The OG of IoT Returns: A Chat w/ Rob Tiffany (Part 2)


Rob Tiffany, VP & IoT Intrapreneur at Ericsson and the Executive Director at the Moab Foundation, returns for part 2 of our wide-ranging conversation on IoT.

In this episode, we discuss ethics in technology and how IoT can be further leveraged for the common good. We also chat about the future of IoT and how it fits into “Capitalism 2.0”.

We discuss:

  • IoT and technology thresholds: The lines that shouldn’t be crossed
  • How the Moab Foundation helps the world
  • What’s on the horizon for Ericsson 

Mentioned during the podcast:

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... that we're going to have to almost double food production between now and two thousand and fifty because of this population explosion. That is a tall order and Iot can help. You are listening to over the Air Iot connected devices and the journey, brought to you by vary. In each episode we have sharp, unfiltered conversations with executives about their IOT journeys, the mistakes they made, the lessons they learned and what they wish they'd known when they started. Welcome back to over the Air IOT connected devices and the journey. My name is Ryan Prosser, CEO vary, and today we've got part two of our recorded conversation with Rob Tiffany, vice president and head of strategy at Ericson and Executive Director at the Moab Foundation, or, as I like to call him, the godfather of Iot. In today's episode we're going to briefly touch on skynet before diving into social media and the future of Iot. Let's dive in. Let's go on a skynet direction now, so you know. So we've got. We talked about the pitchforks. We talked about job replacement, scary stuff. They're, like you said, doing it to ourself. Skynet is, of course, another thing that the humans did to themselves. This, course, was in the fictional biopick ha ha, terminator one, team three. And you know, one of these things that I hear people in tech starting to talk about now is capitalism used to mean, or maybe it still does mean. You know, hey, look, just free markets, gonna invisible hand in the market's going to set the rules on this thing and just go like hell. And and now, you know, we're seeing tech start to do things that. I don't think this is political. I think a lot of people across the spectrum are saying, man, facebook is an outrage machine. I mean they have an algorithm that is designed to stoke outrage. I don't think, you know, very many listeners out there would say, Hey, facebook brings increased joy to my life. They may they feel trapped because of the single sign on, because of the market place feature, because of whatever. So they've maybe feel trapped. And so there's this question. Now, what do you think is the direction we're headed with tech, with Iot? What are some of these like? I'm not asking you to define exactly where the line is, you know, and if you're out there in the audience, by the way, I would love to hear from you on this topic. You know, way in on Linkedin. Where do you think are some of these lines where tech should say, okay, look, we're not going to dabble in that. It is beyond the Pale for us to be stoking outrage, for us to be, you know, causing under eighteen year old females to experience levels of depression previously beyond anything anybody thought about. And they're doing it intentionally because they know this is what gets actions. It gets clicks, he gets eyeballs, he gets ad revenue. Where are some of these...

...lines that you're worried about that you think people should be thinking about in capitalism? To point O, yeah, it's funny. You say Skynet. I've actually had people tell me in the past that I'm building Skynet. A lot of people when I've described some of the giant systems I've built, you know, like Lamatas this huge industrial iot thing and it's in the leader's quadrant for Gardner, and when I describe what it does, they go are you building skynet? So, for for all the listeners out there. Let me just go ahead and make it official. We're definitely going to have Rawbon for in a follow up episode. I couldn't fit even half of the topics into today, so we'll talk Skynet proper. Will talk a lot of proper next time around. Today. Talk to me about some of these lines that you see as light as a human yeah, as a technologist, absolutely, you know, technology was always supposed to help us. It was a helper, it was a tool, whether it's technology in new processes, new hardware, mechanization and the rise of the software revolution and obviously mark entrees and reminded us that softwar is eating the world. And it is. And so my experience over the years being a software engineer and an architect and all the other things I've done, you're always building tools to help people and then a little by little, your tools or automating things, and so maybe you might need fewer people. But we didn't necessarily see coming. Was this other thing that wasn't like that, like a facebook, the rise of the so social media, which seemed really awesome at the time. Hey, what a great way to pull all the people the world together, and now we're all going to know each other better and we'll have better relationships and everything. And you know what, a lot of started out that way. Twitter came out, when facebook came out, all those things, they didn't really have much of algorithms going on. It was just like whatever your friends were putting in, whoever you were connected with, you just kind of see them literally and it was really basic. But as soon as algorithms got inserted in there and algorithms or things that we use all throughout it, that's how you do analytics, that's how you make decisions, and software self reinforcing algorithms, you know, have made things like facebook, you know, obviously melt down lately and create echo chambers inside groups. And so as soon as software engineers and data scientists realized, Hey, I can get you to stay on my website longer if I'm making you angry or if I'm reinforcing feelings that you have that might be out of the norm, or I'm putting you in a group of people that all think alike and I self reinforce there and I can drive people to do things they may not do otherwise. Gosh, I mean just if you just think about social media. You know, again, the Internet was supposed to bring us all together and it's been great. But like any technology, the technology is neutral, but it can be used for bad or good or sometimes we kind of steer off the path somewhere along the way. And so, you know, we've seen this presidential actions, the vitry. All I see on social media. I've never seen people hate each other the way I've seen and people putting...

