To Drive or Not to?

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Got a hold of The Zero Dollar Car: How the Revolution in Big Data will Change your Life, a few weeks after a scintillating market research event at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre (NAC) last year on the impact of self-driving cars and autonomy on roads, but also at a time when I was marvelling at the pace of change watching my peers graduate from ride-sharing to getting their own (if second-hand) cars only to sell those back in exchange for greener bikes and a public transit reliant lifestyle. Is the future of driving (and driving licenses) nearing an end with the steady onset of driverless/self-driving vehicles?

John Ellis’ book reveals him to be a pioneer in today’s tech space and also yesterday’s— he was among the first to break it to the world that “everything” was now a software company—and remains a multi-lingual die-hard careerist and achiever. A measure of your success today (and it seems so from his book) is in how quickly you recognize the symbols and big patterns. Maybe Ellis, like Tolstoy, is by nature a fox but believes in being a hedgehog.

A book or theory can be more compelling after you’ve met or heard its author, and this book confirmed how lucky I was to have met an innovator who knew how to future-proof himself early enough in life with not one, not two, but three Bachelor’s degrees in Computer Science, Mathematics and Spanish, in a quick flourish of five years thanks to his clever career planning in a liberal arts enabled system. His path took flight when he got hired by Motorola right out of school pushing him to pilot numerous innovations.

The concept Ellis sells in his book is his “Zero-Dollar” pricing model for every smart-commodity. A consumer-data advocate by instinct, Ellis would like to educate everyone about the cost of data at the intersection of product and privacy. He would like to make consumers more aware of the vast data they can be transacting in whether it is through smart-cars or smart-furniture and for them to know how these transactions will drive the future value of their objects.

The internet of things is here to change the way people interact with one another in the new economy and we are no stranger to this. The tech adventures of John T. Ellis are remarkable, and I am glad to have read his book to enjoy, learn from and ride the road to autonomous glory from a developer’s prism lens, watching him venture the vast scape of technologists and futurists masterminding tomorrow’s creature-conveniences. “Zero Dollar Car” might be many things to many people, but it is also a toast to the STEM and flowers and the high intersectionality and interoperability that today’s global career marketplace demands. For all that, and the quirky ride, it’s a great read. You can’t know everything, but for what you can do with all you know, this book may not let you sleep.


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