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Payphone? What's a Payphone?

Tech business consultant Jordan Howard inadvertently became an example of what she was trying to describe when she forgot the word for 'payphone.'

Mitch Wagner

May 10, 2017

3 Min Read
Payphone? What's a Payphone?

LAS VEGAS -- Dell EMC World -- Jordan Howard wanted to demonstrate the different technology perspectives between generations. But she didn't plan on doing it the way she did.

Howard is co-founder of GenYNot, which consults with organizations on connecting with millennials and Generation Z. She was on a panel at the conference here, making a point that young adults have different attitudes and expectations for technology.

"The older millennials knew what a pager was," Howard said. "They know what the... I don't even know what you call them ... the phones that used to be on the street," she said, and moved her hands as if putting coins in a slot.

Several audience member shouted out "payphones."

Figure 1: Photo by KansasCity (CC BY 3.0) Photo by KansasCity (CC BY 3.0)

She continued in the same vein, noting that she had to look up what a "car phone" was to understand a lyric in a Notorious B.I.G. song.

Howard's confusion was appropriate for a panel discussion on technological change -- specifically, how people and technology would partner in the year 2030.

Panel moderator Rachel Maguire, research director at the Institute for the Future, an independent not-for-profit research group that helps organizations plan for the future, kicked things off by asking what humans will be able to do better than machines in the year 2030, and vice versa.

"People are very good at creative problem solving and having the passion to want to solve those problems," Brian Mullins, co-founder and CEO of Daqri, an augmented reality development company, said. "We can make an AI that can beat a master at chess, but when you turn that AI on, I don't think it has the desire to play chess against the master."

Machines, on the other hand, can execute quickly, Mullins said.

Olivier Blanchard, senior analyst at analyst firm Futurum, said people excel at adaptability. "Adaptability is something that has set us apart from other species over time. It's something we still carry in ourselves," he said.

Human beings once again need to learn to adapt quickly as the pace of change increases, and education will be a big part of that, Blanchard said.

Technology is "just tools," he said. "All the stuff we're talking about is tools. Whether you're picking up a rock to kill a bird or inventing the first plow, this is no different. As a species, we're good at developing tools to do things we are not naturally good at."

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Technology can help people solve big world problems, Mullins said. His company, Daqri, specializes in augmented reality for business applications, including training. Surgery is one example where that kind of training is sorely needed.

Surgery is only available to about a billion people on the planet, Mullins said. Technology can help extend those skills to the rest of the world.

"A general practitioner there, or anyone on the scene, can pick up a device and save a life," he said.

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— Mitch Wagner Follow me on Twitter Visit my LinkedIn profile Visit my blog Friend me on Facebook Editor, Enterprise Cloud News

About the Author(s)

Mitch Wagner

Executive Editor, Light Reading

San Diego-based Mitch Wagner is many things. As well as being "our guy" on the West Coast (of the US, not Scotland, or anywhere else with indifferent meteorological conditions), he's a husband (to his wife), dissatisfied Democrat, American (so he could be President some day), nonobservant Jew, and science fiction fan. Not necessarily in that order.

He's also one half of a special duo, along with Minnie, who is the co-habitor of the West Coast Bureau and Light Reading's primary chewer of sticks, though she is not the only one on the team who regularly munches on bark.

Wagner, whose previous positions include Editor-in-Chief at Internet Evolution and Executive Editor at InformationWeek, will be responsible for tracking and reporting on developments in Silicon Valley and other US West Coast hotspots of communications technology innovation.

Beats: Software-defined networking (SDN), network functions virtualization (NFV), IP networking, and colored foods (such as 'green rice').

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