Diagnosis: The Illusion of Knowledge

by Joe Anderson, B. Braun Medical | Do you or does someone in your organization suffer? Here’s how to combat it.

The illusion of knowledge is the tendency to think we know more about something than we really do. Today, with almost limitless information at our fingertips, this is more relevant than ever before.
The illusion of knowledge is prominent in business today. The higher that individuals rank within the company, the more susceptible they are. A great way to test this when speaking to a so-called expert in a particular field is to make up a term pertaining to the “expert’s” field of knowledge. More than likely, the expert will try to explain the term, all the while making a fool of themselves.

What’s even worse is that many of those who suffer from the illusion of knowledge can’t even properly explain the things that are real and relevant to their position. For example, I had a boss who was a maintenance director for the organization I was working for. At the time, I was a maintenance manager. This director wanted our planners to be at every failure that occurred on the floor and document what had happened. I had just started with the company, which was close to 100% reactive. The maintenance team had five planners, but the director couldn’t seem to put his finger on why they weren’t effective. They were running around to get parts for breakdowns, answering questions about equipment, etc., and now they needed to be at every breakdown to document the failure? These five planners also spent a day every week trying to put together a presentation for the team’s weekly meeting, which seemed to last about 4 hours.

Reliability cannot be delegated, just as ethics cannot be delgated. It has to be ingrained in the culture, and it starts with the CEO.

I asked the maintenance director what the function of a planner is and he told me exactly what the planners were currently doing. At this point I understood that the organization was where it was because of individuals like him. These people who are susceptible to the illusion of knowledge often are leading our organizations in some form or another. They tend to be closed-minded, not interested in doing anything unless it is their idea, and willing to sabotage any effort made that contradicts what they believe to be true. These individuals typically have a good amount of political savvy, however, which is what gets them hired or promoted into their positions. The problem is that an organization will never reach its full potential with these types of individuals leading them. My concern is that many organizations seem to be headed down this path.

When it comes to understanding reliability as a holistic function, the situation is worse yet. Top management believes that responsibility for reliability can be delegated. But reliability cannot be delegated, just as ethics cannot be delegated. It has to be ingrained in the culture, and it starts with the CEO. Many top executives are content with maintaining an illusion of knowledge. The Peter Principle – that in an organizational hierarchy, employees will get promoted to their level of incompetence – is in full effect.

How do you overcome the illusion of knowledge? Here are a few pointers. First, put what you think you know into action. Implement what you know to develop a successful system. Was it successful? What did you learn? What could you do better? The “knowledge” you have put into action creates experience, good or bad. What is your experience with successful implementations? Many people I’ve talked to who think they understand various aspects of maintenance and reliability truly do not have an understanding of them at all. When I ask for their sources as to why they believe something, they cannot name any, or they will throw out a popular book on the subject. When I press a bit on the answer, I end up meeting a wall of resistance and defensiveness. That is when ego takes over, and you lose that argument every time. The problem in today’s world of technological advancement is that there is a belief that losses can be engineered out or IT’d out through new equipment, new software, sensors for live analytics, etc. But most losses in most organizations are people-related issues. So to get around not having to put in the work of training, mentoring, and coaching employees and to avoid confrontation and accountability, we take the project approach.

The second way to overcome the illusion of knowledge is to do some self-reflection and to educate oneself through training, reading, and executing on your newfound knowledge. When done right, this creates experiences that can never be taken from you and will allow you to grow beyond anything you have ever imagined.

Third, educate in all directions within the company. Bring awareness to everyone through your new learning.

Lastly, truly learn the business side of what you do. Why is your organization in business? What are the business priorities? What are the gaps that the organization has? Where are the business’s true losses? How can you provide true value back to the business? Do your goals and objectives align with that answer; are you focused on the right things? These questions can inform your overall strategy to provide the value back to the organization from the monies (budgets and salaries) they invest in you year after year.

Put in the work. Show your true value and bring others with you on your journey.

Joe Anderson has more than 20 years of experience in maintenance and management excellence in various industries and plants throughout the United States. He has published many articles and lectured throughout the United States in these areas. He is a CMRP, CRL, CARO, MLT2, MLA1, LSSGB, IAM-55k, and was recognized as one of the top 50 leaders in the country by the United States Congress, being awarded the National Leadership Award. Joe is currently the Associate Director of Asset Management at B. Braun Medical. He can be contacted at joseph.anderson@bbraun.com.

Prevalent Challenges Implementing Artificial Intelligence in the Workplace

by O’Kelly E. McWilliams III & Jennifer R. Budoff | A high-level overview of some of the more prevalent challenges employers may encounter when deploying AI in the workplace, and guidance on the proactive steps employers should consider. (Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay)

As more and more companies begin to utilize Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the workplace, it becomes increasingly important for employers to understand both the risks and rewards that accompany this new technology. The impact of Artificial intelligence in the business arena cannot be overstated with firms spending nearly $24 billion on AI-related acquisitions and mergers in 2018. Right now, global spending on cognitive and artificial intelligence (AI) systems is forecast to continue its trajectory of robust growth to reach $77.6 Billion in 2022 as businesses invest in projects that utilize cognitive/AI software capabilities.

While the use of AI can be an efficient and cost effective means for employers to handle tasks such as talent acquisition, compensation analysis, and the completion of administrative duties, it is not without its challenges. Rather, as discussed below, the use of AI may also bring with it the potential for implicit bias and disparate impact toward protected categories, particularly in the context of gender and age. In addition, if AI is not properly introduced into the workforce, it may foster concerns among employees that the company no longer values their work or cause anxiety about employee job security. This article sets forth a high-level overview of some of the more prevalent challenges employers may encounter when deploying AI in the workplace, while also offering guidance on the proactive steps employers should consider when implementing or utilizing AI.

The Growing Use of AI
AI is often used in the workplace to assist employers with recruitment through the use of algorithms to make hiring decisions. According to a 2017 survey by the talent software firm CareerBuilder, approximately 55 percent of U.S. human resource managers opined that AI will become a regular part of their work within the next five years. Similarly, as reported by the Society for Human Resource Management following a 2018 survey conducted of over 1,100 in-house counsel, human resource professionals and C-suite executives, 49 percent of respondents said that they already use AI and advanced data analytics for recruiting and hiring. While the use of AI may assist these companies, the technology may not always eliminate bias in the recruitment process.

The Potential for Implicit Bias and Disparate Treatment
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, prohibits employers from discriminating against an individual on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin or religion with respect to all aspects of employment. Pursuant to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Monthly Labor Review, Occupational Employment Protections to 2022, the growth of employment in computer science and engineering jobs is more than double the national average. Despite the surge in this field, women and minorities continue to be under-represented. In 2016, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission stated that diversity in the high-tech sector is “a timely and relevant topic for the Commission to investigate and address.” Since then, some companies have evaluated using AI in the recruitment process to increase diversity in their workforce. As discussed below, however, it may ultimately have the opposite effect.

As reported by Reuters, in 2017, the online tech giant Amazon announced it would be shuttering an experimental hiring tool it had been working on for the past several years. Amazon had hoped to use the tool to review job applicants’ resumes and streamline the search for top talent. Unfortunately, it was discovered that the computer program showed a bias toward women when it came to recruitment for software developer jobs and other technical positions. According to Reuters, Amazon trained its computer programs to vet applicants through patterns in resumes submitted to the company during a 10-year period. Due to the fact that the tech industry remains a male-dominated field, the majority of resumes submitted during that time came from men. As a result, the AI system determined that male candidates were preferable and subsequently penalized resumes that included the word “women’s” or downgraded graduates from certain all-women’s colleges. Although Amazon edited the programs to prevent these occurrences, the company ultimately decided to discontinue the program, noting that company recruiters never used the software to evaluate candidates.

