Throughout this series of blogs, I have concentrated on “gadgets,” i.e. mechanical, electric, or electronic devices that have fundamentally affected the world. So far they have included the bicycle, the credit card, the elevator, the postage stamp, the toothbrush, and the wristwatch. The banana, being a product of agriculture, is of course not a gadget. However, its effects on the world have been significant, even primordial, in areas far surpassing agriculture such as art, literature, show business, humor, and even intelligent design. I, therefore, believe the “humble” banana is far from humble, and richly deserves a place of prominence on the list of what I like to call “Extraordinary Ordinary Things.”Continue reading
Imagine this: It’s morning and you are starting your daily routine—go to work, bring kids to school, etc. You are quite late. You lift the door handle of the car; able to recognize your fingerprints, the car unlocks. You speak, “To Helen’s school please, then Martin’s school, then to work.” The car doesn’t respond. It’s rush hour and you need to bring the kids to school on time and then rush to work.
Your car’s machine-learning algorithm predicts you are likely to get a fine or worse, despite your intentions to drive consciously when kids are on board and stay under the speed limit. Almost like the “pre-crime” police units of the Tom Cruise sci-fi hit “Minority Report,” the algorithm uses police report data on parents who speed during rush hour when late for school or work. It neglects your law-abiding attitude. Fortunately, the personal digital assistant in your watch, sensing your car has been disabled, is already contacting the schools and your workplace with your estimated times of arrival and an excuse for your tardiness.Continue reading
Throughout this series of blogs I have concentrated on “gadgets” (i.e. mechanical, electric, or electronic devices) that have fundamentally affected the world. So far, they have included the bicycle, the credit card, the elevator, the postage stamp, the toothbrush, and the wristwatch. Beer, being a liquid usually stored, transported, and sold in bottles, is not a gadget. However, its effect on the world has been significant, even primordial, perhaps surpassing all the others put together. I therefore believe that beer unquestionable deserves to join the ranks of what I like to call “Extraordinary Ordinary Things.”Continue reading
It is a rite of passage, starting with a stable three-wheeled tricycle. Next is a less stable two-wheeled bicycle with two training wheels, and finally the freedom of a two-wheeler itself. But however exciting it may seem to children and parents at the time, in retrospect this progression is really a mundane part of modern life. So much so that few people realize the long history of the bicycle and the unexpected impact it has had on modern society.Continue reading