1. Is Technology Making Suicide More Difficult?
Electric cars are eliminating one of the favorite methods of suicide. Seal up your garage, start up your Prius, and wait for the end. You’ll wait a long time, so—as they say, “Don’t hold your breath.”
2. Is Technology Also Giving Dictators Fits?
How does one burn e-books? Hmmm...
3. Are Self-portraits True to Life?
Next time you see one of those self-portraits by Rembrandt or other famous artists, just remember that they were looking into a mirror when they painted them. That means the portrait you see is not an accurate portrayal, but a reverse image. Just sayin’...
4. Is it Time to Phase Out the Business Suit?
Sociologists refer to distinctive items of clothing, or styles of dress, as class marks—signals that tell others how the individual wants to be perceived, and with which socio-ethnic group he or she wants to affiliate.
Baseball caps, rugby shirts, hip-hop outfits, spike heels, military uniforms, and business suits are all class marks.
The business suit seems to convey the idea that the wearer is socially and economically above the common people—someone who doesn’t have to get his or hands dirty.
Ironically, one who is ultra-rich and ultra-famous can acquire the right to leave the business suit behind and adopt the class marks of the “lower classes.” FaceBook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, for example, wears the street-geek uniform of a black T-shirt and a hoodie. Famous author Stephen King wears just about any damned thing he likes. Many successful stand-up comics wear T-shirts and jeans.
Of course, being exempt from conventional class-marks can sometime force different class marks on people. Would people think something was strange if Robin Williams performed wearing a tuxedo? Would Zuckerberg lose his public identity if he changed his outfit?
Businesses are gradually moving toward “casual dress” days, and even casual dress appearance codes. Does this change tend to minimize or blur the differences in rank and status, or does it give rise to other ways of expressing them?
5. Let Them Ride Bikes?
Business planners in the wealthy countries are beginning to worry about the rising competition for oil-based energy in the developing countries. As people in China, India, and Brazil start to get ahead of their conditions, they inevitably seem to want cars. And cheaply made cars for the masses will likely consume more gasoline as well as produce more pollution.
What to do? Well, they might delay the rising competition for oil for a decade or more, by a very simple method. They could give free bicycles to the people of those countries, which would provide them with transport and transportation for the short run. At a base manufacturing cost of about $30 per bicycle, one billion bikes would cost about $30 billion, which is about one month’s cost of oil consumption in the United States. They could also put the bike factories in the target countries, thus creating jobs.
Might be a good trade-off for businesses in the wealthy economies. Or, maybe not...
6. Should Robots Pay Taxes?
All of the wealthy countries are facing the same problem, as yet unsolved: the “demographic see-saw.”
People are living longer, so there’s a growing pile-up in the age range at which people typically retire or can no longer work. At the same time, birth rates are declining, so there won’t be enough young, full-time workers to pay the taxes needed to support the older ones in their later years.
A third change is that technology is steadily eliminating the low-skill—and low-paying—jobs at the bottom of the scale. That might tend to limit unemployment rates, as fewer workers are available for fewer jobs.
However, when you eliminate a job, you eliminate a tax contribution. The “robots,” whether they’re physical machines in factories, or software algorithms in computers, don’t pay taxes.
So, we may end up with a very labor-efficient economy that doesn’t generate enough tax revenue to support the older people at the other end of the see-saw.
Seems like there are two main options: 1) increase the taxes on the ones who work; and 2) tax the robots.
How to tax the robots? Hey—I just do the big thinking; somebody else will have to figure out how to do it.
7. Are Smart Phones Smart Enough?
Smart phones are now smarter than a lot of the people using them.
Maybe your smart phone should:
- Scold you when you’re trying to drive your car and push the buttons at the same time. Professional airline pilots and fighter pilots can’t do it—what makes you think you can?
- Remind you that it’s bad manners to take or make a call while you’re sitting in a seminar, a wedding ceremony, or a church service.
- Advise you that the restaurant that just sold you the discount coupon has lousy food and worse service.
- Block all ill-advised statements, comments, or wisecracks to your spouse or significant other, to keep you out of the dog house. It might be necessary to add a seven-second delay, like the call-in talk shows have, to give the computer time to save your marriage.
- Remind you that you’re a pathetic media addict if you pull it out more than once every two hours.
For more information on this topic, visit http://www.KarlAlbrecht.com
Dr. Karl Albrecht is an executive management consultant, lecturer, and author of more than 20 books on professional achievement, organizational performance, and business strategy. He is a recognized expert cognitive styles and the development of advanced thinking skills. His books Social Intelligence: The New Science of Success, Practical Intelligence: The Art and Science of Common Sense, and his Mindex Thinking Style Profile are used in business and education. The Mensa society presented him with its lifetime achievement award, for significant contributions by a member to the understanding of intelligence. Originally a physicist, and having served as a military intelligence officer and business executive, he now consults, lectures, and writes about whatever he thinks would be fun.