What Builds Trust Is Genuine Generosity

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In the connection economy, trust is the fuel that helps us to build our modern networks. Just because a cake may appear to be smaller when we share it with others doesn’t mean that we should stop being generous and stop sharing. We still live in an age where a person who is generous builds trust, despite the fact that the internet is taking over. The genuine act of sharing and sacrificing for other people’s sake usually goes a long way and helps others to reconstruct their own narratives about themselves.

Building trust is a commodity that is worth pursuing, especially in social media.  In today’s economic landscape, it’s not who you know but how trustworthy you are and who you have access to. Being genuine and generous pays off.

The network effect is real — A product or service will gain additional value as more people use it. If the former is true, it only makes sense for social media personalities to be generous and invest in community building without putting emphasis on the self as people are less likely to adopt innovations that are essentially self-centered in nature. 

I’m convinced that engaging in the selfish act of producing lots of social media output, with the pretense of “giving content for free,” is immature and dangerous. Trust is rarely built this way. Most people can spot fake generosity.

By being genuinely generous with others, people build the trust that is required to build long lasting networks. The act of giving with the expectation of getting something in return isn’t what I call genuinely generous and is likely to decrease long term trust. Giving to others with “strings attached” is an element of hustling. People hate to be hustled. Genuine generosity is when we give without expecting to gain anything in return. It is generosity for generosity’s sake.

Listen carefully: In 2019, genuine generosity is a currency. Much attention will be gained by genuinely giving to others. Fortunate will be the ones who understand that.

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Bionic Eyes Coming To A Face Near You

I cannot imagine living life without having the ability to see the world. It is amazing how we all take for granted the many privileges we have including our ability to see. Unless you are blind or have a vision impairment, I bet that you don’t think too much about your eye sight capabilities. I have to admit that I don’t think too much about my eyes until I have to absolutely go to the eye doctor to change my prescription. Ladies and gentleman listen carefully to me because what I am going to tell you will make you think about your eyes and the future of your eyesight. We are very close to having access to what is called bionic contacts.

Can you imagine being 87 and having the eye sight of a 20 year old? I can’t, yet, but Dr. Webb, in a keynote delivered at the superhuman conference, stated that the bionic lens will be an actual lens that will replace your actual eye lens making wearing glasses or contacts a thing of the past, period. What if I told you that with the bionic lens, you will have the eye sight of a hawk or shall we say, you will have eye sight that is three times better than having 20/20 vision.   

We are going to have autofocus on steroids and be able to adjust our focus manually inside our eyes. Let me say this again — the bionic lens will allow you and me to adjust the resolution of our eyes as well as the sharpness of what they see! Why is the former so significant? Well, because future technology will now give you the capability to look at a world that was once only possible to see with an electronic microscope. Can you imagine being able to adjust your eyes and having the capacity to see the individual cells of your hand? I have to admit that I cannot imagine that.

According to Dr. Webb, whenever our eye lens gets old inside of our ocular structure, all of the other components of our eye go bad with it overtime making the case for the bionic eye a no-brainer. Citizens of Cleveland, Tennessee, we may be closer to science fiction than I thought. What does that mean you maybe asking! Let me try to explain Dr. Webb’s position on why the bionic lens will change the eye doctor industry forever. He explains that the biochemical assaults that our eyes experience because of the proteins and enzymes that are released by a defective lens end up compromising our ability to see well, along with the ultraviolet lights coming from the sun which causes eye degradation coming from the outside. He also states that the bionic lens will take virtual reality to its completion. There is some speculation that human studies have already started and that the product may be available as early as mid 2018.

Now, I like this, I must admit but I am skeptical about its potential long term side effects. My number one skepticism is grounded in the idea that no innovation is 100% perfect or 100% safe. I don’t know if I want to risk my ability to see in exchange for the possibility to be half robocop! Having the capability to fine-tune my vision is attractive to me but I really don’t feel comfortable having to do maintenance on my bionic eye! Let’s not forget that no technology is free of maintenance. I wonder how much this maintenance will cost and whether insurance companies will pay for them.

