Monday was the 50th anniversary of the first cell phone call. Those of you of a certain age may remember the brick-sized devices that entered the scene about 10 years after that—they were so big that some people actually carried them in small suitcases. I bought my first “car phone” in 1986; it was permanently mounted in my car and cost just under $4,000. Needless to say, we paid by the minute for those early calls and $1,000 per month bills for a single line weren’t uncommon.
Although GenZ’ers who grew up with today’s lightweight devices would find these behemoths laughable, there’s no doubt those early mobile phones, and their many iterations, changed our lives in ways we never could have anticipated—just like the VCR, the CD, the PC, the fax machine, the telex, and all of the other innovations that followed—and will continue to do so.
Fast forward to ChatGPT, which, if I’m reading the tea leaves correctly, is about to take over the world. Apparently, the content it writes, while flawed, is already hard to distinguish from what humans produce, and the technology is bound to get smarter. That’s going to be a mixed blessing, depending on who you ask. A teacher I heard about is getting ahead of the curve by asking students to use this AI-powered technology to write essays and then improve upon the robot-driven prose. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
Businesses, too, are trying to figure out how to either (A) harness ChatGPT or (B) block it altogether. And while the latest in AI is already testing the boundaries of acceptability, other tech innovations continue to proliferate.
This year’s Consumer Electronics Show (the showplace for the latest in consumer tech), held in Las Vegas in January, brought us the robotic bartender; the electric spoon (which stimulates the taste buds of people who have an impaired sense of taste); a device you strap on your shoes to double your walking speed (Rollkers); and the AromaShooter, a device from Japan that shoots scents toward your face to enhance shopping and virtual reality experiences. Where’s my robotic inbox concierge?
Marcum is all about tech, so we’re watching how this all develops. One of the big rallying cries in Silicon Valley is that the new technologies emerging now will lead to a greater abundance of resources like energy and clean water, and be an economic equalizer, allowing many who live in poverty greater access to healthy food, medical care, and other necessities. This could change the landscape for all of us, with great potential ramifications for many of our clients. In the meantime, there’s always the iPhone 14 to keep everyone entertained.
Today is Good Friday, the day that Christians commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus. Sunday is Easter, when the resurrection of Jesus from the dead is celebrated. To those of you who observe, enjoy the holidays with those you love.