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Fear of RFID
The theories presented in the book "Freakonomics" might explain what is preventing more CEOs from embracing RFID and other new technologies.
Sep 19, 2011—Running a small business does not give me much time to read books and magazine articles unrelated to radio frequency identification. But I recently picked up Freakonomics, the wildly popular book by economist Steven D. Levitt and journalist Stephen J. Dubner, which I'd always wanted to read. To my surprise, this publication might just explain why companies are slow to adopt new technologies, including radio frequency identification.
First, let's review how new technologies are adopted, which I've written about a lot over the past few years (see The [RFID] World According to Moore). Geoffrey Moore, author of Crossing the Chasm, suggests that visionaries embrace a new technology and help creators of that technology to build early prototype products. Then, early adopters can begin to use these solutions to solve a business problem.
In a chapter about parenting in Freakonomics, the authors discuss the role of fear in decision-making. They point out that many parents would prevent their children from playing at a friend's house if they know that the child's father kept a gun in the home. But they would never think of preventing their kid from playing at a friend's house if the family had a pool—even though more people die by drowning in pools than are fatally shot (even in the United States, where there are more guns than people.)
The authors conclude that familiarity—or the lack thereof—plays into our fears. Parents know what swimming pools are, they know the risks and they are willing to accept the possibility that their child might drown in a pool, because they understand that the risks are small. Being unfamiliar with guns, however, they might not comprehend the risks, and thus might make an irrational choice.
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