We live in a crazy world that is advancing faster than the blink of an eye. The bionic lens may revolutionize how many will experience life as we know it. I am skeptical about its long-term side effects but I have to admit that this one will help many along the way. One thing is certain, the future will be nothing like the past. The technological invasive phase has started, at least in beta mode. What the future holds is a mystery that will soon be revealed. We just have to wait and see.   

Are You Ready To Be Cloned?

In a recent television interview, Vladimir Putin said, “Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere (Artificial Intelligence) will become the ruler of the world.” I am afraid he is right about that. We are not taking any chances. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) currently has 137 pilot projects directly related to artificial intelligence underway. It seems evident to me that we have reached a point of no return in regards to fully investing in the development of intelligent systems. The former gives me goosebumps and chills. 

The United States has always been an empire of ideas; A country that premiums talent and human ingenuity. You got a great idea? Awesome! Let’s develop that idea and take you away from the competitive proletariat ball field. The great business geniuses of the 20th century, e.g., Sam Walton founder of Wal-Mart, Steve Jobs co-founder of Apple, and of course the great Henry Ford — all had two things in common. They were very talented and human but none of them were able to be omnipresent in their economy. Modern applied technology changes that. Artificial intelligence reinforces that! You can now be cloned and “work” in more than one industry at the same time by either using or developing intelligent systems.    

Historically, our capitalist society worked this way. People who had a brilliant idea and were able to make that idea work got to the top and remained at the top freeing up positions at the bottom for the remaining of the population. The development of intelligent systems changes this dynamic by introducing “cyber-cloning” into this midst. These days, we can clone your thoughts and actions and advance other areas of the economy, literally making many compete against your e-persona for a place under the sun. Let me say it this way. Your biggest competitor might actually be an intelligent robot hosted somewhere in Utah, citizens of Cleveland, Tennessee. This is probably what the CIA is doing right now. It is humanly impossible to be working 24/7 yet defense isn’t a 9-5 job. Think about it. It gives me chills to think about the number of unqualified workers who will be out of the job market due to advances in technology. Ladies and gents, we’re going to see this sooner than later. 

How would you feel about that? There are intelligent systems today that can organize warehouses better than you and your friends. In many parts of the USA, trash is now taken by a robot. Intelligent systems are now doing some of the work which were historically done by lawyers. A number of the videos that you see on television were done by an automated system. What if I told you that I have an intelligent system promoting my wife’s start-up right now, as I am writing this column. In the past, Dr. A was only able to be a college professor, opening up opportunities for others to sell their services to us as social media professionals. Today, Dr. A is both a college professor and social media manager at the same time. Part of me is now digital! The former is a huge shift in how our capitalist system operates these days because of technology.

I am going to make a prediction. In the near future, true wealth is going to aggregate among a few big business conglomerates offering little opportunity for others less fortunate within the system. We are going to be able to clone our thoughts and ideas and maximize our professional talents in ways that we have never seen in the history of mankind. Capital, not labor, is going to be the fuel of production. The world that our sons and daughters are going to see when they grow old will be nothing like what we see today. Artificial intelligence is here to stay and with time… it will only get more intelligent.

Does Your Industry Have a Future?

Our society is not adapting to the needs and wants of the millennial generation. It seems to me that we are still living in the past and let me tell you — It can be quite dangerous to the overall sustainability of our great American republic. It seems that youngsters along with technology, will redefine the meaning of what the “good life” is in the United States and abroad once again, whether we want them to or not. This time, however, the side effects of technology will be felt by more people because of the types of the industries that will be affected.

Some of these industries include: Real Estate agencies, car companies, and restaurants.

I don’t know of any better societal symbol to talk about than the automobile. Regardless of what you like, whenever we buy a car, it somehow comes with a societal status associated with it. We often define ourselves by the cars that we drive. Millennials don’t really care about cars overall! According to researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, millennials prefer on-demand mobility services instead of car ownership. By the way, do you know that British, French and German teenagers are failing driving licensure tests at record rates? Maybe they don’t value a drivers license as much because these days they can rely on Uber drivers to take them around town. Maybe millennials don’t care about being licensed as much because of everything that is associated with having one including a car payment, insurance, and gas. I wonder what information technology will do to well established industries like the car industry. If I was an executive working in the automobile industry, I would be concerned about the overall sustainability of the industry. Millennials don’t want to spend time in their cars because it takes them out of the internet.