Similarly, employers considering the implementation of AI in the workplace should be cognizant of the potential for age discrimination claims. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits age-based discrimination against applicants or employees age 40 or over. The use of AI in the workplace to streamline certain activities could result in a disparate impact on an older workforce and potentially expose a company to discrimination claims. Specifically, if older workers struggle to adapt to new technology, or implicit bias results in the perception that younger employees are better suited to handle the changes than their older counterparts, employees age 40 or older may face adverse employment actions as a result. Another potential for bias could result if a company undergoes a reduction in force as a result of the introduction of AI into the workplace, as older workers may be laid off at a disproportionate rate to their younger counterparts if AI is not programmed to account for age-related considerations.

So how can employers reap the benefits of AI without also exposing themselves to the potential for liability? Below are some best practices for employers to keep in mind when using or implementing AI in the workplace.

Best Practices

  • Engage third parties to assist in selecting AI software utilized for recruiting to ensure that the programs selected mitigate the effect of unconscious bias;
  • Devise an action plan on how best to present the topic to current employees without creating an alarmist environment;
  • Keep in mind the implications of the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act, Notification Act and similar state laws that require an employer to provide advance notice of job loss;
  • Be aware of the protection afforded to workers under the National Labor Relations Act for engaging in concerted activities in response to changes in the workplace;
  • Be cognizant of invasion of privacy claims stemming from the over-collection of data through AI.

While the use of AI in the workforce continues to grow, and a recent study conducted by McKinsey Global Institute noted that as much as one-third of the United States workforce could be displaced by automation by the year 2030, the shift to automation will not happen overnight, affording time to create policy changes and increased regulation in areas such as layoffs, severance pay and training.  Against this backdrop, employers should ensure that they consider the implications of AI and the best practices recommended above when implementing new and innovative solutions in the workplace.

O’Kelly E. McWilliams III, a member at Mintz, advises US and International companies on a wide array of business and employment law issues. He focuses his practice on employment, agreements, disputes and compensation matters, and regularly provides guidance on managing employee relationships and has helped many companies investigate and respond to allegations of employer misconduct.

Jennifer R. Budoff, an associate at Mintz, provides clients with representation and counsel on a broad range of employment matters, with significant experience advising and defending employers in discrimination, retaliation, harassment, and wrongful termination matters, including the representation of employers in actions before Administrative Agencies and state and federal courts.

The Reality of Robots in Everyday Life

As part of one of the panels run by NESTA during the creation of the Longitude Prize, and, more recently, as a contributor to the BBC Horizon documentary on the prize, I have been asked a lot about how robots, particularly ‘autonomous robots’, will change our lives in the future (Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay).

Autonomous robots are those which are able to make decisions for themselves, as opposed to more traditional industrial robots which have to have their every move pre-programmed by a human expert. The decisions made by autonomous robots are currently quite simple – mostly related to how to move, or where to move to – but these will increase in complexity as our understanding of the use of artificial intelligence (AI) on robots in the real world increases.

Predicting the future, particularly where science and technology is involved, is a difficult task, but some clear trends emerged during the Longitude discussions. Under the ‘Paralysis’ topic, the use of exoskeletons to provide mobility and strength was a prominent idea. Exoskeletons are simply robots you wear. They may not look like a traditional robot, but they have all the necessary parts (sensors, actuators and the ability to be programmed to automate a task) to be considered one. Future exoskeletons will also be more autonomous, able to anticipate situations and prepare responses in advance.

Under the ‘Dementia’ Longitude Prize topic, we discussed the use of autonomous robots to support people with dementia living in their homes for longer. This is just one aspect of the more general theme of using robots for assisting ageing people to live independently for longer, improving their quality of life, and reducing their impact on health services. Such robots may do anything from providing reminders and connecting residents to remote loved ones and carers, to monitoring how, where and when people move around their house (looking out for falls or abnormal behavior). A much longer-term aim is for robots to provide physical assistance, either with movement (standing up, walking) or with household tasks such as cooking and cleaning. Sadly the science and engineering, both in AI and the ability to build and control suitable robot bodies for such a range of tasks, is still many tens of years away at least.

Away from the Longitude Prize areas, we will see autonomous robots – and related technology – appear in many aspects of our lives. This may be in forms that we easily understand as robots today (e.g. machines that clean floors, carry pallets in warehouses or monitor oil pipelines) or as elements within other systems (e.g. driver assistance aids, surgical support tools, or prostheses). The most important thing to understand is that robot technology won’t appear as fully formed humanoid robots with human-like intelligence capable of doing anything. This, particularly the intelligence part, is a science fiction dream we’re not even close to being able to describe as a well-formed problem, let alone create solutions for. Instead, robot technology will emerge through special-purpose tools which will allow us to increase the quality of our lives in many aspects, whether it’s caring for our loved ones, or making our businesses more productive.

Dr Nick Hawes is Senior Lecturer in Intelligent Robotics in the School of Computer Science. (You can also follow him on Twitter – @hawesie.)


5G Technology on the Shop Floor

by William Leventon | Fraunhofer IPT, which researches production technology, developed the system’s wireless sensor. It is basically an accelerometer attached to a workpiece during milling, explained Niels König, the institute’s head of production measurement. (Image: Mikron MILL P 500 U Milling machine as presented at the IMTS 2018 in Chicago / The rapid data transfer allows a digital twin, the virtual reflection of a component, to be generated; Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology)

When high-speed machining, excessive vibrations can cause unacceptable surface defects. Can 5G, the latest generation of cellular mobile communications, transmit critical machining data fast enough to slash the number of such part defects in industrial settings?

One partnership aims to find out. Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology, Aachen, Germany, has joined forces with telecommunications firm Ericsson, Stockholm, and machine tool builder GF Machining Solutions Management SA, Geneva, to create an extremely fast-acting process monitoring system based on 5G technology.

Fraunhofer IPT, which researches production technology, developed the system’s wireless sensor. It is basically an accelerometer attached to a workpiece during milling, explained Niels König, the institute’s head of production measurement. Ericsson supplies the 5G communication technology that transmits sensor data, and GF is responsible for making the wireless sensor technology work in machine tools.

A sensor transfers the vibration spectra of the blisk via 5G with sub-millisecond latency to a software

A sensor transfers the vibration spectra of the blisk via 5G with sub-millisecond latency to a software

GF machines can house more than 200 sensors, but none are placed on the part being machined, noted Roberto Perez, the company’s head of innovation for digital transformation. “Sensors with wireless 5G connectivity are a new means of providing information about (part) vibration and potential defects,” he said.

According to the partners, wired sensing systems and even wireless LAN cannot meet the speed demands of this application. 5G, they say, is the only option for transmitting production data in under one millisecond, thereby minimizing troublesome latency. The goal is to allow real-time monitoring of sensor vibration data and dramatically shorten reaction times when cutting parameters need to be adjusted to prevent defects.

With its high-value components and stringent quality standards, the partners believe that the aeronautics industry may be an early adopter of 5G production technology. In this industry, any small defect is a risk, Perez said. In their battle against part defects, he said, aircraft companies spend a good deal of time and money reworking parts and incur the cost of high scrap rates.

5G technology could help. Consider the production of a blade-integrated disk, or blisk, a component of a jet engine compressor. During milling, the action of the cutting tool can cause a blisk to vibrate at its resonant frequency, König said. This produces a wavy surface, he said, which is typically dealt with by manually reworking it. In conventional blisk production, rework rates can be as high as 25 percent, the project partners report.

