Obi-Wan Kenobi’s legendary line from the original Star Wars: A New Hope, thwarted the probing questions of the stormtroopers looking for R2-D2 and C-3PO, and captured the hearts and souls of fans across the galaxy. The art of persuasion through the redirection of thought and energy can sway most minds that are not sealed against it. In these times where science-fiction is a part of our everyday lives, it can be easy to lose sight of just how easily we can be redirected by programming, marketing, and artificial intelligence. We are constantly being mined for data so we can be groomed as better customers.
Perhaps it is time to don the Jedi robe, disappear, and slip under the watchful eyes of the AI miners, or perhaps it is better to understand that the nature of the world and how we interact with it is changing. I believe that the clear solution is to dovetail the rise of tech with science as a way to augment the human experience, but not be defined or controlled by it.
As an ecologist, I have been able to duck past the rise of tech for many years more than most professions due to the lack of tools being made available to environmental scientists – other than perhaps geospatial data and mapping. I have, however, found myself frequently in the field wishing I had an R2-unit to store data, perform calculations, and communicate with spaceships in orbit over the planet I was exploring.
With the advent of smartphones and the explosion of fieldwork driven by the oil and gas industry in the Midwest and Southwest in the early part of this decade, it was brought to my awareness that I already did perhaps have the equivalent of an R2 unit: my smartphone. The iPhone is certainly not as sexy as having a personal R2 unit to project images of princesses that needed help on other worlds, navigate my starfighter, or unlock airlock doors between spaceships, but it did help me to unlock the seemingly unopenable “door” through data connection to almost the entire known human universe. The smartphone has allowed me and many other entrepreneurs and ecologists to grow successful businesses while cruising around this blue planet of ours.
In my extensive travels in Ireland over the years, I knew that Skellig Michael, off the Kerry Coast in western Ireland, was a power point and hermitage of the ancient druids and later Celtic monks – over a decade before Disney/Lucasfilm filmed portions of the more recent Star Wars films there. I literally leapt out of my seat on opening night as the closing scene zoomed in on the Skelligs. What I saw was that the film’s location scouts found the ancient power and beauty of Skellig Michael to be the perfect home for the Jedi Order. What I did not see was that the smartphone R2-unit in my pocket was already one of the most powerful tools I had available to me on the planet – one more powerful than the computer used to send a rocket to our moon in the 1960’s. My smartphone enables a vast increase in scientific capability via normalization of data, communicating with co-workers, interacting with lookup tools, and producing streamlined reports in a highly efficient manner.
This is exactly what we have achieved at Ecobot: we have leveraged the technology behind the power of a smartphone to exceed goals that may have at one point seemed like science-fiction and fantasy. We have dovetailed the discipline of data collection for wetland scientists with the technology of cloud-driven data processing and automatic report generation. The increased efficiency is allowing scientists and consultants to conduct regulatory wetland delineations twice as fast as before, while also reducing the need for calculations, data input, and quality assurance reviews down to almost nothing. Ecobot does not eliminate the scientist, but rather allows scientists to spend a greater percentage of their time actually being scientists: doing better work and creating more value for their companies and clients.
It is inevitable that technology and science will work hand-in-hand as the wheel of innovation rolls through the 21st century, but it may not be clear what it will look like and when to get on board. We are either going to be rolled over by it, or we are going to get on early and control its direction. Only companies that adopt the right technologies the fastest gain the optimal competitive advantage . Do not be fooled by placebo droids, general tools and applications. Ecobot is the droid that you are looking for.
Ecobot has partnered with ESRI, Trimble, Eos, and many others in this rebellion of redefining how we relate to and describe our world. Our customers have discovered that Ecobot brings massive efficiency to the industry.
Yoda said, “Do. Or do not. There is no try.”
We are not trying to make an impact. We have made it. Join us as we crowdsource ideas and workflow intricacies from our customers and regulatory agencies across the country to help evolve this union of technology and science into the app of your dreams.