I’m a Tech-Optimist

I have a note in my journal. It says “Keep blogging, it sucks now, but you won’t find your voice if you quit.”

Last week when I was working on my roadmap post my brain was cloudy about exactly what I was going to be sharing. Yeah I wanted to learn about and share stuff on artificial intelligence, human-computer interfaces and off Earth colonization, but to what end?

If you’ve ever read any self-help stuff you’ve probably heard the example of driving cross country (or anywhere) at night. They tell you not to stay home because you can’t see all the turns. All you need to do is let the headlights illuminate the way and you can reach your destination one turn at a time. In general it’s not bad advice. There’s a similar one about climbing stairs and taking the first step.

When I was in high school, the days before GPS and cell phones, our approach to finding places was to drive to the town it was in and then ask. We’d stop anywhere and ask for the High School, Hockey rink, mini-golf course, movie theatre whatever. Sort of the opposite of the self-help books. Don’t stay home just because you don’t have a destination, head out and you’ll find it when you get close.

I find that I’m currently in the high school frame of mind. Right now with my blogging I’m driving cross country with a destination of California, no idea where in the state my final destination is. What’s more, I’m only a few turns away from my home in New Hampshire, not even on a highway. Hopefully they’re right when they say it’s all about the journey anyway.

Then I read 10 Tech Trends That Made the World Better in 2016 and the quote below from Peter Diamandis got me to thinking.

“I’m also certain that 99.99% of humanity doesn’t understand or appreciate the ramifications of what is coming.”

Peter Diamandis

And while I was perusing Twitter came across Jason Ganz @jasnonaz and almost immediately asked him if I could steal “Tech-Optimist” for my profile.

Because while I’m still finding my voice that’s what I want to do, optimistically spread the word about the technology that’s coming.

I truly believe that the emerging technology in #AI and #HCI will lead to good things for our whole species.


Trying to be the best me

Patriots helmet bicycle hubcaps

I’m a big New England Patriots fan. In the late ’70’s I had Patriot helmet hubcaps on my bike (like the ones above) and all I wanted for Christmas was a “real Patriots helmet like Steve Grogan wears.” So I’ve still been fan for more years of hoping they lose the last game of the year so they get a better draft pick than years of expecting them to win the last game in February.

Still, the Patriots success since 2000 has been fun. But what I like more is the evolution of ‘The Patriot Way’. This video, http://www.patriots.com/video/2016/01/16/what-does-patriot-way-mean does an okay job covering it but there’s more to it. After watching the team and listening to coach and player interviews for the last 15+ years you just get a sense of it being bigger than can be put into words.

It doesn’t matter where you were drafted or what your contract says, if you do your job and help them win you’ll have a home. They never talk about being the best ever or being better than anyone else, it’s all about being great at your own thing.

My kids are sick of me referring to the Patriots when I’m trying to teach life lessons.

When they win it’s a team effort where they executed better than the opposition. The other team doesn’t suck or lack skill because they lost. Sometimes it “feels good” or “it’s nice to beat those guys” but it’s never about what the other team did or didn’t do that makes the Patriots proud. It’s all about what they did and how they did it.

In the relatively rare occasions that they lose it’s also on them. They alone are responsible for failing to execute or understanding a scheme or assignment.

Haters out there have plenty to complain about. What’s funny is that those complaints are the exact opposite of the Patriot way. Don’t get twisted up about what they do or don’t do, focus on yourself.

I’ve been trying to remind myself of this lately. It doesn’t matter how someone else has gone about earning their success. While it’s nice to look at other people and uses them as a baseline to measure against I don’t need to be better than anyone. I want to be the best me possible. I want to do my job and help my team (family & friends) win (be happy and healthy).


3 technologies that will make globalization inevitable

Image courtesy of Slava Bowman via Unsplash

I see Globalization from a Star Trek perspective. If we’re going to host a branch of the United Federation of Planets, surely our individual planet must be united. It may take Star Trek like technology to make that happen, but maybe we’re closer than you think.

