Debate: Are We Jeopardizing Our Most Important Long-Term Asset: Trust?

Post a reply

Stephen Weinstein

Debate: Are We Jeopardizing Our Most Important Long-Term Asset: Trust?

Tue, 03/24/2009 - 13:21 — Stephen Weinstein

IEEE/COMSOC Fellows Stu Personick and Tony Acampora will be the principal contributors to COMSOC's first "Great Debate" on the subject of how we trade off visibility and credibility when we announce "breakthrough results." I will serve as moderator for this debate.

The debate is now open to community discussion. Make sure you are logged in and then click the Post a Reply button to comment.

View the debate here.

Harvey Freeman

Re: Debate: Are We Jeopardizing Our Most Important Long-Term Asset: Trust?

Fri, 03/27/2009 - 16:07 — Harvey Freeman

Stu and Tony - who is supposed to decide whether something is a breakthrough?  Our professional Society where membership has been decreasing for the past 9 years?  Other engineers who have been funneled into such narrow areas of technical work that they no nothing about the topic proposed as a breakthrough?  I, and I am sure others, take "breakthroughs" with a grain of salt.  It really takes time to determine what truly is a breakthrough.  Some recent advances were do to results discovered years ago but only recent technology made these results useful and considered to be a breakthrough.

saintpi

Re: Debate: Are We Jeopardizing Our Most Important Long-Term Asset: Trust?

Sat, 03/28/2009 - 04:36 — saintpi

 I must commend COMSOC for this "Great Debate". I believe and know that there are more "breakthroughs" to accomplish while our planet "Earth" stands.

I agree with Freeman that it may be increasingly difficult to get our engineers to concentrate on "new" breakthroughs, especially with the present state of the world economy. However, "breakthroughs" can be defined in various perspectives around the world. For example, the proliferation of low cost generators (about $86 for a 650VA gen), typically made in China & Korea have significantly improved the ability of many families in Nigeria to secure a constant electricity power in a nation where power cuts are predominant. These "cheap" generators may not have passed "all" the design tests, but they can supply power for over 10 hours with just about a gallon of gasoline. This, I can tell is some form of a "breakthrough". Of course, the design of these equipment usually result from the re-engineering of already known products which are usually much more expensive and unaffordable. Hence there will not likely be a press release. But, surely, to the consumer who now have the opportunity of purchasing a product that in a few years back he/she would have considered a luxury, to that consumer, this is a "breakthrough".

As comsoc members in this 21st century, we cannot neglect our duty of securing and maintaining "Trust" when it comes to distinguishing between "hypes" and "breakthroughs".  Critisms are good but should not be done in such a manner that it becomes an impediment to the engineer who may have discovered some new technique but becomes shy to expose his work for fear of it being called a "hype". It takes layers of developments to establish a real "breakthrough".

I agree with Stu and Tony that establishing an online forum to investigate published "breakthroughs" is necessary. However, we should go further to also develop a collaborative forum that presents opportunities and challenges to engineers and scientists for converting ideas into "breakthroughs". An interesting example is the Innocentive marketplace by Innocentive Inc. (http://innocentive.com)

 

Daniel_B_Burch

Re: Debate: Are We Jeopardizing Our Most Important Long-Term Asset: Trust?

Sat, 03/28/2009 - 12:36 — Daniel_B_Burch

This is in response to the "hype" of technology; a concept boasting a rich history.  Having enjoyed a lengthy career in a world-class telephone company, we were constantly bombarded with the latest "new mousetrap".  While some showed great promise, I was annoyed at the number of creations that were not entirely useful or were years from successful deployment.

 

During an assignment in our company research laboratory in Waltham, MA, I became acquainted with the reasoning behind "hype" of technology, which can lead to significant advances in cost reduction, human wellness or quality of life. However, before you can hype it, you have to conceive and hopefully develop “it” (the technology or breakthrough). The essence of a research laboratory can be divided down to two main objectives: research to create, develop or improve technology aimed at a specific need; research to discover, create, develop or improve technology for the sake of stretching science and learning. 

 
What I discovered is that the former (aimed at specific need) requires the examination of many potential solutions. Even among scientists (where their training was “There is a process which will lead to a conclusion”), there was realization that one should not put all the eggs in one basket. Therefore, many competing projects strived for success and recognition. Of greater mystery is the concept of research to discover, create, develop or improve technology for the sake of stretching science and learning. To a layman, this is wasted energy; to a scientist, it is a reason for living.  
 
During a visit to the manufacturing facility of my favorite vendor, I was put in a room with their “Advanced Development Group”, where very excited, energetic young engineers proudly touted various inventions. At conclusion of each session, I was asked, “Can you see a need for this in your business?” Unfortunately, most of the replies were in the negative. These were very exciting, neat, cool items they were showing me, but for the life of me, I couldn’t imagine a single real-world application. Some of them were merely before their time; others never saw the light of day.
 
