As a person trying to navigate 184,000 people at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show, I'm trying hard to separate the BS from the thought leadership. The BS from the TS, if you will.

I've come to believe that there's huge value to attending CES, which is taking place in Las Vegas this week. It's important to learn about the trends of our future and how people react to those trends.

As much as I want to have a flying car that does my taxes and laundry and makes the perfect martini, that's obviously BS. However, the timeline discussions on self-driving cars--and how they'll impact our future work--is important TS.

I heard this sentence today: "VR and MR were two years ago, and AR was last year, so we're focused this year on XR: extended reality." My brain started to explode. Have you heard enough acronyms yet?

That's why I feel it's my job today to be your guide between the TS and BS of CES. Let's get started.

The Future of Transportation

This is, by far, the biggest topic at CES. It's been brought up in almost every session I've seen so far.

The big debate here isn't the what. It's the when. There's a lot of fear around autonomous vehicles creating significant job loss. However, experts here from companies like Platform Science, Lear Corporation, and Allstate Insurance are saying that you could be driven to work by your robot car within the next 20 years.

Long-distance carpool technologies like Scoop and Chariot aren't sexy, but they're the most real solutions we have so far. Hyundai's four-legged walking car is a little ridiculous. Harley-Davidson's new electric motorcycle is sick and already on the road.

The hype is real. It's not BS.

A.I. Eliminating Bias

There was a whole track at CES on Monday dedicated to artificial intelligence and its implications for our future. I have a personal stake in that conversation: My company, HelloAlice.com, uses A.I. to find resources for business owners who are women and people of color. Obviously, I feel that A.I. can help us eliminate bias.

However, while moderating a panel, I was reminded that if the people creating and informing the A.I.s have biases, we're still in the land of BS, not TS. During my panel, I saw a white male throw his robust finger in the face of his fellow panelist, a black woman, to disagree with her on this topic multiple times. It was a disagreement worth exploring, but the way he argued it was incredibly disrespectful.

Later, I encouraged him to think of better ways to engage with his fellow panelists. I reminded him that his behavior onstage made the whole audience feel uncomfortable. There are already too few women of color in this field. We therefore need to encourage more experts to not only come to the table but feel welcome in their seats. 

He's not biased against women or people of color, he said, and I believe him. He also pointed at his knees and said, and I'm paraphrasing here, "This is the level I give a crap about being focused on bias." Once again, my head nearly exploded.

As long as people refuse to acknowledge their biases--intentional or unintentional--this topic will be full of BS, not TS.

The Use of Technology in Business Efficiency

The concept of how technology will impact our workforce came up a lot on Monday. Speed and efficiency were the focuses versus new shiny objects.

Verizon is expected to make a big 5G-related announcement. PCs are getting faster. The internet of things is prompting new ideas for workplace efficiency. That all seems more important to me than a fancy new machine that might someday fold your laundry for you.

I'm always looking for anything to save me time and money in my day-to-day routines. I suspect you are too. As I heard Dr. Lisa Su, CEO of AMD, say on Monday, "While the gadgets are cool, remember data centers and high-performance computing are what is going to save the world."

One example at CES has particularly jumped out at me so far: Wiser Systems' IoT asset tracker. Haven't heard of it? It involves real-time 3-D asset tracking capabilities and a mobile user interface that the company says "will provide instantaneous asset visibility and movement history on a facility map or interior floor plan." Not exciting to you? Ask anyone who runs a factory. This is TS.

If you own or run a business, you must use technology wisely. You have to choose the right hardware, software, and services to fit your needs--something we've spent time researching at my company. Just remember, there will always be humans in between these technologies. You have to be the judge of whether they're providing BS or TS.

Published on: Jan 8, 2019