Here are 3 technologies I see ignoring national boundaries and driving globalization:

  1. Virtual/Augmented Reality
  2. Peer-to-peer commerce
  3. Autonomous transportation

I’ve always seen Globalization as a positive thing and a somewhat obvious eventuality. One of the things I enjoyed most about working in high tech was the constant interaction with global sales teams to solve customer problems. When you engage with companies all over the world, it becomes apparent that many of us are working towards the same things. And, there are good, intelligent, hardworking people all over the place.

With the rhetoric from 2016 and a short term trend towards isolationism and nationalism world wide slow moving government types are building sand walls to stop the incoming tide. In a way, I think the world is taking a step back and a deep breath before surging forward with fewer borders and more free trade.

In fact China is already moving toward globalization with their One Belt One Road initiative. They want to make it easier to buy and sell goods on the Eur-Asia continent. They want globalization and are working to be in the drivers seat.

So far I think we’ve done a surprisingly good job on the social aspect of globalization. Ex-pat communities are cropping up in countries around the world. Global businesses have increased the number of people who work with and know someone from another country. And sports, music and movies are no longer relegated to what’s available within driving distance. Kids in Cleveland Ohio are as likely to wear a Manchester United shirt as they are a Cavaliers jersey.

And technology will just help it grow from there.

Virtual/Augmented reality – From a park bench in New York’s central park you can enjoy a virtually free video conversation with a friend in Tokyo. They can show you the club they’re hanging out at, what they’re eating for breakfast or the rain outside their window. Experiences like this happen every day, more times that we can imagine. As augmented reality #AR and virtual reality #VR improve the experience will evolve to sharing that park bench with your friend, even though they are half way around the world.

Peer-to-peer commerce – Imagine sitting on your couch in Chicago, putting on your VR headset and strolling through a quaint little shop in Lisbon, Portugal. You converse with the store owner easily, languages translated on the fly. After finding a vase that goes perfectly with your new tablecloth you pay the shop keeper and leave the store. By the time you’ve made a cup of tea, the 3-D printer in your house has finished producing the vase, and you place it in the center if your table. Goods and services traded in a peer to peer exchange, no international banking, no regulatory oversight. A global flea market with each transaction effectively occurring under the table.

Autonomous transportation – Vehicles that manage themselves will make it faster, easier, and cheaper to move around the world. When vehicle congestion is reduced or eliminated and the energy needed for transportation is free, physical distance and geographic borders will blur. Travel will no longer be an exercise in patience for the average citizen and it will cost less than going out to dinner.

These are technologies that are happening now. Communication, commerce, and transportation are racing forward. The way that business and government worked in the last 250 years is irrelevant. Our goal shouldn’t be to leave anyone behind, but to bring everyone forward.


Become a Steward of Humanity

Each of us are individually more empowered than anytime in human history. Use that power to become a Steward of Humanity, a positive guide to the future.

© Yurasova | Dreamstime.com – Cave With Hand Prints, Cueva De Las Manos Photo

In the next 5 to 10 years there will be more autonomous self-directed entities (ASE’s) on Earth than there are humans. These interconnected devices will profoundly impact the human species in a way not experienced since we started painting hands on cave walls.

Between delivery drones, self driving cars, robotic household helpers and the software and applications that run them, dramatic change is coming in all areas of our lives.

Artificial intelligence #AI, human computer interfaces #HCI and off-Earth colonization are not future concepts, they are here today and already touch many of us.

The science fiction author in me imagines some scary scenarios. But in my worlds’ the technology is not what we need to worry about. The biggest threat is a small group of selfish humans misusing technology for their own short term gain.

One way to prevent nightmare scenarios is for each of us to be aware of what the technology can and cannot do.  And advocate for its positive use.

The optimist in me see’s  a global population of good people. We will take advantage of the technology to help our entire species unite, grow, and thrive. Just like the ASE’s, humans are better connected than ever before. We don’t need to rely on a handful of talking heads to tell us what is happening in the world. Millions of people create, share and learn new things every day.

