Wait a minute’, you ask: ‘aren’t insurance companies going to lose out when cars are computer driven with no driver involvement?’

Yes – and no.

There’s going to be an initial push back as folks will find it hard to surrender control to a computer, but let’s be honest: who doesn’t want to go out and not worry about being the designated driver, sit back and watch a video instead, or catch up on Facebook as you commute to work, avoiding the stress and rage of traffic jams?

Driverless vehicles are more than just new technology: they’re a paradigm shift. For generations, we’ve been enthralled by the notion of freedom associated with owning and driving a car. Hop in and go, with notions of Jack Kerouac ‘On The Road’ in our heads. But now, with rising costs of gas, the difficulties of taking time off from work (for those of us who are still working) it’s remarkable to note the generational shift of twenty somethings who are not only not using cars, but are foregoing getting their driver’s license altogether:

Young people are not getting driver’s licenses so much anymore. In fact, no one is. According to a new study by Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, the percentage of people with a driver’s license decreased between 2011 and 2014, across all age groups. For people aged 16 to 44, that percentage has been decreasing steadily  since 1983.

It’s especially pronounced for the teens—in 2014, just 24.5 percent of 16-year-olds had a license, a 47-percent decrease from 1983, when 46.2 percent did. And at the tail end of the teen years, 69 percent of 19-year-olds had licenses in 2014, compared to 87.3 percent in 1983, a 21-percent decrease. (https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2016/01/the-decline-of-the-drivers-license/425169/)

Cars no longer represent freedom; they now represent a hassle.

But with the growth of driverless cars, the social divide is only to grow ever wider.

Entities such as Zip Cars, CarShare and others are ever more popular, especially in urban / suburban regions, with subscribers signing up for an annual membership, reserving a car online and then simply using the vehicle and returning it back to the parking lot / ‘pod’ from whence it was parked. No need for insurance, parking fees or car maintenance.

So getting back to that insurance point,…

The older generation is going to push back against the driverless car concept (the idea of not having control of one’s driving directly challenges some folks notions of control within their lives).  And with that, insurance companies are likely to raise rates for the ‘privilege’ of driving your own vehicle. Going forward, in time however, car insurance will gradually disappear as folks will opt out for ‘regular’ cars and take the driverless car option, leaving the traditional cars as mementos found in museums or driven by selective ‘driving club’ members.

Driverless cars do indeed offer advantages after all.

But not having your own car (as insurance and registration will, over time, make it more costly to drive the ‘traditional’ car) and becoming dependent on vehicles that are ‘collectively controlled’ comes with other costs – such as subscription services to the entities driving / controlling your vehicle; maintenance will still be an issue and above all, your credit rating will have a direct impact on vehicle availability and access.

Credit rating?

Think about it: if you can’t get a credit card, how are you expected to pay for your driverless vehicle?

True, one could ‘buy’ their driverless vehicle, but it, like other regular recurring costs – cable TV, your phone, electric bill, etc. – will evolve a reoccurring cost and likely driverless cars will become something focusing primarily on folks who reside within a certain socio-economic classification. People who are engaged in ‘alternative’ lifestyles are not likely to secure driverless cars unless they can ensure that nobody can monitor their movements. Meanwhile, the age-old practice of paying for a months car insurance in advance just to get the insurance card, and then forego paying the reminder will not be possible with a driverless car. Similarly, it’s arguable if driverless vehicle manufacturers are going to rush into the weak credit market (although it could be possible that we’ll see those used driverless vehicles parked in the used car lots found along side of the strip malls and created highways). Likely though, driving soon be even more limited to those able to afford the costs, while other locations will be ‘redlined’ from vehicle access.

Meanwhile, your movements will be readily accessible to court requests and subpoenas. Employers will likely be able to readily view your driving history, focusing on where you frequent, how often and how long. Spouses seeking alimony and/or opposing counsel seeking support for their legal arguments against you will be able to view your history and find ways to use it against you. Think your privacy will be protected? In this day and age, you’d better think again. With a private vehicle, you can do and go as you wish, but with the growth of driverless vehicles, this will become all part of the new paradigm.

