OPINION

Apple’s Futuristic Flying Saucer HQ Already Out of Date

In Silicon Valley where Apple is located, burglaries are up more than 30 percent, largely because police havestopped responding to them. If you are reasonably well off, particularly if you are Asian, and you likenice stuff, the chance you’ll get burglarized near Apple’s new headquarters is approaching 50 percent odds. If things continue, it will be virtually certain by the end of the decade.

Apple employees are solidlyin this demographic and they won’t be able to concentrate on workif they are constantly wondering if their stuff will be on the Internet for sale before they can get home. Nor will the rest of us living here.

Steve Jobs’ home was just burglarized, probably one of the most protected homes in the valley. While his family likely still has a special relationship with the police force — which is why his burglar was caught — the normal Apple employees won’t be so lucky.

This implies that Apple’s new flying saucerheadquarters is already out of date, because it doesn’t provide protected living space for employees.

Apple's proposed new headquarters

Apple’s proposed new headquarters in Cupertino, Calif.

I think it is time to revisit the idea of an arcology. That may be the only way Apple employees andthe rest of us will be safe by mid-century. It is also what I think Mountain View wanted Steve Jobs tobuild and perhaps what Tim Cook and other technology CEOs should now consider building.

I’ll close with my product of the week: the weapon that could both protect your home and make your food taste better.

Living in a Hostile World

With the massive reduction of law enforcement, burglaries appear to be skyrocketing, particularly for those who live in expensiveneighborhoods that are near freeways, and who have homes that sit back from the road surrounded bytrees. They’re up nearly63 percent in some places, like Palo Alto where Jobs’ home is.

In most areas, the police have stopped responding to home burglar alarms even if you haveone and use it. That little sign in your yard is no longer much of a burglar shield and may increasingly be an ad that says “expensive stuff to steal here.”

While corporations can afford security for their sites, it is not likely they will have the resources toprovide security for even their top executives’ homes let alone the rank-and-file employees. Granted, I’llbet some CEOs do get this benefit, but everyone else is pretty much screwed.

Now you can live in a cement house near the road and make sure your landscaping sucks (maybe have a few junk cars out front for color) to make sure burglars think your neighbors are where the cash is, but I doubt many of us want to live in trashy houses or be the butt of the next “you may be a redneck” joke.

But, other than installing Internet-connected cameras in every room and on every outside wall connected and providing the justification for a US$200K sports car with a rifle rack, you don’t have a lot of options.

Companies like Apple do; they could build arcologies. And they are potentially more spectacularthan Apple’s proposed new headquarters.

Arcology: Surviving in a Hostile World

An arcology is a self-contained living structure for humans, kind of like that thing you built for yourpet hamster, only with lots more fun stuff to do. It contains where you work, where you shop, whereyou eat, where you go to school — or send your kids to school, where you enjoy entertainment, andwhere you play. It has filtered air, security, no traffic to speak of — you either walk or take some formof elevator or people mover to locations — and someone else worries about keeping it all running. Intoday’s world, your cubicle could actually be in your home and you’d still be walking distance to yourboss and coworkers.

Service workers would be vetted or live in the complex as neighbors, the city would get less traffic, there would be fewer accidents, fewer violent crimes (because there would be fewer opportunities), and people could focusmore on their jobs and families and less on worrying about safety, mortgages, and monthly bills — alleventually get factored into their salaries.

Granted, getting fired or changing jobs would become a bit moreproblematic, but most have discovered that in today’s economy a new job often comes with a moveanyway if you don’t want to be unemployed for a long time or take a job you don’t really want to do.

Arcologies are designed to be very green, very self-sufficient, and to supply the kind of idyllic living thatour ancestors thought we would have this century. Granted, there is always a good chance that somepolitician would screw this up — a frighteningly good chance — but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be tried.

Maybe Steve Jobs’ home burglary can point the way for his successor to build a safer future for Steve’s legacy.

Wrapping Up

This entire risk was brought home to me a few weeks ago when I saw a guy I didn’t recognize in ahoodie in the middle of the street and called the police. Turned out he had been waiting for one of myneighbors to come home after breaking into her home and the police scared him off — but unfortunately,didn’t catch him. This means he is out there someplace likely stalking someone else.

With policecoverage being sharply reduced and the likelihood of being robbed or worse on the upswing, maybe it istime companies like Apple stepped up to protect their employees — both domestic and foreign — and madeall of them both safer and more productive, while setting an example that other firms could emulate.

Now that could be Tim Cook’s legacy and the defining homage to Steve Jobs — turning his home burglary into a seminal event.

Product of the Week: Bug-A-Salt Gun

Product of the Week

There are just some products that make me smile, and the Bug-A-Salt gun is just such a product.Basically, it shoots salt at flies, killing them dead. It doesn’t hurt people or pets, and it might even makeyour food taste better (if the fly doesn’t die on it).

It is bright yellow, so it won’t fool anyone intothinking it is a real gun, but it has pump action so you can pretend it is. I figure this is the perfect giftfor that young redneck in your home who wants to put a rifle rack on his big wheel and go big,er, little game hunting.

bug-a-salt

Think of how it will impress your date, and the waiter, if you pull one of theseout of your jacket and send that pesky fly that has been distracting her from your fascinating stories tothe great beyond.

Ponder how impressed your potential in-laws will be if you pop a fly off the top ofyour potential mother-in-law’s head.

Is a fly bugging the minister? No problem, you can play likeTerminator: Run up, pop the fly, and utter the immortal lines “he will not be back” as you bow to theimpressed congregation.

Only one thing, if you do any of this, please don’t feel the need to share the credit with me. Like theguy on the Mission Impossible tape, I will disavow all knowledge of this column. Because this productput a smile on my face, the “Bug-A-Salt” fly defense weapon is my product of the week. Itcosts $30 — or $40 if you want the “Lone Gunman” package, and at that it is a bargain I’m pretty sure Jeff Foxworthy would love.

Rob Enderle is a TechNewsWorld columnist and the principal analyst for the Enderle Group, a consultancy that focuses on personal technology products and trends.

1 Comment

  • Arcology, or any other isolationistic fad does not eliminate human frailties. Greed, envy, desire, dishonesty, disloyalty, hate, fear, betrayal, adultry, and even mental disorders do not obey the artificial boundaries of brick and mortar. Someday folks will understand that technology can never compensate for morality, or human weaknesses.

    One might examine the growing economic disparity and socal-economic stresses and find that there are more effect ways to address crime, than elitism, and erecting barriers…. Arcology is to social balance as your salt gun is to big game hunting. An ill conceived concept lacking comprehension of the situation.

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