In Japan, nearly two thirds of single people aren’t in a relationship and there are quasi-similar results in the US, although not exactly parallel. (The big difference in the studies is the focus on sex. Unlike Japan, not being in a relationship in the US has nothing to do with having/not having sex.)
However, craving companionship seems to be universal.
Enter Gatebox, which is similar to Amazon Echo, but with a platonic, She-like twist.
Yes, that is an artificially intelligent character who lives in a glass tube in your home. Her name is Azuma Hikari, and she’s the star of Gatebox — a $2,500 Amazon Echo-esque device that acts as a home assistant and companion.
At $2500 it isn’t cheap and there are a lot of caveats around it’s operation in the US, but that isn’t the point of this article.
The point is that even with a $2500 (298,000 yen) price tag and a year-long delivery wait it’s still pre-selling both here and Japan.
What a sad, lonely, connected world people inhabit these days.
Late one Friday night in early November, Jun Rekimoto, a distinguished professor of human-computer interaction at the University of Tokyo, was online preparing for a lecture when he began to notice some peculiar posts rolling in on social media. Apparently Google Translate, the company’s popular machine-translation service, had suddenly and almost immeasurably improved. Rekimoto visited Translate himself and began to experiment with it. He was astonished. He had to go to sleep, but Translate refused to relax its grip on his imagination.
It’s not a book, but it is a long article — long, fascinating and well worth your time to read.
Which is why this post is very short.
I sincerely hope you will take time to read both articles.
It’s amazing to me, but looking back over nearly a decade of writing I find posts that still impress, with information that is as useful now as when it was written.
Golden Oldies is a collection of what I consider some of the best posts during that time.
It’s that time of year again and and my best advice hasn’t changed since 1977 or as I wrote it in 2007. The only difference is that now it’s the same advice you can find in dozens of places. Done right (as described below) reviews are the greatest gift you can give your people. So give it to them, even if you don’t get the same from your boss. After all, it is said that it’s better to give than receive and, as I tell clients, you can control the former, not the latter.
I’ve written on and off about the importance of, and how to do, performance reviews and it’s that time of year again.So in yet another effort to convince you doubters out there that honesty is the best policy and your people really don’t want to hear feel-good fudging, prevarications or outright lies, especially around Christmas.
Social psychologist William B. Swann in a new study published in the Academy of Management Journal… People don’t like to be treated positively if they know it is not heartfelt. If people are coming across as inauthentic and forcing you to come across as inauthentic in return, that can be enormously stressful… His work has centered on an idea known as self-verification theory. All people carry around an image of themselves that tells them who they are, whether they are good-looking or average-looking, for example, or clever at math, or kind and thoughtful or largely self-centered. Inasmuch as people want to be recognized for the things they are good at, Swann’s work suggests many people also want honest acknowledgments of their flaws, and that when these flaws are minimized or wished away, people end up feeling worse rather than better.
Just remember, honest and authentic don’t mean abusive or destructive. Offering recognition of what the person does well and being candid about areas that need improvement are two hallmarks of a good review.
The third is no surprises, which means that you’ve been giving candid feedback throughout the year.
A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read all If the Shoe Fits posts here
Pronouncements by pundits are often pretty funny, but those that come from corporate heads (who should know better) are worse.
That is especially true when they are obviously suffering from head-in-the-sand syndrome.
Lest you think it’s a modern phenomenon here is one from 1876.
William Orton, President of Western Union, when deciding not to buy the patent for the telephone. “What use could this company make of an electrical toy?”
Steve Jobs said e-readers would fail, because people no longer read.
Steve Ballmer, whose foot spent a lot of time in his mouth, called Google a “house of cards.”
Just last year JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon sounded off about blockchain ledger products, such as Bitcoin
“This is my personal opinion, there will be no real, non-controlled currency in the world. There is no government that’s going to put up with it for long … there will be no currency that gets around government controls.”
A group of nearly 60 employees at major tech companies have signed a pledge refusing to help build a Muslim registry. The pledge states that signatories will advocate within their companies to minimize collection and retention of data that could enable ethnic or religious targeting under the Trump administration, to fight any unethical or illegal misuse of data, and to resign from their positions rather than comply.
Not luminaries, but people like you.
As of 10:30 pm Pacific Wednesday there were 1215 signatures.
The full text is at the pledge link (above) as are the instructions on how you can sign. There are also links if you want to be a more active participant or just want more information.
Why should you do it?
The words of Martin Niemöller, a prominent Protestant pastor and rabid anti-Nazi, who spent seven years in a concentration camp explain it best.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Actively or passively; loudly or quietly you need to speak out over the next two years.