Time will only tell, but in a couple of decades, stories like ‘Blue Highways’ and ‘On The Road’ will harkened back to the bygone, romanticized notions of freedom attained through driving. And outlaws – along with folks possessing notions of privacy – are going to find it even harder to drive with security knowing they’re not being tracked and/or monitored.

But hey: you’ll be able to keep up on your email and Facebook as you ride along.

 

Advertisements

It’s Not About What You Wanna Be When You Grow Up: It’s More About Who You Are

younggirlplayingdoctor

It’s the age-old question we’ve been asked and often asked ourselves: ‘with do we want to be when we grow up?’ The question then translates to ‘what do I have to learn in order to get the job I want?’

Back in the days, once you got a skill and got a job, you stuck with that job. In the 21st century, things changed and to keep up with the changes (or if you’re looking for that promotion) you keep up with the latest developments in your job, earning and learning more until you finally retire.

But now the times have changed. Instead, there’s no longer that one job / one skill mindset (unless you’re talking about something really specific with specific ‘work/skill tracks’ – such as law enforcement, military service or specified services – such as government work.  For the majority of folks, the workforce environment is changing – and fast.

The rise of this new workforce approach is not new: it’s rather odd, dating back to World War II, where housewives were hired by larger factories seeking replacements for servicemen. Major corporations enjoyed this approach: temporary workers earning wages, but with little to no protection and largely kept at work owing to a specific need of meeting governmental orders for munitions and supplies.

Once the war ended, it was business as usual, with regular jobs and workers back in place. But the memories of those years were not lost on companies who, years later are enjoying the new norm of temporary work. This rise, coupled with governmental sponsored heath insurance, made micro-jobs even more attractive to both workers seeking to become more entrepreneurial and attain flexibility, and companies seeking to reduce the miscellaneous costs of health insurance, retirement and unemployment insurance

The side effect is tremendous worker competition to secure work.  Now, with a greater work pool, employers can afford to offer far lower (read: “competitive”) wages to meet specific jobs – and with that, the virtual elimination of regular jobs is now far more focused on ‘project’ driven work – projects within a company that need to be fulfilled but are done so though the efforts of employees hired to work just for the project and then usually released.

So what does this mean for the worker to be / student seeking work down the road?

Futurists and human resource executives say that our work lives will consist of doing several long-term projects or tasks at once. “Instead of identifying your job role or description, you [will be] constantly adding skills based on what is going to make you more employable,” says Jeanne Meister, New York-based co-author of “The Future Workplace Experience”.

If you’re younger, this will likely mean the ability to pursue flexibility and interests rather than getting a more traditional role – say in accounting, marketing or finance. More and more, it’s now a matter of employers looking not for specific job titles to be fulfilled, but rather reviewing and seeing what skills and abilities individuals bring to the table to undertake projects.

The flip side is however, many HR departments are not up to the task: how does one readily codify what skills outside of the usual listed ones that employees have? Do hobbies and interests outside of the workplace count and if so, how does one capture these into something meaningful and relevant to the project demands at hand? Thus, although this approach sounds ideal for employers, the problem remains: in order to make money work has to get done, and how one contracts out for the work and insures that the right people are on hand to get it done. And sadly, as with any era of changes, the old approaches and people are not immediately up to the task. Many HR departments – and recruiters – are not entirely up to the task at hand.

At least, not yet.

In the meantime, future employees need to determine what arena they’re interested in. As one example, rather than say to yourself, “gee, I want to be a doctor when I grow up’, potential employees need to talk about a greater goal; in this example, “using empathy in a medical setting”. Sounds weird; so what’s the difference?

Everything.

