Think Tank and Radio Thoughts on Domestic Technologies for Americans

Welcome to this 21st day of October, 12-years into the 21st century. I wish thank all my online readers and radio listeners for their continued support. For today’s talk I will discuss many items having to do with our technology for domestic purposes; entertainment, safety, education, and personal communication. It all matters and it is changing the way we live, how we think, and our path forward into the future. Indeed, these are all interrelated topics which shouldn’t be necessarily viewed as separate issues in my humble opinion.

Okay so, before we being let me remind you of the format here; I talk and you listen, then it will be your turn to “like” or shout out pro or con with your own opinion – provided that your arguments are not pandering, preaching to the choir or mere talking points of some particular political persuasion – no need to repeat what’s been said elsewhere – for this is the place of original thinking and drilling down into the subject matter which affects us all whether we care to realize it or not. Fair enough? Let’s begin.

Is The Internet Changing the Way We Use and Buy Dictionaries?

Not long ago, I went to the thrift stores nearby to seek out used books. A friend of mine asked me if I could look for a dictionary, something he could use to flip-through perhaps 160,000 plus words, so not a small one, but definitely not a large unabridged version either. Without thinking, I said, “sure, I’ll see what they have,” and then departed for my used book shopping spree for the month. Generally, I find a dozen or so books to read, mostly nonfiction, but I do like everyone have a few fiction series I like to read by my favorite authors.

Due to all the new e-books and e-readers, one thing I’ve noticed is that it’s difficult to find the hardbound books at the used bookstores, or thrift stores before six months after they’ve been published. Previously it was quite easy to do this, but since fewer people are buying hardbound books, and are buying e-books instead, they are not being bought in the numbers they were before. It is quite evident that some of the big box retailers have been challenged by this, that is to say new book sales, but it is also affecting the used book market because people that have e-books aren’t allowed to resell them later. Therefore, it is affecting the hand-me-down market.

Now then, while I was looking for a used dictionary for my friend I found hundreds of them, I couldn’t believe how many there were available. But then again consider this, more and more people are merely typing a word into a search engine which auto corrects spelling, and then lists online dictionaries. Since most people are online all the time, and those who are writing or doing reports for school have the Internet running in the background along with the Google search engine, they merely “google it” and so they no longer need a dictionary at their desk. This is why everyone has donated them to the used bookstores and/or thrift shops.

Do you remember when you were in school and you had a writing assignment, and if you asked your teacher what a word was, she told you to “look it up” because that’s what dictionaries are for. Today, kids are using tablet computers in the classroom for learning, so when they look something up they also look it up online, and therefore this habit will probably follow them well into adulthood. In any case let’s talk about some of the technology in the classroom and how that will also affect the way we learn, think, and solve problems for ourselves in later life.

Technology in The Classroom – What About ADD and ADHD?

There was an interesting article in the science news from a psychologist specializing in learning disorders, she made a very interesting statement; “while videogames do not cause ADD or ADHD, if someone is on the borderline, it’s enough to push them over the edge,” and so, it could be said for the average Internet surfer that spends only 12 to 15 seconds on average on any webpage before clicking out, or going to a different page – that they are at risk of ADD or ADHD?

What we’re doing is we are training the attention span, and diminishing the level of human concentration with all of our technology. If we are to use the same technology in the classroom learning, that may appease the children, or keep high schoolers learning online and doing their assignments perhaps provoking their curiosity with novelty, but what about pushing kids over the edge towards ADD or ADHD? Do you see that point?

What about the challenges with human eyesight? Have you ever spent hours working on a computer project, or doing computer work, and then tried to refocus on something far away, or something very tiny like reading the label on a food package? Have you noticed that you can’t do it, and you have to wait for your eyes to readjust? Much the same as walking into a dark room, it takes a moment to readjust.

