The Inevitability of Conversion: Technical and Societal
By Desiree L. DePriest, Purdue University Global
Figure 1. A Tree
In the world of technology, there are always new tools and innovations that require conversions of existing systems. Existing systems become obsolete, even if functional, because they cause security vulnerabilities and threats to competitive advantage. There are far too many organizations that put off updating or converting systems to the newer ones. This is frequently due to constraints such as costs and time, and decision makers having a greater focus on maintaining shareholder’s dividends than long-term efficiencies.
The timeliness for conversions is challenging primarily due to the necessity emerging from the bottom-up. It is rarely the leaders or decision-makers who realize an update or conversion is necessary. There is a Marie Antoinette style insulation that comes from executive leadership with an opaque view from the penthouse suite. CEOs in t-shirts and jeans are no different because this behavior is hard-coded in the western canon of power brokers. It is taught in universities. Executives do not participate in the day-to-day operations of the company and rarely trouble themselves with the suffering caused to the disadvantaged. It is when a cyberattack from a troll farm hidden in some untraceable third-world country hits when the leadership sees the threat of ignoring the world outside of his or her own. It is when the incidences of security vulnerabilities threaten catastrophe in real time that leaders pay attention.
In the last decades, larger corporations have realized that security vulnerability cannot be protected by the status quo. The company must have ongoing and vigilant processes to stay ahead of the potential threats. The importance of conversions to stay ahead of security vulnerabilities costing millions of dollars in loss of corporate secrets, theft of customer’s personally identifiable information (PII), and complete distributed denial of services (DDoS) has become an essential part of survival. These threats have evolved to include misinformation and disinformation, cult-like white supremacist groups and even the executive branch of the U.S. government.
Technology companies have formed whole departments that do nothing but diligently implement conversion strategies to stay ahead of system inequities and vulnerabilities that result in destructive outcomes. These methodologies are generally implemented through 1) parallel conversion, 2) phased-in methods, 3) direct-cutover conversions or 4) pilot approach methods. Corporations recognize that if nothing is done to optimize the system, it is just a matter of time before the company is disrupted.
The need to optimize systems does not only apply to technology but also to society. The status quo in the U.S. is delineated into state policies which further delineate into counties, cities, and local laws. This is integrated with union negotiations, community groups, and assumed individual rights. Decades of good and bad systemic and conflicting rules of law and equity are splattered throughout the country. Historical inequities like separate-but-equal segregation, red-lining property ownership, health inequities, and privileges continue to have residue in U.S. society and its enterprises. Federal and state decision makers focus on maintaining the status-quo preferred by their wealthier contributors while corporations focus on their wealthier shareholders.
The need for conversion was also lost on our traditional schools and universities. Universities such as Harvard, Yale and Georgetown prided themselves in centuries of shaping the American identity and implicit denial of the dynamic of American transformation. These institutions represented a stable past, based primarily in Ancient Greek philosophy in which only the white male elite had privilege. Our presidents, government officials, and power brokers primarily come from these noble doors and constitute generations of avoidance from true history.
Lawrence W. Levine, in his book, The Opening of the American Mind (1996), speaks of the judgments of history and the dynamics of history as inseparable. America cannot ignore the issues at the heart of our current societal unrest – race, freedom, union, the nature of the economy – because these have always been a part of United States history. This behavior is analogous to the Civil War as well as the unrest we find in our society today. For hundreds of years, an inequitable rule of law was built to increase the wealth of white male shareholders who ignored the humanity and contributions gained from people of color and women. This model was not just employed on plantations through slavery, but justified northerners stealing Native lands. It was perpetuated in the false beliefs in the “White Man’s Burden” or “Manifest Destiny” to justify imperial conquest as a philosophy of civilization. European cultural and genetic superiority vulnerabilities of truth remained until the twentieth century at which time cultural pluralism began pushing for conversion. It was believed that a common bases to “civilize humanity” was required and, white men felt it was their divine duty to do it.
Similar to closed-platforms like America Online and Netscape, greater openness and opportunity is always in potentiality. The United States has always been a multicultural, multiethnic, and multiracial society (Levine, 1996). Colonization of the world and then omitting the contributions from oppressed people, be they Africans, Asians, Natives, or Latinxs, does not erase their experiences or the value of their cultures in the greater whole of society. What it does do is create a vulnerability of truth that grows proportionately and in which the greater society will inevitably encounter.
Figure 2. Prismatic USA (by GDJ on Pixabay)
If nothing is done to continuously improve the laws to fit the needs of the society, disruption will inevitably occur. As the privileged in society get richer, the citizens who support the bedrock of the country work harder to provide opportunities for their children. This is a parallel conversion. As parents work based on their existing status in society, they are visualizing a better system for their children. Over generations of these efforts, far too many find their children thwarted by the increasing inequities of society. The former first lady, Michelle Obama, in her pivotal book Becoming (2018), speaks of a college advisor discouraging her ambitions to go to Princeton University. She did attend Princeton but recalls the environment as being, “extremely white and very male" (pg.64). Far too many people of color have experienced microaggressions based on race and a status quo that reinforces, “For Whites Only.” As more and more qualified young people stood at the doors of opportunity, it was just a matter of time before a society drenched in their foreparents’ blood and generational inequities reached critical mass.
