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What We Learned from Ed Bleier and Shelly Palmer

By: Kaileigh Woodruff, ADV and Sociology senior

The Newhouse in NYC students had the true honor of hearing Edward Bleier and Shelly Palmer lecture last week at the Fisher Center. As a Syracuse University alumnus, Bleier is extremely involved with the University and the Newhouse in NYC program, and he’s also the former president of Warner Bros.  Each semester Bleier makes a trip to visit Newhouse students and always brings along a guest.

This semester Bleier introduced the students to Shelly Palmer, the CEO of Shelly Palmer of the Palmer Group. Palmer started off the lecture talking about three major trends in digital at the moment. The first centers on consumer behavior, the second is around autonomy and the last is self-thinking computers.

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Left: Palmer and Right: Bleier

Consumer Behavior
We now live in a world that as become reliant on products, service and technology that provides something only when it is convenient for the consumer. These products or services provide an on-demand function for people, which reach beyond just television but also how we use a car, for example. Ultimately, consumers today think access is as good as ownership.

Autonomy
Palmer told a story about how he was having lunch with friends some years back and the conversation around self-driving cars came up and most people at the table didn’t believe that they would see self-driving cars in their lifetime. Fast forward to present day and fast-driving cars are on the market, huge companies like Uber are working on plans to implement the technology in the future and people are predicting a safer driving world with the technology that takes out human error. This example illustrates that technology is evolving at a rapid rate and things like self-driving cars are becoming a reality faster than we can even wrap our heads around.

Self-Thinking Computers
Another story Palmer told was about how computers have learned to play games like chess and the Chinese game, Go. Today, no human can beat a computer in a game a chess and the day a computer defeated a human in Go was the day that Palmer said he saw a computer think. No one thought that a computer would ever be able to defeat a human in a game of strategy and intuition. These stories lead to Palmer speaking about cognitive technology like IBM’s Watson, Amazon’s Echo and more and how it is utilizing question and answer technology.

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Final Thoughts
While technology is getting more complex and smarter, Palmer focused on the positive advances that will take place in the future. Palmer’s tip is to embrace a human/computer partnership. This partnership will be more accurate, more productive and make our lives a little easier.

As always, we can’t thank Shelly and Ed enough for spending an evening with us and for the wonderful and insightful lecture. We look forward to having you both back very soon!

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