The Cloud: “Welcome, To the Hotel California”

the-eagles-hotel-california

On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair, Warm smell of Colitas rising up through the air.

Up ahead in the distance, I saw a shimmering light.

In my province, I have begun pushing for a Design Council. However, I am beginning to wonder if I am just calling every problem a nail or creating another stovepipe. Software as a Service, Database as a Service, Science as a Service, Art as a Service, Design as a Service, Engineering as a Service, Manufacturing as a Service, Inventory as a Service, Sales as a Service, Purchases as a Service, Currency as a Service, Accounting as a Service, Service as a Service… all plugged into the huge amorphous global system we call “The Cloud”.

My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim, I had to stop for the night.

We are being frontsourced and backsourced, upsourced and downsourced, leftsourced and rightsourced, insourced and outsourced, yesterdaysourced and tomorrowsourced up the ying yang and out the wazoo. I think the economic crisis may just be the tip of the iceburg. We may be in a deep financial dependency, but we may also be entering a 24/7/365 service dependency where we could relinquish all our corporate and personal control to third parties completely losing our ability to independently execute decisions.

There she stood in the doorway; I heard the mission bell.

And I was thinking to myself, “This could be Heaven or this could be Hell.”

Then she lit up a candle and she showed me the way.

There were voices down the corridor, I thought I heard them say,

“Welcome to the Hotel California. Such a lovely place. Such a lovely face.”

“There’s plenty of room at the Hotel California. Any time of year, You can find it here.”

The Hotel California.  Peter Drucker lit up the candle and called the way “creaming”.  We continually seek work offering higher margins and abandon our lower margin work. Our Service Providers are willing to take up the lower margin work and establish a beach head. Instead of assuming control of our supply and rescuing the lower margin demand we forego them.  The Service Providers keep the beach head and begin undermining us and we surrender the middle margin work and seek even higher margins.  Eventually, we reach the top of the ladder. Either we freeze the state of affairs and impose it downward or we get pushed off the top. How do we impose such a freeze?

Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, She got the Mercedes-Benz.

She got a lot of pretty, pretty boys, That she calls friends.

How they dance in the courtyard, sweet summer sweat.

Some dance to remember, some dance to forget.

Silicon Valley was the center of the Personal Computer revolution.  Berkeley University. Stanford University.  Drugs.  Affluence.  Free sharing of information.  Lots of pretty boys at Xerox PARC and IBM dancing to forget.  Lots of pretty boys at Apple Computer and Microsoft dancing to remember.

So I called up the Captain, “Please bring me my wine.”

He said, “We haven’t had that spirit here Since nineteen sixty-nine.”

The first ARPANET IMP log – a record of the first message ever sent over the ARPANET took place at 10:30PM on October 29, 1969 setting up a message transmission to go from the UCLA SDS Sigma 7 Host computer to the SRI SDS 940 Host computer.

And still those voices are calling from far away.

Wake you up in the middle of the night, Just to hear them say,

“Welcome to the Hotel California. Such a lovely place. Such a lovely face.

They’re livin’ it up at the Hotel California.

What a nice surprise, Bring your alibis.

The Hotel California. Apple, IBM PC, MS DOS, Lotus 123, WordPerfect 5, dBaseIIIPlus, MacIntosh, MAC OS, MS Windows, MS Excel, MS Word, MS Access, Mobile Phones, Internet, AOL, MMUG, NetScape, MS Explorer, Web 1.0, Laptops, Yahoo, Amazon, eBay, Google, Chat, Forums, Blogs, Napster, Linux, Apache, MySQL, pHp, DOOM, Cellphones, Web 2.0, Firefox, iPod, iTunes, MySpace, YouTube, Skype, GoogleEarth, Facebook, Twitter, PirateBay, Wikipedia, WoW, SecondLife, iPhone.  The permanent digital network data repository of religions, organizations, emotions, locations, actions, possessions, professions, obsessions, transactions and reservations that we are voluntarily contributing to daily.  The Service Providers have stipulations in the Terms of Service you agree to permitting them to change the terms at any time without notification.  Recently one Service Provider changed the Terms of Service declaring that they owned all member content with no limitations on its use.  They backed down, but their weapons test was complete.

