In 1977 I was a member of the public relations team that helped put together the dedication ceremony for IBM’s new General Systems Division Headquarters building in the northwestern section of Atlanta.
The Atlanta Symphony, state and local politicians, and local business leaders attended including the governor and mayor while local, regional and national media covered the event that took place in a serene wooded setting, for the building that spanned a manmade lake.
A glass wall of my office in that building overlooked the lake and woods.
Today that office it is part of a high school as the building is no longer needed by IBM due to rapid changes in technology and telecommuting trends that enable workers to live anywhere they want without having to come to an office building. The building was purchased by a local school system about six years ago and is now a public high school.
How many of us know people on Amelia Island who work out of their homes for companies located nowhere near the island or, in many cases, nowhere near Florida or even the United States? If people can work wherever you want they will move to live in more desirable areas. Read the real estate listings and in many cases a “home office” is one of the key features of a home for sale.
Lots of things we take for granted are changing and real estate is just one of them.
In 1998 — just 18 years ago– Kodak employed 170,000 people and sold 85% of all photo paper in the world. Within just a few years, the company’s business model collapsed and it went bankrupt. And what happened to Kodak is going to happen to a lot of industries in the next 10 years – and none of them or us will see it coming. Did anyone think in 1998 that within three years we would never take pictures on paper film again? Or that most pictures would be taken with a cell phone? It’s ironic that Kodak was one of the pioneers of digital photography but failed to capitalize on it. And who remembers Polaroid cameras?
Today Kodak is hanging on by a thread with a handful of its Rochester, NY employees mining its patents to see if any of them can be turned into profits. Another Rochester headquartered business is Xerox, with only 20 percent of its business now copiers, with the remainder servicing them and the other part selling fluids like toner. Changes are happening rapidly with artificial Intelligence, health care, cars, education, printing, agriculture, and more.
The past 40 years have seen technological changes that have positively impacted the movement of goods, capital, and ideas only imagined by science fiction writers when I was a kid. This amazing transformation has yielded more positive advancement in a short period of time than any other period in the history of the world. Statistics I’ve seen say that global GDP is up sevenfold since 1950; 35-years ago 44 percent of the world’s population lived in poverty and today fewer than one in 10 do; the world’s population is healthier and people are living longer with global life expectancy rising from 48 years in 1950 to 71.4 today.
We are witnessing as software shakes up traditional industries. For example Uber doesn’t own a single car. It is just a software tool and is now the largest taxi company in the world. Airbnb is now the biggest hotel company in the world, although it doesn’t own any hotels or any other hospitality properties.
You can do all of your banking from applying for a mortgage and paying bills to depositing checks and making withdrawals on a cell phone, and there is no longer a need to travel to a crowded mall to do your Christmas shopping as it can all be done from a lap top at home or on a cell phone.
Social media, particularly Twitter and email, were dominate factors in the presidential election and President-elect Trump is still making headlines with his “tweets” while Hillary Clinton is licking her self-inflicted email wounds.
All of this change is taking place so rapidly that even old-timers like me will likely live long enough to see lots more of it take place.
The Economist Magazine recently outlined some of the startling innovations that it says will impact all of us over the next few years. Here are a few predictions from its fascinating report:
- Because of IBM’s Watson, people will get legal advice (so far more or less basic stuff) within seconds, with 90% accuracy compared with70% accuracy when done by humans. There will be 90% less lawyers in the future, only specialists will remain. Watson already helps nurses diagnosing cancer, four times more accurate than human nurses.
- You won’t want to own a car anymore. You will call a car with your phone and it will show up at your location and drive you to your destination. You will not need to park it and you only pay for the driven distance and can be productive while driving. Our grandkids will never get a driver’s license and will never own a car.
- In the health care area there will be companies that will build a medical device (called the “Tricorder” from Star Trek) that works with your phone, which takes your retina scan, your blood sample, and you breath into it. It then analyses 54 biomarkers that will identify nearly any disease. It will be cheap, so in a few years everyone on this planet will have access to world class medicine, nearly for free.
- 3D Printing: The price of the cheapest 3D printer came down from $18,000 to $400 within 10 years. In the same time, it became 100 times faster. All major shoe companies started 3D printing shoes. Spare airplane parts are already 3D printed in remote airports. The space station now has a printer that eliminates the need for the large amount of spare parts they used to have in the past. At the end of this year, new smart phones will have 3D scanning possibilities. You can then 3D scan your feet and print your perfect shoe at home. In China, they already 3D printed a complete 6-story office building. By 2027, 10% of everything that’s being produced will be 3D printed.
OK, all of that is fascinating, but I have a question that’s been annoying me for the past 10 years: Since there are no longer any phone booths left where does Clark Kent go now to change into his Superman outfit?
Tilapia Tall Tales: When’s the last time a friend said to you, “Let’s go tilapia fishing”?
If you agreed you’d end up at a fish farm probably somewhere in Asia or Latin America, because that’s the only place you and your pal would find tilapia, a fish that clinical nutritionist Dr. Josh Axe says is worse for you than eating bacon since farm-bred fish have been found to have high concentrations of antibiotics and pesticides and low levels of healthy nutrients. According to Dr. Axe recent studies have concluded that eating these farm-raised tilapia may also worsen inflammation that can lead to heart disease, arthritis, asthma and other serious health problems.