There are many challenges with learning that have to do with eyesight, the common ones are; lazy eye and dyslexia, along with kids who are nearsighted who have trouble seeing the chalkboard or viewing the lecturer – likewise there are kids who are farsighted and have a difficult time reading, they are completely challenged. Not only is it embarrassing for them when reading out loud in the classroom, but it often causes them nausea or they get tired easily with a read for over 30 minutes, meaning it is difficult for them to get through their schoolwork. Is our technology causing more of these problems in our schools?

There is an effect, and that effect would not be zero, thus, in effect we are experimenting with the next generation of schoolchildren? Surely, all those that make tablet computers and personal tech devices for education wish to push this technology into the classroom to drive sales and profits. Still, do we really know what we are getting ourselves into?

Further, if the kids can look anything they want up online, they start to trust that device or medium of education technology. We know what happens when adults start believing everything they see on TV, or what happens when folks of a certain political persuasion start reading only things which agree with them and their current POV (point of view) as they become jaded, and mentally boxed-in in their political views.

If people trust what their teachers say, or what they learn in college and there is a socialist or left-leaning slant, we will have more voters leaning that way, likewise, if folks trust the Internet, and there is any amount of filtration of content at the search engines, even by only one or 2% then it is enough to swing an election, and if you swing two or three elections in a row, you will end up with a different country in the future. People often note this problem with the mass media, but have they considered the Internet as it is integrated into our education system – we cannot stop the integration, it’s part of our society, nor should we, but we need to all be cognizant and question not only authority, but the devices which deliver us information, and the software and companies behind them – and their agendas, as they are not ALL purely profit motivated.

Now then, you can definitely see that, right? Just as TV has changed our society in many ways, most of them not for the better, and it has helped people into a bizarre type of consumerism due to branding, advertising, and marketing. Okay so, let’s get back to the political challenges and implications of all this in a few minutes, and instead address the challenges we have with e-commerce, advertising, marketing, branding, and perhaps the unethical side of it all online.

Internet Reviews and The Shrill Factory

Currently, we have a huge problem with Internet reviews. Unfortunately, if a business gets a bad review, or too many complaints and consumers stop shopping there. They trust what they read on the Internet, even though it was written by untrustworthy or unknown sources. Many times it was written by shrills or competitors trying to uplift their ratings while trashing their competitors. Why should this surprise anyone?

It happens all the time in the real world with consumer groups, or nonprofit consumer bureaus. It’s happening online, but unfortunately more and more people trust what they read online, and some people even reason that; it if everyone likes it, that reality will overcome the few negatives written by competitors posting negative comments. Well, one problem we have is that there are companies who will post positive reviews online for a fee by the dozen, 100s or even 1000s. You see that problem; okay, now back to the topic of political indoctrination in our schools.

Pre-Indoctrination Before the Vote – Religion and Socialism in Our Schools

For those who are without religion, they duly note the indoctrination of many world religions in private religious schools, churches, and communities. Folks grow up believing in a certain type of philosophy, or a certain version of history, even to the point that they choose not to look at the fossil record of dinosaurs because it can’t possibly jive with what they’ve been told. Therefore they merely overlook that and hold their same views.

Those who are religious can’t understand why anyone who is nonreligious thinks that everything just was started with some big bang, or why they don’t believe in God. In fact many religious folks wish to convert other people so that they can know the truth, even if they themselves can’t prove it. When asked for proof they simply say; it’s a matter of faith.

When our schools choose to participate in pre-indoctrination they must cover up factual evidence, scientific discovery, and continue to play along with the close minded view of the world. Is that really learning? Is that really teaching our kids to think? Of course, there is significant risk and reason for those who are religious to continue to force their will onto the schools to maintain their numbers and percentages of our population to serve their political will.

Indeed, the other side is just as bad, as there are so many left-leaning and socialist views coming out of our high schools and colleges, that those graduating with college degrees are twice as apt to vote for the left-leaning agenda, even if it goes against basic economics and free-market capitalism which historically has made our country great, whereas socialism has destroyed economies, lives, and entire civilizations, forcing them into bankruptcy.