Mirrors on the ceiling, Pink champagne on ice.

And she said, “We are all just Prisoners here, of our own device.”

Worldwide data centres with petabytes of personal data connected by fiber optic spinal cords ready to be sliced and diced by domestic and foreign government agencies, corporations, criminals, theives and cyberterrorists looking for gold in the data mine.

And in their master’s chambers, They gathered for the feast.

They stab it with their steely knives, but they just can’t kill the beast.

Perhaps all these records will not matter to the Always On Generation or to the Zippies.  Since everyone’s sins are online no one can be held accountable or no one could be hired.  Or everyone could be held accountable and the Republics fall and we enter the Dark Age of a new Dictator Emperor, followed by a God Emperor, followed by a Pope Emperor all with sound legalistic documentation of the inquisitions.  This is what happened to the Roman Republic and Roman Europe.  Big Brother reigned for 1300 years.

Last thing I remember, I was running for the door.

I had to find the passage back To the place I was before.

“Relax”, said the night man, “We are programmed to receive.”

“You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”

As you drive down that dark desert information highway, look in the rearview mirror, because 1300 years of history might be catching up with us.

Thank you for checking in.

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Ethics: Robots and the Vulnerable

This is an article that merits consideration by everyone:

robots-and-children

WASHINGTON – A BRITISH scientist is calling for immediate introduction of robot ethics guidelines amid surging use of the machines and concern about their lack of human responsibility while caring for children or the elderly.

In an article published on Thursday in the US journal Science, Noel Sharkey, a professor of artificial intelligence and robotics at the University of Sheffield, argues that the steady increase in the use of robots in day-to-day life poses unanticipated risks and ethical problems.

Outside of military applications, Professor Sharkey worries how robots – and particularly the people who control them – will be held accountable when the machines work with ‘the vulnerable’, namely children and the elderly, stressing that there are already robotic machines in wide use such as the Japanese meal assistance robot ‘My Spoon’.

Robots could also soon be entrusted by parents to guard and monitor their children, replacing a flesh-and-blood nanny but posing potential problems in long-term exposure to the machines.

‘There are already at least 14 companies in Japan and South Korea that have developed child care robots,’ according to Prof Sharkey.

‘The question here is, will this lead to neglect and social exclusion?’ He said short-term exposure ‘can provide an enjoyable and entertaining experience that creates interest and curiosity’. But ‘we do not know what the psychological impact will be for children to be left for long hours in the care of robots’, he told AFP.

Experiments conducted on monkeys suggest there is reason for concern, Prof Sharkey said. Young monkeys left in the care of robots ‘became unable to deal with other monkeys and to breed’, he said.

With prices plunging by 80 per cent since 1990, consumer sales of robots have surged in the 21st century, reaching nearly 5.5 million in 2008, and are expected to double to 11.5 million in the next two years.

‘They are set to enter our lives in unprecedented numbers,’ said Prof Sharkey, expressing fear that an absence of ethical rules fixed by international bodies could mean the machines’ control will be left to militaries, the robot industry and busy parents.

The scientist also points to the remarks of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who he said predicted that ‘over the next few years robots may be a pervasive as the PC’, or personal computer.

‘We were caught off guard by the sudden increase in Internet use and it would not be a good idea to let that happen with robots,’ Prof Sharkey said.

‘It is best if we set up some ethical guidelines now before the mass deployment of robots rather than wait until they are in common use.’ He said it was vital that action be taken on an international level as soon as possible, ‘rather than let the guidelines set themselves’.

For Prof Sharkey, who has studied robotics for 30 years, such standards are compatible with the rise of robots, of which he is an enthusiastic defender. He stressed the benefits that robots can bring ‘to dangerous work and medicine’.

Prof Sharkey shrugs off doomsday scenarios in books such as Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot about the threatening interaction between robots and humans, or in movies such as the The Terminator in which robots take over the world.

Such story lines will remain firmly in the realm of fantasy, even as societies hurtle towards greater automation, he said.

‘I have no concern whatsoever about robots taking control. They are dumb machines with computers and sensors and do not think for themselves despite what science fiction tells us,’ he said.

‘It is the application of robots by people that concerns me and not the robots themselves.’ — AFP