technology

Chad Miller, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10609590

Franklin Foer DOES have a Facebook page, but he hasn't updated it in nearly a year.  Which should come as no surprise once you hear his issues with Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and Google. 

Foer, the former editor of the New Republic, bashes all four as "Big Tech," and accuses them of damaging our culture and economy, in his book World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech

Whether or not you agree that Big Tech forces conformity and turns our privacy into a commodity, the book will make you think hard about some modern digital conveniences that we quickly took for granted. 

Wikimedia Commons

It's not just a TV-show trope that many of the people working at writing computer programs are male. 

It's a fact in real life, and one that Reshma Saujani aims to change. 

She is the founder of "Girls Who Code," which aims to increase the incidence of females creating the stuff that runs on our computers and smartphones. 

Wikimedia

Cellphones are in just about everybody's hands or pockets these days, and we've gotten used to having them around. 

We just notice less when people pull them out in restaurants and other public places.  But that doesn't mean we're all using them properly. 

In fact, cellphone users are often seen as rude by the people around them. 

If Emily Post were around, what we she say is good cellphone etiquette?  Let's ask her great-great-grandson. 

Daniel Post Senning writes about manners just like his famous ancestor. 

Timothy Vollmer, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15523845

Many jobs once done by people can now be performed by machines. 

Don't plan a long-term future on a job, if a robot can do it smarter and faster.  Our job is to figure out the tasks that robots and computers cannot do. 

That's the general thrust of Edward Hess's book Humility Is the New Smart: Rethinking Human Excellence in the Smart Machine Age

And yes, as the title implies, it will take some humility on the part of humans. 

Grendelkhan, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47467048

Will the future be flying cars or robot overlords?  It could be neither, but Vivek Wadhwa and Alex Salkever urge us to make conscious choices. 

Because technology will inevitably advance, and people should have a say in whether our future looks like "Star Trek" or "Mad Max." 

Wadhwa and Salkever are the authors of The Driver in the Driverless Car, a look at how we make such choices. 

Technology For The Ages

Jul 14, 2016
Penguin Random House

It's a brave new world, one where new computers become aged and infirm in three years, or less.

  But what do the gadgets, games, or the military hardware of today tell us about tomorrow? Kevin Kelly says there are 12 trends in the recent explosion of new technologies, random and prolific as they may seem. 

Medford Robotics Teams Go To The Big Time

May 12, 2016
C4 Facebook page

A Medford school--St. Mary's--recently sent not one, but TWO teams of students to a world championship in robotics. 

A word of explanation first: clever students come up with clever team names. 

So Trial N Terror and C4 (for Computional Center for Competitive Circuitry) packed up bags and robots and headed for St. Louis to compete. 

Get Electricity: Go Fly A Kite

Apr 29, 2016

  Maybe you've seen those small wind turbines mounted close to the ground in rural areas.  

  And maybe you've noticed that they don't seem to turn terribly fast, even in windy conditions.  That's true, because the faster winds are higher up. So go fly a kite: tethered kites might provide more, and more consistent, electricity.  

Yes, It Actually IS Rocket Science

Feb 12, 2016
Penguin Books

  If you like those pictures the Curiosity rover sent back from Mars, you're thinking good thoughts about the work of Adam Steltzner. 

He should be a household name--on two planets. 

He led one of the critical teams that got the rover set up on Mars, a team that had to plow through many obstacles to achieve its mission. 

It IS rocket science, but a whole lot more, a story Steltzner tells in his book The Right Kind of Crazy

Tech And The Senses

Jan 18, 2016
Basic Books

Finding your way to the bathroom in the dark is a sure sign that you don't need a lot of sensory input to make your way in your usual pathways. 

In fact, scientists now tell us that a majority of what we experience is not necessarily "real," but the world as filtered through our perceptions. 

And we can take advantage of that fact, manipulating the brain for our well-being and gain. 

