Giving Thanks...

A message from: Evan Leonard, President, CHIPS Technology Group

Steve Jobs once said: “Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them.” To condense this down, in my view this means that technology is a tool and not the problem nor the solution. Like an instrument – it has no meaning without the artist who creates the music. It can be used for better or for worse.

The terrorist attacks that occurred in Paris on Friday the 13th of November are truly heartbreaking. Young adults simply enjoying their evening, were literally shot down in the prime of their lives. As these events unfolded live over the air, my heart sank into my stomach and my thoughts and prayers immediately went out to all those affected by this tragedy. I then thought about my wife, my kids, my friends, employees and all those I see on a daily basis – and how my life and those around me can drastically change all in an instant. It is blatantly apparent we live in a different time.

We invest so much money and time into security – yet turn on any news station and you’ll hear that these terrorists were not on any government watch list. Experts say their main form of communication is through encrypted messages or services offered through the dark web – neither of which the executive powers of western civilization have mastered. The U.S. Government and other governments around the world don’t have unrestricted backdoor access to companies like Apple or Verizon. It’s disturbing to know that the perpetrators of these horrendous acts are communicating through the same mediums that I use to call my kids, or check on my fantasy football team.

As disturbing as it is that people use technology to commit acts of terror, it was so inspiring to see people use technology to come together and offer support in ways that were previously unheard of. For instance, during the Paris attacks Facebook’s “Marked Safe” feature tapped into users’ GPS location features to determine if they were near the attack and allowed them to alert their friends that they were safe. Google also offered free international calling via VoIP through their Hangouts application – enabling loved ones across the globe to easily get in touch. AirBnB is another company that used technology for a good cause. They contacted all of their hosts in France to see who could offer shelter to those in need. Twitter kept the world informed throughout the entire attack – acting like a free global news source.

So Thanksgiving is right around the corner. It’s the time to give thanks for all we appreciate in our life and send prayers to those in need. It’s easy to ramble off a list of things you appreciate – but it’s harder to look your loved ones in the eyes and realize that a simple trip to a restaurant could mean the difference of never seeing them again. Like I said earlier, it is blatantly apparent that we live in a different time – and so this Thanksgiving – pray for the families of those who have lost their loved ones and let the people in your life know just how much you appreciate them. Happy Thanksgiving.