Friday, April 22, 2016

#CTATechWeek -Digital Patriots Dinner Highlights

Washington DC-Marriott Marquis

A Celebration of Innovation And Technology (2016)

"...recognizing the outstanding accomplishments of five people dedicated to public service who believe that innovation is the driving force that makes our nation great."

As an outsider to the political process...a brief trip for a small part of CTA's Tech week for Congressional members (and their staff)...functions as a reminder of how Federal legislative (in)actions massively impact the way USA citizens live their lives.

The big draw -at the  well run Digital Patriots Dinner --- was the chance to hear Honoree Senator Cory Booker give another one of his bring the house down/barn raising speeches that are so inspirational.

Some Highlights:

At the pre-dinner cocktail reception -the HTC VIVE virtual reality demo-had attendees lining up for a chance to experience three G Rated 360º degree motion tracking/interactive, full room scale virtual reality experiences (powered by STEAM VR)-that were ALL fantastic.

An amazing surreal underwater world (with pop-up grid for boundaries), a hands controller/paintbrush on a wide open optical canvas with seemingly no edges in a virtual world- livened up with numerous special effect options selected by swiping, and a shoot the space aliens game...were all incredibly fun...brought to life via a comfy padded headset attached to a wired PC-yup that much computing power is needed-WiFi cannot handle it...and two VERY tricked out hand controller pieces BlueTooth connected, plus 2 base stations. Mercifully expert instructions from two HTC employees were at the ready-including  a master multi-tasking -casually dressed general counsel...impressive with not only legal skills (assuming) but the patience to answer loads of questions.

Expect at some point in the way future- other senses-smell/touch VR enabled.
Brought to life by HTC VIVE-Virtual Reality...on back PC can see in 2D what VR the user is experiencing...but trust us ---pales compared to the literally draw dropping experiences we got to demo. Pictured-here loving it all is Honoree Rep. Blake Farenthold from Texas. FYI: HTC Vive is available on pre-order ($799-a sum that is half of what our useless Google Glasses cost). Warning-get this and one's productivity levels might plummet, your kids may never leave the house---etc etc -with around 100 experiences (games-software) developed already for this consumer focused system. VR is already deployed professionally---by several industries -like design (automotive, houses), and training (military)...thereby contributing to productivity levels.

A thought we had-which of course would never emerge as a PC discussion here-wait till the Porn industry delivers immersing VR movies...then women will truly rule the world.
uncharacteristically for a New Yorker-we let a human ahead of us in line. We found this dynamic politician's remarks (during the ceremonial part of the dinner) on the state of tech deployment-startling candid- as in the "...Federal Government can't compute its way out of a paper bag..." just a bit of a bummer to hear. As an example, Rep. Farenthold cited how some  VA's computer systems for medical payments- are still written in doubt adding to the woes of that department but maybe also-a tiny upside... as our pal mister cyber-security sarcastically remarked 'does anyone even know how to hack that anymore?' HA.
PLUS: Two thumbs up also for this 2 Term House of Representative's-(TX)-acknowledging the Federal Government needs to deliver services better to folks...AND that "...government needs to get out of the way..."(on a lot of things we thought)- and a warm shout out to the sharing economy...a "whole new way to own things..." like "Rent the Runway"-much used by his two daughters. 

selfies---Senator Cory Booker, Gary Shapiro, Pres. of CTA and Rep. Blake Farenthold
The dinner itself was well paced-and delicious-we ordered a vegan meal in honor of Senator Booker...but marveled to our table-mates, a corporate affairs executive at a major publicly traded communications company, a senior executive at a Silicon Valley company maker of chips/software technology and a toiler at a "leftist" advocacy non-profit-of the meal choices available. Talk about casting a wide inclusive net.

President of CTA Gary Shapiro-always on point -welcomed guests and enthusiastically pointed out how proceeds of this evening's tickets-fund the non-profit Black Girls Code-  an organization that funds/advocates/organizes/mentors minority girls into the 'digital space' of STEM classes, camps, after school programs-with the stated goal of having one million girls- who code- by 2040. A beyond really good cause.
The Consumer Technology Association Foundation which links technology via strategic/relevant/ supporting programs- to the aging and/or disabled population- including- issuing needed grants. IMO...not a minute too our friends grapple with their elderly parents who insist of driving still.
NOTE self-driving cars for the 90+agers cannot happen soon enough.

Of course the Hallelujah high point-word wise- was Democrat/New Jersey Senator Cory Booker's speech that recounted his upbringing (his parents exhibited fairness-"people understand that we cannot leave anyone on the sideline"), his in the Newark streets schooling-versus the one acquired at Stanford /Yale...citing comedian Chris Rock's observation that the most violent city streets (in America) are named after the most non-violent person (Martin Luther King)...and weaving that into a wise woman's words that were visionary-breaking restraints...aka..."the world you see outside of you is the world you see inside of you..." spoken in an area full of abandoned buildings, illegal drug dealing/high crime street...any urban nightmare.

Acknowledging the frustration of politics---and an atmosphere... that "reflect labels first" versus a nation that desperately needs each other-to go far together..."to be a nation of patriotism"...Sen.Booker then optimistically added 'we have real problems'... but technology can transform lives. Somewhat similar to Rep Farenthold's take (a Republican, fyi- who spoke later) -he shared the viewpoint that 'we can not let government choke that innovation...not see the potential..and specifically cited the FAA's - commercial drone regulations- that he helped craft. "This is my commitment...we got to demand our government support innovators...we have an obligation to push the bounds and have a vision..."

IMO: Not an ounce cynicism from anyone in the audience-with concluding remarks on the "conspiracy of love"...followed by a Langston Hughes poem-and then adding "we are part of a human family...(the) heroes of hope...the light of this nation." AMEN TO THAT.

Senator Marco Rubio was honored with the Innovation Policy Ninja Award with remarks that started with his own backstory -a child of Cuban immigrants parents and their pursuit of the American Dream-and how we are living through economic transformation akin to the Industrial Revolution ...but " that makes some people anxious and frustrated."
 "What does leadership do in the face of it?"...Sen. Rubio asked -and then somewhat stating the obvious-answered that "all we can do now is move forward and embrace the future..."
As an example of how skilled jobs created by technological innovations (designing software, mechanical maintenance, etc) are better paid than the job(s) eliminated-Sen. Rubio gave an example of the drive-in restaurant experience-as it is now in most places... vs ordering on a touchscreen with an automated delivery system. (Banking at an ATM vs. teller- equally applies here too).

Governor Gregg Abbott of Texas (live remarks) and Governor Doug Ducey of Arizona (video remarks) were two of twelve state officials honored for their states "Innovation Scorecard"

FOR OTHER HIGHLIGHTS-on the Digital Patriots Dinner ...and on CES on the HILL including exhibitors, sponsors and really cool stuff being showed: check out the short reel from CTA.