Now then, it’s great to have tablet computers and personal tech tools and it is possible that they will speed up learning, it also saves trees from being cut down for textbooks I suppose, but nevertheless any new tool which increases learning, also increases the ability to indoctrinate our students, kinds, and family members, and thus the potential to indoctrinate them faster. If these tools are not used in the incorrect way, they will end up pushing a political agenda, and causing problems for our nation.

When these tools are integrated into social networks, which I also have my doubts about, that is to say I am unconvinced they are a net positive for our society, then we could have social engineering and peer pressure used to indoctrinate our children using these tools. Thus they can be used by either side to force their political agenda, while disguising themselves as wonderful teaching technologies. I suppose other future technologies such as holographic simulation will be used to tell of historical events, where the children can see and visualize what happened, such as George Washington crossing the Delaware, and they will feel as if they had been there.

Holographic Simulation Training Strategies a Gargantuan Time and Efficiency Saver

Yes, there will be more comprehension using holographic teaching technologies and it will be easier for the human memory of these children to uptake these facts of history, but not if we rewrite the history, and display it other than its reality. After all, they history we learn is usually one version of what happened, and we don’t know for sure because none of us were there if it happened over 100 years ago. Nevertheless the kids will feel as if they were there, therefore they are more apt to believe whatever is displayed. This becomes a tremendous challenge, and it’s far too easy for one side or the other to push their political agendas.

Still, I am for holographic simulation training, I do believe these strategies will take us further faster into the future, and increase the speed of learning, meaning our children can learn more in a shorter amount of time with better comprehension. That’s a good thing, but not if it’s misused. Humans have always misused the tools they’ve made, and it is human nature to blame, but let’s not be so na├»ve that educational technologies will not be used for the same.

Rogue regimes and dictators have used indoctrination and so have major religions in the teaching of children. And like I said, when you add in a little bit of peer pressure onto the flock, classroom, troop of soldiers, or population, it’s amazing the damage you can do, if you aren’t an ethical leader, or you don’t have the best intentions of freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of a positive life experience in mind.

Another challenge in school is as we teach these children and have the technology to monitor their progress along the way, we are also going to use data mining to find the bad apples in advance of their disdain for authority, or for finding anomalies, such as those who are most suited towards the indoctrination, those children who have bought the program hook, line, and sinker that can now be groomed for future leadership. That too is a problem. Further, all of this big data, and collection of information of everything that everyone does is going to have challenges in the future.

Not long ago, I was discussing all this with an acquaintance, and we noted that each of us has at times view things on the Internet that we didn’t agree with. My acquaintance had bought a Koran because he believed he should know what he was talking about when it came to Middle Eastern policy. Who could deny that? Myself, I am an aviation buff, and during the Nazi regime they had some of the best aviation technologies and rocketry of the time, they were far advanced, in fact if they Germany still existed today stuck back in that time period, they’d still be one with today’s technology.

But if my friend has libertarian viewpoints and has read the Koran will he become a false positive on some government watch list? Just because I like reviewing the aircraft designs of past periods, does that make me a neo-Nazi sympathizer? It shouldn’t, but that’s the fear we face with too many false positive data triggering events from artificial intelligent algorithms that are quite there yet.

Will we be doing the same thing to our students using educational technologies? After all, curiosity is a good sign of high intelligence, higher learning, and of the creative genius. Something we need in our population to progress as a nation as we move forward with such technologies. Perhaps we could liken this to librarians who are asked to spy on citizens. It just doesn’t seem proper in a nation which prides itself on freedom and liberty.