The preceding has set the stage for my comments on “hype” of technology. You see, in the real world, customers need a divining rod to find products or services that can improve the bottom line for their business. They are hit from all sides with new gadgets, management tools (software), test equipment. The reality is that most end-user companies today lack the depth to properly assess their own needs. Therefore, they rely heavily on manufacturers to help them determine what is needed to run their businesses.
 
The use of “hype” in the professional space (non-consumer) parallels with the intent of television advertisements to the broader community. One must convince the world that they need my product, or that “you will be the only one not doing this.” Over time, this has led to a general erosion of confidence (trust) between sellers and buyers. Like the old saw, “Burn me once, shame on you; burn me twice, shame on me”, the need for profits, success, recognition and market leadership is causing some to replace truthful marketing with wishful thinking.
 
For example, new, advanced packet timing/synchronization protocols are heavily touted today, yet some of these require a complete reengineering of existing networks, or complete replacements. This is but a single example of how technology gets hyped in the early stages of need. If, during my Telcom career, I had purchased all the items that were heavily “hyped”, the back room would be full of useless, failed strategies. Attend any major technology show and try to find three items that can greatly improve your business (that you can afford to implement).
 
I believe the erosion of trust in modern society can at least partially be attributed to the constant hype of nearly every product, service or procedure. Hype often produces a false hope, leading to denial and anger when the truth is discovered. Not all hype is deceptive, but most of it focuses so highly on the positives that no one realizes the down side. While I am really turned off by the required low-volume qualifiers that follow loud radio  and television advertisements, they are a really good “red flag” that what you just heard is mildly deceptive.   You’ve all heard them; advertise a new truck or car with no money down, even with bad credit, and then the low voice adds the exclusions. Same as television ad for a new drug where the low voice tells you that people can die from use or you could experience a litany of side effects. After hearing that, who would ever want to try the drug?
 
Maybe any item that is hyped should also be accompanied by one of those annoying low-volume warnings! Imagine this: “Buy this new gizmo, everybody’s doing it and you’ll be a hit at parties”, or “This product will save your business, make you lose 100 pounds or get completely out of debt!”, followed by a low voice advising, “subject to availability, some users may realize they have wasted their money, equal opportunity scammer.”
 
dB

Regards,

Daniel B. Burch

Doug Zuckerman

Re: Debate: Are We Jeopardizing Our Most Important Long-Term Asset: Trust?

Mon, 03/30/2009 - 11:51 — Doug Zuckerman

There's an old saying, "Buyer beware!"  And from the X-Files, "Trust no one!"  There are likely "true" breakthroughs that never see the day of light because the very smart people who came up with them were not very good at "selling" their breakthrough to potential funders or customers.  On the other extreme, there are lots of really bad ideas and products out there that are are immensely popular thanks to outstanding hype and packaging.   It isn't clear that ComSoc members can control this broader cultural issue, but they should of course be encouraged to individually stay within ethical bounds at least for their own work.  If ComSoc members can be positioned as those having the highest ethical values, then perhaps we can strengthen our most important asset of "trust."

rhampton

Re: Debate: Are We Jeopardizing Our Most Important Long-Term Asset: Trust?

Mon, 03/30/2009 - 14:56 — rhampton

Frankly, I'm getting a bit annoyed with the fields of "wireless" and RFID.  Both are being hyped by the marketing departments who wouldn't know a breakthrough if it fell on their heads.  Half the stuff doesn't make sense and the other half doesn't work as advertised.

For me, it's gotten to the point that when I have to evaluate a new technology, if I can't get past the marketing people to talk with the engineers, I do my dead-level best to bypass the stuff.  I have NO trust in marketing people at all.  I guess it's just come down to greed over honesty for most companies.

Jim Hayes

Re: Debate: Are We Jeopardizing Our Most Important Long-Term Asset: Trust?

Wed, 04/22/2009 - 21:33 — Jim Hayes

 Bravo, gentlemen, for taking on a very important subject. While the most obvious forum for "hype" has become the commercial trade press which has descended into pure advertorial, it seems that many who would call themselves "scientists" fail to understand the scientific process, or perhaps science itself. I partially blame our schools who seem today to no longer teach the basics I learned almost 50 years ago - the process of experimentation, metrology, etc.

But is there a solution? I wonder. Now the Internet has weakened the distinction of fact and fiction to such an extent - where does one go for facts?

 

Jim Hayes, President

The Fiber Optic Association, Inc.

http://www.thefoa.org

Lissa Coffey

Re: Debate: Are We Jeopardizing Our Most Important Long-Term Asset: Trust?

Tue, 10/15/2013 - 04:10 — Lissa Coffey

 I must commend COMSOC for this "Great Debate". there are more "breakthroughs" to accomplish

I agree that it may be increasingly difficult to get our engineers to concentrate on "new" breakthroughs, especially with the present state of the world economy.  to the consumer who now have the opportunity of purchasing a product that in a few years back he/she would have considered a luxury, to that consumer, this is a "breakthrough".we cannot neglect our duty of securing and maintaining "Trust" when it comes to distinguishing between "hypes" and "breakthroughs".  Critisms are good and It takes layers of developments to establish a real "breakthrough".

Thanks,

(http://www.dietkart.com/)

Post a reply