HP CEO: Net will make life easier, impersonal

Summary:LOS ANGELES -- From personal digital photo libraries to Web-enabled electrical appliances, the Internet is on its way toward making life easier -- but it could also make society even more impersonal, Hewlett-Packard Co. CEO Lewis E.

LOS ANGELES -- From personal digital photo libraries to Web-enabled electrical appliances, the Internet is on its way toward making life easier -- but it could also make society even more impersonal, Hewlett-Packard Co. CEO Lewis E. Platt said in a keynote address here at Internet World on Wednesday.

"I'll give you an example: Look at the impersonality of the automobile," Platt said. "You go out of your way not to make eye contact with the person you're about to cut off on the freeway. This is because you don't know who the person in the other car is, and you're never going to see them again."



HP's Platt also unveils company's broad strategy for turning the Net into the equivalent of an electrical or phone 'utility.'




The virtual "society" of the Internet has created a paradox, bringing millions of people together in ways that were unthinkable even a decade ago, but at the same time, making many of those connections anonymous, he said.

Safeguard against 'garbage'
The HP (HWP) chief also warned technology industry executives and other Internet content developers to learn from the example of television, and create content that's meaningful and educational rather than "a vast collection of garbage."

"The burden is on us to drive the Internet in the right direction," Platt said.



Hear him live. Listen to PC Week Radio's rebroadcast of Platt's Internet World keynote.




Platt also delivered a laundry list of new Net uses that could quickly provide a huge boon to consumers. Internet-based photo delivery, combined with recent advances in printing technology, will create "the fax machine of the future" and provide consumer users with photos that are virtually identical to those developed by more conventional methods.

The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department is using this technology now to develop composite images of suspects, Platt added.

Net-ready banking, appliances
Publishing will also undergo major changes, with consumer and business users having the ability to have books printed on demand in the format and type size they prefer, he said.

In banking, the Internet "personal ATMs" will let consumers move cash from their bank accounts to smart cards, and make purchases that will cost retailers far less to process than credit card or check transactions, Platt said.

And Internet-ready home appliances, equipped with the server on the chip and persistent Web connections, will allow consumers to operate their appliances from afar and lower utility bills along the way. But for this to happen, "the digital information infrastructure will have to be so dependable that we notice it only when it fails," he said.

Topics: Hewlett-Packard, Banking, PCs, Servers

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