Payphone? What's a Payphone?

Mitch Wagner
5/10/2017

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."

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

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Phil_Britt
Phil_Britt
5/18/2017 | 1:13:21 PM
Re: Technology is pretty cruel for letting you know how old you're getting
Worse than that was my kids wondering why some old TV shows weren't in color. Similarly, to me, the best part of Apollo 13 was when they were using a slide rule for calculations -- slide rules gave me so much trouble, I could do calculations on paper more quickly. Try to have a cashier count back change if you give him or her an odd amount and POS machine doesn't do it automatically. You could be in line for a loooong time.
danielcawrey
danielcawrey
5/14/2017 | 12:16:17 PM
Re: Technology is pretty cruel for letting you know how old you're getting
Things like pagers and payphones had their time in the sun. 

With new technology, older product just eventually die off. Is there nostalgia for this kind of stuff? Of course. But that doesn't change the fact these things are obsolete. 
Michelle
Michelle
5/12/2017 | 2:01:15 PM
Re: Technology is pretty cruel for letting you know how old you're getting
I'm old enough to remember when payphones were everywhere. I had to carry change just in case I needed to use a phone. 

I hope a fantastic photographer is taking photos of empty payphone booths for posterity. I've seen some in my local convention center. The location of the booths is already very odd and looks strange now that the phones are gone.
mhhfive
mhhfive
5/11/2017 | 1:55:32 PM
Re: Technology is pretty cruel for letting you know how old you're getting
In NYC, I think they've turned old payphones into WiFi hotspots... with varying degrees of success. 

http://gizmodo.com/nycs-new-gigabit-wifi-hotspots-work-like-payphones-from-1750910911

Where is superman supposed to change outfits these days?
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner
5/11/2017 | 12:56:43 PM
Re: Technology is pretty cruel for letting you know how old you're getting
I saw an alcove in the lobby of a posh office building in San Francisco a couple of years ago. It was like a small, doorless coat-closet in the middle of the wall of a vast public space. I couldn't figure out what it was until I realized it was an empty phone booth, with the phone and whatever else had been in there removed. 

These days the areas that used to be pay phone walls in convention centers and suchlike now seem to be charging stations. 
mhhfive
mhhfive
5/10/2017 | 11:57:44 PM
Robot surgeons are on the way...
The DaVinci robot for surgery is pretty cool. It minimizes the amount of "opening up" a patient and has "hands" that are almost more dextrous than human hands. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kq-_riKtzsY

Makes ya wonder why Dr. Strange needed to seek out the Ancient One... 
mhhfive
mhhfive
5/10/2017 | 11:51:00 PM
Technology is pretty cruel for letting you know how old you're getting
I remember back when I was younger that I joked with a former boss of mine that I didn't know what a "cassette tape" was.. and his eyes glossed over as if he suddenly realized he was an "old man" -- and then I revealed that I was just joking and I knew what a "cassette tape" was... But now I'm sure we're at the point where kids today have no idea what a cassette tape is. 

But payphones still exist... right? I think I've still seen a few -- outside a 7-11. No idea if they're still connected to anything. 
mhhfive
mhhfive
5/10/2017 | 7:48:50 PM
Humans..
> "Adaptability is something that has set us apart from other species over time."

I've heard that other animals have *either* the ability to learn from their peers *or* the flexibility to adapt to new circumstances, whereas humans can learn from each other *and* adapt to new situations. Robots probably will have the same capability... someday.
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