Monday, August 25, 2014

The Challenges of Technology

By Pascal Dennis

Last week in Charlotte NC, crossing South Tryon St. on a Green light, I, and two other pedestrians, were almost run over by a woman in a red Ram pick-up truck.

She was barrelling down Trade St. and made her left turn without slowing or bothering to look.

When she saw us she jerked the steering wheel to the right and we were spared. (My guess is she was playing with her cell phone.)


We hollered at her, “What the…” and “Watch where you’re going…”

As she sped away from almost-fatalities and almost-ruined lives, she gave us the finger. A brute, bozo and public menace all at once.

(And, I hasten to add, an anomaly -- Charlotte folks are invariably gracious and friendly.)

On reflection, the incident highlights one of technology’s biggest challenges:

It gives bozos capability they can’t handle – with potentially deadly consequences. (How much of today’s global chaos is caused by bozos with technology?)

I’m reminded of the great Joe Juran, who referred to our situation as ‘living behind the quality dykes’.

Although we receive wonderful benefits from technology, we also face substantial risk – from catastrophe to annoyance. Like the Dutch, we have taken advantage of technology to push back the sea.

We have thus gained land and all its benefits. But it’s a dangerous way to live. The sea isn’t content to stay back - it wants to push back in.

To hold back the sea, the Dutch rely on technology in the form of dykes. But once built, the dykes must be maintained forever.

We are in the same situation, Juran said, when we adopt technology. We rely on quality to protect us from these annoyances and these terrible dangers. Quality is our dyke.

By quality, Juran is referring to the management systems that ensure the safe use of technology.

We need to build and maintain the dykes. The bozos will always be there.

Best,

Pascal


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