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What is the Future’s Computer Context?
email this pageprint this pageemail usGuillermo Ramón Adames y Suari - PVNN
December 22, 2010

This was the question that was supposed to be under consideration in Techno Management 2010 which was held last October in Mexico City. The issues were quite clear and the first two answers were “the Cloud” and “Social Networks”. Most business managers agreed that this issue is more of a loss than an investment.

For those who know my work, this system is the one I am involved in its development for voting. This system is beyond electronic voting and internet voting and hopefully it will be the future for democratic elections.
So apparently there was more concern on the time spent by computer users at work during working hours in personal business than in the potential work results with the Cloud. You can check on this behavior from my experience as a professor: It is true, at university most kids at a computer class have their accounts starting with facebook or MySpace. It is also true that it is almost impossible for most kids to “disconnect” and “get down to real life”. In class it is forbidden to use either phones or iPods or iPads or computers other than the ones provided by the university or to be connected to any other service that is not the university’s or class’ software. These are today’s kids.

The difference between my situations as a professor is that we do have breaks between classes and they can do whatever they please. Workers are supposed to invest their whole time to the employing enterprise. So their behavior is not as open as the kids at university who have breaks. Once the class is over, all (absolutely all kids) “had” to check their phones their facebook accounts, their emails. There is no reason to consider that fellow workers do not follow the very same pattern as students do.

Even more, at computer class, some of them keep their computers running while in class and even try to open their facebook accounts while in class. This annoying situation leads to have them expelled from class and sometimes “grant” an “f” grade. The stupidity goes even further when they ask for permission to “receive in the middle of the class an extremely important message”. The answer is always the same: “I did not know that Mr. Obama required your intervention (a junior or senior student) at 10:15:00 to give instructions to the NASA for landing in Mars”. That is as far as this “connection sickness” goes. If I include these examples is simply because this erratic behavior seems to be quite common: My employees at Adames & Associates have exactly the very same behavior as my students. The “connection sickness” is absolutely the very same.

So the question is not what is available to our employees: software and hardware. The facilities or their own smartphones and wifi facilities. The question is what to do to have them “working for what they are paid for”. This was the main concern at Techno Management: How to? Smartphones with Internet: Cannot be blocked. You would be also blocked yourself. “Selective” wifi seems to be more expensive that it looks. Sometimes, relations become more “personal” so work contacts get invited to form part of their personal social networks. Or both share the same “Vertical Networks”. What would be your answer to blocking facebook if “working” relations became “personal friends who share say scuba interests”? Difficult questions.

What are the tendencies? Most systems seem to be migrating to the smartphone/pad context. It started when we were able to consult our emails via phone and tablets. The next move will be to use your phone to pay whatever. In Finland you get on a train and while in transport, you can pay your fare and the charges could be credited or debited to your credit debit card, or bank account.

This will be extended to other services that will get incorporated little by little. At an electronic admission booth the authorization service will emit a signal to your smartphone so as to grant the access to the corresponding electronic booth. Your smartphone will be able to emit a signal either via infrared or Bluetooth technology in order to be able to communicate with the booth. The technology which is under study is the possibility of presenting your telephone at a booth and “let the devices do the talking” the booth will tell your phone what is the cost, the phone will ask you for your authorization to pay whatever, it will ask you to which account it should be charged and ask for the authorization so as to unblock the passage. Some of these systems are already available in Nokia country.

For those who know my work, this system is the one I am involved in its development for voting. This system is beyond electronic voting and internet voting and hopefully it will be the future for democratic elections. Certainly there are many economical interests: just imagine that with this system, there will be no government auctions for ballot printing or even the electronic booth proper. No more money to suck from, no more corruption. At least “this” obvious corruption. Political parties will always have entangled relationships and interests ($) which will be always in the way. But at least this part will be clearer than it has been before. Let me simply comment that this system will take some time before it gets its way: Once political parties will not be able to cheat (well, all political parties do), they will take time before they will validate this voting system. They will have no choice but evidence will have to be “heavy” before it gets admitted.

But all this does not answer the original problem. The question is what to do to have our employees working for ourselves. As things go on, a certain amount of relaxation seems to be inevitable but: how much is how much? Which controls have we to implement in order to get the results we need or will we have to set time limits for results? Any further hints?

Guillermo Ramón Adames y Suari is a former electoral officer of the United Nations Organization. Contact him at

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