Happy Halloween everyone! To celebrate this ghostly holiday, I thought I would query the team at the Office of the CTO with this question:
“As a technology leader, what is the spookiest or scary thing in your field of expertise that haunts you as we move into the future?”
The team delivered with an assortment of answers that range from thought-provoking terror to humorous consternation. Grab a bag of popcorn, and take a moment to read the eerie responses:
Carolina Bessega – Innovation Lead
With artificial intelligence replacing the human touch in so many ways, what if we lose practice in how to interact with humans? For example, when I chat with a conversational assistant (a chatbot to book my next vacation, Siri, Alexa, Cortana, etc), I go directly to the point. I use short/straightforward sentences and give orders—and I still cannot get used to that. So, I still say "please" to my Alexa. I recently read an article about how young infants have more problems saying please and thank you to their parents because they have gotten so used to talking to home assistant devices.
What will happen if newer generations interact more with machines than with humans? Will they become accustomed to the machine way of doing things? Will they have more problems holding small talk, being tolerant of one another's differences, or being patient with each other? As generational attention spans shrink, artificial intelligence is poised to read books to people, summarize texts for them, and even find and read specific sections of a book. Already, younger generations find it annoying to read for longer than a tweet or watch videos longer than those on TikTok.
I am not worried about the possibility of artificial intelligence becoming a sentient being like HAL900 in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Instead, I worry about humans becoming more and more like machines.
Doug McDonald – Director of Strategic Alliances
Have we become too dependent on technology? According to industry analysts, Americans check their phones roughly every 4 minutes. That's over 300 times per day. I often joke about how Maslow's hierarchy of needs may have a 6th level to include Wi-Fi. Perhaps even more a 7th level to include battery charging. There are a lot of what-if scenarios these days. If I couldn't ask Google or Alexa for the latest sports stat, it wouldn't be the end of the world, but an interruption to our connectivity could be a very spooooooky scenario.
Kurt Semba – Innovation Lead
Hackers are like ghosts in the night; they operate with a cloak of invisibility. And it haunts me that we will probably never be able to stop them! Looking at the recent hack at Uber, we learn that even strong authentication methods like multi-factor authentication (MFA) couldn't prevent hackers from gaining access to Ubers corporate network. We will need to continuously provide employee awareness training, strong authentication, and a Zero Trust strategy!
Carla “Indiana” Guzzetti – Senior Vice President
The scariest thing that haunts me as we move into the future is that we still forget we are building products for humans, not for the sake of developing a product. In 2022 companies still struggle to place empathy at the center of their product development. Building something great can be exhilarating, but it's crucial to remember the people who will ultimately use what you're building. As we embark on our journey into the Infinite Enterprise, our epic quest for consumer centricity is never-ending.
Brendan Bonner – Innovation Seanchaí
The spookiest thing in the tech is undoubtedly the presence of subtitles. Born in the world of accessibility, they used to open the door to new languages and cultures. Often unnoticed, they are the harbinger of death for every hope for culture. Whole generations - younger than the authors - watch hours and hours of on-demand content with random zombie-like eye-rolls every 10 seconds to catch the waft of the last scene. The presence of subtitles on a screen is always accompanied by the ghost-like glow of smaller screens, screaming out the unconnected howling of banshee-sounding influencers. They are eating brain cells with blipverts at a rate of 20 per minute. After reading this, go and look at a screen - they're here!
The scariest thing is non-fungible tokens (NFTs). How did that happen?
Phil Swain - CISO
The scariest thing in the world of InfoSec is the constantly changing perceptions around the value of data, especially personal data, and the question of whether it should be protected. Different cultures and generations have differing views, which means plotting a strategic plan will always be wrong for someone. The spookiest thought is quantum computing and how this will completely upend the ability to compute and thus encrypt data.
Mikael Holmberg – Distinguished Systems Engineer
It is scary to think that we have a technology that has been around since 1973; yes, Ethernet is celebrating its 50th birthday next year! Ethernet technology has traveled a long way since its initial birth using Carrier Sense Multiple Access with Collision Detection (CSMA/CD). Despite its success and widespread implementation, Ethernet is still finding new applications and uses. The somewhat positive scary part is that it is becoming ubiquitous and expected to “just be there and get the job done,” much like you expect water to come from the tap or electricity from a wall socket.
David Coleman – Director of Wireless
For over 22 years, I have been hearing propaganda nonsense about the adverse health effects of Wi-Fi and how it makes you sick as a dog. But what if the doomsayers are correct? Have the Wi-Fi radio waves been slowly melting the skin off my bones? Even worse, what if exposure to Wi-Fi causes male-pattern baldness. The horror! If the thought of Wi-Fi scares you, I suggest you read a past blog that I wrote on this scary topic!
Are there ghouls and goblins that keep you up at night? We would love to hear from you. Contact my spooky colleagues, and let’s have a conversation.
Email: Office of the CTO