Using 5G technology, however, blisk manufacturers could measure critical vibration frequencies in real time and adjust the milling process when necessary—slightly increasing the spindle speed, for example. “That gets the blade out of its resonant frequency, and you get a smooth surface,” König said.

In addition to aeronautics, 5G process monitoring could help other industries with demanding surface quality requirements, including medical, automotive and mold and die. The project partners estimate that their technology could save up to $30 million a year for a single factory.

At IMTS 2018, the partners demonstrated their technology, integrating it into a live machining process to take acceleration measurements. But the current state of the technology will not do for commercial applications.

Right now, we have quite bulky 5G transceiver systems,” König said, adding that the partnership’s current system is roughly the size of a shoebox. He thinks that the system needs to be shrank down to thumbnail size to meet industrial footprint and power consumption requirements.

Such a system might be commercially available in the not-too-distant future. “We are a research institute, so it’s not our task to deliver products,” König said. “That’s why we usually work with partners.” But after noting that San Diego-based Qualcomm Inc. has delivered the first 5G chipsets, he said, “I think it might take two or three years to have a market-ready sensor.

A sensor transfers the vibration spectra of the blisk via 5G with sub-millisecond latency to a softwareWilliam Leventon is a contributing editor to Cutting Tool Engineering magazine. Connect via phone at (609) 926-6447 or via e-mail at wleventon@gmail.com.

Preparing yourself for Careers of the Future

You don’t have to be at the top of your class to prepare yourself for careers of the future. However, you have to be well rounded in most disciplines and be dedicated to your studies and open to suggestions from your teacher or your professor. Today’s school administrators also need to rework their curriculum to include both technical and soft skills that will challenge and enable students to succeed in the future world of automation.

It doesn’t matter what your current career path is; you use skills in arts, science, technology, engineering, or math in one form or another every day. More knowledge in these areas of studies will no doubt help you in the careers of the future. And believe me, no one knows what careers of the future holds. What we do know is that as a High School student or College student, it’s imperative you force yourself to be proficient in arts, math, science, and technology. In the future world of automation, it will be very hard (but not impossible) to get by without some knowledge of arts, math, science, and technology.


You can start preparing yourself for careers of the future through academic courses. Here are some of the core courses to get you started while you’re still in high school or college.

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Statistics
  • Computational Biology
  • Molecular Biology as a Computational Science
  • Geography
  • Immunology
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Computer Programming
  • Web Programming
  • Data Programming
  • Computer Science Principles
  • Computer Assisted Art
  • Research Methods
  • Introduction to Algorithms
  • Identities: Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality in Anthropology
  • Economics
  • Probabilistic Robotics
  • Probability and Mathematical Statistics
  • Mathematical Reasoning
  • Electronics
  • Environmental Science
  • Political science
  • Technical writing
  • Creative writing

Work Experience & Hobbies
Other ways to prepare yourself for careers of the future is through work experience and engaging is various hobbies. Some of these activities include but not limited to:

  • Fundraising event or other project involving budgeting and math skills.
  • Participate in a lobbying and census project to gain experience conducting interviews, analyzing data, and writing report of the project.
  • Volunteer at a math or science camp or after-school program.
  • Participate in a team programming class to develop software of interest in a team environment.
  • Before you recycle your old laptop or desktop computer, Google how to take them apart and put them back together.
  • Ask people close to you to hook you up for a summer intern at a place you really love to work at. The experience is what you’re shooting for, but it will be great if you can talk to the administrators into covering your transportation and lunch money for the duration of your intern.
  • Be a contributing member of your school club, especially robotics, math or science clubs.
    Push yourself to the limit on a project for a science fair.

There is no better way to prepare yourself for careers of the future than to be well rounded. A balance of exercise or sporting activities combined with a rigorous art project, coding competition with friends in modern computer languages such as JavaScript, Python, Java, SQL, Ruby, C#, C++, PHP are highly recommended.

Are We Born With Knowledge?

by Will Lyon while at the Boston University Undergraduate Program in Neuroscience | One thing I have always struggled with in reading philosophy is the doctrine of Innatism, which holds that the human mind is born with ideas or knowledge. This belief, put forth most notably by Plato as his Theory of Forms and later by Descartes in his Meditations, is currently gaining neuroscientific evidence that could validate the belief that we are born with innate knowledge of our world (Left to right: Plato, Kant, Nietzsche, Buddha, Confucius, Averroes).

The predominant belief and assumption about human learning and memory is that we are born as a “blank slate,” and we gain our knowledge and ideas through new experiences and our memory of them. This belief is known as Empiricism and, although dates back to Aristotle, has been supported by many famous philosophers such as John Locke and Francis Bacon. However, a study published in last March’s Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences (PNAS) may, to an extent, discredit this main theory of knowledge collection. The research, conducted by the Blue Brain Group in Switzerland, explored the remarkable similarities in the neuronal circuitry in the neocortices of all brains. The study, summarized in this article in PNAS, essentially “discovered a synaptic organizing principle that groups neurons in a manner that is common across animals and hence, independent of individual experiences.” This discovery may have huge implications on our understanding of learning, memory, and development. The groups of neurons, or cell assemblies, appear consistently in the Neocortices of animals and are essentially cellular “building blocks”.

In many animals then, it may hold true that learning, perception, and memory are a result of putting these pieces together rather than forming new cell assemblies. According to Dr. Markram, “This could explain why we all share similar perceptions of physical reality, while our memories reflect our individual experience.” This is a remarkable example of the ways in which neuroscience and its research is revolutionizing our understanding of the ways in which we come to know and perceive our universe, while simultaneously answering major philosophical questions. While these findings may go against the incredibly popular empirical view of knowledge, they lend themselves very well to the notion of innate ideas. Plato and Descartes used this general theory to explain human reasoning. Plato believed that the human soul exists eternally, and exists in a “world of forms (or ideas)” before life; all learning is the process of remembering “shadows” of these forms here on Earth. While this idea is still a little out there for me at least (and it may take a little more scientific evidence to support that claim), Descartes’ claims seem very consistent with the Blue Brain Group’s findings.

Descartes proposed that the inborn ideas that we possess are those of geometric truths and all of our intelligence can be accessed through reason. Discussing ideas in his fifth meditation, he states “We come to know them by the power of our own native intelligence, without any sensory experience. All geometrical truths are of this sort — not just the most obvious ones, but all the others, however abstruse they may appear.” Another study supporting this notion is the result of research on “intuitive physics,” or the seeming understanding we possess of the physical behavior of objects in our universe without even thinking about it. In an article summarizing the study, Janese Silvey provides the example that “if a glass of milk falls off a table, a person will try to catch the cup but not the liquid spilling out. That person is reacting rather than consciously thinking about what to do.” The report on the actual experiment, by Susan Hespos and Kristy vanMarle, showed that infants possess expectations that, for example, objects still exist when they are hidden, and are surprised when these expectations are not met (surprise was indicated in the study by a longer looking time). Other experiments were conducted to demonstrate the understanding that infants from 2-5 months old have of cohesive properties, solidity of materials, and other basic physical characteristics of objects. The full report of the findings can be found here.

For me, the best news that comes out of this is that these new findings compromise both the philosophical doctrines of innatism and empiricism, opening up new discussions of exactly what knowledge and learning mean.

