Tuesday, April 4, 2017

This is the Information Age?

            Infrequently, I take stock of my relationship with technology and marvel at both improvements and declines.  Yes, many transactions are faster, better, smarter, cheaper and more convenient.  Alas, others coarsen society, convert people in to algorithmic decision points and remove joyful human interaction.

            Today I marvel at instances where the status quo has persisted, despite ample opportunities for technological improvements.  Consider these examples:

1)         Much of the medical ecosystem still communicates via facsimile.  In preparation for a total hip replacement, I have to undergo a number of tests.  The exchange of test results from lab to doctor using a 1960s analog technology that combines a scanner with a modem operating at a snail’s pace often at 14,400 bits per second.  Care to estimate the lost productivity in having to send and receive faxes?  This week I had to devote considerable time in confirming a diagnostic code change for a blood test.  Two faxes ordering the change never made it to the appropriate processor.

2)         It still takes 4-6 weeks for a magazine subscription to renew if you opt to use a venture offering a lower price who has no direct affiliation with the publisher.  Perhaps they too communicate by weekly faxes.

3)         The IRS still communicates primarily in person and by mail.  Perhaps this tactic prevent some fraud as many have received fake robocalls and emails from scammers posing as IRS agents.  Ok, I get that, but why can’t I send necessary evidence to the IRS as a pdf file instead of—you guessed it—sending a lengthy and time consuming fax?

4)         My Comcast set top box must remain on 24/7 even though my wife and I watch television for less than 2 hrs a day.  For more than 5 years, I have had recurring set top box issues.  I solved the issue (not a technician or the dozens of clueless customer service reps) by inferring that the box missed some type of polling call from the headend.  Rather than resend the poll, to re-authenticate my box, Comcast treated my box as offline or worse.  My solution uses more electricity, because I no longer can turn the box off—Ever.

            I’ll stop now . . .