Eagle 2 landed on Mars 44 minutes ago and no one is waiting for confirmation…

In July 1969 there was a 25 to 30 second delay in the transmissions from the Eagle. On its way to the surface of the moon. We held our breath in the family room of our house that night clustered around the television.

Then we heard “The Eagle has landed.”

Since then of course to make the audio more “entertainment” they have scrubbed out the delay. But it was there that night. It was magical and terrifying.

clip_image002Communication has come a long way since the days of pulse radio signals. In 1969 we still lived in the Henry Ford telephone world (you can have any phone you want as long as it looks like the phone on the left. Or a small variation and of course that it is black.)

We were bound to the length of the handset cable and the amount of cord you had for the actual phone. Most houses had 2-3 phone jacks. You were bound to the jack, bound to the phone and if you wanted privacy to talk to someone you had to get to the bathroom and lock the door.

clip_image004That was the height of technology back in the day. Now we wander the earth untethered. In fact you can get a phone such as the Satellite phone on the left and talk anywhere in the world. Even places Cellular signals never come out of. We are free from the length of a handset cable.

The birth of the smart phone changed the phone even more. Beyond the freedom of being wherever we needed to be, we now have the information we need at our fingertips. I was out to lunch with co-workers the other day. Somebody asked a question and none of us knew the answer. So all of us reached for our smart phones and typed in a search. It was a race then to see who could get the answer first. My fingers are too fat I didn’t win.

IoT expands the smart phone even further. Think of all the sensor data you can collect now that once wasn’t there. We are less and less bound to direct interaction with things. The age of indirection action is upon us.

Now there are things that do not work well via indirection action. Human beings prefer in-person kindness and interaction. Indirect non-personal connections work best for IoT devices. IoT is more than sensors but it can’t replace human connections.

It becomes the new age balancing act. We can set-up and make sure that Grandma is ok 24 by 7 and never have to physically be there. But how long does a human flower bloom without other humans around? Can you replace the simple connection of a hug with an IoT device? What once was a tool designed to move quick messages (SMS) became for a time the only way teenagers communicated. Smart phones made SMS even bigger (twitter, Instagram, snapchat) and so on. But the need for human connection hasn’t changed.

What happens when the Eagle 2 lands on Mars and no one is there to listen?

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Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow!