One of the more interesting recurring characters in the post-apocalyptic television show Revolution is that of Aaron Pitman, portrayed by actor Zac Orth. Pittman was a soft and sensitive computer whiz who blew through MIT on his way to becoming incredibly rich as a top executive at Google… and then the lights went out.
With the electric grid crippled, Pittman discovers that all of his money, knowledge, skills, and technology are useless. He’s a “Silicon Valley guy” who never found a problem he couldn’t program his way out of, until he was forced out of his cocoon into a world he didn’t understand.
I’ve got a gut feeling that tech investor Ron Conway and entrepreneur Jim Pitkow have a lot in common with Pittman.
The two men are backing an initiative to create “smart guns” to reduce gun violence. Yes, they actually seem to think it will work:
In response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that left 20 dead, several prominent tech investors have launched the Smart Tech Challenges Foundation, awarding entrepreneurs $1 million to develop gun safety technology in weapons.
“Technology has been proven to solve today’s greatest social challenges, and curbing gun violence in this country is one of the greatest challenges we face,” investor Ron Conway said.
Conway, who has invested in a number of technology companies, including Facebook and Twitter, joined long-term entrepreneur Jim Pitkow to launch the initiative for safer firearms. The group is accepting proposals for better safeguards through the end of March.
A panel of judges will award funding to the teams with the best idea. The foundation will also provide resources and guidance to the winning teams.
Pitkow made it clear the initiative would focus on gun safety rather than gun control.
“In no way do our efforts challenge the right to bear arms,” he said.
Most of the developers who have entered the competition are looking to put biometric technology on weapons, such as voice recognition or palm print scanners, which would only allow authorized people to fire them.
I admire the stated philosophical goal of the Smart Tech Challenges Foundation, if the actual goal is to create a safer world.
The problems they face, however, are legion.
Biometric technology, which seems to be the preferred avenue of those submitting designs, works great in a sedate, lab-like environment where conditions are carefully controlled and science can be replicated. The real world doesn’t operate like these carefully-controlled fantasy worlds.