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TECH TALK: Layering tools

Smartphones, with their advanced capabilities and high cost, are not just a present-day phenomenon. They are poised to play a significant role in the future.

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Editor’s note: Besides following developments in tech, our author is also a musical composer (Juilliard-trained), He has provided a musical composition for you to listen to while reading this column. This piece is called “Piano Bass Duo.”

 

In today’s world, we rely on an array of tools to get our jobs done — from physical devices like screwdrivers and hammers to digital tools like software and hardware combinations. However, the most powerful tool we have invented thus far seems to be the cell phone. Our phones seamlessly connect to our computers, cars, and nearly any other network-enabled device around us. We even use it to take us to platforms like YouTube where we watch instructional videos to learn how to operate our physical tools.

If we were to construct a modern-day toolkit, the cell phone would undoubtedly be the foundation. More people access the internet through their phones than through computers. For companies like Apple, the greatest share of the revenue comes from the iPhone, surpassing tablets, computers, and software sales. If asked, Gen Z, Gen X, and Millennials would unanimously choose their phone over their car as the more critical possession. In fact, many individuals in these generations do not get a driver’s license until well into their 30s, if at all.

The phone has become our eyes and ears, equipped with built-in microphones and cameras. It functions as a navigation aid with GPS capabilities. It can control our thermostats and lights and even communicate with our refrigerators. It’s astounding how a device that didn’t exist 20 years ago now dominates our lives. Even those who initially resisted smartphones and stuck to flip phones or landlines have been either seduced or persuaded into not only purchasing a smartphone but, in many cases, spending over $1,000 for it.

This image was created by Howard Lieberman with the assistance of DALL-E-2, an AI software program.

Smartphones, with their advanced capabilities and high cost, are not just a present-day phenomenon. They are poised to play a significant role in the future. They are set to run portions of large language models, breaking down requests and delegating tasks to multiple artificial intelligence platforms. The next generation of smartphones will even house neural network chips, turning them into traffic managers and dispatchers. This potential of smartphones is a testament to their importance and relevance in the ever-evolving world of technology. The smartphone serves as the metaphorical foundation for all our tools.

Given that all other connected devices rely on your smartphone to some extent, it’s crucial to make a thoughtful choice when selecting one. Consider the type of phone that best suits your needs and the tasks you intend to perform with it. This will ensure that you make the most of your smartphone and stay ahead in the fast-paced world of technology.

Instead of having your decision about a phone be driven chiefly by advertising and hearsay, it makes sense for you to sit down and write a specification for this most potent piece of technology that you will own. Some of the questions you need to ask yourself are: Which one fits into the ecosystem of other tools that I use? Which company respects my time the most so that I don’t have to spend too much energy upgrading and updating? Which companies seem to have a handle on artificial intelligence? Which companies make devices that last for a long time because these are very expensive. That means how long do they support any given device? Do you care about camera lenses? Do you care about the ability to shoot movies? Do you care more about pictures and movies than you care about most of the other functions of your phone? Do you want to talk to your thermostat? I know that all the phone manufacturers, and all of the phones, claim they do everything. But they don’t do everything equally well, and they don’t do everything equally efficiently, and they don’t do everything for a long enough time before they become obsolete.

This image was created by Howard Lieberman with the assistance of DALL-E-2, an AI software program.

If you were going to build a house before you put down a foundation, you might want to know whether you expect to have a two or three-story house and just how big it will be. Is there going to be an attached garage, and will you have a basement? When people build a house for the first time, they tend to leave a lot of things out. And when people buy a home for the first time, they also tend to forget some things that they’ll wish they had later. I can’t recommend what kind of phone you need and which features are the most convenient for you, but I can recommend that you take some stock and inventory of what phones you have had and what features you think you need and take a good look at what the options are because they’re becoming extremely costly to replace.

Remember, your tools are layered and depend upon each other and, currently, there is one tool that rules them all—the smartphone.

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