Our Children’s World Is Magical

(This post was inspired by my recent trip to Intel’s Santa Clara Headquarters for their annual “Upgrade Your Life” Experience…)

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic…”

– Arthur C. Clarke

Of all the wonderful words that Clarke wrote, few have been as powerful and prescient as his frequently cited statement above. He was right.  More than right, he has defined the world we live in today, and more importantly, the world our children will carry forward. It is truly a magical world.

The Magic

In our lifetimes we have seen technology advance well beyond “sufficient,” to provide us with tools and capabilities that are so indistinguishable from magic we already take them for granted. You wouldn’t think twice about standing on a street in NY and speaking to your friend while they are on a boat off the coast of France…yet that is magic.  We take for granted that we can sit on the couch with a laptop or tablet and watch a movie sent to the device without wires or discs… yet that is magic.  Having near instant access to the answer to nearly any question imaginable, from a mobile device you carry in your pocket… is magic. Getting off a plane at crowded airport and getting a notification that a friend you haven’t seen in person in years is also in the same terminal building, so you get to hang out together for ten awesome minutes… is magic.  I could go on and on.

The Magicians

Unlike the magic of wizards and sorcerers, the magic of technology cannot simply be invoked with incantations and chants of “abracadabra.”  The magic of technology is created by a different type of magician – the engineers, scientists, visionaries and entrepreneurs who can not only envision the magic but who can also figure out ways to build it.  Today’s magic comes from people and companies who have leveraged brainpower, innovation and imagination to make the impossible possible.  Chief among these modern day magicians is Intel. As an Intel Advisor I’ve had the privilege of taking a peek inside Intel and meeting many of the brains behind the magic and the wizards behind the curtains of innovations that have changed our lives and will change the lives of our children.

It’s The Process, Not Just The Processor

What makes technology become magic is what it empowers us to do.  As amazing as it is to acknowledge the advancements and engineering prowess it has taken to facilitate the evolution of the microprocessor (following Moore’s Law and decreasing in size while increasing in power and efficiency by silicon leaps and bounds), the true amazement is not in the chips, but rather in what the chips enable us to do.  Intel employs scientists, researchers, anthropologists, sociologists, even futurists, to study human behavior to better understand where the true power of the microprocessor can be put to work. In one day on the Intel campus for the Upgrade Your Life event we saw firsthand how technology is changing healthcare, education and the care of our environment.  We saw how technology is facilitating independent living for a rapidly growing population of seniors.  Magical things like placing sensors in chairs to wirelessly alert the wife of an Alzheimer’s patient when her husband, known to wander off, gets up from his favorite chair, so she can come home from next door and make sure he is ok.  By using technology to place shift and skill shift aspects of healthcare, many of the services provided today by institutions can potentially be moved to the home, which for many could diminish the need for a nursing home.  The possibilities are endless, and the advancements are desperately needed as cost effective, and more importantly – effective healthcare is critical for an aging population.  We live longer, and the magic of technology may enable us to live better too.

Unleashing Human Potential

The talented artist Hugh MacLeod was hired by Intel to create some of his inspiring cartoons at the CES Show in January and he leveraged the phrase “The processor is an expression of human potential,” which succinctly and sincerely captures the essence of the magic of technology.  While I don’t mean for this to come off as just a puff piece for Intel, I do mean to use Intel as an example of one of the many companies that really are creating magic that will likely benefit our children in ways we can only begin to imagine.  Think of the world you lived in when you were the age your children are today.  How many of the things your children now take for granted would have seemed like magic to you back then?  I grew up in a world before there was a computer on every desk (and now in every pocket.)  My kids know no other world.  What is magic to me, is ordinary to them.

I can’t wait to see the advancements that my kids won’t be able to distinguish from magic!  Can you?


Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 23, Ethan, 21 and Olivia, 19).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.

Disclosure: I am part of the “Intel Advisor” program and am compensated and/or receive other value from Intel to attend events on their behalf.  Intel covered my travel, accommodations and expenses for my trip to Santa Clara for the Upgrade Your Life event.

