Mother to Daughter: ‘What would you do if all this ‘smart’ stuff stopped working?’

An informative moment in the Badger’s career was a conversation with a client that kept people safe from baddies. A major real-time computer system – ‘high tech’ for its time – was being delivered and the client wanted it in service as soon as possible. Over an informal lunch the Badger mentioned that the system would provide the client advantages for years because the baddies would be technologically disadvantaged. The client chuckled and just said the system would provide a serious advantage for ~6 months only. Why? Because the baddies used people rather than technology, and those people would quickly adapt their modus operandi to the changed environment they functioned in.

The Badger remembered this conversation on listening to a mother and daughter chatting in a local café. The mother was chiding her daughter, who is apparently off to University in October after a gap year, for ignoring her and for being ‘permanently connected’ to her smartphone. The mother asked, ‘What would you do if all this ‘smart’ stuff stopped working?’ The daughter’s answer was snappy. ‘It won’t, but if it did then everyone’s in the do-do. Everything’s smart these days, so you need to adapt mother, or you’ll be a disadvantaged dinosaur’.

The Badger was struck by the contrast between generations. The daughter’s generation has had the internet, personal computers and information at their fingertips since birth. The way they learn and absorb knowledge is tech-centric, and their brains have adapted accordingly. Apparently, their reaction times and information search abilities are enhanced, but at the expense of critical thinking, contemplation and memory skills. In contrast, the mother’s generation primarily assimilated knowledge from books and traditional learning methods. Consequently, their brains are trained to concentrate, remember, imagine and retain information.

Put simply, the mother-daughter dialogue provides an example of evolution and our ability to adapt to the environment we must function in. In today’s world what matters is information with immediacy, and so it’s unsurprising that the way youngsters think, function, obtain knowledge, and perform daily tasks has changed as a result.

The point made by the Badgers client many years ago remains equally valid in today’s ‘smart’ technology world. When something new comes along, people adapt to the environment they function in. Smart and connected technology is an ever more important component of the critical infrastructure of our daily lives. So, was the daughter right to express confidence that ‘smart stuff’ won’t stop working? Hmm. Only idealists would endorse the daughter’s confidence! One day something ‘smart’ and critical will catastrophically fail for some reason. When it does, there’ll be some turmoil…but we’ll adapt. After all, our ability to evolve and adapt is why we still exist on this planet.


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