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Authenticity…

If you’ve been reading me for a while you know I poke fun at many things not the least of which is technology.  Even though I make my living selling technology – and have done so for more than 40 years – the idiosyncrasies of my industry do not escape the “pen”.

Irreverent?  Perhaps; but at least it’s authentic.  You see, I’m continuously amused by my industry and my profession.  I believe Clarke is too:

Clarke’s Third Law

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Is magic authentic?  In our world of advanced technology today, search engine marketing in general (and Google in particular) places a big emphasis on “authenticity”.  In a post (of course) by Matt Kapko way back in April of 2015 titled “7 staggering social media use by-the-minute stats”, he cites IDC research:

Eight of the world’s most popular social networks generate an astonishing amount of content every minute.  The social “universe,” composed of every single digitally connected person, doubles in size every two years, and by 2020 it will reach 44 zettabytes, or 44 trillion GBs…

Zettabytes?  Magic alright.

The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper. 

Eden Phillports

But can mankind’s wits grow sharper fast enough to keep up with our machines?  According to a futurist who spoke at a technology conference sponsored by RSM way back in 2014:

70% of all internet traffic is machines “talking” to machines, posing as humans.

70%!  Machines posing as humans!  Is that authentic?  Of course, the primary vehicle supporting such machine-to-machine human charade is social media.  This, in turn, poses the question, “Can machines be social?”  Well… let’s consult… another machine:

Living organisms including humans are social when they live collectively in interacting populations, whether they are aware of it or not, and whether the interaction is voluntary or involuntary. 

Wikipedia

Wondering if Wikipedia is human or a poser?  Let’s go to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary © which was at least started by humans in 1828:

Social  adjective

3: of or relating to human society, the interaction of the individual and the group, or the welfare of human beings as members of society

Seems to me that in order to be considered “social”, humans need to be involved.  But if machines are now posing as humans how do we validate authenticity?  Or do we even care?  I mean, next up following social media and virtual reality is self-driving cars, true?  Question:  Can there be “muscle cars” that are self-driven by muscle-less computers?  Would these self-driving, muscle-cars be posers?

OK, OK…  I’ll lighten up on technology for a moment.  Posers aren’t limited to machines posing as people.  Posing has been around for a long time and is witnessed in many fields:

The difference between being an elder statesman and posing successfully as an elder statesman is practically negligible. 

T.S. Eliot

In today’s day and age, it’s hard to be authentic.  So many want to be perceived as some other persona.  Using a machine, we can easily doctor our image; a video; our resume; our online profile.  But in so doing, we are not being “true”.  Perhaps to seek authenticity in the face of 21st century technology we need to turn back to a different time:

Be yourself, everyone else is already taken. 

Oscar Wilde

Spoken by a 19th century, Irish playwright no less – and I’m saying that’s authentic and not magic.  No really – it’s really me; no it’s not my computer posing as me – it’s really me; really!

GAP

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