And in two years it will be up to you to help take back Congress.
Last summer, Bill Marczak stumbled across a program that could spy on your iPhone’s contact list and messages—and even record your calls. Illuminating shadowy firms that sell spyware to corrupt governments across the globe, Marczak’s story reveals the new arena of cyber-warfare.
Marczak’s stumble revealed three zero-day exploits (“Zero days” refers to the amount of time—i.e., none—a target has to fix an entirely new kind of hack before damage can be done.).
It’s called a jailbreak and the ability to do it remotely is every hacker’s dream.
… the ability to hack remotely into the digital brains of the world’s most popular hardware—the desktops, laptops, tablets, and especially the mobile phones made by Apple. And not just break into Apple devices but actually take control of them. It was a hacker’s dream: the ability to monitor a user’s communications in real time and also to turn on his microphone and record his conversations.
In a superhuman effort, Apple patched all three exploits in just 10 days.
It’s an uplifting story, but the fact is Apple and other computer-makers are fighting a losing battle. As long as there are hackers, they will continue to find ways to hack any device that interfaces with them. These dangers were highlighted this fall when a New England company found itself the target of a mass denial-of-service attack from millions of non-computer “zombie devices” connected to the Internet—most notably baby monitors.
“What these cyber-arms dealers have done is democratize digital surveillance,” says the A.C.L.U.’s Chris Soghoian. “The surveillance tools once only used by big governments are now available to anyone with a couple hundred grand to spend.” In fact, they may be coming to your iPhone sometime soon.
It’s amazing to me, but looking back over more than a decade of writing I find posts that still impress, with information that is as useful now as when it was written. Golden Oldies is a collection of what I consider some of the best posts during that time.
To truly understand this post, you need to click the link and read the original explanation of VSI. VSI isn’t particularly original, but it is rarely called that — people prefer nicer or more professional sounding euphemisms. And that’s OK; I just prefer to opt for clarity and simplicity — which is why I’m considered too blunt.
Earlier this year I was working with a client, Jim, on various management approaches, such as offering good feedback and open sharing of all information, i.e., not dribbling it out over multiple requests, that he wanted to integrate into the company culture. During the conversation he asked me “What can I do to open the minds of some of my managers?”
Unfortunately, there is really nothing you can do to force a person to change the way they think, but there is much you can do to encourage it. I honestly believe that the fastest, as well as the most potent, way to encourage change is good old VSI.
I used to believe that people had to perceive the need for change before they could change, but based on experience I’ve found that if they see benefits to themselves from doing things differently they will start moving in that direction and the results can be almost surreal.
Jim had a manager who was known for making his people come to him constantly to get the information necessary to do the work they were assigned. His attitude/actions resulted in higher-than-normal turnover in his group, but he insisted that he wasn’t doing anything and people could get the information at any time, so there was no correlation.
Using VSI, Jim and I worked out a two-prong approach to change his behavior.
20% of his annual bonus was tied to reducing his group’s turnover by 30% (which would bring it in line with the company as a whole); and
Jim started doing to the manager as he did to his group by forcing him to come and ask and then dribbling out the information he needed to meet his targets.
Part of the manager’s reaction was straightforward—he grumbled a bit about the retention bonus. But the surreal part was in his reaction to the information plug—nothing, not a word or an action to acknowledge what was going on.
However, he must have noticed, because within days of it starting he was giving more complete information to his people.
Not all at once and not very graciously, but he loosened his hold on the information flow, so did Jim. If the manager backtracked Jim tightened up and the manager learned that to get he had to give.
At first, his people were cautious, not really trusting the new openness, but after about a month the results started and after six weeks they took off like a rocket—productivity and retention zoomed north, while grumbling and discontent headed south and on into oblivion.
But the surreal part is that, in spite of his people commenting publicly on how differently he was handling assignments, meetings, etc., to this day the manager claims that nothing changed and certainly not him.
A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read allIf the Shoe Fits posts here
If generating revenue is high on your list of important stuff, then knowing your market should be right up there, too.
Actually, the knowing needs to come first.
There is no way a 20-something, white male from an even slightly privileged background knows, let alone understands, the needs/preferences/desires of a Gen Xer, Boomer or older, let alone those of a different gender, race or economic status.
The bank has already undergone unconscious bias training globally, which involves exercises including splitting into groups and assessing the merits of four different résumés, only to return to find they belonged to the same candidate — just with different names and genders attached. (…) with female names, for example, the groups were more likely to question the candidates’ credentials.