Think virtual reality, artificial limbs, and more... these are among the gadgets and approaches in Kara Platoni's book We Have The Technology

Almonroth/Wikimedia Commons

We close the year with some notable Exchange broadcasts of the past. 

In this hour, technology industry analyst William Meisel makes his case for computers that complement the work of humans, but do not replace it. 

Meisel's book is The Software Society.

Why We Should ALL Play Games

Sep 28, 2015
Wikimedia

All those parents who want their kids to get off the couch and stop playing video games might have met their match in Jane McGonigal

She thinks people SHOULD play games, for their health. 

McGonigal is the designer of "SuperBetter" and other games meant to expose players to real-life challenges. 

And she's convinced the right games can add ten years to a player's life. 

HarperCollins

Maybe they don't serve breakfast in bed (yet) as in the science fiction movies, but robots DO exist in our world. 

Witness driverless cars, or the machines that replaced workers building those same cars on assembly lines. 

Can we make them smarter, and should we?  That's an ongoing debate, one portrayed in John Markoff's book Machines of Loving Grace.

The book focuses on the opposing approaches of developing artificial intelligence (AI) versus intelligence augmentation (IA). 

Hawking An Invention On National TV

Aug 31, 2015
Glidecycle.com

Nothing like a little pressure to stimulate the creative or entrepreneurial juices. 

Part-time Ashland resident David Vidmar probably needed plenty of both juices when he took his invention on TV. 

The "Glide Cycle" got Vidmar a spot on CNBC's "Make Me A Millionaire Inventor," with a chance to make money to launch his product. 

The Quantum Race

Jun 1, 2015
IBM

All the big tech companies (and at least one U.S. government agency with the acronym NSA) are in a race to be the first to capture computing’s Holy Grail—the qubit. A qubit, or quantum bit, is the basic unit of information in a quantum computer. A qubit is different from a classical bit in computing, which can only exist in one state or another.

Revolutions Of The Kinder Variety

May 12, 2015
Wikimedia

Not all revolutions are violent.  We're reasonably sure the blood loss was minimal in the recent revolution in electronics and technology. 

"Revolution" is Southern Oregon University's campus theme this academic year, and the subject is near and dear to the heart of the final speaker, Jeremi Suri

Dr. Suri teaches about transformations in society; through migration, technology, education, and more. 

His talk tonight (May 12th) on campus is about "Revolution, Public Opinion, and Power: Historical Lessons for the Future." 

Teachers And Technology At Ed Tech Summit

Apr 15, 2015
Almonroth/Wikimedia Commons

In theory, the process of learning is usually the same: teachers teach, and students learn. 

But then throw technology into the mix, and all bets are off, especially in a world where so many people carry powerful computers in their hands. 

The Ed Tech Summit this week (Friday, April 17th) at Southern Oregon University brings educators and gadgets together, so the former can get up to speed on the latter. 

Demi, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=72127

It's two in a row for the city of Ashland: named one of America's "eCities" by Google. 

It is the only city in Oregon with that moniker, and it's the second straight year for the honor. 

Technology enhances life and business in town, as the Ashland Chamber can attest. 

Celebrating Present And Future: "Techtoberfest"

Sep 23, 2014
Harland Quarrington/Wikimedia Commons

Technology will save us all.  Or will it? 

Can we have a beer and a pretzel while we think about it? 

Beer and pretzels and technology talk will be abundant this week (September 26th) as Sustainable Valley Technology Group rolls out its first-ever "Techtoberfest." 

SVTG works to attract and assist clean businesses that can provide jobs in the Rogue Valley. 

Public Affairs Books

In a world of finite resources and a (so far) continually expanding human population, something has to give. 

The case is often made that people will simply have to get by with less... fewer creature comforts, more bare-bones lifestyles. 

Robert Bryce is having none of it. 

Bryce points to many cases in which technology figured out solutions that did not involve deprivation. 

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