Skip to main content

AI – Where Tech Ends and Winning Begins

By July 10, 2023July 12th, 2023Energy Rant
Image shows graphic of tech and a brain.

McDonald’s McNuggets

I picked up an iPhone at the Verizon store for my mother last week as I visited her in Northwest Iowa. She’s wheelchair-bound with one good hand for daily functions such as eating. After the iPhone pickup, I decided to get some lunch for us at McDonald’s, and although I love McDonald’s hamburgers, I hadn’t been in one of their stores for a while. I guess the machines have mostly taken over – order at the in-store kiosk or online with an app. As I navigated that process, I thought, this is fantastic – another brick in the human interaction wall.

Imagine the scene: dozens of people meander into the store, order their food from a machine, pay the machine, and the order goes to a screen in the back where human drones take orders and pile the pieces into bags for delivery to the counter. Meanwhile, the hoard of customers stands around as they stare like 1984 Proles at the monitor with their mouths agape. Dehumanizing? You bet.

Apple’s Watch

In a similar tale, my Ironman watch has taken a licking, and it keeps on ticking, but the band is trashed, and it’s on its third or fourth battery, each of which is good for at least a couple of years. It was my alarm clock, timer for cooking and watering the lawn, and timepiece, of course, but it was time to get a new one.

My sister called the night I was about to shop Amazon for a new Ironman, and she offhand mentioned her Apple Watch a few times. I considered buying an Apple Watch a few years ago until I learned its battery is good for about two days – no thanks. But I fell for it this time. I got the watch and then roasted my sister (who suggested nothing) for tricking me into buying one. I told her it wanted to be my best friend.

One of the first things I did the evening I unraveled the watch from the byzantine package was an attempt to merely set the alarm to wake up in the morning. Well, the sleep app would be the place to start. Wrong! The watch would foist sleep goals and instruct me to report to bed at the designated time – not going to happen, Tim.

The Apple Watch health app also wants to rule over me. One beautiful morning, I took a walk with my dog, Sunny, and the watch pipes up, “It looks like you’re working out.” Would you like to record this?” Hell no! Get lost already – and let me enjoy my walk with Sunny. Going for a run? Same thing. Leave me alone. Its helicopter features attempt to tell me when to go to bed and pat me on the head for hitting sleep and step goals Sit. Stand. Good boy! Hey Siri – pound sand.

Image shows an Apple Watch screen.The watch has many nice features, but it will be my slave and not the other way around. Circling back to Mom, one of her most memorable statements to me was, “No one is going to tell you what to do.” (she wasn’t pleased at the moment) You got that right, Mom! You made me, and thanks!

Tech Dumb Down

What is the upshot of being owned and controlled by machines? One answer is a headline from a recent Wall Street Journal article, and this is not an op-ed or joke. It’s a serious article, ”New Grads Have No Idea How to Behave in the Office. Help Is on the Way.” Subheading: “As the Class of 2023 enters the workforce, employers are seeing a lack of the skills necessary to navigate the office. The solution: instruction on how to send an email, the right way to buttonhole the boss, and what not to wear.”

Article topics noted include:

  • Mastering a fork, knife, butter, and a roll during a business or social meal.
  • Navigating dress codes and in-person relationships.
  • Introducing oneself to clients and colleagues.
  • Eye contact

Don’t blame the kids. Blame the adults and their overprescribed reliance on devices. Lazy.

When does a plastic bag cause a freeway crash and pileup of many vehicles? When it blows in front of a Tesla, which protects its passengers by slamming on the brakes in the free flow of traffic. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that such an incident caused a nine-car pileup last November on the Bay Bridge. One driver explained that his Model 3 committed false alarm braking twenty times in two days! I don’t know, Dude – I would call that a L E M O N.

“Automatic braking technology has the potential to improve road safety, but not before engineers smooth out bugs,” says the article. Potential. Meanwhile, it’s a first-degree hazard. No thanks. I will never trust Elon’s or anyone else’s vehicle braking or driving technology over my brain, a steering wheel, and antilock brakes. Never.

In general, I’m a Luddite, a late adopter, and some cases, never adopt technologies like ChatOMGWTF. Why? Because they make people weak, dull, subservient, and dependent. Besides that, they concentrate wealth and power among a handful of Oligarchs. You’ll never own me, brother. As they say, when the shit goes down, you better be ready. I am.

Human Interaction Wins

The axiom of this Rant is that technology will never displace human-to-human interaction in a competitive world[1]. When you have problems, how do you feel about worthless chatbots or automated-call-center merry-go-rounds? Working with a knowledgeable human is SO valuable today. It’s the secret weapon. This is precisely why fanatical execution is a core, if not the core, value of our firm.

[1] Isn’t it ironic that the Grammarly bot wants to revise this sentence as follows? Wow.

Summer Saving Tips Contest

It’s summertime. We want you to tell us how you save energy in your home this summer for a chance to win big coin with your wit and innovation. Smart thermostats? Zzzz. Pull the drapes? Baant! Cook outside? Yawn. Reverse the ceiling fan? Eyeroll here. How about this: I cook rice on my stovetop for my beloved dog, Sunny. I run the exhaust to remove the heat from my house as it cooks on the stovetop (boring). Once cooked, I take the pot outside to cool off. Mmm, not bad. What about this? I add a few inches of cold tap water to my dishpan and take the pot of cooked hot rice off the stove into the dishpan to heat the water to wash the pot! That reduces the cooling load on my house and water heating energy to do the dishes. Insanely stupendous!

Can you top that? Use the social links below to view our posts for this contest and comment with your unique idea! Post your idea by July 20th. The winner gets a cash prize of $500 and a feature in our August edition of the Hopper and our social media. We can’t wait to read all your ideas!

Jeff Ihnen

Author Jeff Ihnen

More posts by Jeff Ihnen

Leave a Reply