Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Lure of the Lifestyle

Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Money often costs too much.” 

Our society boosts people into thinking that wealth accumulates and extrapolates endlessly. Borrowing is based on that misconception. Don't pay cash, when you can borrow and the interest is tax-deductible.

When buying a car, many consider only the lease payments, not the price. If you can make the monthly payments, why not buy a boat? Then, monthly payments on the house, the car, the boat (and other accumulated possessions) become part of your fixed commitments that you must earn.

In reality, most assets depreciate, while expenses and liabilities (including interest) mount mercilessly. Many ambitious people go bust quickly because they don't seem to understand these simple truths. They simply succumb to the lure of the lifestyle.

Wealthy Wannabes

There are those who believe that they can get rich if they want it bad enough. (1) They think that’s life is all about living in a big house with rooms you never go in; it’s about buying expensive cars; it’s about spending ten thousand dollars for a Rolex wristwatch – so that others will see it and wish they had one.

I know one guy who lives in a relatively humble, rented apartment but has a luxury car and spends $25,000 a year to play at a tennis club. When I suggested that he could play tennis in any one of several no-cost local venues, he insisted, "You have to live the lifestyle to meet the right people. My friends all see my car, but no one knows where I live!" (2) (3)

I know another lifestyle junkie, a regular ballet buff and operagoer. I asked whether he really liked ballet and opera and his response was, “Not really, but the rich go there and I like to mingle with them”.

The same guy had another expensive habit: valet parking. When the valet service is free, he still tips the valet ten dollars. It’s the same wealthy-wannabe predisposition. On one occasion when we met for lunch, the parking lot was largely empty, so I parked right next to the front door; my friend drove up and grandly handed his keys to the valet. After lunch, we came out together and I drove off right away while my friend waited impatiently for the valet, who was nowhere to be seen.

Big Hat – No Cattle

Now, I don't feel particularly miserly, but I really don't understand the rationale of the luxury lifestyle. In fact, I remember the remark of a guy who ignored the champagne at a fancy reception and asked for a beer. "Hey!" he said, "I'm rich enough to drink what I want, not what looks good."

These days, when I see somebody posturing beyond their means, I remember a Texas cattleman's wisecrack: "Big hat, no cattle!"  This was the name of a song by Randy Newman. (4)

Pursuit of Wealth

Many who are pursuing wealth seem to me to be trapped in a life that's somewhat unfulfilling, because they've traded doing what they'd really love to do for the lure of the lifestyle. (5)

In western cultures today, happiness is conceived in monetary terms; aspiration to wealth is confused with achieving happiness. The more money gained, the more material objects acquired, the closer one is to reaching this most enviable of goals. Ironically, materialistically pursuing happiness is a goal that can never be achieved.

The TV program called WealthTV (the name has now changed to AWE – A Wealth of Entertainment) tries to make advertisers believe that primarily wealthy people watch their programs. (6) They promote the idea that their viewers are highly educated people who make over “$100,000 dollars a year have a high household value and are high spenders with elite buying power.” They claim that their typical viewer is “50% more likely to be affluent empty nesters than the average.”

Money ≠ Happiness

Everyone knows the saying, "Money can't buy happiness.” Psychological research demonstrates that when people organize their lives around the pursuit of wealth, their happiness can actually decrease.

One common finding of many "happiness" studies is that money itself (income, consumption, wealth) is only one component in measuring overall well being. (7) After reaching a threshold where basic needs are met, material factors diminish in their ability to deliver individual and collective happiness.