Markram’s Study on Synaptic Organization-PNAS

Physics for Infants-WIREs Cognitive Science

Descartes’ Theories of Innate Ideas-Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Plato’s Theory of Forms and Thoughts on Innate Ideas-Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Infants Understand More Than Thought-Columbia Daily Tribune

New Evidence for Innate Ideas-Blue Brain Group

The Future of Ownership

K. E. Colombini | Exploring how technological and cultural developments are transforming our understanding of property.
Two recent articles take a look at the effect of technology on our consumerist society and reach startlingly different conclusions. One laments that we don’t own as much stuff as we used to, while the other talks about how online shopping has created a nation of hoarders. Can both be true, at the same time?

Writing for Bloomberg, Tyler Cowen makes the first argument. He is an economics professor at George Mason University, where he also directs the Mercatus Center, and he admits to worrying about “the erosion of personal ownership and what that will mean for our loyalties to traditional American concepts of capitalism and private property.”

Examples are clear, starting with books. When we buy a book in hard or soft cover, it is a physical object we own and can sell. When we buy an ebook for our Kindle or similar device, we don’t own it in the same way. In fact, the argument can easily be made that we don’t own it at all. We actually buy a license to read it, and Amazon has control over the terms of the license. “Kindle Content is licensed, not sold, to you by the Content Provider,” the agreement states, adding: “We may change, suspend, or discontinue the Service, in whole or in part, including adding or removing Subscription Content from a Service, at any time without notice.” The analog analogy would be if I buy a book at a bookstore, and the bookstore owner comes to my home and demands it back, without even offering to pay me back. The same applies to other media, of course, such as music or movies, as we transition away from hard copies to streaming or digital files.

Another similar example can be offered easily enough, although it is one most consumers don’t think about. When we buy a car, we don’t actually buy all of it. The software that runs important components is often managed through a licensing agreement, something most consumers don’t pay attention to. Over the years, this has proved controversial, with General Motors and John Deere stressing the importance of software copyright and licensing and using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to bar consumer or private auto repair shops from repairing them themselves. More and more state legislatures are looking at so-called “Right to Repair” legislation to help the independent operators.

At the same time we are using Amazon to—rent?—ebooks for our Kindle, we are using the online service to buy a lot of physical stuff, even things readily available at the local supermarket, and that is where the other argument about becoming a nation of hoarders comes in.

Writing in The Atlantic, Alana Semuels tallies the high cost of our consumerist society. She notes that last year, we spent $240 billion on possessions (goods like jewelry, watches, books, luggage, and telephones and related communication equipment, reported by the Bureau of Economic Analysis), twice as much as we spent in 2002. Semuels also notes that the number of self-storage facilities has doubled in the same time frame, to 52,000. “Thanks to a perfect storm of factors, Americans are amassing a lot of stuff,” she writes. “Now, we can shop from anywhere, anytime—while we’re at work, or exercising, or even sleeping.” One pathetic example: Semuels reported that the students who moved out of the Michigan State University dorms left behind nearly 150,000 pounds of their junk, from clothes to furniture.

At the same time we think about the compatibility of these two phenomena—a shift from material ownership to digital licensing, and the ease of acquiring more things—we must consider a third observation, the concurrent trendy interest in minimalism. The Kindle is supposed to be a great example of a minimizer, allegedly removing the need for bookshelves full of dusty volumes and with our smartphones we don’t need a stack of CDs to enjoy music. They were almost designed with the “tiny house” trend in mind.

Not too long ago in The New York Times, the writer Kyle Chayka called minimalism an “oppressive gospel,” one that pits wealthy elites against the common riff-raff of society. “The movement, such as it is, is led in large part by a group of men who gleefully ditch their possessions as if to disavow the advantages by which they obtained them,” he writes. “But it takes a lot to be minimalist: social capital, a safety net and access to the internet.”

It gets worse, when you consider where the technology is made, he says. “The technology we call minimalist might fit in our pockets, but it depends on a vast infrastructure of grim, air-conditioned server farms and even grimmer Chinese factories.”

Another critic poses minimalism as an example of Western privilege, talking about how it is the opposite of how some immigrants look at ownership. Arielle Bernstein, whose family left behind home and possessions when they left Cuba in 1968, explains why it is hard for some to accept the new minimalism. “Embracing a minimalist lifestyle is an act of trust,” she writes. “For a refugee, that trust has not yet been earned. The idea that going through items cheerfully evaluating whether or not objects inspire happiness is fraught for a family like mine, for whom cherished items have historically been taken away.” The article is a response to Japanese decluttering expert Marie Kondo, perhaps most famous for her idea of keeping only possessions that “spark joy.”

Lacking in the vast majority of these discussions in the mainstream media is the spiritual side of the equation. What should be our relationship with our possessions? Do they own us, or do we own them? Even in talking about the benefits of minimalism, we often are taking a secular approach. By shedding our possessions, we become liberated from them, freer to travel and spend our money elsewhere. If there’s anything “tiny houses” are built for, it’s not for large families, or for entertaining and showing hospitality to large groups.

We have become a consumerist society, to be sure, and one where it is cheaper and easier to replace your television than have it repaired, and where obsolescence is built into the newest gadget. Chayka’s point about the destructive nature of our technological age is a strong one, and we get the idea easily enough that it will be harder and harder to find real, lasting “joy” in many of the possessions that our obsession with one-click shopping provides.

K. E. Colombini

K. E. Colombini is a former journalist who served as a political speechwriter before a career in corporate communications. A Thomas Aquinas College alumnus, he also studied English literature at Sonoma State University in Northern California. In addition to Crisis, Colombini has been published in First Things, Inside the Vatican, The American Conservative and the Homiletic and Pastoral Review. He and his wife live in suburban St. Louis, and have five children and four grandchildren.

How to survive the Next Wave of Automation

by Eric Kingrea | You’ll Be Broke and Jobless Unless You Prep for Jobs That Don’t Exist Yet (images: Pixabay)
The fear, of course, is that robots are coming to eat your job. This is true whether or not you are on the factory line, in a hedge fund, or even if you’re behind the sticks at the local bar. Innovation–never one to wait idly while we silly humans amble to catch up–now inserts itself directly into practical uses at stunning speed. The worry is that we are not doing enough, as a society, to account for these changes.

“I think the jury’s still out on that,” Oliver Libby, venture capitalist and Chairman of the Board at the Resolution Project, told VICE Impact re: job-eating robots. “There’s a big debate on whether or not there are going to be new jobs. But even if the new economy spits out these new jobs, the question is how rapidly that happens and how often a person will have to learn a new career, because their skills have been overtaken or become obsolete.”

Industrial Robot Automation

Industrial Robot Automation

Economic theorist Jeremy Rifkin posits that we are in the midst of a Third Industrial Revolution, predicated on drastic, nearly simultaneous changes to three essentials of modern economic life: communications, energy production, and logistics. The advent of the Internet forever changed the way we communicate; with improvements to wind/solar power, energy production can now be stripped from monopolies and hyper-localized; and, if Elon Musk has anything to do with it, driverless drones, trains, and automobiles are just around the corner. Marginal cost for many products is going to take a nosedive. All of which is hugely exciting (and for some, hugely profitable). This is also profoundly disconcerting.

“There’s a big debate on whether or not there are going to be new jobs. But even if the new economy spits out these new jobs, the question is how rapidly that happens and how often a person will have to learn a new career, because their skills have been overtaken or become obsolete.”

Rifkin uses the sharing economy as an example of a sharp tack that left dozens of once impregnable industries scrambled and scrambling. Publishing, public transit, college courses, whatever remains of the music business–whole swaths of industry, accounting for billions of dollars and millions of jobs, gone, or greatly diminished, within a generation. Napster-ization as a totally new economic system, the first to emerge since capitalism and communism, according to Rifkin; this is no small thing. Nor is it entirely beneficial. People have been left behind. There have been casualties.

