What in the world just happened without hardly any notice?  We now have a new concept for camping.  Check it out for yourself at website, glamping is where stunning nature meets modern luxury. It’s a way to experience the untamed and completely unique parts of the world without having to sacrifice creature comforts.

“The way we travel has changed. We no longer want a generic, one-size-fits-all vacation. We want to explore on our terms and immerse ourselves in the local culture, and we no longer just want to simply witness nature we want to live in it. A fusion of glamour and camping, glamping is a way to authentically experience the most awe-inspiring locales around the world.”

This caught me by surprise, but apparently it is a hot trend in travel.  Check it out yourself.  And, by the way, notice this is not an inexpensive choice.  Prices will shock you.

Frankly, I am a bit terrified of tenting in some of these areas because critters can easily penetrate these dwellings.  But, then again, I wondered how Airbnb ever succeeded, yet it has.

Perhaps this is a sign that everyone can be in business offering something if they really want to.

I just was so astounded I wanted to share it with you all.

Monetize This

Credit: Carol M. Highsmith [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons
Well, we now have the first illustration of why we may need to keep things the old way even if economics indicates we should automate a process. This is a landmark decision that will certainly ripple and roar through the industry very quickly.

Read the Utility Dive article. 

Automation now faces real criticism and critical thinking about answering the key question: “just because we can digitize controls and automate change because it is cost-effective … should we do it?”

We have all known this question was coming.  It is one of the key ethical and strategic questions of artificial intelligence, deep learning, business analytics, etc.

Automation is simply a microcosm of the robotics question that captivates our imagination and the media.  We are afraid of robots at a point … now we have proven the fears of digitization are real.


Distracted by Silly Science

Maybe I am just getting cynical in my old age.  Maybe I am also getting tired of science moving beyond critical thinking and trying to justify more research into the absurd.  Plus, maybe we shouldn’t go where no man has gone before (in the Star Trek paradigm) because just perhaps we might get noticed by less than well-intentioned others in the universe.

I do care how we live on this planet and the legacy of what we leave for our children and their children.  We certainly do need to think about the next 100 years even though I will only see a small fraction of it.  And, I do believe technology will provide some unbelievable advances that lift all of humanity and provide sustainable answers to the long run.

But, the time scale of the universe makes all this seem pretty lame.  The nearest star is just over 4 light-years away.  Think about what that means.  We will not know if it goes away for four years.  It might not be there anymore.  Then, how about this feature article about a radio signal several billion light-years away. Read the story in USA Today.

Are we really talking about something that happened around the time the earth was formed and is just now getting here?  I can’t wait to see tonight’s news where someone is sure to claim the aliens are coming.

It just doesn’t matter. Let’s focus on what does.

My Daddy can Beat your Daddy

That was one of the taunts I heard as a child growing up in New York City.  Physical strength was revered over any other “manly” quality and certainly over grace, charm, and integrity.  It was all about who could win in a fist to fist competition.  Doesn’t that sound a bit childish to everyone?

Well, so does tit for tat threats rather than diplomacy and a sense of community on this blue marble we all live on together.  One of the latest that reminds me of the nuclear escalation games we played decades ago is now cyber warfare.  Take a look for yourself. Read this New York Times article.

So, rather than discussing our differences and agreeing that the well being of our world depends upon a sense of community and caring, we now see digital warfare escalation.  Can’t everyone see that this bravado does little to dissuade anyone from doing the wrong thing and actually invites would be small players to strike the first blow?

I don’t know how many of you remember the movie War Games, but the premise was that human compassion would threaten our nuclear readiness so the decision about missile launch would be left to a computer system called WOPR (War Operation Plan Response.)  A kid hacking into the network accidentally triggers it into a world war countdown which gets aborted at the last minute when this kid is taken to the command center and teaches the computer system to consider the outcome.  When he succeeds, the computer says something we should all consider.

“Strange game”  “The only winning move appears to be not to play the game at all.”


Incrementalism vs Strategic Change

Our modern decision making process promotes incremental thinking: how much better can I make something and what will that cost.  The assumption is that you should stop investing when the incremental payback exceeds the total cost of capital.  If life were nothing more than an investment portfolio, thinking like this might make sense.  But, there is a perverse element at work with incrementalism … the very nature of the declining return on investment can keep you from achieving the “end state” necessary to compete in the market. 

We have an emotional reaction to things like this: “just bite the bullet” or define the ultimate strategy and using the low cost higher return opportunity to help get this approved.

The recent Wall Street Journal article on autonomous vehicles really drives the point home.  As some of the easiest and most valuable features of autonomous vehicles come into widespread use, they then become the “base case” for further automation and improvements.  Consider the analogies here as you read from this WSJ article:

“Many tech entrepreneurs have argued that fleets of robo-taxis would convince us to abandon personal car ownership in favor of “transportation as a service.” Some of them have predicted these robot cars will start populating U.S. roads within the next two years.  But the paradox of how this evolution is playing out is that technology developed to give us driver-less vehicles from the likes of Tesla Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo could actually delay their adoption.

 When car makers put these incremental tech advances in human-driven cars, they pre-empt one of the fully self-driving car’s supposed advantages: safety. These new systems marry the best machines capabilities—360-degree sensing and millisecond reflexes—with the best of the human brain, such as our ability to come up with novel solutions to unique problems.”

Strategy matters a lot.  If you don’t have one, you are doomed to incrementalism and will ultimately lose to those who choose the right strategy.