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Knowing how to use 'smart' devices is about as good as being, like, smart
by Dan Brawner Columnist · January 18th, 2018


Recently, when President Trump tweeted that he was "like, really smart" and a "very stable genius" I began to wonder if that might be sort of true.

Note that Mr. Trump did not say he was actually smart. He carefully said he was "like" really smart - as in, similar to being smart. But what could that mean?

If we know anything about Trump, we know that he is a very plugged-in person. He is savvy about trends in the television business. He is master of the Tweet and is proficient with his cell phone. So maybe, having embraced the newest innovations in consumer electronics, the president gets his smarts from smart devices.

The so-called "Internet of Things" has been around for a while, but it is now getting really impressive. Today's smart home devices that learn your schedule, as well as your temperature and lighting preferences, make the old programmable thermostats look archaic. The Netatmo smart security camera sells for $200, and if it sees somebody it doesn't recognize, it will report it to your smartphone.

Tired of vacuuming? For between $375 and $1,000, you can buy a robotic vacuum that cleans your floor while you are doing something more spiritually fulfilling, or at least more fun. The Robomow goes for $1,800 and mows your lawn for you. Unlike many of us, it knows enough to not mow in the rain and if anyone tries to steal it, the clever contraption squeals loudly until it is put back down.

There are smart refrigerators that know when you're running out of milk and order more. They can even scan your TV dinner and send directions to your smart microwave that will then cook it for you.

There are self-driving cars, GPS systems that know every street in the world, window shades that go up or down according to the sun, computer apps that can translate any language or type out a perfect transcription when you speak into the microphone. And if you think you are smarter than a machine, get an Amazon Echo. Ask "Alexa" anything from the height of Mount Everest to the score of last night's Lakers game and she'll tell you in a flash. Even if Alexa is smarter than you are, having her nearby to do your brainwork kind of makes you, like, smarter yourself.

During World War II, the Chicago Tribune accused Henry Ford of being an "ignorant pacifist," prompting the automobile magnate to sue the paper for libel. Ford was placed on the witness stand and asked a number of questions to test his knowledge. "How many soldiers did the British send over to America to put down the Rebellion of 1776?" "I do not know the exact number of soldiers the British sent over," Ford replied, "but I have heard that it was a considerably larger number than ever went back."

Finally, fed up with the questions, Ford told the lawyer, "...let me remind you that I have a row of electric push-buttons on my desk, and by pushing the right button, I can summon to my aid men who can answer any question I desire to ask."

He concluded: "Now, will you kindly tell me why I should clutter up my mind with general knowledge...when I have men around me who can supply any knowledge I require?"
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