Lost in Space

  •   Boaz Amidor
  •   14 Nov 2017 

A few weeks ago I got to thinking about The Jetsons and watched clips of it on YouTube.  It occurred to me that we’re living in the future, but that the future looks nothing like the Jetsons.  And I wanted to know why that is.

I suppose the main difference between the world I live in and the world of the Jetsons is that for the Jetsons, the universe is static.  They have their futuristic technology and it works well for them.  Having reached the future, they decided to stop.  There is no new development in the Jetsons world.

In this sense, the world of the Jetsons is not so very different from the world of the Flintstones.

The future I live in (and you too, by the way) is not like this.  As tech changes we change, and this change makes us have to change more.

It’s not just how tech is changing, but about how it’s changing us, for the better and for the worse.

WHAT’S IT ALL FOR

Technology develops and it’s rare that we ever ask why, or what’s it all for.  Sometimes it seems like technology is developing towards something, some specific goal that we’ve been striving for.  But at other times it seems that all tech is developing towards is more tech.  More speed, more productivity, more money, more, more, and more.

It seems that it’s important to scale back every now and again and ask what we’re doing this for.

Only then can we ask if this development is good for us… and if it’s not… readjust our course.

I personally would say that no matter what tech is for, it’s not worth it if it doesn’t help us live what the Greeks once called the good life.

And what’s the good life?  Well, since the Greeks coined the phrase there has been no stop to the debate about just what this kind of life entails.  I myself have my own definition of the good life.  It’s not based on deep philosophical reasoning but rather based on living a life that has felt good at certain moments and less good at other moments.  When did it feel good?  When did it feel bad?  By asking myself these questions I have come up with my answer.

Life feels good when life is authentic.  When my relationships are authentic, when I’m authentically connected to the work I’m doing, when I’m authentically connected to the place I live… these are the greatest times in my life.  They are when my passion comes alive and a sense of both excitement and contentment come over me.

What does tech have to do with this authenticity?

My first answer would be “nothing.”

Technology is just a tool.  It can be used for all sorts of things and can bring us closer or farther from the good life depending on how we use it.

As an abstract idea, I would venture that digital technology has a great potential to bring us closer to the good life – to authenticity.

Why?  Because tech expands us.  It allows us to communicate more, to learn more, to see more, to be more.  Tech gives us seemingly superhuman powers – abilities that humans of past generations could only dream of while watching The Jetsons on TV.

How could this not be great?  How could this not be the good life?

And yet, many would say that it’s not great.  They would say that tech perhaps makes like more convenient, but certainly not more authentic.  Add to this that our devices, in expanding our capacities, have expanded our capacity for folly and mistake.

When Adam and Eve ate from the apple of the forbidden tree, their capacities were increased.  They could now separate good from evil.  Suddenly, they knew they were naked.  And the next thing you know they were out on their asses in the mud learning how to toil for their food.

They say that necessity is the mother of invention.  It was necessity, outside of Eden, that made mankind into a race of inventors.  But each invention itself is another piece of fruit from the forbidden tree.

The smartphone is among the tastiest and most dangerous of these forbidden fruits.  Like that ancient apple it has increased our capacities, but also taken us farther from Eden.  In increasing our capacity for communication, it has robbed us of our ability to manage that communication.  In allowing us to share images and words in the cloud, we have lost the ability to effectively secure our privacy.  And in making us nearly omnipresent through our participation in the omnipresence of the internet, we have become scattered and unfocused.

Perhaps Eden does look like the world of the Jetsons, a place where people stand still.

I personally don’t think we will ever stand still.

We will continue to develop, and each development will take us both farther and nearer to our goal: the good life.

So, how we can use technology to improve technology, making it more conducive to managing good lives?

This post was taken from our book - “The Magis Manifesto” - All Rights Reserved

Boaz Amidor

Boaz Amidor is Chief Marketing Officer for Magis™ - A Virtual Privacy Platform company. “Space - Virtual Smartphone” is an app powered by Magis™.

A Room of One’s Own

  •   Boaz Amidor and Udi Doenyas
  •   14 Nov 2017 

All of digital technology rests upon a foundation of paradoxes.

In creating devices to aid us in communication, we have lost the ability to manage speech.

In creating devices that have completely captivated our attention, to the extent that the average American looks at their digital device over 70 times in a single day, we have damaged shattered our ability to focus.

And in creating a device that is arguably the most personal, intimate space humans occupy outside of our own minds, we have surrendered many of our rights to privacy.