If millennials don’t even want to own cars why would they like the idea of home ownership? Many don’t want to acquire one because of the high costs! Millennials often want to live in a dense urban landscape rather than large houses in suburbia partly due to cost and convenience. Have you thought about what would happen to the many houses we have in suburbia? Its effects on the local real estate market can be disastrous. Maybe millennials aren’t buying too many houses in the suburbs because they want to be more connected. From that standpoint, on-line activities are starting to have unintended consequences in our local real estate markets. Commuting equals less time millennials spend on social media. They don’t like that. 

In-home virtual activities are more popular among millennials these days than eating at a casual dining restaurant. Millennials like cooking at home and eating quick meals. They don’t have a problem with eating out in quick-serving restaurants so that they can quickly go back to social media to chat with their friends. I am not totally sure about the full-scale technological side effects that restaurants will experience in the near future because of that. One thing is certain: Casual dining restaurants are going to struggle to attract millennial customers. The ones that will survive will start offering convenience and cash options such as home delivery and discounts. I am concerned with the future of casual restaurant whose business model is to attract people to “experience” a prolonged night out. Millennials don’t really care about the former because of perceptions of cost-benefit and lack of technology access. Reality: They chose to be connected first before going out to eat with a mate.

Things are changing as quick as the production of new computer chips. I am very concerned about the side effects that we could potentially experience due to predictive millennial behaviors in regards to technology. Can you imagine what would happen to our town if real estate agencies, car companies, and restaurants struggle to attract clientele? I don’t even want to start thinking about it. Fellow residents of Cleveland Tennessee, we need to realize that the unintended side effects of technology are real and here to stay. Maybe, controlling our rates of technology use would do us good, don’t you think? Think about it.

Fake Overload On The Horizon

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Let me make this one short and to the point. If you think that we have a huge fake crisis today, think again because the fake crisis of the future will make the problems of misinformation we have today pretty much kindergarten. Today, our “fake extent” relates to journalistic articles, targeted ads on facebook, and website traffic. People fake how they look with photoshop and when buying fake friends on instagram. Tomorrow, fake will be on steroids, as content manipulation techniques will be so elaborated that the content people produce will be replaced by content the system wants you to see.

Let me say this loud and clear. Around 2025, bots will manipulate your media without you being aware of it. The videos you produce will be manipulated by a system replacing your original content with theirs. These videos will have your face speaking about topics you didn’t speak about when you recorded. Manipulating your perception of reality will be common place.

Isn’t the former a dangerous line of thinking? I think it is.

Let me give you an example: If buying social media views persuade people to spend more money running these bogus campaigns, then so be it even if these campaigns don’t give people a good return on their investment. Remember: The whole fake agenda isn’t about sharing what is real or the truth but to advance deception. The former isn’t a new concept, of course. Third party companies have been selling fake twitter likes and followers since its inception. Is it ethical? I don’t think it is yet many people subscribe to such methods of growing their social media accounts.

I have tried some of these tactics before as part of my research in this area. It is an ugly world out there dude. There is fake everywhere. That’s how these systems operate. Pay me 10 dollars a day and I will make sure that accounts follow you. This is the reality today. How fake! Tomorrow, we are going to see artificial intelligence learning ways to manipulate a part of who we are on-line and potentially distort the views that others have about us by what they see in a video. I know, this is literally crazy but we aren’t that far away from having a machine being able to replace your video’s audio track with other content that resembles your voice with a high degree of accuracy with something you haven’t said. Wait! What? Dr. A, are you saying that bots will eventually have the ability to manipulate recorded videos about us and include content we haven’t produced in order to trick others to believe what they want others to believe in, using people as scapegoats? Yes.

I am convinced that our lives will be much more complicated in the future because of technology. In a period of 5 to 10 years, we won’t be able to distinguish between facts and fiction online very easily or accurately check the credibility of our conversations in cyberspace because of technology advancements in AI. The machine will learn a way to trick others into believing what the machine wants you to believe. People will see videos being manipulated by an algorithm saying things that people haven’t said yet many will believe because they won’t be able to differentiate between what is real and what is fiction.