Now, you’re no longer limiting yourself to being ‘just a (traditional) doctor’, but rather opening up to a wider range of opportunities and potential directions. Rather than just being a ‘doctor’ you could consider other services and opportunities based on your own personal abilities and skill-sets. Are you good at writing, budgeting or able to mange people? Maybe you should go in the direction of health administration. Perhaps having worked as a babysitter and later, as a part-time daycare / caretaker while attending college, you should utilize your skills of relating to younger children into the realm of pediatrics.  (These are just basic, simple examples used for illustration).

We’ve reached a point now where’s it’s not so much just what you’re taught in school, but what you’re truly good at beyond just the textbooks and classrooms. So how do you line up with you’ve got and what you’re about with getting a job? There are a variety of ways which you, the potential employee could do, but sometimes the old-fashioned way is the best.

Take a piece of paper, relax, turn off the phone and jot down what you enjoy, what you’re good at and ask yourself: what do you want to be doing five years from now?

It’s worth noting that many skills are not readily taught and that more often than not, much of what we have and use on a regular basis we generally don’t realize we’re doing, or recognize as a valid job skill. Able to talk to people and break down barriers? Capable of writing a good phrase or word? Skilled in learning a new language readily, or discerning social trends and attitudes?  Capable of analyzing problems and coming up with meaningful and effective solutions? Add it all up and chances are you’ll find a career direction or path that you could both live with – and make a living.

To be certain, there’s a lot of uncertainty (!).

For instance, the more successful workplaces are going to be those who work to retain the skilled employees with both the abilities and the institutional knowledge (albeit that process will, over time, become more selective). The question is: how does one do these selections to meet both long-term and short-term needs?

It also remains to be seen what impact the elimination or drastic change of the ACA will do to the rising rend of micro jobs. With micro-jobs, there is a growing tendency for employees to push for more C to C (Corporate to corporate) or 1099’s (i.e., contract employees) as opposed to stand W-2 employees (with full benefits); having health care coverage is something that employees will seek as a matter of survival and depending on where you reside, can make a difference in career choices and locations, creating even greater job market disruption and social instability with folks moving about the country, if not the world.

Are universities up to the task? Are colleges going to move with the times and change-up the traditional assumptions of education? And what should those changes be? It’s worth noting that more and more, the trend is moving toward a greater emphasis on humanities, coupled with technical training: how much should this balance be? Or are we simply looking at this all wrong? Do colleges still play a vital role as they once did?  Clearly, some humanities skills are going to grow in value – such as writing and the ability to ‘cross-connect’ and understand different cultural norms, vis-a-vis ‘Cultural Morphology 101’; perhaps the curriculum of the 21st century should reflect this growing reality.

Critics point out several key points worth noting. For one, the uncertainty factor rises: if you’re working on a project by project basis, then it gets all the more difficult to remain rooted within one location, something which will have a direct impact on your household and family, not to mention the social net as families become more dispersed and communities become more fragmented. Witness, for example, the growing trend of workers moving out of the country into countries with lower costs while offering basic medical services: http://nypost.com/2016/11/28/its-easier-to-live-the-american-dream-in-bucharest/

Another issue is that of continuity: some companies will feel even less empathy toward their employees and with that, greater employee turnover will take place, creating greater workforce alienation and the likelihood of company failures as institutional memory is lost and internal problems compounded by outside / foreign competition.

Although the notion of micro-jobs sounds great for companies and can appeal to some employees attracted to entrepreneurship, clearly it’s not going to be for everyone and there are a lot of ‘kinks’ to work out in the coming decade(s).

One thing is for sure: your job is no longer yours, but maybe, just maybe your future is there – somewhere – for the taking.

(For more on this, check out “The Future Workplace Experience: 10 Rules for Mastering Disruption in Recruiting and Engaging Employees” by Jeanne Messier and Kevin J. Mulcahy).

So You Think It Doesn’t Matter if Your Browser History is Made Readily Available? Better Seriously Think Again.

computermonitoring

By now the word is getting around how House and Senate Republicans voted and approved the removal of privacy regulations regarding consumer / citizen browsing history. Now that your privacy has been removed, folks are asking ‘what does this mean?’ or simply remixing indifferent, saying ‘so what?’ while others say; ‘they already can get this information.’