Psychological research shows that individuals who say that goals for money, image, and popularity are relatively important to them also report less satisfaction in life, fewer experiences of pleasant emotions, and more depression and anxiety. Similar results have been demonstrated for a variety of age groups and people around the world. In addition to problems with personal happiness, research suggests that striving for affluence also hurts social relationships and promotes ecologically destructive behavior. (8)

Resetting Priorities

What has the pursuit of money cost you lately? Your daughter’s birthday party? Your son’s ball game on weekend? Missed wedding anniversary? It’s much easier to be rich monetarily than have a rich family life. We know which is far more important, but that is often sidetracked in the pursuit of wealth. (9) (10)

Working towards endless pay increases and promotions ties a person to keeping a job they don’t really enjoy. For many, losing a job can be the best thing that every happened. It forces people to reset their priorities. It's the catalyst needed to re-focus on the important things in life - health, personal relationships, growth and contributing to others in meaningful ways. (11)

If money is costing you and your family too much, consider cutting back on luxuries or even finding a new job or field of employment. Give your family what money can never buy – treasured time with you. Which reminds me of the lyrics of Harry Chapin’s song, “Cat’s in the Cradle”. (12)

Measuring Personal Success

In our society, it doesn't even seem to matter how people acquire their wealth. As long as they've got it, they are perceived as being "successful."

Sometimes we take other accomplishments into consideration. But success only seems to be credited to those who have generated wealth. It’s odd that achievements, no matter how great, tend not to be noticed when financial gains are not attached.

We know the answer. It's not money.(13) We should start changing the definition of success and start adding new measurements to determine how being successful can also mean being happy at the same time, without measuring wealth. This could change our whole sensibility surrounding work and life.


The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, said:
“Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money.
Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health.
And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present;
the result being that he does not live in the present or the future;
he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”


  1. The Wrath of the Millionaire Wannabe’s:
  2. How to Look and Smell Wealthy:
  3. Harnessing the Power of Wealth Envy:
  4. Big Hat – No Cattle – song by Randy Newman:
  5. The Pursuit of Wealth:
  6. Do wealthy people actually watch Wealth TV?
  7. The Pursuit of Happiness – Or the Quest for Wealth:
  8. Life, Money, and the Pursuit of Happiness:
  9. Resetting Priorities:
  10. Family life sacrificed to the pursuit of wealth:
  11. Losing Your Job Might Be The Best Thing:
  12. Harry Chapin song – Cat’s in the Cradle:
  13. Measuring personal success: 
Jim Pinto
Carlsbad, California, USA
29 January 2015

Monday, January 12, 2015

2015 Pinto Prognostications

Steve Jobs often quoted ice-hockey player Wayne Gretzky: 
“I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”


The world is in the middle of the second decade of the new century. In the midst of accelerating technology changes, fragile financial failures and precarious political problems almost everywhere in the world, new societies are emerging – new demographics, institutions, ideologies and problems.

Things are rapidly becoming quite different from what most people expect. Everywhere new societies are emerging – new demographics, institutions, ideologies and problems. Things are rapidly becoming quite different from what most people expect.

I’ll outline the things that are expected to happen in the near-term. Over the next decade, much will change; what we can do is extrapolate the technology trends.

Automation Industry Trends

Automation growth is occurring primarily in international markets where new factories and plants are being built. Several growth opportunities are emerging. The new automation leaders will be those who can demonstrate that their products and services can yield significant productivity improvements, and navigate the complexities of global markets. New inflection points will change the leadership lineup.

With roots in the automation business, here are my perspectives on automation technology trends (1) (2).

·      Internet of Things (IoT):  The Industrial Internet will transform the next decade. Intelligent sensors and networks will take measurement and control to the next level, dramatically improving productivity and efficiencies in production. Growth in 2015 will be bottom-up, not top-down.
·      Smaller, Cheaper Sensors: Everyone is looking for or working on smaller, cheaper sensors for widespread use in IoT. Expect fast growth for sensors this year.
·      Cloud Computing: Cloud computing technology reduces capital expenditures and IT labor costs by transferring responsibility to cloud computing providers, allowing secure and fast access for data-driven decisions. The significant gains in efficiency, cost and capability will generate continuing rapid growth in 2015.
·      3D Printing in Manufacturing: Today, do-it-yourself manufacturing is possible without tooling, large assembly lines or multiple supply chains. 3D printing is reshaping product development and manufacturing.
·      Mobile Devices in Automation: The use of WiFi-connected tablets, smartphones and mobile devices is spreading quickly. Handheld devices reduce costs, improve operating efficiency, boost productivity and increases throughput. More and more employers are allowing BYOD (bring your own device).
·      Robotics: Millions of small and medium-sized businesses that will benefit from
cheaper robots that can economically produce a wide variety of products in small numbers. The next generation of robots will be cheaper and easier to set up, and will work with people rather than replace them.