Photo Credit: © ioannis kounadeas – Fotolia.com

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Revisiting Memories

My little brother and his wife delivered their twins yesterday. It was quite a day and I am very proud of him and his wife as I think they will make great parents.  I could sense the pride in his voice and it still blows my mind that my little brother is now a father. For years he has always been the ‘uncle’ who was in the door like a whirlwind, long enough to horse around with the kids and then out the door again, off to the next thing.

The whole experience of seeing his babies for the first time brought my mind instantly back to the day that my own children were born, 14 and 11 years ago. I never understood old people talking about how quickly time passes, but I understand it now all too well. I have seen plenty of newborn babies since my kids were born but there was something about seeing these babies that really got me and choked me up.

Perhaps it was because these babies are now my newest family members. Perhaps it was because they really do look like my babies did when they were born.  Perhaps it was the fact that my little brother is now starting the journey down the road that I have been walking for years.  Something about that analogy is just moving to me.

But maybe it was the fact that I was instantly swept back to those feelings I had when I saw my children take their first breath. The moment that I laid eyes on them taking that first glimpse at the world brings tears to my eyes even now. My priorities, my beliefs, my goals, and my desires changed in an instant and the world suddenly seemed so much bigger to me and so much smaller at the same time, a dichotomy that is still hard to explain. My little brother just had that experience and it is something that we now share.  There is so much more that we can talk about now, and that’s pretty exciting.

It took me awhile to ‘get it’, but I discovered why my mom still to this day looks at this 42 year old man like a little kid.  In some ways she still sees me as that little boy she held in her arms so many years ago, just like I look at my kids today, and just as my brother looks at these beautiful babies in his arms. I can’t explain that feeling to anyone who hasn’t had a child, and my brother and I probably won’t be able to explain it to each other either. But now he knows, and now I get to experience all over again the joy of holding in my arms little children that are a part of me.  Revisiting memories is so very wonderful indeed.

Of Tattoos and Determination

The arm in the picture above belongs to my 23 year-old son, Zach.  The tattoo belongs to him as well.  It is his first.  Personally, I am not at all the “tattoo type” and while I have come to appreciate and admire them (in many, but certainly not all, instances) I don’t see much “ink” in my own future.  I’d say it was a generational thing, but Zach’s mom has a few tattoos herself. Zach wasn’t the first of my kids to jump on the permanent self-expression bandwagon.  My 19 year-old daughter Olivia has a rose tattoo (though I doubt she has ever seen or read the eponymous and wonderful Tennessee Williams play, one of my favorites).  If my middle son has splurged on some ink while away at school in Boston, he has yet to break it to me.

Ink Has Lost Its Stink

As a parent, I have odd feelings about tattoos.  They are so permanent, and thus the dad in me can’t help but feel that my own kids – even though they have passed the age of 18 that we accept as the benchmark of adulthood – aren’t quite ready to make a decision today that perhaps they will feel differently about 5, 10 or even 20 years from now.  A tattoo is so… permanent. Then I look around the world I actually live in (which is not always the same as the world that exists inside my mind) and I see my friends and co-workers and so many others who have embraced some “ink” as nonchalantly and proudly as they would any other personal attribute or fashion statement.  Ink, in many ways, has become a literal sign of the times, and, like it or not, an accepted personal accoutrement.

Characters and Character

I suppose there is something romantic about the permanence of a tattoo and thus the (hopefully) carefully considered design and meaning of the art one literally chooses to brand themselves with. My daughter chose a flower.  My son, some Japanese characters, with a meaning only he (and those who can read Japanese characters among us) will understand at a glance. While at first I wasn’t sure I would smile upon seeing his tattoo, I did have to smile when he told me what the characters meant.  His tattoo says, “DETERMINATION.”  Zach, is the embodiment of determination.  Working in kitchens throughout college, and now as a full-time chef, Zach became an avid runner who, determined, lost over 150 pounds in less than a year, completed a half-marathon, and recently bought his first home.


His determination (and subsequent success) has filled me with pride.  How can I not love his tattoo, and the meaning behind it?

What do you think of “ink” as it relates to your kids?

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 23, Ethan, 21 and Olivia, 19).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.

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