ITS Day keynote address celebrates technology, interconnectivity

By Kyle Wiggers

Technology is the means to any number of positive ends and therefore power. That’s what Linda Kenworthy, business development manager for Intel Americas, reiterated repeatedly at the Ohio University ITS Day, organized by the McClure School of Information and Telecommunication Systems, keynote address on Thursday, March 21.

Kenworthy, addressing a crowd of OU students and faculty as part of an all-day celebration of connected devices, spoke with alacrity and enthusiasm about the incredible experiences made possible by rapidly evolving microprocessor manufacturing processes, widespread internet usage and electronic gadget ubiquity. “With unprecedented levels of information (being generated) each day, (companies like) Intel want to create and extend computing technology to enrich the lives of every person on Earth,” she said.

Humanity is the linchpin for a world experiencing, as Kenworthy put it, “tectonic shifts” in the technology sector. She maintained that recent advances like “big data” (the collection of personal information on a massive scale) and “cloud computing” (a huge number of servers working in tandem to propagate information) culminate in “us.” We are all participants in a democratic marketplace, Kenworthy suggested, where what we want is first and foremost. She asked, “Wouldn’t it be great if your favorite store knew you well enough to send you an e-mail about a sale you cared about?”

The health care industry could benefit from such capability, too, Kenworthy said. Caretakers could outfit newborn babies with RFID (wireless tracking) tags, so they could know if and when the babies leave the nursery. “That’s the kind of thing (we) can accomplish now,” she said.

Kenworthy is a big believer in augmenting the way people work and play for the better. She told of a personal tragedy that could’ve been prevented by technology. “A lot of people ask me why I decided to join (a company like) Intel,” she said. “The day my (diabetic) father was released from physician care, he went to use a restroom in the hospital. No one knew where he was, so he missed an insulin shot. He ended up collapsing.” Orderlies searched in vain for nearly fifteen minutes. During that time, her father suffered a massive heart attack, and died. “If he’d been wearing an RFID (wireless identification) tag, I can’t know what might have happened, but he probably would’ve been found in less than fifteen minutes,” Kenworthy said. Convergence and connection has the potential to save lives, she maintained.

What’s possible going forward? Kenworthy noted that Moore’s Law – a theory by Intel founder Thomas Moore that the number of transistors in microprocessors would double every year – no longer applies. The sky is the limit, she says. “Twenty years from now, we’ll have technology that’ll learn from us and allow us to do things we haven’t even thought of yet.”

For now, though, Kenworthy responds to the impatient with a quote from a famous physicist. “Albert Einstein said, ‘The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once,’” she said. “Thank goodness for that.”

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