This is a period of flux, says Kristin Sharp, Executive Director of Shift, a commission exploring the intersection of work and technology.

“We’re trying lots of new things, but haven’t identified the storyline that explains it to people. That’s part of the frustration we’re seeing,” she told VICE Impact. “We used to have a very clear storyline.

The story went like this: you find a career, you work for the company, you save money, you buy a house, you send your kids to college, you retire after a life well-led. The frustration Sharp is talking about manifests itself in less haloed terms: community exodus, opioid epidemic, populist anger. And these issues aren’t necessarily the responsibility of the futurists.

“People getting left behind is a policy choice,” says Joe Dinkin of the Working Families Party. “Whether the benefits of the technological revolution are concentrated on tech entrepreneurs and Wall Street investors, or whether they’re spread more broadly across society, that’s a policy question. Those are things we can and should be fixing.”

The jobs of the future, according to Sharp and Libby, are going to revolve around that most American of concepts: entrepreneurialism.

Not everyone can be Mark Zuckerberg.

“In general, we are moving away from people trying to find an established job that has clearly defined responsibilities, into something where you have to figure out what you want to do, how to connect to the training for it, figure out how to brand yourself and prove to other people you’re good at it and that it’s necessary,” said Sharp. “Everybody will have to get much more involved with creating the work they want to do. That’s just a fact.”

The drag on coming around to this idea of being an entrepreneur of self, as it were, is partly because of the story we’re telling. Whether or not you’re an Uber driver or the founder of a billion-dollar start-up, you’re participating as a go-getter member of this 21st century economy, but it’s not often held up that way.

“Interesting though that in an economy where we’ll be requiring people to behave more and more as entrepreneurs, and we’re asking people to take more responsibility for their work life, we’re still only lionizing a very narrow slice of what entrepreneurship really means,” said Libby.

Not everyone can be Mark Zuckerberg, but many more people can try to open a retail business in Detroit (that low marginal cost doesn’t just benefit the big guys, after all). However, the problems that attend being one’s own boss remain the same as ever: lack of security, lack of stability, what to do if Amazon cocks an eyebrow at your business niche. The question becomes how we as a society mitigate personal risk in a future where jobs are mercurial.

“We are going to have a society in one hundred years; will they look and ask, ‘Did we wait until the problem got so acute that it was a massive, disruptive thing, and a whole generation was devastated? Or did we take action in time to smooth the transition for as many people as possible?’ So far, we’re not doing that.”

Dinkin believes that ensuring healthcare is one of the easiest ways to insulate people from the shock of this new economy, since it takes one of the most stressful aspects of leaving a job out of the picture. The other suggestions are even more systemic. Rifkin thinks that massive infrastructure projects focused on clean energy and communication can help transition the construction fields. Sharp sees as necessary portable benefits or benefits that accrue to the individual rather than the job, as well as an education system that identifies skills that are on the upswing, and a more efficient communication of those skills to people who are looking for a change.

But the challenge isn’t just can you do it, it’s how quickly. Can humans learn and keep up with what is seemingly becoming an inhuman rate of progress? Libby suggests a system of continuing education modeled after, of all things, the military: the military upscales one’s job every few years, and are able to do so because they have proven training methodologies that work at every educational level. Plus, the costs of your training are covered.

These are huge, costly recalibrations to the way we consider and even conceptualize work. But we need to prepare, because the future is already here. Libby likens the needed social changes to a health problem. If you go get screened, you’re probably going to catch the heart attack before it happens. If you have a heart attack today, it’s far more costly, has chances of recurrence, and you’re recovering for life.

“The wave is washing over us,” Libby said. “We are going to have a society in one hundred years; will they look and ask, ‘Did we wait until the problem got so acute that it was a massive, disruptive thing, and a whole generation was devastated? Or did we take action in time to smooth the transition for as many people as possible?’ So far, we’re not doing that.”

How 5G will Enable the Future

One may expect 5G to be like a cloud of connectivity that follows you everywhere; for example, from your home to your autonomous vehicle which drives you through your “smart” city to your “smart” and “secure” office.
5G (5th generation mobile networks or 5th generation wireless systems) is the next generation of super-fast and secure mobile telecommunications standards. 5G has speeds beyond the current 4G/IMT-Advanced standards. The 5G mobile telecommunications standard will usher a unifying connectivity fabric with huge enhancements to broadband experience everywhere and anytime. 5G will also allow us to seamlessly connect embedded sensors in virtually everything. The 5G concepts such as millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum will provide internet access to homes using wireless network technology rather than fixed lines. Other 5G use cases include the production of an ultra-high-fidelity media experience, and ultra-reliable/available low-latency links, such as remote control of critical infrastructure which are all slated to come out in 2020.

The spectrum allocations, Request for Proposal (RFP) and Request for Quotation (RFQ) process have already begun in the US. And the US appear to be leading in mmWave deployment. To prepare for a 5G world, 3GPP, the international wireless standards body, completed the 5G technical specifications that allows chip and hardware makers to start development.

Sanjay Jha, at the IEEE 5G Santa Clara World Forum this July, shows that one may expect 5G to be like a cloud of connectivity that follows you everywhere; for example, from your home to your autonomous vehicle which drives you through your “smart” city to your “smart” and “secure” office. There will be explosion of real-time acquisition and manipulation of images at every aspect of our lives in government, retail, healthcare, education, and entertainment. The explosion in mobile display resolution and real-time AI applications will make augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), mixed-reality (MR) (or hybrid reality), seamless; merging real and virtual worlds to produce new environments and visualizations where physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real time.

At the next DC5G in Washington DC this November, one would expect to hear and see live demo of the disruptive World of 5G IoT-Powered VR, AR, and MR applications in booth after booth demonstrating how this super-fast connectivity would change how we connect online and make our life’s easier. All the wireless technology providers are positioning themselves for this massive mobile technological revolution. Some of them plan to roll out limited 5G networks in the Sacramento area, California, this year with peak speeds of up to 1 Gbps. Which is “a big deal” considering future 8K video streaming would require no more than 100 Mbps. What will make 5G unique will not just be the super-fast speed but also the ability to securely connect a whole lot of devices without wires. Which means most home users may have no need for wired internet services since wireless providers speed will rival wired connections.

How Christians Can Adapt to Technological Change

by Glenn Brooke | Technology advances and political systems can shape, but not fully repair, a sin-corrupted world. No amount of technology can solve our deepest problems. Technology can help people live better, more fulfilling lives that maximize their contributions. (image: ©LiuZishan/Shutterstock)

Even setting aside the hype about disruptive technological change, it’s here to stay. How can leaders think wisely about the combined impact of computing power, algorithms, new means of connectivity, virtual reality, 3D printing, sensors, robotics, nanotechnology and molecular medicine? What are positive things we should continue to embrace? How will these changes affect businesses and employment? What is the Church role in shaping these things, or will it continue to be sidelined.

Don’t Underestimate the Changes That Will Keep Coming
We’re bad at projecting exponential impact  and truly awful at projecting the impact of intersecting exponential trends. In rough terms, technological capability is doubling annually. It’s not evenly distributed, but the bleeding edge is improving 2x each year.[1]  By June 2036 we are looking at 20 doublings, which is a million-fold increase in technological capability. Can you wrap your head around technical capabilities a million times greater than what you see today? How about a billion-fold in 2046 (30 doublings)?

To put that in perspective, consider transportation speeds.
  • Walking: 4 mph
  • Horse: 24 mph
  • Car: 80 mph
  • Commercial jet: 600 mph (150x faster than walking)
  • 150x is much, much less than a million.