Just Because You like Something I “Like” Doesn’t Mean I like You

Just because you “plus” something, or “like” something online, doesn’t mean you actually like it or enjoy it, you might despise it, but you find it interesting, want to bookmark it, and you’d like other people to know what you’ve discovered, perhaps they might be equally as disgusted. Speaking of which, you may occasionally like one of the topics I’m talking about, and you may even “like” or “plus” an article or two, but that doesn’t mean you’d like all that I have to say, or that I like you for that matter.

Also, I’d like to point out that if our children use these educational technologies, along with their social networks, that doesn’t mean they won’t change their views in the future as they learn more information. Who knows, our society may change one day and value things that today we think are atrocious, or things today we find atrocious as being valuable. Nevertheless their record will remain forever, for their entire lives. That’s a long time, and the United States has certainly changed in the last eighty years, and we need to be careful with this. Our children are not terrorists, and they shouldn’t be part of some giant experiment to help target individual children in their childhood as being problematic in the future.

That doesn’t mean we don’t need to use technology to help us catch real terrorists, it’s just that we need to be very careful the criteria we use, the algorithms we write, and the formidable challenge of weeding out false positives rather than just placing people on watch lists for no reason. Just because something smells fishy, doesn’t mean that individual is a shark out to hurt society. Speaking of the sense of smell, and the future of technology of scent, I’d like to bring up another point;

Using AI Technology Plus Canine Smell for Added Synergy In Catching Illicit Shipments

University Researchers, Tech Companies, and DARPA have made incredible progress with electronic sniffing devices since Saddam had threatened to use WMD chemical weapons on US forces, and since 911 and afterwards with the anthrax scares. Still, today we use dogs to sniff out drugs more often than not because they are quite evolved to do that. Perhaps, this might be an interesting paper to read:

“Urban Search and Rescue with Canine Augmentation Technology,” by Alexander Ferworn, Alireza Sadeghian, Kevin Barnum, Hossein Rahnama, Huy Pham, Carl Erickson, Devin Ostrom, Lucia Dell’Agnese

The abstract attached to that paper stated;

“The agility, sense of smell, hearing and speed of dogs is put to good use by dedicated canine teams involved in Search and Rescue operations. In comparison to dogs, humans hear less, cannot effectively follow a scent and actually slow the dog down when involved in area searches. To mitigate this problem the Network-Centric Applied Research Team has been working with the Police to augment SAR dogs with supporting technologies to extend the dog’s potential area of operation.”

We do know that humans working with computers and technology tools tend to do better than computers with technology working alone, or humans working without tools. By supplementing the canines with better tools, we can catch more of the drugs, arms, and evil doers coming into our nation over our borders, through our ports, at our airports or by rail or underground tunnel.

Maybe, we ought to employ the technologies we have and use them to complement each other and then use them all together with mankind’s best friend. Does this mean we can 100% protect the American People? Unfortunately not, but it is a solid line of defense, the rest we must do with hyper vigilance and a strong presence of first responders. Who might those first responders be? Yes, let’s talk about that shall we?

Should Motorcycle Cops Get Special Forces Training – Yes, and Let Me Explain

There was an interesting set of articles in our local paper, The Desert Sun (Palm Desert CA), and perhaps you’ve seen similar articles in your own city where motorcycle cops are getting advanced first responder training. Now then, as a former street bike motorcycle racer, I can tell you that a motorcycle in heavy traffic definitely has the best chance of being first to any call, perhaps by as much as 2-3 minutes depending on the location and hour of the day, for instance during rush hour traffic.

Okay so, now you have a motorcycle cop there first, perhaps it was a mass-shooting, perhaps it is even still going on, and you have one police officer on scene who has to engage the criminals, terrorists, or a shooter on his own until back-up arrives, again as much as 2-3 minutes. What if there are multiple shooters?

This is why they will need advanced tactical training, as they may or may not have the advantage of surprise on their side and they need to protect further deaths and take out the bad guy(s). That requires fast thinking, pre-planning, and knowledge to stay alive on an uneven playing field where the bad guys might have them out gunned, which is happening more and more due to automatic weapons in the hands of criminals and drug gangs, and far too many citizens unarmed as a percentage of the population to defend themselves you see?