The gestures of the digital device mirror other gestures.  A person at home with their digital device looks much like a person at home reading a book. In performing these gestures – scrolling, clicking, searching – we experience ourselves as people do when they are turning a page, or turning an idea over in their minds.

The experience is not one of loneliness, necessarily, but it is certainly one of solitude, of intimacy with the self.  This relationship is sometimes so intimate that we treat our devices like lovers: placing them gently on the pillow beside us as we sleep, and inviting them along in our pockets wherever we go.

It’s this intimacy, trust, and sense of solitude, that makes our devices so important to us.  In this space, I can be my many identities.  I can explore.  I can ask questions.  I can be my lowest self – checking in on the Facebook exploits of an ex or Googling “Is it ok to drink milk a day after its expiration date?”  I can also be my highest self, learning about black holes and antimatter on Wikipedia and staying current with world events on CNN.com.

But it is this same intimacy, trust, and sense of solitude that makes us so vulnerable.  There are those out there in the world who would take advantage of this trust, and they run the gamut from professional hackers to our own friends and family.

More and more people are aware of this each year.  It is why we have lock screens and fingerprint analysis and passwords.  It is why we have annoying and time-consuming log-in procedures – like tedious trivia questions about our own lives (what was the name of your first pet?) and daily requests to prove (to a robot, no less) that we ourselves are not robots.

Developers find themselves in an arms race between Security and Hacking, but individual consumers are merely pawns in this game, because the companies that assure us so valiantly that they will protect our data also sell it in order to better advertise to us and keep us enraptured with their services.

Beyond this, we are fighting our own security wars, trying to keep our personal data secure from employers while employers try to keep corporate data secure from being wrongfully exploited by employees us; as well as trying to maintain a sense of control over our digital selves without our families, friends, and partners thinking we are trying to hide something.

We do what we can.

We place tape over our webcams.  We place our phones face down on the table.  We install VPN (Virtual Private Network) software so that we can imagine we are anonymous within the jungle of the internet – unfindable and free.

What we need, more than a Virtual Private Network, is something far more encompassing –  a Virtual Privacy Platform.  It was this VPP envisioned when MAGIS was created– a separate virtual space that not only feels intimate and solitary, but truly is.

Virginia Woolf wrote that every woman needs a room of her own.  In the digital age, every human being needs such a room.  Information Technology offers the promise of this private technological space, but so far it has been an empty or an incomplete promise.  These rooms of our own, like interrogation rooms, have two-way mirrors.  They feel secluded and separate, but leave us hopelessly exposed.

This post was taken from our book - “The Magis Manifesto” - All Rights Reserved

Boaz Amidor

Boaz Amidor is Chief Marketing Officer for Magis™ - A Virtual Privacy Platform company. “Space - Virtual Smartphone” is an app powered by Magis™.

Udi Doenyas

Udi Doenyas is Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer for Magis™ - A Virtual Privacy Platform company. “Space - Virtual Smartphone” is an app powered by Magis™.

The Virtual Smartphone

  •   Zack Tzachi and Boaz Amidor
  •   14 Nov 2017 

Not long ago, while strolling through a mall, I had the opportunity to try a demo for a new virtual reality product from Microsoft.

Guided by the saleswoman, I put a headset over my eyes, grasped two remotes in my hands, and entered another world.

I was surprised by the convincing fullness of this other world.  I was surrounded by a vast desert landscape, with a canopy of stars over my head.  The blinding white of the Microsoft store fell away from me, along with the hectic consumer madness of the shopping mall.

“Now hit the button on the right controller,” said the saleswoman.

Her voice surprised me.  In just a moment I had forgotten about her.  She started leading me through a demo, but it didn’t really interest me.  In fact, I found it annoying to be occupying two spaces at once, having a humdrum conversation with her while enjoying an alternate dimension within myself.

It is troubling to have one world intrude upon the other.  Whether we are having a conversation face-to-face with someone while our phone keeps buzzing, or trying to text with someone while distractions from our physical surroundings keep interrupting.

The Magis VPP (Virtual Privacy Platform) was born out of a desire to do something about this – to ensure the integrity and wholeness of our digital and physical worlds by keeping them separate from one another.  This, in turn, would restore a sense of integrity and wholeness to our digital and physical selves.

In modern discourse, privacy is considered a practical matter, and often considered the dirty business of those who have something to hide.  But privacy is more than this.  It is the freedom to be and the freedom to expand.