A steward of humanity is one who supports, promotes and protects  the whole of the human species. A steward of humanity positively recognizes and promotes the requirements for our species survival namely – habitat, community, and the ability to adapt.

These should be self-explanatory but below are a few thoughts. If you want to learn more, do some research. Gaining access to knowledge and information is easier than ever. Reading and thinking are two of the best ways to take positive action for our species.

Habitat – There is only one planet we know of that can support human life. For our species to survive we must protect this precious resource while we seek out new ways to live without it. Off Earth colonization efforts do not replace the need to address climate change, pollution or environmentally negligent practices. Find ways to eliminate poisons and waste from the way we live and there will be a much better chance of surviving off the Earth, and on it.

Community – How the species interacts with itself. This includes language, rules for engagement and shared goal of survival. Community can be defined as — “The continuities and discontinuities of social meaning of a life held in common.” – Paul James in Urban Sustainability in theory and practice: Circles of sustainability. If you want to live on your own with no human contact it’s possible, go ahead. However if you enjoy watching movies, eating out, playing video games or any other modern convenience you need a community.

Adaptability – Change is the only constant. Surrounding yourself with people just like you makes it tough to adapt to change. When you encourage and support a diverse population you are preparing to accept change. We don’t know if the next massive change will  be the climate, an economic disruption from ubiquitous free electricity or some other innovation that doesn’t exist yet. If you put up walls and close your mind to different ideas you are bound to be blindsided by the next change.

Become a Steward of Humanity and shepherd our species to the next great stage of existence. Fiercely protect our habitat while we look to extend it, strengthen our global culture and embrace the differences that give us hope for a future.


A bit of a roadmap

“Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.” ~ Dale Carnegie

Image courtesy of Andrew Neel via Unsplash

I’ve failed at and been discouraged by my writing career a few times. Some are documented here others have been deleted and relegated to the waste bin of the internet. My goal is to leverage those missteps in pursuit of success. This is my roadmap.

After publishing 8 novels and and 4 novellas in 5 years I want to be more prolific in my production. I’ve set that goal before and each time I focus on word counts, unit sales or revenue numbers. For me, those are quick roads to failure.

While I enjoy productivity tips and understand the importance of getting words written every day, that’s not what I want to talk about when discussing my writing. My favorite conversations are those about technology and it’s impact on people. So that’s what I’m going to focus on.

As I wrapped up my 2016 work and thought about what I really wanted to do in 2017 there were three different technologies that kept coming up. Artificial Intelligence #AI, Human Computer Interface #HCI, and off Earth colonization. It’s very exciting when the science fiction you want to write is closely aligned with real, emerging technologies.

So now for the roadmap portion.

For my fiction I’m working on three different worlds: The Stewards of Humanity, Common Core and Rock Jocks. I’ll share more about those in future posts, but the current plan has at least 12 books in those series over the next 18 months. The first one is Vapor Day a Stewards of Humanity prequel that you’ll be able to get for free from my mailing list.

I’ve already spent a few hours planning blog content and have added planning to my weekly routine. Over the next eight weeks I’ll be publishing pieces on Tuesdays and Thursdays specifically relating to #AI, #HCI and off Earth colonization technologies and their impact on humans. No fiction, just exciting things I’m learning during research. If these are things you’re interested in please comment, criticize and share. I want to make sure I get the technology correct, but I also want to see the emotions that come with it.

On Monday’s and Friday’s I’ll have less structured pieces. What I’m working on, where I’m going, other things I’m thinking about and answers to your questions.

So I know my destination, and I’ve mapped out the first few turns on my route. I’m sure there will be detours and a few side trips but I’m looking forward to the journey. If you’d like to join me, sign up for my mailing list or follow me

Twitter: @K_McAdams
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Happy Thanksgiving

I hope that you are able to enjoy a day of abundance and gratitude.