The Internet, a patch-work system (ISPs, Internet Backbone) that is extremely complex and virtually impossible to shutdown, also allowed people to see what is possible if all opportunities are meritorious and equitable. The new generations who seem to be born with a technical gene have a sky-is-the-limit mindset. They do not accept measures of intellect or potential based solely on whiteness or the philosophy of the Ancient Greeks. The newer generations implement conversions through a phased-in approach. Working versions of protest systems are posted on social networks and based on distribution and sharing, thousands of individuals show up. They are democratic and socialist; there is not a single node of hierarchical leadership. Interrelationships are based on common causes to convert an existing, inequitable system. Black lives matter to whites; immigration rights matter to citizens, LGBTQIA+ rights matter to those identifying as straight, policing reform matters to those historically police protected, and systemic and institutional sexism matters to those otherwise skin or gender privileged. Unlike the movements of old, there is no one leader to arrest or assassinate in an attempt to fragment the conversion. As a result, the old system of dividing society for a manifest few to gain wealth and power is perplexed and faces obsolescence.
Those who are advocating for complete defunding of the police and other institutions are not simply being naïve, either. In technical terms, this would be a direct cutover conversion. A new system is implemented, and the old system is replaced completely. Change based on complete defunding of existing government systems, forces society to make the new system work to receive immediate benefit from new methods and control. Arguably, this method requires careful and deliberate planning and similar to what happened with the settlers upon a new land, it threatens to create a system much like the one the movement is attempting to replace.
If past is prologue, the pilot approach to conversion is the historical outcome from civil unrest. The issue is confronted as the result of past actions and decisions requiring a new clarity. A new direction is tested while the status quo seeks to negate these new perceptions through frequently returning to the old established ways. Merely being a pilot (or temporary fix), the Voting Rights Act of 1964 was initiated but underwent review by the Legislature every 25 years. The Act, designed to protect people of color and women’s constitutional rights to vote without obstructions in states, was gutted in 2013. The Supreme Court decided, after a mere 56 years out of 400+ years of proven inequalities, states no longer required this oversight (justice.gov). The decision has resulted in certain states closing polling stations throughout counties that are predominately African American, deploying untenable voting hours for working people, using various tactics equivalent to poll-taxes, gerrymandering, and installing sub-standard voting machines in these same demographic areas.
For many, the pilot approach cannot be trusted because it allows for arbitrary and capricious giving of equitable human rights, and then indiscriminately taking them away, from non-whites and non-males. As the cycles of government rotate through elections, pilot programs involving immigration, a woman’s right to choose, voting rights equity, crime and incarceration remain the primary talking points from the Manchurian candidate. Along with his Ivy League credentials, he is already vetted as the human product the system had in mind. This allows decades of inequitable precedents to further accumulate, along with the disenfranchisement of opportunity dangled and then taken away. It capitalizes societal strength and wealth to a chosen few, forsaking an overdue conversion in America.
The United States was founded on emergence, vulnerabilities and complicated historical factors. Although this process inherently framed its initial actions in white, male supremacy, the Framers understood future conversions were essential. If only for future descendants of Europe yet to arrive on their shores, the American identity was intended to be progressive and ever-changing, not static (Levine, 1996). Non-whites and women continued to fight for basic human rights to make this ideal self-evident; that all are created equal. They have shown their loyalty to America, invested in its construction, and given their lives to its wars. None of the successes in this country would have been possible without people of color and women. The old system has reached obsolescence, and the future security of the country is at stake by holding on to it. The resistance to conversion, requiring the majority of the American population remain exploited as human capital, is merely another form of the subjective philosophy that alleged Europeans as the origin of all intellectual prowess. This is a nonsensical and illogical position. It defies justice-for-all and the possibility for a peaceful society. The attempt to protect the status-quo is being strongly challenged by a new generation of tech-savvy, socially conscious and distributed young fighters determined to convert society into a new and equitable system. It is their Constitutional, intellectual and human right to do so.
About Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Retrieved from https://www.justice.gov/crt/about-section-5-voting-rights-act
Georgetown Shares Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation Report, Racial Justice Steps. Retrieved from https://www.georgetown.edu/news/georgetown-shares-slavery-memory-and-reconciliation-report-racial-justice-steps/.
History of Slavery, Future of Diversity Still At Issue at Harvard. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2016/03/06/469377342/history-of-slavery-future-of-diversity-still-at-issue-at-harvard.
Levine, L.W. (1996). The Opening of the American Mind: Canons, culture, and history. Beacon Press. Boston.
Obama, M. (2018). Becoming. Crown Publishing Group. Random House. United States.
Yale Kind of Confronts the Racism in its History. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnmcquaid/2016/04/28/yale-kind-of-confronts-the-racism-in-its-history/#7310d02f68bf.
About the Author
Desiree L. DePriest is an IT/AI business intelligence professor at Purdue University Global for 15 years. Desiree’s expertise is in business intelligent information systems and artificial intelligence in business environments. She holds a Ph.D. in Management & Organization with emphasis in Information Technology, along with two masters degrees (Telecom and IS respectively). Desiree has a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology and certificate in ABA and I-O psychology which greatly assist in her work in the various areas of business intelligence, industrial and organizational motivation and attitudes. She is the Vice-chair of the Institutional Review Board at Purdue Global and attended UMKC Law School.
She developed and directs the Purdue Global Internship Program – Technology (PGIP-T) which is an internship for IT and business students wanting real world experience prior to graduation. She also created the Graduate Information Technology Association (GITA) for active and alumni IT/Business students, and serves as Faculty Advisor. Desiree recently won the “Best Practices” award for her work in the internship from the American Association of Adult Continuing Education (AAACE). Her publications include research in persuasive and predictive analytics, artificial intelligence and algorithms in decision support, and pattern recognition. Desiree’s recent interests have expanded to neural correlates of consciousness (NCC), cognitive computing (CC) and quantum teaming (QT). Quantum Teaming is a quality management methodologies with particular focus on virtual team environments and is the intellectual property of Dr. DePriest. Desiree presents throughout the year at conferences in these areas.
|Previous page on path||Cover, page 12 of 18||Next page on path|