Changes are here — ready or not

Published 6:01 am Saturday, March 17, 2018

Do you skip the business section of your Sunday newspaper? Do you ask yourself, Who cares about those tidbits of who was promoted to what in which company?

And then there are those boring analyses of the markets —

As I conducted my obligatory reading of this past Sunday’s business section, my eyes got a little wider — fascinating. I knew about most of the innovations, but I’m not certain some Americans do.

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For example, I do 90 percent of all my shopping except for groceries online. When I hear about a book I want to read, I go straight to Amazon. When I fancy a new dress, I know all the sites with plus- size dresses. When grandchildren need a toy or a stroller or whatever, I check it out online and in two or three days, it’s delivered to my door or to their parents’ door.

A few times a year I need to return a piece of clothing that’s the wrong size, but look at all the time I’ve saved for important activities: writing, reading, teaching.

I go through the drive-through to pick up prescriptions. When my extended family is here, they go my computer, explore the menus for area restaurants, call in orders and pick up the food in 20 or 30 minutes with all getting what they ordered and no clean up afterwards.

I’m ready to use this process to order my groceries. I’ve bypassed checking myself out at the grocery store. When I go, I want someone else to scan and bag my groceries.

On Sunday my husband said, “Soon they’ll have self-driving trucks.” My response, “They have them already — cars, too.”

He’s concerned about a host of folks losing their jobs. And my response is, “Change. We can’t stop it.”

Have you been to an airport in the past few years and seen the scarcity of workers? It’s self-serve and checking in before you even get to the airport.

And if you are one who still enjoys the big screen experience, you can buy your movie tickets online. You still will need to wait in line, however, to buy those overpriced snacks.

According to my Sunday newspapers (I now get the New York Times delivered to my door — I’m old-fashioned that way. Love the feel of paper and just read daily updates online), Walmart now has robots stocking shelves. And for those who still find grocery shopping exciting, there is an application for phones which allows shoppers to scan items when they place them in their carts and remove the items if they change their minds and return them to the shelves.

Flying taxis are planned for the next few years with artificial intelligence navigating them.

Already we have those personal assistants, Amazon Echo, Google Home and Alexa-enabled Sonos One, Apple HomePod.

Back in the 1980s when I was academic dean at Southeast Kentucky Community College, I set up the first computer lab at the college- with Radio Shack computers. We were baffled but eager to learn. Professor Lige Buell conducted a workshop for administrators and faculty.

I recall being interviewed by the local press with the following question, “Where is all this going?” My response had to do with health care, diagnosing illnesses, communicating with experts who had successfully treated illnesses.

At the time, I had no idea of the ways in which technology would impact every single aspect of our lives in large ways and small: Facebook which allows me to see videos of my great granddaughter Parker in Florida as she masters the tasks that toddlers embrace, Blackboard Ultra which permits me to teach courses to telecommunication employees from all over the country in real time, a home computer that gives me access to family members and to all those in my past lives as my work in colleges has taken me from coast to coast.

Finally, I just learned that on March 11, at the SXSW conference in Austin, Texas, Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and TSLA Inc, has soon-to -be-realized plans for a trip to Mars: “We are building the first Mars, or interplanetary ship, and I think we’ll be able to do short trips, short up and down flights, by first half of next year.”

Is Musk too optimistic? Is he a dreamer? Perhaps he’s a fool? Musk is no fool, and trips to Mars will happen soon. You can bet on it.

Contact Dr. Vivian Blevins at