“Dance like no one is watching,” says the old cliché.  It might be good advice, but how would we even know what this kind of dancing feels like had we not first been privileged with a setting in which there really was no one watching!  The Virtual Privacy Platform is such a setting.

The first manifestation of this VPP is the virtual smartphone.  A virtual smartphone certainly has many practical benefits.  First of all, it can’t be lost or stolen.  It is accessible from any device, the way a Facebook account is, and so it can’t be left at home or forgotten on a bus.  It is nowhere, which means it is anywhere, and thus a solution for those with the modern affliction of Nomophobia (the tragically real phobia of being without your device).  The virtual smartphone’s screen can’t crack.  The virtual phone is, in a sense, immortal.

But it was not these practical benefits that inspired the development of the virtual smartphone.  It was the idea that this phone would take up no physical space, and that one could house two or more of them on the same device.

In being able to do this, one would finally have a truly private digital space, a space that is “a room of one’s own.”

The executive would have his work phone and his personal phone set apart.

Employers could outfit their organizations with a digital work phone that wouldn’t weigh down employee’s pockets and would ensure that organizations maintain control over their own data while employees maintain control over their own personal digital spaces.

A virtual phone, being bodiless, could be shared – and restore the convenience of a shared family or company landline without the inconvenience of the cordless landline (always losing battery and getting lost) or the landline with a cord (always getting tangled and keeping you anchored to one spot on the ground.)

This post was taken from our book - “The Magis Manifesto” - All Rights Reserved

Zack Tzachi

Bio: Zack Tzachi is Co-founder and Chief Product Officer for Magis™ - A Virtual Privacy Platform company. “Space - Virtual Smartphone” is an app powered by Magis™.

Boaz Amidor

Boaz Amidor is Chief Marketing Officer for Magis™ - A Virtual Privacy Platform company. “Space - Virtual Smartphone” is an app powered by Magis™.

Virtual Curtains

  •   Lior Naveh and Boaz Amidor
  •   14 Nov 2017 

The idea of a set apart digital space, a second phone within a phone, felt like a revelation.  Prodding the idea, we asked ourselves what would occur in this digital space?  What will people do there?

As product developers and marketers, it is part of our job to consider this question.  But in truth the answer is no more vital to us than the answer to the question, “what do people do inside their homes?” would be to a curtain designer.

What happens behind curtains is not the curtain designer’s concern or responsibility.  The curtain designer’s concern, rather, is to make curtains that work, which is to say that they create a barrier between inside and outside.

With this in mind, we have created a curtain that works.

We imagine that people will make use of their set apart digital space in a thousand different ways.  The most obvious of these will be to restore a separation between our work lives and our personal lives, which have become desperately contaminated by virtue of our curtain-less digital devices.

Other implications have come to our minds as well.  People will be able keep their dating apps in a separate digital space that friends, family, and other concerned individuals won’t be able to see.  Freelancers will be able to offer clients their “work number” and thus further make possible the idea of a “floating office” for those who work primarily from home.  Teacher’s will be able to communicate both with students and parents without their personal privacy tumbling down in the process.  People with private browsing habits can feel comfortable showing a photo to a friend on their phones, or lending their phone to a friend for a second to check his or her email.

In addition to this, as a customizable separate space, parents will be able to create a safe virtual space for their children within a smartphone device, one with preprogrammed applications suitable for their child’s maturity level.  Knowing that it’s a safe space, the parents can then forget about it, granting their children the private “room of one’s own” that children need as well.

Beyond all that, I imagine that people will inhabit their digital spaces much the way we inhabit our homes when the curtains are drawn.  This is to say that they will sometimes be naughty, sometimes good, sometimes silly, sometimes studious, sometimes lazy, sometimes industrious, and sometimes blasting music and dancing as we can only when we are sure that no one is peeping in.

In short, we will be ourselves, by which I mean our selves, enacting in comfort and security the many varied, beautiful, complex identities to which we all have a right to be.

 This post was taken from our book - “The Magis Manifesto” - All Rights Reserved

Lior Naveh

Bio: Lior Naveh is Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer for Magis™ - A Virtual Privacy Platform company. “Space - Virtual Smartphone” is an app powered by Magis™.

Boaz Amidor

Boaz Amidor is Chief Marketing Officer for Magis™ - A Virtual Privacy Platform company. “Space - Virtual Smartphone” is an app powered by Magis™.