This rate of technological change has never been experienced before in human history. Every technological advance creates new business opportunities, but it also carries potential destructive power. We will need wise leadership to adapt well.Exponential changes in technology start very slowly, hardly noticeable to most people, and – because we’re used to thinking about linear increases – “appear” to explode onto the scene. It is a little like mushrooms “popping up” in your yard. All the component cells of the mushroom were already there as an invisibly distributed set of filaments. They come together in a few hours overnight to create the visible fruiting body. Likewise, these technology changes will appear to come from nowhere and continue to transform our business and social world rapidly.

Leadership Begins by Recognizing What Doesn’t Change
The key for leadership in the future is to begin with what won’t change. Jeff Bezos brilliantly focused Amazon on what won’t change – people will always want low cost products delivered fast.  Reading Richard Baxter or Francis Asbury on how to minister to struggling families and congregations shows us how little people have changed. Some things we can count on being the same:

  • Spiritual bedrock: God loves people, whom he crafted in his image (Gen. 1:26-27). Robots and avatars are at best made in the image of man. “Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Heb. 13:8)  The Word of God is everlasting and speaks to our deepest needs. (Isa. 40:8)  We cannot save ourselves. (Eph. 2:1-10)  People are both body and spirit. (1 Cor. 6:19-20) Worship of any created thing or capability is idolatry. (Exod. 20:3)  We love because God loved us first. (1 John 4:19)  Dying is not the worst thing that can happen to you. (Matt. 10:28)
  • Work is valuable and good for us. People are at their best when serving and creating, rather than focused on consuming.
  • People crave purpose and meaning, certainty, family and community connections. These three main questions remain important: “Where did I come from?  Why am I here? What happens when I die?
  • Every generation must learn fundamental lessons anew.
  • Technical capabilities and living standards will not be evenly distributed. “The poor you will always have with you.” (Matt. 26:11)
  • Technology advances and political systems can shape, but not fully repair, a sin-corrupted world. No amount of technology can solve our deepest problems. Technology can help people live better, more fulfilling lives that maximize their contributions.
  • People treasure experiences in the natural, created world. People are 3D beings in the physical world and cannot live entirely as digital entities.
  • People need sleep, rest, and rejuvenation.
  • Families are a bedrock social structure ordained by God. Children need loving parents.
  • Time is inexorable and unidirectional. Jesus Christ will return as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. (Rev. 19:11-16)
  • The economics of businesses is about exchange of value. “There is no free lunch.”
  • The world is made up of many interrelated systems, with many feedback loops. Changes in one part of a system affect other parts of the systems, often in ways we find difficult to predict because there are gaps between cause and effect.

All these – and you can probably think of more – are not going to change with even a billion times more technological capability. Leaders can work from our trustworthy body of revealed wisdom and our observations about how people and the world actually work.

[1] Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler, Bold (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2015). The single-most readable book on how these exponential technologies will transform our world and the way we live and work. These authors are associated with Singularity University and compile many articles about technological progress at singularityhub.com.

Glenn BrookeGlenn Brooke considers leadership a craft which requires dedicated pursuit. The apprentice model (instruction + practice + associating with other craftsmen) is the time-tested way to foster the next generation of leaders. Real leaders never stop working on their craft; there are only new levels of mastery ahead. Glenn is the author of Leadership Craft, Teach the Bible to Change Lives, and other books. You can read more from Glenn on his blog, leadershipcraft.com.

How to Use Technology and Social Media Without Worshiping It

by Rowland Adeniyi | To use technology and social media without worshiping it, we must exercise self-control which can be achieved by everyone with discipline (image: iStock).
Technology and social media allow us to stay in touch with friends, explore the world around us, learn new things, and order anything online. It is a powerful tool to make our life easier and better while on the other hand, it can lead to isolation, neglect of our responsibilities, or disrespect of people around us. To use technology and social media without worshiping it, we must exercise self-control which can be achieved by everyone with discipline. This includes turning off the function where new posts pop up as alerts on your devices, cultivating healthier activities to keep yourself busy, turning off your connected devices, or uninstalling social media Apps from your smartphone and using the one on your personal computer. If you’re beyond exercising self-control, you can find treatment centers here for internet addiction in your area or call the Helpline at 888-465-7473 or 877-762-4484 or 866-208-4949.

There is no need to be in self-denial, many of us are not using technology and social media appropriately. It is very difficult to know the cause of the problems; technology providers, educators, school curriculum, or the federal agency policies about technology. There is plenty of blame to go around even as far as parents themselves are concerned.

Although there is no scientific standard for measuring if you’re worshiping technology and social media, some reports suggest it may affect as many as 38 percent of the general population. The reason for discrepancies is that it is researched differently among scientists including the mental health professionals. The vast majority of Americans, about 95% now own a cellphone of some kind. The share of Americans that own smartphones is now 77%, up from just 35% in PEW Research Center’s first survey of smartphone ownership conducted in 2011.

When used wisely, technology and social media have the potential to support the much-needed large scale change in education especially in the areas of math and science education. For this to happen though, educators need to be very creative in developing new and far more ambitious course work for a quite different future that technologies and social media make possible now.

The most useful educational perspective of information technologies and social media is to see them primarily as tools that help students accomplish more. The tool role is of primary importance because it extends the capacity of students to undertake investigations, to attack computational problems, to communicate, and to access information resources.

On one hand, the potential positive effects of using technology and social media without worshiping it include enhanced cognitive development and school achievement, reduced barriers to social interaction, enhanced fine motor skills and visual processing and effective rehabilitation. On the other hand, the potential negative effects include threats to child safety, inappropriate content, exposure to violence, bullying, internet ‘addiction‘, displacement of moderate or vigorous physical activity, exposure to junk food advertising, sleep displacement, vision problems, and musculoskeletal problems. All researchers agreed on one thing, the extended use of technology is damaging to anyone, especially in the early developmental years of adolescence.

The troubling thing about using technology and social media without worshiping it is that a person is endlessly surrounded by technology. From the time one wakes up to the time one goes to bed, we are bombarded with technology and social media. Its use is endless. In this digital age, how then do you know if you’re worshiping technology and social media?

  • I saw an elderly lady walking across the street one day in one of the high-tech cities along the US west coast with her eyes glued to her device screen and not even paying attention to the oncoming traffic until the driver slammed the brake and blew the horn and the lady literarily ran off the street. If a person is not able to physically stop checking their Facebook account, tweeting, blogging, e-mailing, or whatever, then they are worshiping technology and social media.
  • Complex, strategy-based games like Starcraft can improve many cognitive skills, including working memory and reasoning. When playing a strategy game, the player must be flexible and quick to change tactics on the fly with limited resources and logistics when something unexpected suddenly happens, just like in the real world. Although this strategy game no doubt improves cognitive skills, doing it online in excess no doubt constitutes that we are worshiping technology and social media.
  • Everyday we use our technology to buy practically everything online these days and that includes perishable goods like groceries delivery as well. There is no doubt about it; from researching our first home to ordering pizzas online, we are a technology savvy community when it comes to shopping. The problem comes when we keep buy unwanted goods every day and we end up as a compulsive online shopper.
  • A virtue as Wikipedia described it is a trait or quality that is deemed to be morally good and thus is valued as a foundation of principle and good moral being. Personal virtues are characteristics valued as promoting collective and individual greatness. Having read a few books on the impact of technology and social media on humans, I can say conclusively we are consuming technology at an alarming rate and entertaining ourselves to illness. When our use of technology and social media clash with the development of our virtue, our relationships, work, or school then we are worshiping technology and social media.