Advertising and propaganda won’t cease to exist. I wonder how companies will maximize the use of such tools for profit.

The “good” news today is that we can still control what we put out there and can track what is being shared about us in social media. In the near future, things will change drastically in this regard.  Get ready to having to deal with intelligent technologies that will manipulate reality in ways you can’t control.  These intelligent systems will evolve so quickly that your ability to control its intents will be severely diminished. At least this is what Mr. Ovadya, Knight News innovation fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia has predicted.

Listen carefully: We are seeing the beginnings of fake online. Can you imagine what will happen to sharing truthful content on-line in 10 years? I don’t even want to know.

Offering Some Love For The World Of Print

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There is a new study out there that claims that students learn better by reading paperback books than e-books. It is about time for us to be talking about this undeniable fact.

I am for using technology in the classroom with reason, but if given the option to buy print versus e-books, I will always defend print because of what I have read, seen and tested in my career as a college professor.

Getting right to the point: Assuming that students will learn better by using e-books because they grew up with a computer is irresponsible.

All right, fasten your seat belts because what you are about  to read isn’t popular, and will probably leave some people very confused. Technology in the classroom is important and, to a degree, necessary. What we must avoid is believing that everything that is technologically advanced is, by default, better for you.

Students will always learn better from print because of the following factors:

First and foremost, books are printed at 300 dots per inch; images and text are displayed on screens at 72DPI. This, in itself, concerns me as our eyes get more eye strain when reading content at lower DPI. Have you noticed that you get headaches more frequently when reading that iPhone of yours, compared to a book?

Part of the reason why you feel that way is because the medium with the highest resolution today is paper, not the screen! The lower the media resolution, the higher the side effects. It’s no wonder Barnes & Noble has stacks and more stacks of print books for sale. Paper sells, or shall we say, “Screens give us headaches?”

Look, there is so much more to this discussion than DPI and resolution. Did you even know that your smartphone messes with your radio frequency exposure? What do you think higher RF exposure will do to your learning? Now I bet I  am scaring you! Let me get technical now for your benefit, and then we will tie this all back to education.

Electronic devices emit radio frequency waves. Specific absorption rate, or SAR, which is a fancy name for explaining the rate that your body absorbs radio frequency electromagnetic field waves, must be monitored closely in order for subjects to avoid getting deadly conditions, including cancer.

In the United States, the limit SAR value, set by the FCC, is 1.6 watts per kilogram of tissue, as I understand. That iPhone of yours transmits a lot of RF signals and that’s why the device offers many of us the option to talk hands free or using a headphone. Don’t believe me? OK. Go to your iPhone device, click “General,” then hit “About.” Scroll down the screen until you reach the option, “legal.” After that, click the option, “RF exposure.”

Now, relating this with education, as promised. Could it be that higher levels of SAR in the human body due to exposure and frequency of use of these devices affects the way we process information from our short-term memory to our long-term memory?

I don’t know the answer to that. What I do know is that higher RF exposure in your head results in higher electromagnetic radiation. Books don’t emit any RF waves.

Question, “Who do you think will learn best: The student who is reading a book in print or the one who reads that e-book emitting RF waves?” Sure, not all students will put that e-book reader against their heads, but will they put that device against their bodies? Uh-oh.

It is not over. When people are reading on a cellphone screen or another computerized device including the Kindle, people’s brains apparently only skim over the material. When people read a physical book, people’s brains connect both its hemispheres together. This  phenomenon does not occur when people read books on smartphones. No wonder people remember more content when reading from a book than when reading from an e-book.

As I always say, “Use technology, but in moderation.”

When it comes to education, print books are preferable for the reasons I just told you.

Responsible educators take into account the potential side effects that technology has on the development of their students. I certainly do. You should do the same.

——— (Column published previously in the Cleveland Daily Banner). 

(About the writer: Dr. Luis C. Almeida is an associate professor of communication at Lee University and a TEDx speaker. He is the author of the book “Becoming a Brand: The Rise of Technomoderation,” and a devoted Christian. He can be reached via his website at  luiscalmeida.info).