Technology. Friend or Foe. Third in a Series

Man-vs-machineRecently the Harvard Business Review, Foreign Affairs and The Atlantic all had cover stories on whether technology is a friend or foe.

“What may be looming is something different: an era of technological unemployment, in which computer scientists and software engineers essentially invent us out of work, and the total number of jobs declines steadily and permanently” stated the article in The Atlantic.

That’s scary.

Many experts are seeing a “new normal, where the expectation that work will be a central feature of adult life dissipates for a significant portion of society.” At Oxford, researchers have stated machines might take half of all U.S. jobs within 20 years.

MIT Management Professors Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee argue in “Will Humans Go the Way of Horses” in the July/August edition of Foreign Affairs, make the simple and clear point… we humans will decide how technology our lives and futures.  They state “We humans are a deeply social… the desire for human connection carries over to our economic lives.” They go onto argue that in light of these technological changes, governments should be passing education reform, stimulating entrepreneurship and investing in research.

Social Media… the Great Empathizer. Second in a Series

Social-Media-FBDoes social media make the world a better or worse place?  Are we zombies tethered with a digital leash to the office through mobile texting and emailing or stressed because our updates on Facebook aren’t as impressive as a high school friend’s recent vacation?

A study by Rutgers and Pew Research Center found social media doesn’t make its users have higher stress levels. The director of the study, Lee Rainie stated “The fear of missing out and jealousy of high-living friends with better vacations and happier kids than everybody else turned out to be not true… The exception was when Facebook users saw news of close friends going through stressful events like unemployment or illness.” That sounds like empathy to me!

Fearing technology is nothing new wrote Claire Cain Miller in The New York Times, “Telephones, watches and televisions were similarly believed to interrupt people’s lives and pressure them to be more productive. In some ways they did, but the benefits offset the stressors. New technology is making our lives different, but not necessarily more stressful than it would have been otherwise.”

Technology. Friend or Foe? First in a Series.

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Technology superstars like Bill Gates are challenging the wisdom of artificial intelligence.  Others are blaming technology for unemployment and stagnant growth.  Parents are blaming technology—constant gaming or being socially connected on phones—for making kids dumb.

Are we at a technology tipping point?

The article, “A World without Work” in The Atlantic looks at the impact of technology.  Asking if technology is good or bad is like asking a farmer if rain is good or bad.  My dad was a farmer and he could have told you it depends… when, where, and what amount matter.

The The End of Work was published by Jeremy Rifkin in 1995.  He stated “worldwide unemployment would increase as information technology eliminated tens of millions of jobs in the manufacturing, agricultural and service sectors… (there would be)… a devastating impact from automation on blue-collar, retail and wholesale employees, while an elite of corporate managers and knowledge workers would reap the benefits of the high-tech world economy.”

What do you think? Is life better or worse than the mid-90’s?  Before you answer that, check your email and texts on your phone, watch a streaming movie for free on your laptop, and stay in touch with friends around the world without paying a penny for a phone call or letter.

Summer Training Discounts with Intertech

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If you work in software development, you can advance your career this Summer by taking advantage of discounted rates on some of Intertech’s most popular dev classes. Through September 2015, earn up to a $500 Amazon Gift Card* or up to $500 off the price of each class registration for any Intertech training class*. Class must be taken by end of September and registered for by August 31st, 2015.

Intertech Awards Scholarship to Stanford Student

The Intertech Foundation has announced the recipient of its STEM scholarship.  The scholarship is $2,500 and we recently awarded it to an impressive high school senior named Annina Hanlon.

Annina

Annina lives in California and she plans to study at Stanford beginning this fall. If anyone can find a way to combine science/technology with a noble mission to improve the world, I believe Annina is the person to make it happen. She has successfully battled cancer while continuing to build an impressive academic and extracurricular record. She also has channeled her personal health challenge into an innovative iPhone app to help raise funds for pediatric cancer research.

Here’s a Q&A with this extraordinary young woman:

 

Q: Why are you interested in computer science?

A:  It all started when I got my first laptop. I was wonderstruck by the simplicity and perfection with which the beautiful device functioned, and my desire to learn about technology was born. As a witness to the way technology has permeated the everyday life of the average person, I see the relevance and excitement in learning to code and affecting millions in unforeseen and beneficial ways. My dream is to use what I learn to help those in need, not necessarily just design the “next big thing” for those who can afford it.

 

Q:  When did you first decide on a computer-related field?

A:  I didn’t officially decide on a computer-related field until just this last year. I knew I was interested in technology for awhile, but I hadn’t tried actually coding. This last year, I learned Java in AP Computer Science A and loved it, and that was the deciding factor for me.

 

Q:  Did you have any educational or extracurricular experiences during your k-12 years that helped you decide on computer science?

A:  My interest in actually pursuing computer science as a career blossomed when I was first introduced to coding in a technology camp during the summer after my freshman year of high school. I learned to use drag and drop coding software, to create an iPhone app.

 

Over the course of that summer, and the following summer, I spent about 180 hours designing the children’s game, Zarno, as a fundraiser for the nonprofit my family started, Cure Me Too Childhood Cancer Foundation, which raises money for pediatric cancer research.  Zarno reflects my first computer science-related accomplishment and I am extremely proud of having it published in the app store. The limitations of the software I used to create the app are part of what inspired me to learn how to actually write code.

 

Q:  Why did you select Stanford?

A:  Many factors contributed to my decision to select Stanford. Beyond being a world class university in an ideal location in terms of weather and proximity to

Silicon Valley, Stanford also has a unique interdisciplinary major called Symbolic Systems. It is basically the study of how computers think, how humans think, and how the two interact, and it incorporates studies in computer science, psychology, philosophy and linguistics. Within that major, I hope to specialize in either artificial intelligence or human-computer interaction.

 

Q:  Would you be willing to share your thoughts about the value of the Intertech scholarship to your academic journey?

A:  I am incredibly grateful to be the recipient of an Intertech scholarship, as it will decrease the financial burden on my family as I pursue my education at Stanford. Merit based scholarships are generally not given at top universities, so scholarships like this are extremely helpful.

 

Q:  Is there anything else you would like to share for others, particularly young women, who may be considering a computer science career?

A:  I would advise young women to not be intimidated by the “bro-culture” of the technology industry. Being in the minority can be an advantage as companies seek diversity, and it can also be an opportunity to empower other women to follow their passions. “Be the change you want to see” is some of the most solid advice ever given and is an excellent mantra by which to live and work.