Digital Impersonation

I have always enjoyed comedians who could impersonate someone.  And, some personalities are easier to impersonate than others because of accents, facial movements, gestures, and speech patterns.  If you close your eyes during their performances, you might even say they sound just like the person they are impersonating.  Of course, once you open your eyes you can see it is a stunt.

OK, fasten your seat belts, here we go again.  This time it is about someone creating an audio or even a video of you or I saying something we never said, nor even had permission to use our image.  Today’s artificial intelligence coupled with our digital authoring capabilities can now produce “clones” of you and me.

Read about it for yourself in the USA Today. 

Creepy on many levels, but the authors point to ways things like this can be deeply effective with today’s social media.  And, as with all too much about today’s digital world, the laws to protect us from these kinds of nefarious activities are woefully lagging.

Work less to save the planet

Now, here is an idea that you certainly can appreciate.  Work less!  Check it out for yourself. Read the Fast Company article.

Now, the cynics will quickly criticize the logic here that these individuals are now at home, probably online, and their home’s energy use is rising when they don’t go to work.  The geeks will declare that the efficiency of the HVAC in commercial buildings is more efficient than typical homes, so why would you ever suggest that people are saving money by working at home?  Yes, the commuting costs will be reduced and the costs associated with dry cleaning your clothes for a work environment is lower.  But … I find articles like this so telling about our media outlets and their perspective on how to fix he planet.

And, it is just so easy to dismiss all this.  But, let me offer a slightly different perspective. We now have more “top of mind” awareness on the part of the average American … so … USE IT!

We have thought customers didn’t care about energy … that has now changed … they seem interested again. Plus, if customers see you as an agent of change on this agenda it has also been shown that your company image goes up.

So, put aside the criticisms and take advantage of it.

There’s an App for THAT??

Well, I guess you need advice for a movie that runs longer than 3 hours without an intermission.

“The RunPee app was created to give moviegoers specific, non-crucial times to sprint for the loo. Despite the secrecy around “Avengers: Endgame,” the app’s staff (called Pee-ons) sent a correspondent to the premiere, who suggested three times for bathroom breaks (you can set a timer on the app to vibrate when they hit).”

For those of you who are interested, the app crashed spectacularly because the designer totally misjudged the activity it would engender.

You all may think I have lost my mind to include this in my blog sequence, but hold your criticisms.  The author for this app correctly identified a problem along with a creative solution but misjudged the response and the consequences for failure.  On many levels, there is NO REASON for an app for that, is there?  Apps are designed to provide dynamic information to numerous inputs.  This “problem” solution (sorry for the pun) is wrong by design.  The entire theatre is watching the same movie.  If everyone tried to go to the bathroom at the same time in the movie, they would be there for way too long a time.

A simple PSA would have been better, and a creative movie entrepreneur would have been much wiser to stop the movie for a 15 minute break, rewind the tape, and finish the movie giving the moviegoers time to go to the bathroom and fill up on their snacks for the second half.

Is there really a reason for an app for that?  Let’s see whether RunPee is going to even survive.

Robotic Taxis Next Year?

As a Tesla owner I have witnessed the over the air evolution of my car over the past four years.  I wake up and find a new feature available in my car that was downloaded overnight. On many levels, this is very satisfying, but I can also attest to some every day functionality that still has not been corrected, despite customer complaints. Never the less, I am extremely happy with this car.  It is a testimony to excellent engineering, implicit simplicity of the design, and the power of on board computing.  It is also fast as hell.

Today, Elon Musk announced another twist in the autonomous vehicle landscape.  Customers could turn their cars into the fleet of autonomous taxis to convert the car from a cost to a cash cow.

Read the USA Today story here. 

I remain suspicious of just how quickly autonomous vehicles will enter the market.  There are so many variables in the mix that I find approval from NTSB and others unlikely.  All it takes is one lawsuit to throw things into the ditch.  Can the car sense a pedestrian or a bicycle rider who accidentally enters the path of the vehicle?  What happens when a tall truck blocks a traffic signal?  What about today’s slalom style drivers who cut people off in the vain attempt to gain a few car lengths before the next traffic light stops everyone?

Regardless of all these challenges, it seems the path to autonomous vehicles is in our future.  Clearly disruptive if it happens no matter when.


Efficiency vs Luxury

A recent article on the latest designs of high-rise condominiums illustrates how silly we are now about a focus on energy efficiency.  Let’s be careful that all the work we have done to help save money and energy is not just showing up in excesses in other ways.  We saw this with electric vehicles and even high mileage gasoline vehicles … people are prone to drive the cars more because it cost less to go anywhere.

Read the Energy Central article.

The temptation however among regulatory thinkers facing these characteristics is to move beyond the EE and DR agendas to moralize about what we should and shouldn’t have in our lives.

Is it right to have hot tubs and home theaters?  What right does anyone have to tell each of us whether we should or should not have these luxuries? Should we rethink the gas guzzler taxes of years ago that punished high performance cars for stupidly low mpg?

I think my recent blogs about raising speed limits settles the question.  If you believe this is widespread, we are about to see electricity load growth reemerge.