·      Control Systems Security: In spite of apprehensions over consumer security breach events, industrial cyber security has mostly been ignored due to lack of understanding of solution costs. Many companies struggle to justify what is seen as added cost to secure their operation. Major security breaches will change this attitude.

Business Technology Trends

Gartner’s top trends for 2015 (3) cover three themes: the merging of the real and virtual worlds, the advent of intelligence everywhere, and the technology impact of the digital business shift. There is a high potential for disruption to the business with the need for a major investment, or the risk of being late to adopt.

Here are the top Gartner trends:

·      Computing Everywhere: As mobile devices continue to proliferate, there will be increased emphasis on the needs of the mobile users. Increasingly, the overall environment will need to adapt to the requirements of the mobile user
·      3D Printing: Worldwide shipments of 3D printers are expected to grow 98 percent in 2015, followed by a doubling of unit shipments in 2016, reaching a tipping point over the next three years.  
·      Advanced, Pervasive and Invisible Analytics: The volume of data generated by embedded systems generates vast pools of structured and unstructured data inside and outside the enterprise. Organizations need to deliver exactly the right information to the right person, at the right time, so analytics will become deeply, but invisibly embedded everywhere.
·      Smart Machines: Advanced algorithms will allow systems to understand their environment, learn for themselves, and act autonomously.
·      Cloud Computing: The convergence of cloud and mobile computing will continue to promote the growth of centrally coordinated applications that can be delivered to any device. Applications will evolve to support simultaneous use of multiple devices.
·      Risk-Based Security and Self-Protection: All roads to the digital future lead through security. Organizations will increasingly recognize that it is not possible to provide a 100 percent secured environment. They will apply more-sophisticated risk assessment and mitigation tools. Every app needs to be self-aware and self-protecting.

2015 Consumer Electronics Show

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is the shiniest, gaudiest, most over-the-top technology show (4) (5) (6). The last few years have been big on glitz and thin on substance. But at CES 2015this year, there were companies with real products solving problems worth tackling. Some exhibits were crowd-funded projects. Here are four standouts.
·      Wearable Devices: The time is right for wearable devices. CES 2015 featured the expected health trackers, fitness bands and smart-watches. Smart hearing aids use Bluetooth to connect to smartphones and tablets; hands-free temperature monitors for babies.
·      Practical green tech: Many solutions to get more energy efficient with gadgets. Pocket-sized 90-minutes solar phone charger; iPhone case with solar charger built-in.
·      Sustainability and transportation: Tesla Model X all-electric SUV with the doors that open like a Delorean. Electric-assisted bike technology; electric scooter with swappable batteries and dashboard analytics.
·      Kid-Tech: Apps to help teach children science, math, and tech. Fun little robots that teach kids computer programming concepts. Drawing, design, and color patterns to help kids learn about robotics and computer programming.

Finance, Politics & Religion

There’s nothing I can write on these subjects that hasn’t been covered by gurus everywhere. I won’t forecast whether Hillary will run, and whether Jeb Bush or Mitt Romney will run against her. Others handle my own financial investments. So, I won’t venture into arenas where your guess is as good as mine.

Future Prognostications 2015-2025

Here are ten prognostications for the next decade, picked from the World Future Society (7) forecasts, plus other readings and discussions with Futurists. These are intended to illustrate how different the world will be for my grandkids (who will still be teenagers). They will grow up being used to the world being this way and will shape the future.