...themselves into groups. People a lot of stuff that people never even talked about are now talked about. And you know how people are different when they talk facetoface versus when they're hiding behind their keyboard. Yeah, Oh, yeah, you know that's such a thing. And so whatever the issue is that's popping up that day, Yep, some people jumping all over that and you guys suck and your evil and you know I'm going to cancel you or whatever. Right, and so you have that happening for both directions. And we just didn't see that polarization before. That just didn't exist. And so social media is beyond amplifying feelings that people might had, I think it's stoking new ones. Obviously we all remember what happened with Cambridge Analytica, you know, driving influencing things on facebook during a presidential election. We've seen what Russians do where they put their agents into just little fake accounts to just stoke things, to get discussions going, get people going into Trovic and so it's huge levels of manipulation. You mentioned young girls feeling bad about themselves on instagram because, and it's the same thing as facebook, instagram, oh, all these girls are so pretty and maybe I'm I don't live up to that, and now I'm getting depressed and maybe I've got some really dark thoughts. And people say this on facebook to everybody's putting their best face on facebook. Look how awesome my life is, you know, and everybody on there is like, man, everybody's got it going on, everybody's killing it, but I'm not killing it and guy, it's mount making me depress where maybe I wouldn't have been otherwise. And the reality is all those people who are putting on a good face, they've got their own problems too, but everybody's kind of playing make leaf on the Internet. So here's a follow up that it will send the chill up the spine of some percentage and listeners out there we had this world that more or less was in a constant state of how we communicated with each other. Things had not changed in a significant way, you know, I don't know in a very long time, and I mean I think two thousand and ten didn't look that much different than one thousand nine hundred and ten. For the most part. People did talk about certain things, did not talk about other things. Now a new stimulus has been introduced and the world is radically different. Politics completely different. You know, you cannot talk to people that have the opposing view to you. It just impossible. Whatever. Do you think we're living in base reality, or are we in some kind of a simulation where, you know, they have decided to introduce to a stable control set this new data, you know, and now they're observing us this sample. Hey, here's what happens when you force people that really should not be communicating with each other. You force them into some kind of you know, I'm seeing on facebook, but all my high school friends think about, Oh, you know, the earth is flat, and I'm like that's what are you talking about? It's flat, you know, and it just it's an outrage between is this bays reality? What's your view? On this. Well,... know, my physical view right now is all I'm saying on your screen is just ones and Zeros and things going down the screen. And so I I have a strong feeling that you're plugged in. You're in a pod somewhere. Actually, you know what it's starts to seem not as crazy when you think about that, because the way we're being manipulated, it's almost like someone's performing an experiment on all of humanity, not unlike you might do on your own experiments when you're trying to find out stuff, or how we, you know, doing testing on animals or whatever. Right. And so, yeah, it's very likely that you and I are both plugged into the some kind of matrix right now and it's it's all a simulation. You know, I think I saw Elon. I think he's in the POD next to you. But yeah, there's you know, I know a lot of people freaked out when Elon Musk was saying, you know, there's a good chance that we're all in a simulation, and people go that's ridiculous, but is it not? A lot of people, not a lot of people's brain works at the level that Elon's works and he wasn't trying to just be silly. He was thinking about the level. That's just like we were talking about the compute powers accelerating, ais accelerating, all these things, and if you think out to the future, you could get to a point where it's so advanced that someone could create an entire simulation and we would all be living in it. I say living in air quotes and not realizing it. And so I think he was thinking out that, hey, it's totally possible, we will absolutely get to that place. Who knows where they're now? When you hear somebody you know under a free way that's selling, you know, tangerines out of a shopping cart, say the world is a simulation, it's easy to discount when it's, you know, this rocket scientist, super genius who appears to be winning the game, you know, at least by some metrics of winning, saying you know, hey, this is simulation, it's a very it has a very different impact and you know the guy who has the high score currently. There's some level of seriousness. Were at least have to reflect on the question itself. You have to absolutely yeah, because you're right, you have some of the brightest minds also who are some of the biggest people who are against the evolution of AI. It's e there's Elon and a few others are like this isn't going to end well for us. And you know, that goes back to saying technology is neutral and it can be used for good or bad. But historically, what have we seen? There are some messed up people on this planet and they love to grab a all this stuff and use it for evil. And it always happens. And so, if history is our guide, when AI, when we get to true AI, were we don't have ai today. Lots of people that's a marketing term today. But when we get to General AI, watch out, because someone's going to use it for bad. But guess what the good guys are thinking. Well, even though that could happen, I need to still keep progressing my advancements...

