Aug 29, 2017

Technology as we know it

My speech on technology at Toastmasters humorous speech contest.

Today, I wanna talk about technology. In particular I wanna talk abt this fine piece of technology - the mobile phones. We probably don’t appreciate this luxury enough. This is the epitome of technology as we know it. If we culminate all of human effort spanning the last 300,000 years into one technology, it is this - the mobile phone.

Let’s pause here for a second and go back some thirty years back to see how life was without a mobile phone. I wasn’t born 30 years back, but probably...

I was in the process of being created.

Anyways, this story is about my friend’s dad. He is on a visit here. He’s from India and he used to work in the OIl Industry in the middle east, in Dubai. Shell Oil Company. But there was a time when he was staying away from his wife for about an year. So every time he had to communicate to his wife, he used, what we call now as snail mail. It worked like this. Whenever he wanted to communicate something to his wife (my friend’s mom), he took a piece of white paper, wrote whatever he wanted to write, found an envelope, affixed a stamp on it, and drove to a post office, posted it and waited. His wife receives the letter after four days. And even if she decides to reply to that the same day, it takes another four days for it to reach him. So, it actually takes 8 days for you to get a reply for something he asked, and this applied the other way too. His wife received a response after 8 long days for something she asked.

This got me thinking,

“If I didn’t reply to my girlfriend for 8 days……
She would have broken up with me 800 times”.

Forget 8 days, the rule of thumb is if I didn’t reply to her within 8 seconds of seeing her message, then something bad is going to happen.

But the real question is how does she know that I saw her message?

This is due to the evil most invention of this millennia known as “Whatsapp”.  It’s not whatsapp which is evil, it's just a small feature in whatsapp that is evil. It’s called ….. the double tick. I don’t know who invented this, but whoever did this, he didn’t have a girlfriend.

Or if it was a girl who invented, she definitely did have a boyfriend.

But my girlfriend is cool, you know. She’s not around here, but still she gets to know almost everything I say or do. So she’s awesome.  If any of you guys didn’t understand my references to whatsapp or this double tick feature, you have something what i call as - uh a life.

But technology is awesome, you know. My dad used to end up in different town driving without knowing the direction. He drove off to meet a relative in a different city and he ended up meeting some other relative in some other city because he took the wrong direction. I am his son. And I don’t want to make the same mistakes. So I have used Google Maps to drive to Hacker dojo every single time for the past six months. My good friend Anish, his iPhone got blank one fine morning just this past week. It refused to charge up. He was out of clue. He was expecting his mom's call that evening, and he had to inform his mom that his phone doesn’t work. But the bad part is, he doesn’t remember her number. He didn’t have to. He tried to login to iCloud to retrieve the contacts, but to login to iCloud, you need to enter a two factor verification. First you have to get your Apple ID password correct, then you will have to enter the passcode sent to your Iphone; the ipHone which is no longer working. And there was another option to retrieve the contact, but basically, you have to walk a tightrope across Niagra to get your own contacts. So Anish wanted to buy a new phone the same day. I suggested Anish, to buy a cheap phone temporarily until he makes up his mind which smartphone to buy. So we went to Fry’s Electronics and found a 30 dollar phone. It was a nice flip-flop phone for just 30 dollars. Anish gave a look of disapproval saying that it doesn’t have maps. It’s a 30 dollar phone; of course it doesn’t support maps. And he’s good at directions, unlike me. He doesn’t actually need maps to go everywhere, but he can’t imagine the concept of a phone without maps. I mean, it good to use these mapping technologies, in fact i’m a big proponent of it. I work as a Geospatial Data Scientist and my field of work involves creating these mapping technologies for different apps. So, we need to use these mapping technologies more and more. For the greater good.

And for my job security.
Technology bridges cultural gaps. I grew up in a multicultural society. This might be surprising to some of you. You might think that everyone in India speak and understand the same language. But it is not true. Every state in INdia speaks their own language. And by language, I do not mean a different dialect. They have their own script and grammar. You still don’t believe me ? Let me speak to Siddhartha here in my language and see if he understands that… “Oonu kazhicho Siddhartha?” See he had no clue what I talked about.

But you know what? The translate app can do this for me. It can translate to and from my language and convert it into his language. So technology is the best language to communicate. It evens out cultural differences. Imagine a world without this translate app.  how confusing it would have been. I think that's why British left India so soon. They just stayed here for….. 400 years…
But the thing I always wonder is why the British left US as we know it, in less than 50 years. What did Americans do that Indians didn't?

Oh I know what u guys did… The British couldn't tolerate this stupidity known as American Unit system.. The American Unit system doesn't make sense to me.. it doesn't align with the decimal system. Decimal system is units expressed in multiples of 10 or fraction of 10. But American units doesn't believe in that. You wanna dispute me? If so, pls answer what's 5.353 miles in feet? No.answer? No.answer?..

But if u ask me what's 5.353 kilometers in meters, I can immediately say it's 5,353 meters. U want it in millimeters; it's 5,353,000 mm. U want it in nanometers, I can probably answer it in 5 seconds, without the pen or computer. But you guys confused the British with pounds and ounces and fahrenheit and inches and yards and miles. That the British couldn't take it.anymore…

But you know what… there's someone in this room, who can answer my previous question about mile.conversion. u wanna know who that is… “Ok Google, what's 5.353 miles in kilometers”... (Google replies.. ) “28.3k… feet” … see Technology can not just bridge cultural differences, but can also bridge American stupidity.

Technology, as we know it is awesome guys. We do have an obligation to use it responsibly, but it is making human lives better and more productive, it's bridging cultural gaps and democratising knowledge.

Thank you guys. That's my time…


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