The most important thing about using technology and social media without worshiping it is that of self-corrective behavior which can be achieved by everyone with discipline. Corrective behaviors include the use of software that controls the internet use and types of sites that can be visited like Qustodio or Disney’s Circle for your phone and/or wireless router. These software are designed to supervise, manage and protect children device use on the go! It basically allows parents to see how their children uses devices, apps, the web and control it.

For self-correction, one will for example set their alarm for say 45 mins. Things done without devices is good, which means a person is having a face-to-face interaction which is always better and rewarding. After the 45 mins, one will get outside the building or house and do something different, like reading a book or visiting a friend’s house where one can either play an old-fashioned board game like monopoly or go for a walk. Physical activity is very effective at increasing serotonin or 5-hydroxytryptamine levels which is known to decrease dependency on the use on internet devices. Boredom isn’t bad, and the cure for boredom is being creative without using technology. Studies show technology and social media use just makes a person more easily bored.

Looking at the use of smartphones, MP3 players, TV, social media, and the internet at large make it all seems as if our kids are always plugged in. Many parents compete with technology for their kids’ attention all the time. As a family, everyone need to work together to create an acceptable technology use policy (see example below). This includes 1) Who can use it and what they are allowed to do with it? 2) Where and when they are allowed to use it? and 3) How will this use be monitored?

 One of the best things the parents can do regarding technology is to talk to their kids about what they are seeing, hearing and doing. What are other kids doing? What do they think about this and that? Have they seen or heard of other kids being bullied? Have they been bullied? Are your kids mature enough to understand the basics of internet safe usage? It’s also a good idea to show your children news articles about bad things that happens when kids use technology. It’s one thing to hear it from you, but to see it happen to someone their age will make them think twice.

We as adults need to be very specific on what our children are allowed to do with their devices. For example; no bullying, and they should never take or look at naked photos of themselves and explain to them the consequences. Whatever they text, post, email, or tweet will become part of the public realm and they can never get it back, since it will be there to assist or hinder them as adult.

The parents can use cell phone bills, monitoring software like Qustodio or Disney’s Circle to look at the technology itself to see what content has been viewed. This is not an invasion of privacy – it’s not about snooping. It’s about keeping your child and other children safe from predators, bullies, and content they think they are old enough for but that is really harmful.

Sample Family Acceptable Use Policy.

  1. You may not ignore calls or texts or email from us. We will always know the password for this device and you may not have or know the password to our devices. Your use of your devices is privileged and will be revoked for a week at the first evidence of tampering with our security or password.
  2. When you are at home with us, you may have ______ hour(s) on school days and ____ hour(s) on weekend days to enjoy using your digital devices. We like being with you and talk to you.
  3. You will return this digital device to a parent (or a guardian if we are not home) at ____ p.m. every school night and at _____ p.m. every weekend night.
  4. Do not post or share photos of other people without their permission. And especially, do not photograph or share inappropriate or naked images of yourself or other people. If something does happen, you can always call us for help.
  5. Resolve conflict with someone face to face and NOT by texting. We expect eye contact during face-to-face discussions. Don’t text when you are angry or mad.

What happens online impacts your life offline. Colleges and future employers can and will search your name, and the internet never forgets. Slow down and think before posting.

Many adults sometimes don’t know what their teenagers are going through every day which is why it’s hard to separate teenagers from social media, messaging apps, or online games and videos. Sometimes some of them are afraid of being alone and they rely on technology and the social media in general to give them a sense of belonging while their capacity for empathy and relationship suffers. There is no doubt about it, technology is inhibiting our teenager’s connection and conversation at school and at home. Somehow, they find ways around conversation, tempted by the constant bombardment of text or an email in which they feel they have to look at or listen to. We really need to teach our teenagers the virtues of person-to-person conversation and especially the use of technology and social media without worshiping it.

Work with Your Teenagers and Teach them to Use Technology Wisely
Challenge your teenagers as a parent for them to use technology and social media as a tool to contribute to and analyze global environmental datasets, polls, and other network science projects. Here they can collect their best work and evidence for skill mastery into portfolios for you as a parent to evaluate. This will give the teenagers a technique to move between quantitative observations to theory that they will find powerful for use later in life. And these experimental investigations will continue to mature as your teenagers mature. It may even break the barriers or walls between you and your teenagers and they may see you as allies. Depending on how good these portfolios are; they may even be able to use them in college admissions and job applications.

Be A Good Role Model
We need to show our teenagers how to use technology and social media in a healthy, human way while also developing wisdom, character, and courage in the way they use digital media rather than accepting technology’s promises of ease, instant gratification, and the world’s knowledge at their fingertips. Show them how to make money with their knowledge of technology and social media. And if you as a parent didn’t know how, pay to send them to summer school or weekend classes on how to.

Teenagers with Technology Issues Need to Try Self-Help
Research shows strong associations between addictive use of technology and comorbid psychiatric disorders. In “The relationship between addictive use of social media and video games and symptoms of psychiatric disorders by Andreassen et al.: A large-scale cross-sectional study; age appeared to be inversely related to the addictive use of these technologies. Being male was significantly associated with addictive use of video games, whereas being female was significantly associated with addictive use of social media. Being single was positively related to both addictive social networking and video gaming.

As a teenager, you have to accept the fact you’re not an adult and hence lack the maturity to curb devices use on your own. Studies has shown that the parents taking the device away from you as a teenager doesn’t help either since it creates a withdrawal symptom like, anxiety. Instead, there are plenty of other ways to help yourself find a healthier balance: As part of a self-help, you need to recognize what make you reach for your smartphone in the first place. Is it when you’re lonely, bored, depressed, or stressed; then the excessive devices use might be a way for you to relax. And there is no better way to relax than to change your mood without the use of devices. Head on to your neighbor or friend for face-to-face interaction which can make you feel calmer, safer and less stressful. Studies shows interacting through text, email or messaging that bypasses nonverbal cues does not have the same effect on individual’s emotional well-being.

No one knows you better than yourself, and the ultimate goal is to build skills that will make it easier for you to relate to others and find it easier to communicate in person rather than tweeting, texting or blogging other people online. Building skills in these areas may help you weather the stresses on your daily life without relying on your devices.

Think back to other times when you’ve reached out for your devices, is it to distract yourself from other issues like loneliness and shyness? If so, you need to reach out to your friends and family. If you are shy, there are ways to overcome social awkwardness and make lasting friendship without relying on social media or the Internet. Help your younger sibling out with their homework. They’ve probably been nagging you for a while about that anyway. Set a good example for your siblings. Better yet, try reaching out to your teacher for that problem you know you cannot solve by yourself or join a club at school that is not related to technology or social media.

Where to Find Technology/Internet Addiction Treatment
If you’re a teenager with technology and social media issues or internet addiction disorder, sometimes abbreviated as IAD; it may be time to look for outside support, teenagers often rebel against their parents, whether it’s from family, friends, or a professional therapist. It’s very difficult to find a dedicated facility that specializes in technology and social media issues or internet addiction. Many treatment centers that treat internet addiction also handle a variety of other behavioral problems. Professional therapists who provide couple’s therapy often deal with patients that have a range of compulsive behavioral problems. Find treatment centers here for internet addiction in your area or call the Helpline at 888-465-7473 or 877-762-4484 or 866-208-4949.

Specific therapies and therapeutic activities prescribed by a therapist will vary from teen to teen, but here are some options tested to have the best impact on a teenager with internet addiction.

  • Structured and closely supervised schedule with little or no access to Internet-connected devices
  • Individual, group, and family therapy
  • Behavioral modification
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
  • Equine therapy
  • Expressive arts therapy
  • Recreation therapy

As an adult, the best way to use technology and social media without worshiping it is to cultivate habits that can free us to enjoy living. This includes:

Cultivate Healthier Activities
Been bored and lonely as an adult is no fun. You should resist the urge to use that device by doing a hospital visit, volunteering at church or your community, taking a yoga class, reading a book, or walking with friends.