Interestingly enough, as I am speaking, today in fact there was a horrible shooting in a very nice suburbn area of Milwaukee, Bloomfield WI, where a suspect went into a Day Spa and gunned down three people in cold blood. What if a traffic cop on a motorcycle gets a call from dispatch like that? He rides up and is immediately in a gun-fight? See that point? Now then, remember some of the other shootings, those at schools, workplaces, movie theaters, and government buildings, well, same issues and same challenges. It hardly matters if it is armed bank robbers, gang violence, or a lone-wolf home-grown terrorist.

Now then, the point of all this conversation is quite simple. First, we must not do anything which undermines freedom and liberty, nor should we indoctrinate our citizens to believe that freedom is something it isn’t, or something they cannot attain. It is fine to get everyone on the same page as religion has in the past to help organize society and civilization, but it is not okay to indoctrinate and box- in the minds of our population. We keep stating that we hope to have more entrepreneurship and innovation in the future, but we can’t possibly do that if we indoctrinate our minds into a way of non-thinking.

Okay so, does this mean that more liberty and freedom will open our society up to potential attack from terrorists, criminals, or foreign proxy attack under a false flag? Yes, whenever you have absolute freedom, you risk at least some security. That is why we must use our assets wisely, and not blow money on things that do not work. If we want more efficiency out of our security assets then we must leverage the technology, use it for training, and use technology to our advantage, not to our disadvantage.

Well, that’s it for me talking; now it’s time for you to call in with your suggestions, solutions, and brilliant ideas. If you are viewing this radio transcript online as an Internet article, then please leave your comments below. Now then the rules for commentary are quite simple; you don’t have to agree with me, nor do you have to disagree with me. All you need to do is bring your mind with you when you make a comment and wish to debate one of the subtopics, or have an interesting intellectual idea for our dialogue about our progress forward. Please consider all this and think on it, the phone lines are now open;

“Caller eight, you are on the air, what’s on your mind today?”

Do What You Do Best – Realistic Technology Tips For Paralegals

You may have heard so much about e-discovery in the last few years that if you see another article, webinar or seminar you might burst. You may feel overwhelmed with technology and that it’s moving faster than the speed of light. You may be frustrated with those you work with, because they expect you to be educated on the latest and greatest technology tools, but when it’s time for their document review, you’re told to make multiple copies or print all the documents out!

The reality is that paralegals are expected to find a unique balance for each case, each legal team and each client. Paralegals have always been required to be flexible, creative and able to juggle many different projects. However, those traits are becoming more challenging as the management of cases becomes more complex. Here are some tips to consider while managing the balancing act as we survive the evolving practice of law.

Understand your role and gather the resources you need to do your job

Paralegals work in different environments. Some have a litigation support professional available to assist them with the complexities of managing electronic data; others are expected to add those responsibilities onto their existing job description; and there are those who are somewhere in between. Wherever you are on the spectrum, you should make certain that you understand the expectations placed upon you and that those you work with understand your capabilities. Your job responsibilities are varied and learning new technologies is an added expectation. Have you been relieved of other tasks with the advances of technology? Likely not! It’s okay to be an excellent paralegal and have a skill set whereby you add value and efficiencies to the management of the case, yet not necessarily be the technical processing guru. As a matter of fact, it may be that a paralegal who doesn’t have the expertise to internally electronically process productions ends up spending more time doing so – and therefore costing the client more money than if they work with an specialist who does have the expertise. Paralegals need to have a solid understanding of the capabilities of technology, but don’t need to be the expert who performs each task. If it’s more efficient to delegate these tasks in the best interest of the client because it will lower cost and time involved, then it’s your role to recognize that and surround yourself with the appropriate resources. Knowing the appropriate resources is important. Technology is becoming so complex, that specialists are evolving in all its different aspects. You may be someone who is an expert in all areas of technology, but if you’re not, stop beating yourself up. Highly qualified paralegals can manage their cases and the electronic component of them equally effectively if they understand their role and surround themselves with the appropriate resources. A simple cost benefit analysis is a good tool to help determine the best approach to a task.