...and knowledge on AI to combat whatever the black team, the red team, the evil team, the whatever team is going to use against me. And so it's almost like a nuclear arms race around Ai, and so everyone feels compelled to do it. But yeah, it could all go really badly and then we would get could be skynet, you know. You know general ai kind of selfaware, making its own decisions, not this bs that we call ai today, which is the super limited use cases and it's just some machine learning and some reinforcement stuff. Yeah, watch out, but we could be there now. It could be the year three thousand and seventy five or right now, for all we know, and we just don't know it. It's just like the Matrix. You were living in the height of Western civilization, in one thousand nine hundred and ninety nine, which was the peak of humanity. They had no idea. You have your agent Smith just saying, look at them out they're just right living their lives, totally oblivious. All Right, folks. So we're going to move on from this topic, but I think we'll be revisiting this the next time we have rob on the show. If you have questions for rob, drop them in Linkedin in the thread below the episode and will ask your question on there. Give you a shout out for for asking the question, rob. So I'M gonna go through three lightning round questions and then I'm going to send everybody off. Question One. Always like to you know, normally I would ask, Hey, what's next for Ericson we really didn't talk about Ericson at all. Right, so let's talk about rob. WHAT'S NEXT FOR ROB? You're working with Moab Foundation. What a folks need to know about Moab Foundation and and what's coming down the pipe for rob? Moab iote things worth calling out in your sphere. Yeah, yeah, so the MOAB thing is a foundation I started a couple of years ago, actually, before I joined Ericson. You know, I've been in this Iot game and also the digital twin game for a long time. Dove into that building Lumata and realize that digital twins or kind of the thing and they should be at the heart of any IOT system. Actually, and I actually built this stuff. I know I'm a vice president at a giant company, but I never stopped writing code and I never stopped designing things, and so on the side I said, Gosh, I've learned a lot about how to build these systems and I also discovered that all the stuff doesn't have to just be used for business or commercial endeavors. It turns out the capabilities. What are you doing when you're doing it? You're finding out something remotely, you're measuring something and it's far away and it's going to just send it to you through the magic of some kind of connectivity instead of you having to visit that place, and then you can reason across that stuff and come up with decisions. I was like, you know, I bet we could use this with climate I bet we could use this with water issues, I bet we could use this with hunger and poverty. And so I started building this digital twin platform. And you know, just I had this company called Enterprise Iot before I joined Ericson. And so the platform is called MOAB, just like the the town in Utah. And Start Building this platform and the whole goal was to give it away and to give it to people who are going to...

