“Unless we learn to use technology properly, it will be the demise of mankind,” said Ramis Sadrieh of TechnologyForYou at the January 28 Optimist Club meeting in Janes Hall at the Palisades Presbyterian Church.
Annually, Sadrieh attends the Consumer Technology Association show held in Las Vegas and then reports to the Optimists on the latest in technological advances. The first show was held in 1967, a year before the computer mouse was introduced and two years before the internet became operational.
In the 52 years since the first show, various products introduced have gone on to become mainstream, such as Apple watches and 3D printers. The show itself has grown to include 4,400 exhibiting companies, whose products are housed at 11 venues, grouped into three geographical areas: Tech East, Tech West and Tech South.
Sadrieh started his talk with some of the more practical applications of the new technology. For example, people were able to put on a “head band” that allowed them to race cars just using their thoughts. He also showed how an amputee was able to direct a prothesis for his hand, moving the fingers, just using thoughts. This practical application for amputees and people with spinal cord injuries will be invaluable.
Delta airlines has invented an exco-skeleton robotic “jacket” that a worker can wear, allowing the worker to pick up heavy bags and tires as if they were much lighter. The result will be less worker injuries and downtime for the company.
A television screen is being made that can be folded, and thanks to micro LEDs, an LCD screen can be made any size. “There was a 212-inch television that covered a wall and the colors were dramatic,” Sadrieh said.
TDK, which used to make cassette tapes, is introducing a robot that looks a bit like a food cooler and will be able to go to a restaurant, pick up the food and drive it back to your house. One day, Palisades residents will no longer have to drive to Cafe Vida to pick up take-out orders.
Harley Davidson introduced its first electric motorcycle, which prompted one Optimist to say, “If those riders who come through on Wednesday nights would use that, it would be much quieter.”
Sadrieh told him, “Actually, the sound this bike makes is beautiful and loud.” He played the video so that the Optimists could hear the sound. “I’m not a motorcycle fan, but after seeing this I want to get one.”
There was also buzz about the all-electric Mustang. “It can go 0 to 60 mph in three seconds and has a range of 200 to 300 miles,” Sadrieh said. The cost is $40,000, but the government is giving a $7,500 rebate for electric vehicles. A definitive number of electric vehicles from each company is allowed a rebate. There are no more governmental Tesla rebates available, but Ford has not sold their quota, so consumers can still qualify for those automobiles.
Sadrieh noted that Fisker has a SUV that looks a little like a Range Rover that will cost $30,000 and be available in 2022.
In the 2008 animated fantasy “WALL-E,” people have become overweight and inactive and their every whim is catered to by machines–including a chair that moves obese people from location to location. This chair was now available at the consumer show. “It is technology that helps us move around because we’re too lazy to walk,” Sadrieh said.
After acknowledging the positives that technology may bring, he also warned about the direction that it is going and for the first time expressed his concerns.
“Neon – this is the scariest company of them all,” Sadrieh said. “Each screen is driven by a computer and will be able to interact with a person.” (Neon, the company is from Samsung’s STAR labs, and its technology is also called Neon. The company was only formed six months ago.)
According to the company’s website, “Neon, our first artificial human is here. Neon is a computationally created virtual being that looks and behaves like a real human, with the ability to show emotions and intelligence.”
Sadrieh said AI computers could be used in hospitals and car sales, but if the company goes out of business, the computer remembers everything it learned before and takes it to the next location. Each Neon is unique, with its own personality, they are designed to have conversations and behave like humans
“The avatar will have a huge vocabulary and is constantly learning,” Sadrieh said. “This is the beginning of the end.”
According to Mat Smith, a senior editor for the UK Bureau Chief for Engadget, “the avatars are almost human” and were based on humans. The next stage was for avatars making their own expressions.” Smith said that currently Neon avatars are like Alexa or Siri, but that Spectra will program how avatars will learn.
“These are early days, let’s see what Neon has to show at CES 2021,” Smith said.
“Robots can almost think for themselves,” Sadrieh said, “I’m seeing so much that’s negative with the new technology, that if we don’t slow down and learn to use it wisely, it will destroy us.
“If artificial intelligence’s mission is to save the planet, it will destroy human beings,” he warned.
He said that Elon Musk has similar concerns and is working on a counter measure against an artificial intelligence drive that may try to make humans extinct.
Sandrieh is a former Mr. Palisades with an MBA from Pepperdine who has devoted his work life to helping Palisadians with technology problems of all types, including iPads, iPhones, Macs, PCs, surround sound, home theaters and wireless systems. Contact: (310) 597-5984 or visit technologyforyou.com.
(Editor’s note: The Optimists meet at 7:30 a.m. every Tuesday. On February 4, Los Angeles Times Film Critic Kenneth Turan will speak about the upcoming Oscars. New members are sought, please come to a breakfast meeting.)