Converged Thoughts Six

by Jay Cuthrell
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Broken Wings

Mr. Mister - Broken Wings - YouTube

Suggested soundtrack for this digest…

“Travel data: fraud with booking codes is too easy.” FAQs about PNR hacking & today’s demo of CRS vulnerabilities: — Edward Hasbrouck


A great read for all the Road Warrior types out there.

Reminder: Yes, this is the year 2017.

My career has been that of a global road warrior for the past few decades. Much of my travel has been using airlines and when I came across this YouTube video I was reminded of the illusions and security theater of modern commercial aviation.

Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? Becoming a secret travel agent [33c3]

Eye opening.

Coverage is starting to pickup on this topic of these long running systems too. Just take a look at at the aggregation over at Techmeme.

Techmeme: Researchers: ID codes printed on boarding passes, luggage tags for ~90% of flights let hackers access travelers’ personal info, steal reservations, more (Matthew Humphries/PC Magazine)


The essential tech news of the moment. Technology’s news site of record. Not for dummies.

Now, to be clear, none of this information is really that new but there are some spit take moments for people that tend to assume “someone must be working on fixing that”. Of course there are modernization efforts underway but the reality is those modernized results are not realized at the moment.

In fact, I was just tweeting about how much has changed in the past 20 years in how we interact with simple paper forms… well… those still exist too. My point was that – the ability to modernize is still worth ongoing pursuit.

Another OCR ERP shoe drops… 1997: Paper forms -> Raster scans -> Mainframe -> Jacada -> Web 2017: @HyperScienceAI


So, perhaps this same AI will be applied as a sort of human travel arranger arbitrage in the same clunky ways telephony IVR attempted to frustrate us until advising we press 4 to speak to an actual human. We’ll see.

What is going to happen in aviation is wider interest in specific areas relating to convergence within the consumer workflow. It will also get feisty as we see attempts to block out access or control access to information feeds.

For example, in the consumer space, you could probably write several essays for and against the ways in which API ecosystems and information feed access impacted the online services we use today. Just look at Twitter and their ongoing and shifting relationship with developers.

Air travel is going to see innovation come bigger companies or smaller companies consumed by bigger companies. Think about Google who now owns ITA and offers Google Flights. Consider SAP who owns Concur which owns TripIt. TripIt was interesting because they were one of the first successful companies to aggregate frequent flyer miles for consumers. Of course, for TripIt that didn’t last long as the systems that made such aggregation possible took on new terms of access from several carriers.

What convergence will look like in air travel will come down to how our personal preferences are brought to the travel experience. So, as odd as it might sound, one type of personal preference could include adding in security considerations.

Modern travel booking applications for the web support travel arrangers. What if that travel arranger was an AI? What if you could start with AI for common requests but have a fallback to a human for review? Or, perhaps you just say you don’t want anyone to have access to anything besides you the carrier… and whatever number of third-parties deemed “okay” by that carrier.

Whatever does take place, the convergence will likely mean the interaction requirements will be drastically simplified so that when you call or use an application, some credentials or factors for authentication will proceed your wait time experience. Anything that improves the timeline between a travel desire and carrier revenue will be up for grabs.

Pockets of that convergence exist today but they are really crude. Caller ID (setting aside a spoofing debate for the moment) is the most conspicuous one. Then again, there are brittle areas here as reliance upon legacy IVR functions like proper DTMF handling can often be less than uniform.

The Google Voice and DTMF issue is back again too.


The poor state of uniform DTMF support in bad IVR design likely means the AI voice bots will bring discombobulated malaise to the masses.


2016 telephony trends: phone = buggy “app” DTMF = broken voip trunks = race to zero IVR = bad voice prompts = worse AI/ML (hype) = worst ☎=💀


So, in summary… security will become important and placed into improvements of the system when it is part of the personal preference of the consumer. Those improvements in the system will take the form of convergence in that we won’t have to remember something or have something to get what we want… sitting in a chair in the sky.


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