Disable Notifications
Internet connected devices somehow pulls people out of the present moment and into someone else experience. Resist this by turning off the function where new posts pop up as alerts on your devices. Unless your job requires it, there is no need to take your devices like smartphone or tablet with you everywhere in the house. Leave it where you normally put it when you get home and go to the deck to relax and get some fresh air or just take time off for a quiet time..

Block Out an internet Connected Devices Turnoff Time
Ever since I almost crashed into the car in front of me while driving on Interstate 5 using my smartphone about 5 years ago, I always turn off my smartphone as soon as I get into the driver’s seat. Other times I turn off the smartphone include during sporting activities, bedtime, dinner, meetings, or playing with kids.

Check internet Connected Devices with a Purpose
Determine from this day on to always check your smartphone with a purpose in mind. Constantly documenting everything around you to post on your social media page so that you’re socially accepted is nerve racking and time-consuming. It’s best to check your smartphone sporadically or at a scheduled time and make sure you time yourself.

No Smartphone in the Bedroom or Bathroom
Treat your bedroom as a mini-sanctuary where there is no eating or smartphone usage. If you cultivate this habit, your children will thank you for it when they grow up and on their own. Smartphone usage and eating in bed unless on special occasions is totally distracting and send the wrong message to your kids that they can eat in bed and take their smartphone to bed as well. Unless your job requires you leave your smartphone on all the time, or you use your smartphone as a wake-up alarm; it’s best to turn off all devices and leave them in another room overnight to charge. Get traditional paper books for the bedroom and bathroom instead of eBooks on your smartphone or tablet.

Uninstall social media Apps
If your eyes are glued to your smartphone or tablet instead of helping that crying baby or living up to your responsibility as a parent then it may be time for you to remove the social media apps from your smartphone and check Facebook, Twitter and the like only from your personal computer. Unless you make a living from social media; you can spend as little time as you want on social media and you won’t miss out on anything. Besides, you will boost your sense of self-worth and have more time for things that are important in your life; like spending quality time that requires eye-to-eye contact with loved ones.

Rowland Adeniyi is a security and Infrastructure Architectures Consultant. Consulting to colleges, Microsoft, and other agencies. Built and maintains ECWA USA Website.


Andreassen, C. S., Billieux, J., Griffiths, M. D., Kuss, D. J., Demetrovics, Z., Mazzoni, E., & Pallesen, S. (2016). The relationship between addictive use of social media and video games and symptoms of psychiatric disorders: A large-scale cross-sectional study. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 30(2), 252-262. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/adb0000160

Carnes, P., Delmonico, D., & Griffin, E. (2007). In the Shadows of the Net: Breaking Free of Compulsive Online Sexual Behavior (2nd ed.). Center City, Minnesota: Hazelden Foundation.

Internet addiction disorder. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.minddisorders.com/Flu-Inv/Internet-addiction-disorder.html

Stewart, C. (2010, January 13). Obsessed With the Internet: A Tale From China. Retrieved from http://www.wired.com/2010/01/ff_internetaddiction/

Young, K. S. (1998) internet addiction: The emergence of a new clinical disorder. Cyberpsychology and Behavior 1: 237-244.

Young, K. (n.d.). Center for internet Addiction – Education and Treatment. Retrieved from http://netaddiction.com

Risky Business: internet Addiction – Help for recognizing and dealing with smartphone and internet addiction. (Mental Health America)

Media Smarts – Site covering safety tips for children and how to cope with challenges such as social media, texting and messaging, and excessive internet use. (Canada’s Centre for Digital and Media Literacy)

Understanding Addictive Cybersex – Article by Dr. Jennifer Schneider discusses the types and consequences of cybersex addiction. (Cybersexualaddiction.com)

Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous – How to find a 12-step program for sexual addictions. (Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous)

On-Line Gamers Anonymous – Help and support for problems caused by excessive game playing. (OLGA)

Restart Center – Offers programs to help you disconnect from digital media, such as smartphones, gaming, and the Internet. (Center for Digital Technology Sustainability)

Apps Block social media Because Users Can’t Stop Themselves – Review of anti-distraction apps and software that help you monitor and curb your smartphone and online behavior. (NPR)

Smartphone Compulsion Test – Dr. David Greenfield’s screening tool for smartphone overuse or addiction. (The Center for internet and Technology Addiction)

Understanding Quantum Computing

One suggested approach to the stability-decoherence problem is to create a topological quantum computer with anyons, quasi-particles used as threads and relying on braid theory to form stable logic gates (images: Wikipedia).
Quantum computing although still in its infancy is quantum bits that uses a very different form of data handling to perform calculations. In short, it’s a quantum-mechanical phenomena computing. The emergence of quantum computing is based on a new kind of data unit that is non-binary, as it has more than two definite states (0 or 1). Quantum computation uses quantum bits or qubits that can be in superpositions and entanglements states.

Unlike classical computer that works on bits of data that are binary, quantum computer, maintains a sequence of qubits, which can represent a one, a zero, or any quantum superposition of those two qubit states. A pair of qubits can be in any quantum superposition of 4 states, and three qubits in any superposition of 8 states. According to scientists, qubits are based on physical atoms and molecular structures. However, many find it helpful to theorize a qubit as a binary data unit with superposition.

To bring to light the importance of quantum computing, many national governments and military agencies are funding quantum computing research on top of effort to develop quantum computers for civilian, business, trade, environmental and national security purposes, such as cryptanalysis. John Preskill introduced the term quantum supremacy to refer to the hypothetical speedup advantage that a quantum computer would have over a classical computer in a certain field. Roger Schlafly pointed out that the claimed theoretical benefits of quantum computing go beyond the proven theory of quantum mechanics and imply non-standard interpretations, such as multiple worlds and negative probabilities. Schlafly on the other hand maintains that the Born rule is just “metaphysical fluff” and that quantum mechanics doesn’t rely on probability any more than other branches of science but simply calculates the expected observation values.

One of the greatest challenges of quantum computing is controlling or removing quantum decoherence; that is, loss of quantum coherence or means of isolating the system from its environment as interactions with the external world causes the system to decohere. Right now, some quantum computers require their qubits to be cooled to 20 millikelvins in order to prevent significant decoherence.  Meaning time consuming tasks may render some quantum algorithms inoperable, as maintaining the state of qubits for a long enough duration will eventually corrupt the superpositions.

One suggested approach to the stability-decoherence problem is to create a topological quantum computer with anyons, quasi-particles used as threads and relying on braid theory to form stable logic gates. Here are four of several quantum computing models in development:

In February 2018, scientists reported, for the first time, the discovery of a new form of light, which may involve polaritons, that could be useful in the development of quantum computers. while in March 2018, Google Quantum AI Lab announced a 72 qubit processor called Bristlecone. IBM Research announced eight quantum computing startups joined the IBM Q Network, including: Zapata Computing, Strangeworks, QxBranch, Quantum Benchmark, QC Ware, Q-CTRL, Cambridge Quantum Computing, and 1QBit in April 2018.

Quantum computers are really good at solving those problems where you’ve got an exponential number of permutations to try out, said Stanford Clark. However, quantum computers will never be able to run the type of logic that we’re familiar with in the classical computer architecture, said Andy Stanford Clark. Although, quantum computers may be faster than classical computers for some problem types, A Turing machine can simulate these quantum computers, so such a quantum computer could never solve an undecidable problem like the halting problem.