...go help make a difference, you know, in the world. And then what came along that helped me was the United Nations to come out with these seventeen sustainable development goals, you know, and you can look them up online. But there if nothing else, it's a great way to categorize how you might go after use cases. You don't want to pound a square peg at around hole, but I realize, Oh, okay, this helps organize my thoughts. This MOAB technology could be used for hunger, with agriculture, right, you know, water issues, all that kind of stuff right, because you can't make decisions and manage things if you don't know about what's going on first. So get the word out there on SDG's give technology to people and recipes use cases on how they can go move the needle and different parts of the world to help people with this technology. That's kind of what Moab is and Ericson obviously we're all about connectivity. You know, we sell sell your gear primarily to the mobile operators that everyone uses with their phones and with iote. If they're using cell your iot and so Ericson's. You know, I can probably count on one hand the companies that make five g technology and so Ericson's one of them, and so that's the big thing. We're rolling out five g all over the planet right now with mobile operators, and so that's going strong. It's going to take a while, but that's exciting. The iot stuff we do inside Ericson we have this global connection management system working with about thirty six mobile operators. I think we got, I don't like Eightyzero customers on its or eighty million, rather eighty million six thousand enterprises. But the gist of that is being able to have connectivity for your IOT devices. Think connected cars roaming across countries staying connected, and we built this giant infrastructure globally to make that happen. It's actually a private network that we manage for IOT devices all over the world, and so that's the big thing we and again we are heavy into connected cars. And then I'm working on a project codenamed Thunderstruck Right now, like the ACDC Song, and so that's important, and so it's I'm trying to address problems I've seen. The initial idea was there's issues and a Iot that I've seen. You know. Why is it underperforming? You know, there's a lot of complexity on the device side, on the platform side. It requires a lot of different skill sets that people don't necessarily have, and so spend a bunch of time building technology to streamline the device side, automate server side and then add extreme levels of security. You to hear a lot about zero trust, and so there's a lot of zero trust built into this data pipeline that's in thunderstruck, because people are getting hacked to death these days, if you read the news every day, and so this is tried to mitigate that, but also I've aimed this technology. Over the summer at agriculture, I would doing testing out the technology and I just happened to be testing out on a farm. It could have been a factory, but I was testing out on a farm, and then I ended up just spending the whole summer out on farms and using this technology there and learning more about the needs of these farmers, which ties into sustainability in a huge way. There's a lot of scary stuff that people don't realize, like...

...if people knew that we're going to have to almost double food production between now and two thousand and fifty because of this population explosion, that is a tall order and Iot can help knowing what's going on, applying the right natural resources like water or fertilizer, things like that, and not just wasting it. Back to knowing versus guessing right, and so there's a lot of ways to move the needle, because I know a lot of people living in cities and they go to restaurants and grocery stores and they just don't even think about this stuff. But all that stuff could just disappear like that. We had a company, a gentleman by the name of pervene CEO of Monarch Motors. They make. I don't if you know these guys, sort of a Tesla for tractors. They yeah, guest a few episodes back. We're big fans of precision agg here on the show. So moves through our last two questions. WHO's doing? You know, senior it sort of the godfather of Iot. You got this huge footprint in the space. Everybody knows about Rob Tiffany, who's doing good work in Iot. COULD BE INDUSTRIAL? COULD BE CONSUMER? Yeah, be commercial. You know, who's somebody out there doing great work that you think more people should know about? Yeah, I'll throw out some names. Folks are at low sent there in Cincinnati. Great Platform, great easy to use kind of that, you know, almost has that node red feel to their analytics. I think losans doing great work. You know, they've got a great platform that does great edge capability. They make it real. Yeah, Charlie key and that whole team over there. I remember meeting them at Iot world if several years ago. When you show up and you have a booth at a conference and instead of just showing a powerpoint, you actually have things connected to PLC's and pumps and making it real for people while at the same time showing easy to use screens. That's powerful stuff. They're doing great work. Clear blade, Eric Simone, Aaron All's broke down in Austin at clear blade. You know they really push the envelope, I think, on edge stuff early on. I know they're doing a lot of stuff in rail. I think they're great team. I love spending time talk with them. In fact, Aaron and I had a big smackdown earlier this year. We went back and forth on Linkedin on digital twins and it was ridiculous actually in funny. Another one I like is elevate. They're up here in the Seattle area at live see and that team. They're their focus more on I'd say fleet stuff, industrial but also things that are moving around. I think they're doing great work too. There's a lot of people doing some good stuff out there, no doubt about it. All Right, folks. Well, that concludes part two with Rob Tiffany, our first ever to part episode. If you liked what you heard, email us at podcast at very pot possible or send me a message on Linkedin. Don't forget to rate the podcast on Apple podcast and subscribe wherever you like to get your podcast. Thanks. For listening and we'll see you on the Internet. You shouldn't have to worry about IOT projects dragging on or unreliable vendors. You've got enough on your plate.

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