Government & Technology

Disruptive Change in Palo Alto and the rest of Silicon Valley

I have to forget the Palo Alto I knew and raised the kids in from the kindergarten on (Addison, Escondido, Jordan, Palo Alto High – oh yes and a year for one of the three at Fairmeadow Elementary).  Moving on cognitively, philosophically.

I’m reframing everything because of the way we are. Which is what? Different. It’s different from the early tech days of Eagle, Atari, Osborne. It’s different from the heady boom and bust of the dot com days. This tech is here to stay. It’s  different. It is disruptive.

That’s the difference.  Not only is every start up asking  and being asked, “What are you disrupting?” and incorporating that in their thoughts, strategies, business plans and power points, but the infrastructure of this region is being disrupted. For better or worse? Both. That’s the nature of disruption. You lose some great characteristics that defined the old but in doing so you make way for others that might not otherwise be possible. A trade-off?

Maybe. At the autonomous car presentation by the Google Project Manager Anthony Levandowski he showed us a slide about Google wanting to change humanity for the better with technology. Underlying every passion, every experiment at Google X and other places and in the hearts and minds of every start up hopeful is the desire to change something – to be disruptive.

To get on board with the concept of driverless cars with Google or semi autonomous ones with Elon Musk or biometrics as payment method (more on this soon – we know a local start up that promises to be very, very interesting, but it is still in stealth mode) or anything that is disruptive (Theranos, e.g.) the mind has to rewire itself. And the mind of the Bay Area is rewiring itself right now in what has become an extremely controversial topic – the entire infrastructure, physically and organizationally. Not only are buildings being built that are to house the workers near transportation that look like minimum security prisons (but so does the Palo Alto Medical Foundation – a hideous attempt at architecture) but the Bay Area wants to do away with borders and become One Giant Urbanopolis.

And now we have The Resilience Initiative  from The Rockefeller Foundation, Clinton and Palo Alto, CIA funded Palantir and they will organize this initiative for 100 cities with Chief Resilience Officers. I’m reframing as I write.  Of course it’s Orwellian – and that’s supposed to be a good thing now.

But George aside (Orwell that is), the “let’s change humanity with tech” IS going to happen and it will be disruptive. In some areas, fantastic – like in knowing your genetic blueprint or your broken dna repair rate.  And one day we will have urban centers with nothing but driverless cars. And there are many pluses to that (think about it).  But to get to the point that you see the positives, you have to undo the neural pathways saying, “Never gonna happen.”

Yes it will.

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