Death Spiral? Hope is on the Horizon!

It is easy to get depressed when your business metrics look worse and worse.

Wall Street wants you to show growth and when you measure that as increases in traditional sales metrics, you can lose hope.

This was the case as Thomas Edison’s electric lamp replaced natural gas in home

and street lighting.  The gas industry decided that investing in Edison’s was better than simply sitting on the sidelines moping about bad numbers.  They got a wonderful outcome of course when Edison had to generate the electricity for those lamps as a fuel for that instead of the lamps themselves.

We are on a stunningly parallel course with the electricity industry today.  You would have to be living under a rock not to see how Tesla has changed the Electric Vehicle landscape despite his critics.  And, when you read articles like the one shown here, the future is clear … read: Light Bulbs and Electric Cars: A Time for Change. 

The key question for electric utilities today is the role they are going to play.  Once again, remember the warning of Jim Rogers, past CEO of Duke Power.  “If you aren’t at the table, you are on the menu!”

Got Power?

The brutal winter storms in the Northeast are driving interest in solar, batteries, and emergency generators.  Storm restorations are costing the regional electric utilities millions of dollars, and instead of customers thanking them for their tireless and dangerous work, they are seeking alternatives.

Today’s low cost money and low interest rates has created a formidable market push for systems that do not yield much in the way of financial returns, but do provide peace of mind and power when no one else has it.

Times are changing, but once again, where are the power or the natural gas companies?  Can’t they see the obvious opportunity here?  Offer solutions.  As I mentioned in an earlier blog, “If you are not  at the table, you will be on the menu.”

Read Maine Public’s article “As Storms Batter the Electric Grid More Mainers are Considering Cutting the Cable” 

Olympic Fallout

Courtesy Wall Street Journal

If we were asked how the term “dog meat” is used in this country, most people would say something like: “do the wrong thing and you are dog meat” implying you are effectively a dead person … something like the phrase “game over!”

Since dogs are not an acceptable food source in the US, most people do not think you are referring to the animal as a source of food here.  Well, in South Korea, the opposite is true.  Watch the video here. 

We have always assumed that cultural change is slow … typically requiring generations to come and go.  Well, we may see quite the opposite in South Korea as a result of their hosting the Olympics.  Public outrage around the world is intense.

So, who would have thought that graciously hosting a world-wide event could bring such rapid and vapid condemnation?  Once again, social media takes the news cycle and amplifies voices.

Just think of what might have happened if these forces were at work back in the days when the prisoners in Maine were fed lobsters and thought they were being poisoned.  At the time, they did not think you could eat lobster.  In this country, lobster was then considered useful only as fertilizer or fish bait, and only in the last 100 years has it become an expensive and highly sought-after delicacy.



Court of Public Opinion

It strikes me that our media has now decided without our consent to try all “cases” they believe they have decided, using the news cycle to “taint the jury” once things go to trial.

We still await their frenetic investigation about whether Russia or some other foreign power used social media to swing public opinion, yet they seem conspicuously insensitive to whether they are complicit in the same misdeeds.

Perhaps the incident that makes me a bit crazy was this morning after an American snowboarder (a sport I do not personally like since I am a skier) won Gold in the Olympics after conquering his fear over an extremely difficult move that almost cost him his life less than a year ago.

I really don’t care about rumors, or gossip about his personal life at this time.  Let’s celebrate his accomplishments and the encouragement it provides for others who are challenged by fears.

And, why is it that these same people cry foul about political correctness on issues where they feel it might tilt the playing field against them?

Ex Machina is Here

Courtesy USA Today

I have blogged about artificial reality and the potential for human-like interactions.  The movie Ex Machina available free on Amazon Prime was prescient as in its plot, Eva becomes seemingly aware of her situation through her interactions with Caleb as part of a Turing test.

Well, we just saw the parallel to this in real life when Saudi Arabia granted citizenship to a synthetic woman. View the USA Today story here. 

Of course, this may be a stunt, but it is a singular event in our transitions using artificial intelligence.  Admittedly, it has been a long time since we heard the request “Open the pod bay doors” to HAL in 2001 Space Odyssey.

Most computerization technology has been driven by military warfare.  There is obviously a lot at risk here, so the concepts of drones and other ways to avoid the loss of life are key.

But, for those of you who think this is still a distant possibility for our world, you might like to remember that the same root driver is working here that brought about the commercialization of video tape recordings and many other digital innovations that were not driven by military desires.  It may be illegal … it may be immoral … but it is alive and well throughout the world and there is a lot of money in this driver.