No, they couldn’t.

Prior to this regulation being removed you possessed a far greater degree of privacy. Police could, by way of a court order or proper legal process, access your browser history but now that private corporations can access your history directly without your approval, its open season (and btw: police likely will no longer need to have a court order to access your private browsing history now that regulations have been removed – just saying).

Here are just SOME of the likely immediate impacts:

  • Accessing your history means for better marketing and targeting on the part of private companies. Folks seeing that you’re researching for specific items or services will create targeted online ads far better (Facebook, or social media sites aside) then before. Think it’s unsettling now that those Facebook ads keep popping up regarding those websites you’ve just visited? You ain’t seen nothing yet!
  • Insurance companies and your employers can view your history without your knowledge, seeing how you’re looking at sites regarding certain diseases and act on the assumption that you have such a disease – and either deny you insurance courage or simply fire you from your job without telling you why.
  • Looking for a new job? Your employer can now access your browsing history and likewise fire you from your job – and again, without really telling you why you were fired.
  • Looking at ‘naughty’ sites? If you’re closeted sexually, this could be the ‘kiss of death’ for your career.
  • Doing some reading or study about banned countries? Government officials could place you on a watch list, monitoring your movements without your realization, perhaps even denying you your passport application if you wished to travel abroad.
  • Involved in a court / legal action? Better watch where you go and what your browser has: it could come up against you in your court action, with opposing counsel using this information against you in your legal action.
  • Are you an attorney? There’s nothing preventing your opponents from seeking what kind defense or offense you’re formulating in the course of trying a case.
  • It wouldn’t be too much of a reach to state that with growing governmental sentiment, folks involved with certain public groups, reading publications and websites deemed as anti-governmental could also be targeted. Think this is paranoid thinking? Know your history; this wouldn’t be the first time this kind of thing happened – and now with the removal of your browser search privacy, it’s made all the more easier.
  • And if this isn’t bad enough, this also includes where you are. Geocoding – mapping the location of where you post / conduct your Internet accessing – is also a growing issue as pricing for items and/or services can vary based upon where you are accessing the Internet. Some folks in certain zip codes pay more for products and services then others; now that your privacy protections have been removed, some can expect to pay more depending on where they are.

In the long run, privacy within an open society is not a contradiction: it is a necessity. Without certain safeguards and practices, we won’t have the confidence we feel to express our opinions without having to be defensive and fearful. The removal of privacy only encourages fear and intimidation within a Democracy, while enabling private entities to pocket ever more profit at your cost.

And by the way: this includes your iPhones / Androids / Tablets as well.

It’s now all totally open.

You are now naked on the Internet.

There are, however, viable cost-effective steps you can take to better protect yourself while continuing to live your life and remain confident in being who you are without having some nosy nitwit looking over your shoulder; we’ll discuss those shortly in the next round here at Shockwaverider.

 

How An AI Defines Customers

mccannjapan

Recently, in the Business Insider, a story spoke about how a Japanese Advertising agency hired an AI (see above picture) to do an ad campaign (http://www.businessinsider.com/mccann-japans-ai-creative-director-creates-better-ads-than-a-human-2017-3).

Surprising, it was rather successful.

The inventor, Shun Matsuzaka, “wanted to create the world’s first AI creative director, capable of directing a TV commercial”.

He did it. But before you can say “holy crap!” consider that the AI, like any electronically developed and programmed instrument, must be designed and have focus in order to do its job. You gotta tell it what to do and how to do it. So Matsuzaka’s team, “McCann Millennials” outlined two basic approaches necessary to capture an effective ad campaign:

The creative brief: The type of brand, the campaign goal, the target audience, and the claim the ad should make.

The elements of the TV ad: Including things such as tone, manner, celebrity, music, context, and the key takeout.