The term tilapia actually refers to several fresh water related fish species that originated in the Middle East and Africa but are now farmed all over the world with most of the tilapia eaten in the U.S. imported from Asia and Latin America.
I don’t think we’ll be adding tilapia to our grocery list or ordering it in a restaurant anytime soon as it appears it would be as deadly as eating imported farm-raised shrimp.
Democrats “Go Bust”: Democrats will continue to maintain that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by a margin of some 2.1 million votes, but that number will still not win the presidency. In fact, this election is the fifth time in U.S. history that a president has been elected while losing the popular vote.
One of the most bizarre elections took place in 1824, when John Quincy Adams was elected president despite not winning either the popular vote or the electoral vote. Andrew Jackson was the winner in both categories. Jackson received 38,000 more popular votes than Adams, and beat him in the electoral vote 99 to 84. Despite his victories, Jackson didn’t reach the majority 131 votes needed in the Electoral College to be declared president. In fact, neither candidate did. The decision went to the House of Representatives, which voted Adams into the White House.
In 1876, Rutherford B. Hayes won the election by a margin of one electoral vote, but he lost the popular vote by more than 250,000 ballots to Samuel J. Tilden.
In 1888, Benjamin Harrison received 233 electoral votes to Grover Cleveland’s 168, winning the presidency. But Harrison lost the popular vote by more than 90,000 votes.
In 2000, George W. Bush was declared the winner of the general election and became the 43rd president, but he didn’t win the popular vote either. Al Gore holds that distinction, garnering about 540,000 more votes than Bush. However, Bush won the electoral vote, 271 to 266.
Speaking Of Vote Counts: In Wisconsin, one of three states where Green Party candidate Jill Stein has sought a fresh tabulation, President-elect Trump has even gained on Hillary Clinton. By this past Wednesday morning, Trump had widened his victory margin over Clinton in Wisconsin by 146 votes, with 23 of the state’s 72 counties having finished their recounts. In those counties, Trump gained 105 votes and Clinton dropped 41 votes.
“Can You Hear Me Now?” Department: Following the Democrats devastating election day loss President Obama was quoted as saying that large parts of the country “just aren’t hearing us.” Nope, just the opposite, they lost because large parts of the country heard exactly what he and fellow far-left elitists Nancy Pelosi, Bernie Sanders and Harry Reid have been saying and trying to sell and want no more of it including policies such as Obamacare, higher taxes, more regulation, open borders and amnesty for illegal aliens.
Media Hypocrisy: President elect Trump receives a phone call from the President of Taiwan, a key trading partner that buys billions of dollars worth of arms from the U.S. and the media goes ballistic saying the call would damage America’s relationship with China. However, in 2013 President Obama initiated a phone call with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani despite the fact that Iran is listed as the world’s largest state sponsor of terror by the State Department and before 9/11, its terrorism offshoot Hezbollah was responsible for more American deaths than any other terrorist organization in the world and the media praised the exchange. Go figure!
A Blues Free Trip: According to the Wall Street Journal, away from the East and West coasts, Republicans now so dominate the country that a traveler could drive 3,600 across continent, from Key West to the Canadian border at Porthill, Idaho, without ever crossing a blue state.
Drinking, Dining & Dancing: Look for some big changes at the South 8th Street Halftime Sports Bar & Grill as former Palace Saloon and Dog Star Manager Lorenzo Church takes over managerial duties for owner Eric Deady. In addition to his restaurant and bar background Lorenzo is a passionate sports fan having been drafted in 2004 out of San Diego’s Mission Bay High School by baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks as a right-handed pitcher and making it to the team’s Yakima (Bears), Washington minor league A team before a wrist injury ended his fledgling career. We’ll be anxious to take note of the bar and kitchen changes the personable professional brings to the cozy TV sports emporium as he teams up with another Amelia Island Hospitality Group alumni, Bill Childers, who will handle Halftime’s marketing efforts. Speaking of Childers and Deady, their Locals’ Lounge is doing a gangbusters business and a lot of that is due to the 5-8 p.m. buy one get one happy hour. Last week I mentioned that I thought that downtown’s Front Street Salty Pelican’s $9.00 peel and eat shrimp was one of the best deals on the island — and it is — but said that the $8.00 pretzel (seven bucks during happy hour) was a rip-off. Pelican co-owner Al Waldis alerted me to the fact that those pricey pretzels are a strong number four on their best selling appetizer list and in the past 11 weeks they’ve sold 1,500 for an average of almost 20 per day. I guess pretzel buyers are keeping the cost of the shrimp down, so I encourage those Pelican pretzel patrons to keep purchasing ’em. The Centre Street Tavern, which I also mentioned as peddling pricey pretzels at eight bucks, has remained mum. I tried one of the Green Turtle’s $3.00 pretzels with two dipping mustards last Friday and concluded it was worth three bucks. Claude Hartley told me that his Sandy Bottoms Main Beach restaurant and bar will officially close at 6 p.m. Sunday, December 31 when the keys are turned over to new owners who will shutter it for remodeling and a renaming for an undetermined period of time. I’m not a branding expert but it seems to me it would be wise to capitalize on the Sandy Bottoms name that has been around for so many years, but what do I know?