  • Education: A major shift to on-line education and certification is already happening, and will continue steadily. (8) (9)
  • Jobs: Advances in artificial intelligence will eliminate human workers. Two billion jobs will be jettisoned by 2030, replaced by jobs that are still developing. (10) (11) There will be big opportunities for technical specialization, as well as more varied cultural opportunities – music, art, and novels, for instance.
  • Robot Work Force: Machines can automate production economically so marginal laborers will be laid off. The technological boom in robots and intelligent computer systems will proliferate to the detriment of human labor. 
  • Middle Class Impasse: The middle class is accumulating debt and delaying retirement. Young people cannot find work, so live with their parents. With income stagnating, consumption must fall, which will cause empty shipping malls. (12) 
  • Driverless cars: As automated vehicles increasingly replace human-driven ones, the numbers of deaths and catastrophic injuries will drastically decline, along with lawsuits and the need to insure humans and vehicles against drunk or sleeping drivers, road rage, and other problems. (13)
  • Speak to Computers: Word-meaning models, logic algorithms, and grammar and syntax analysis will accurately predict the meanings of sentences 85% of the time. Tomorrow’s computers will know what people are saying and will be able to tell when someone is lying. They’ll take over many jobs; more creative and useful human occupations must be generated.
  • Robotic Augmentation: Robotic exoskeletons will allow wearers to move their arms, legs, and torsos, with mechanical amplification in every motion. Some designers envision senior citizens in civilian life using exoskeletons, to stay mobile even as their bodies lose strength and vitality.
  • Health & Well-being: Future medicine will rely on an array of sensors collecting and reporting on body status. Digestible sensors will store and transmit body data. Sensors embedded in teeth will recognize when people eat, drink, cough, or smoke. Sensors under the skin will constantly measure vital signs and produce alerts when something is wrong. (14)
  • Brain scanning will replace jurors: Increasingly sophisticated neuro-technologies will enable the legal system to spot when suspects, witnesses, and police are telling the truth or lying. As functional MRIs become more widespread, courtrooms will allow brain-wave detection.
  • Energy: Futurist Ray Kurzweil notes that solar power has been doubling every two years for the past 30 years while costs have been dropping. He says solar energy is only six doublings (less than 14 years) away from meeting 100 % percent of energy needs. (15) (16)
Millennial Optimism

In America today, eighty million “millennials” (people who are eighteen to thirty years old today) are coming of age and emerging as leaders. They have begun their careers amidst a recession that has seen record youth unemployment levels, yet they remain optimistic about their future. (17)

By 2020, this largest generation in US history will represent one out of every three adults in the country. They are more ethnically and racially diverse than their elders, they are the first generation to come of age in a truly global world, and the first to come of age in the new digital era.

Humans have a way of adapting to thrive. I am optimistic about the future!

The future's arrived
Nobody can doubt
The future is what everything's about
It's better for you and its better for me
It's better than what everybody thought it would be

The future has arrived
The future has arrived today

The future's alive
Alive as can be
Just open your eyes it's as plain to see
Just don't be afraid
Just keep going on
One step at a time and you can't go wrong

Song, The Future Has Arrived, from Disney's Meet the Robinsons,
composed by Danny Elfman, sung by The All American Rejects.


  1. Manufacturing Automation 2015 Trends:
  2. Pinto Automation Technology Futures:
  3. Gartner - Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2015:
  4. Best of CES 2015: Products tackling real world problems:
  5. Digital Trends Top Tech of CES 2015 - award winners:
  6. IOT and wearables to be in top 10 tech trends in 2015:
  7. World Future Society: Outlook 2015:
  8. Why Free Online Classes Are the Future of Education:
  9. Video Games Are the Future of Education:
  10. Economist - The future of jobs - The onrushing wave:
  11. We’re heading into a jobless future:
  12. America's Disappearing Middle Class:
  13. Driverless car market watch:
  14. Future When Doctor's Office Is In Your Home:   
  15. Future of Energy:
  16. Economist - A survey of The future of energy:
  17. How the Millennial Generation Is Shaping our World:

Jim Pinto
Technology Futurist
Carlsbad, California, USA
Tel: 1-858-353-5467
12 January 2015