Reality Check – we are not a completely paperless society

Despite the daily blogs and articles about electronic discovery, there is still paper in our world and in the world of our clients. Discovery, in the majority of cases, will include both. Paralegals need to help the legal team with the best management solution. Logic tells us that having our entire discovery in one place, despite its original form, is the most effective. Early on, this was done backwards. Electronic data was received and printed out. It did not take long to realize that it’s more efficient to scan to image the paper and keep the electronic data in native form, then load all of it into a litigation support database. Managing litigation documents in litigation support databases is becoming a requirement with most cases today. Paralegals need to understand the processes and have the ability to work with the legal team to ensure that these databases are established for the efficient review and management of discovery. The initial set up of a database and proper collection of documents is the most important component in a productive litigation support database. Data collections that do not capture important information at the outset will be less useful and can leave a negative feeling with those forced to work with it. Likewise, knowing when it’s appropriate to print out of the database is equally important. For example, printing deposition exhibits is appropriate. Printing boxes and boxes of documents to put in chronological order for attorney review – probably not. This leads to the next tip.

Be an advocate

You don’t have to be the expert on how everything is electronically processed, but having a solid understanding of the capabilities of technology and the ability to communicate with the legal team and clients will add value and efficiencies to your role. It’s frustrating to be given an assignment that is so logistically complicated that it throws your entire workflow in chaos. I don’t believe that anyone has that intention when requesting deliverables that are either not possible or unduly overwhelming and burdensome. To the extent that paralegals can be involved in the early stages of the case, they can offer suggestions on the most effective methods involving technology and ensure a smooth and effective process for the client. That will sometimes involve educating the people around you and offering alternative solutions. I’ve heard paralegals say that they were asked to do something by an attorney, but knew it was not an effective way to proceed. They thought, “It’s the attorney who asked and I’m a paralegal,” so they did what they were told. It’s my belief that the better approach to that circumstance would be to offer an alternative solution, explaining how it will be more efficient and save the client money. This approach would be welcomed by the majority of attorneys. Offering alternatives to improve your legal team’s handling of a project is not argumentative or disrespectful; it adds value to the team.

Use technology as a tool to manage your matters – not to replace your knowledge

It’s cool to be able to search through volumes of documents and transcripts and to be able to sort all the discovery documents with a click. Back in the “day,” we spent weeks doing these tasks that require just a few key strokes today. It’s not so cool to have all these capabilities at your disposal and not take advantage of them so as to free yourself and others on the legal team to perform more substantive tasks. With each passing year, there are more advances with the latest and greatest tools being introduced into our world. They are designed to help legal professionals do their jobs better, not to replace legal professionals. Know what you have at your disposal; learn its capabilities and how to use it to assist you with your tasks to improve the efficiencies on behalf of your client. Use the tool of technology along with your knowledge and expertise. We are still managing volumes of data and the volumes of data are increasing, but we have tools to help us do that. One of the greatest pitfalls I see with legal professionals is that they fail to see technology as a tool; rather, they see it as another thing to “do” in the case. They end up performing their job they way they did before the tools of technology were available, as well as trying to use the technology. They end up doing everything twice and eventually cannot keep up with the double workflow. Technology is not designed to replace your knowledge. It’s designed to give you an advantage and a more efficient method to perform your responsibilities – providing added value to you as a member of the legal team.

Today, clients are looking for attorneys who have solid legal support teams to represent them. They need to see value added and cost savings. Knowing your strengths, surrounding yourself with efficient resources, maintaining a solid understanding and having the ability to communicate the tools you have to offer clients will be a benefit that your clients will recognize. Do what you do best.