Mike Elgan

About the Author Mike Elgan


Smartphones are driving us to distraction. Here’s help.

Ho-hum. Another year, another crop of amazing smartphones.

The latest advancements come from Apple and Google. The new iPhone 8 line and iPhone X phones, as well as Google’s new Pixel phones, are blistering fast, offer near-DSLR-quality cameras and perform a growing range of cool stunts, such as supporting augmented reality.

If you were to ask the public if they want all this power and ability, they’d probably respond, “Well, yes! Absolutely!”

But if you were to ask them if the newest phones solve any problems people have with their lives, the answer would be, “Well, no. Absolutely not!”

In fact, smartphones are making our biggest problems worse.

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Google’s Clips camera offers a snapshot of things to come

Google held a big hardware event this week, announcing a couple of new Pixel-branded smartphones, two Google Home devices, a new Pixelbook laptop, new earbuds called Pixel Buds, and a consumer camera called Google Clips.

Of all the new Google products announced, Google Clips is the most interesting by far — which is to say that it represents the most interesting trend. This consumer device represents the future of enterprise A.I.

But wait, you might say. Isn’t Google’s Pixel Buds product the most revolutionary? Its ability to translate language in real time is something out of science fiction, and the elimination of language barriers surely has major implications for the future of mankind.

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There’s no such thing as a ‘remote’ employee

Over the next year or two, some of your best employees may quit and find work elsewhere for a simple reason: They want to work from home full time.

During the past 10 years, telecommuting has gone up – doubling, in fact, with growth of 115% between 2005 and 2015, according to the US Census Bureau.

But when Yahoo and IBM famously banned telecommuting, some assumed the trend toward increasing work-from-home policies would be thrown into reverse. That assumption is a big mistake.

The telecommuting trend will continue. More than that: Companies will be increasingly forced to allow employees to work from outside the office. This trend obviously has major implications for security and management. 

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Wanted: A world where virtual assistants help (without being asked)

Instead of fearing that artificial intelligence (A.I.) will replace us, we should be excited about how A.I. will help us.

In a perfect future, our A.I. virtual assistant will know what we’re doing, where we’re going and — most importantly — what we’re saying. They’ll know lots of other things, too. And when they sense we need help, they’ll whisper suggestions, ideas or facts into our ears, essentially giving us real-time knowledge as we go about our day.

As you’re walking from a parking garage to your meeting, your virtual assistant should give you turn-by-turn walking directions without you having to ask. As you shake hands before the meeting, your virtual assistant should remind you (without anyone else hearing), that you met the person four years ago at a conference. During the meeting, it should listen for potential questions and supply the answer.

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