Confectionary corporation Mondelez took on the contract and hired the team’s AI, and so the contest was on. Selecting an industry expert to take on the challenge of creating a wining ad campaign against that of the McCann machine, the application approach was that the client was asked to fill out a form with all the elements they wanted to appear in the ad. The AI robot then scrambled the database for ideas (humans were required to actually produce the final creative).

The two spots would then be thrown to a nationwide poll, where consumers could vote for which ad they preferred.

The key phrase in which the ad was to revolve around was the following:

“Instant-effect fresh breath that lasts for 10 minutes.”

The winner?

Depends; 54% of the public participating in the vote voted for the human.

But for the ad executives, the AI won hands down. As the article stated: “when the 200-or-so advertising executives at the ISBA Conference were asked which they preferred, they voted for the crazy dog spot, directed by the robot. Clearly those advertising executives were not the target market for this particular campaign, but the experiment appeared to demonstrate just how creative — and funny — AI can be.”

Humor in AI?  Viewers familiar with science fiction will hear the common refrain that ‘robots can’t make people laugh.’ Guess that’s not the case anymore. Meantime, the McCann Millennials are at it again – this time, working on a “commercial database for the music industry to see if it can create the next pop smash hit.”

Somehow, I think  this latest project will be proved to be far easily for them to achieve.

(To see the ads, go to the link above and judge for yourself).

AI In Our Time?

AI (Artificial Intelligence) development has reached a major milestone: a machine that’s truly capable of learning on its own.

Google (or rather ‘Alphabet’ as the parent company is now known as) uses a comprehensive model / layout different from what has been developed before in the rapidly developing field of AI, developing its own version of AI – a machine known as ‘Deep Mind’. What Alphabet has done is to take the storage of conventional computers, and link them with a neural network capable of ‘parsing’ out the data, determining what is relevant and what is not in tars of problem solving.

This has often been the challenge of ‘learning machines’: determining what is junk and what isn’t. Now, working with a neural network and accessing large amounts of data, the AI model can more quickly access and sort through what would be ‘good’ data versus ‘bad’ data.

Neural networks aren’t new; they’ve been around for some time (see this article about neural networks to learn more: https://www.scribd.com/document/112086324/The-Ready-Application-of-Neural-Networks). Like a typical human brain, neural networks uses ‘nodes’ to activate specific points needed to solve a problem. In the case of Alphabet, the AI is streamlining itself to find the quickest route to solve a problem. And, as with a human brain, in time the AI will use the data obtained to become more efficient at finding the right answer to problems, growing in greater efficiency and ‘learning’ how to learn.

Or another way of putting it: ‘Deep Mind’ derives solutions based on prior experience, recovering the correct answer(s) from its internal memory on its own, rather than from human conditioning and direct programming and then proceeds based on its own ‘experience’.

Sounds awfully familiar, doesn’t it?

‘Deep Mind’, the AI which Google / Alphabet has been developing, was recently able to beat a human at the game of ‘Go’; no easy feat to do as the number of possible choices for each individual ‘stone’ playing piece being placed on the board – and the subsequent patterns thereafter – numbers in the millions, far more than the number of choices and the impacts from each individual choice/move a traditional Chess game can offer.

So combining Google’s vast database of files and server warehouses located internationally, linked to a neural network and overseen by a rudimentary form of AI, Google / Alphabet now has a machine capable of learning on its own.

The next step would be to pair a quantum computer to a network layout similar to what is described here – but then again, Amazon is already working on that.

Still got quite a ways to go, but singularity is looming ever closer.

The Age of Alexa

 

As a birthday gift for my daughters, Flora and Cora, their grandfather purchased for them an Amazon Echo (aka “Alexa”).

