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Eugene Hallinan, San Clemente

Normally I’m nonplussed with the content of Jim Kempton, a guest opinion writer for the San Clemente Times. (Sorry, dude.) However, his column, “Have Loners Disappeared from the World of Social Media?” in the paper’s Feb. 23-March 1 edition, is simply awesome. A grand slam in the last inning of the World Series, an overtime bicycle kick goal to win the Word Cup—it was brilliant.
We have children, and often they cannot pull themselves away from such highly addictive electronic mediums. Whether it is Google, Facebook, Apple’s Siri, Amazon, etc., each of these entities are amazing in that they have contributed on a positive note to such things as reducing crime (think global system for mobile tracking) and creating more awareness and connectedness among people. On a not-so-positive note is what Jim alludes to: the devices are also isolating, impersonal (it is actually an electronic medium, not a human), and at the end of the day, they are machines.
What people may not realize is two of these entities listed, Google and Facebook, create approximately 95 percent or more of their revenue solely from advertising, and these revenues are simply huge. For example, the combined revenue for Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon is approximately $470 billion and bigger than most countries’ gross domestic product (GDP). If these four companies’ combined revenue represented a country’s GDP, they would be tied for No. 24 on the list—same GDP as Belgium!
And to show you how recently this change has occurred, when our first child was born in 2004, these companies combined revenue was $18 billion.
With the dawning of artificial intelligence, we will see a dramatic increase of technology in our lives in the next 10-20 years. These are tectonic shifts in our society. Just Google search—yes, I understand the irony—#FutureTechnology and the results will show “Singapore smart cities self-driving taxis” and “Amazon Kiva robots.”
In summary, it is astounding. This is the reality of today. But will it solve all of humanity’s problems? No. Can we live without them today? Yes. Tomorrow? Maybe.
Let your kids experience technology, but not be owned by it. The massive creativity around and in technology is addressing some very unique challenges in society and life. However, it will never replace a walk on the beach, holding hands with a loved one or watching your kid play chess or build Legos.

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