If you’re not familiar, the Amazon Echo / Alexa is a voice command controlled free-standing computer (with a nice speaker system to boot!) that links with your wireless network. Measuring some 9.3 inches with a circumference of 3.3 inches, Alexa can just about fit anywhere. In addition, it looks attractive (in a manner of speaking) and readily plugs into a regular wall outlet for power (it connects to your wireless network; no wired connections are required). With some adjustments and minimal amount of programming (took me all of 15 minutes to get it going) you’ll be able to give direct voice commands. Alexa can either answer your inquiries or (depending on your set up) control the lights in your house, control your thermostat, give you automatic news and sports updates as well as tell you the weather, your commuting time or even where the nearest restaurant (down to the type – Belgium ale house, Indian, Chinese, etc.) is to your house.

But doing a little research and experimentation, Alexa can do a lot more – and not just for your home (more on this in a moment).

As an old-timer, I’m amazed at this recent technological development if for no reason than I can appreciate what’s involved. First off, I’ve been working with voice command / recognition software since it first came out back in the 1990’s: things have come a long way. Used to be you had to spend about an hour just to ‘train’ the software/computer to recognize your voice (what with your inflections, accents, voice idioms, etc.) and then more time spent on getting it to do what you wanted it to do – open files, do basic computer commands, etc. And even then, it was rarely perfect: if you were hitting 95% accuracy, you were down great.

With Alexa, there was no hesitation: no training. Alexa was out of the box and running down the road in mere minutes.

Damn; that’s powerful.

No matter who you are, so long as you speak the language that it’s set for, it’ll respond. So literally out of the box, I and both my daughters were taking and using Alexa. Even now, my guests – upon visiting – now ask Alexa for the weather or for sport scores, along with local news as a matter of course, just as they would ask anyone else.

But aside from Alexa being able to give you a host of information – such as cooking recipes, bartending (excuse me, “Mixology”) recipes for drinks or for random facts (‘on this date,…’), with some adjustments and hardware / interface additions, Alexa can water your lawn, control /monitor your house alarms.

Sometimes, amusing situations can arise – such as when my younger daughter asked “Alexa: how old is the Earth?”

Alexa replied “The Earth is 5.35 Billion years old.”

“I knew it! Those people who keep saying that the Earth is only 7,000 years old don’t know what they’re talking about!”

So it’s all fun and games, right?

Not when you check out the IFTTT page for Alexa (IFTT – “If / then” user programming routines). Alexa comes with an ability for folks to program basic interface commands enabling users to link Alexa to various apps and also create routines. Want something done automatically? With a little bit of simple programming, anyone can make their Alexa do things automatically and with a mere voice command.

The potential for Alexa can go beyond just a cool item for the average household: the potential for business applications is also well worth considering. Aside from stock indexes, one could create business services and routines both for the average user and for the business / service end of things. Already, there are ‘recipes’ for users to link to their Evernote and Todoiast, along with dictating short emails (sending them out) or dictating voice message for your Skype. As one example, I can set up and schedule calendar events on my Google calendar just by using my voice – and it’ll appear on all of my calendars (phone, computer, etc. simultaneously).

I would not be surprised to see businesses – especially those who profess the notion of being ‘lean and mean’ – installing Echoes in their offices as means to better streamline operations (not to mention that Echoes could also be of good use for non-profit and governmental agencies as well).

In a manner of speaking, although this is not exactly new technology, the way it’s being recast is nothing short of remarkable. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the Echo came from Amazon. After all, as I had previously written, Amazon and the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) have been quietly working together for seveal years now, with Amazon’s in-house computer network now being the repository of the CIA’s records – and ground zero for a development project based in Vancouver, Canada for true AI (Artificial Intelligence) development (https://shockwaveriderblog.wordpress.com/2012/10/11/the-cia-and-jeff-bezos-working-together-for-our-the-future/) utilizing quantum computing. Feel free to read my past posting on this subject matter: it’s well worth the read and helps one to better appreciate what’s taking place now.

I cannot help but wonder if Alexa is but one minor result  / spin-off from that ongoing effort. And granted, Alexa may sound awesome and smart, but it’s certainly not about to pass the Turing Test.

If Alexa is any indication, we are indeed entering a new age  – the Age of Alexa.