shift 2020 Brain Food Newsletter #1

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Welcome to the first weekly shift 2020 Brain Food newsletter with links and insights on the topics that all of us concerns: the technological changes impacting our business and society for the good or the worse. I do believe that, we as humans, have a tremendous capacity to act & react towards creating a better future. 

If you like it, let me know by replying to this mail, if you don’t, you can unsubscribe here.


IoT (Internet of Things)

The Internet of Things is definitely one of THE buzzwords nowadays. There are huge predictions and forecasts by the major industry players, calculating enormous benefits in many markets and sectors, most of them yet to develop. The Economist Intelligence Unit found that senior marketing executives worldwide believe the IoT will have the biggest effect on marketers by 2020.

I categorise IoT in Industrial and Consumer IoT. The Industrial IoT can be structured into Smart Energy & Environment, Smart Factories (manufacturing), Smart Retail and Transport (connected cars). Consumer IoT can be structured into Wearables (health wellbeing, quantified self) and the Connected Home. More on that can be found in the Evolution of Mobile presentation (slide 38 onwardsI recently did in Amsterdam. 

The problem with IoT is that no-one really knows how big any of these area’s will become. Worse, many business struggle to understand how their organisation can operate in this not so distant future and figure out new business models to thrive in this new economic environment. As of now there’s lot of experimentation coming from the startup scene and there are enormous opportunities for the ones doing it right to connect people and things in an elegant way. The big players on the other hand are trying to build platforms to connect all their existing customers and their things. 

A good overview post is How Google and Apple will smartify your home, on Google’s recent launch of Brillo and Apple’s to be released HomeKit. Another great read is Forget the internet of things – we need an internet of people, from Jenny Judge and Julia Powles in The Guardian:

“But imagining the Internet of Things shouldn’t just be delegated to tech companies and opportunists riding the hype cycle. Artists, designers, philosophers, lawyers, psychologists and social workers must be just as involved as engineers and internet users in shaping our collective digital future.”

That’s exactly what the “shift 2020 IoT Transformation Lab” is about.


The robotification in society and business is one of the other BIG trends. Any job that has multiple repetitive tasks in it will be taken over by robots – check these 14 surprising jobs that robots are doing. The only question left is when. By many in the tech industry seen as another area that will disrupt or enhance many sectors, taking out many jobs for the people who will not be able to bring value over the machine. 

The BIG question for society and governments is what will people do with their remaining time and how will the system cope with financing the people with no work left or missing the skills to stay on top of things. Will automation and the internet of things lead to mass unemployment?

Thomas Piketty mentioned yesterday in Brussels: “European governments pay annually two hundred billion in interest, while the EU invested only two billion in Erasmus, the university exchange program in higher education. I suggest that we reverse that.” I’m not an economist but I think he’s got a point.

Other really great reads this week are How to Outsmart the Machines by Umair Haque and The Great Decoupling on HBR, an interview with Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee.

Meanwhile, Amazon awarded $20,000 to the creators of a robot that can fill orders most like a human. The good news is that it’s not going to replace employees yet. None of the robots were more effective at identifying objects than humans, not just yet. 

Another necessary debate and reflection is needed as the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has commissioned killer robots that can kill their targets without seeking any help from humans. (link via Tariq Krim)


I could have catagorised this one under the Fun part as well :) 

Man breaks Guinness hoverboard record after standing on a drone – A Canadian inventor has set a new Guinness World Record for the farthest hoverboard flight, thanks to a homemade contraption that looks nothing like Marty McFly’s ride of choice

Another personal tricopter was tried out in Hungary last week in the same category. 

Did you know that 40,000 elephants were killed by poachers last year? The good news is that drones and supercomputers can stop it. I’m extremely pleased that the Air Shepherd Drones Stop Elephant & Rhino Poaching project reached their funding objective on Indiegogo.


What is it like to see again after years of blindness? Rose Eveleth asks a woman whose sight was restored with a remarkable new eye implant: “When they ‘turned me on’ so to speak it was absolutely the most breathtaking experience,” she says. “I was just so overwhelmed and so excited, my heart started beating so fast I had to put my hand on my chest because I thought it was going to pop.”


Inside L’Oreal’s Plan to 3-D Print Human Skin

L’Oreal makes cosmetics and hair colour and is now moving into making skin. Human skin, created in a lab, so it can test its products without using people or animals. Now it’s talking about printing the stuff, using 3-D bioprinters that will spit out dollops of skin into nickel-sized petri dishes. 

Future living / Microgrid

Slovakian firm Nice Architects has built an egg-shaped “Ecocapsule” that runs entirely on solar and wind energy, allowing its dweller(s) to live both literally, and figuratively, off the grid – rent- and electric-bill free – globally.

Friends links & projects

Gerd Leonhard launched Technology vs Humanity short film.

Help support WOW Talks for Schools, a new educational initiative for secondary school students ages 15-17 that uses engaging, inspirational talks to help them discover their passions and pursue their dream careers! 


Forgotify: 4 million songs on Spotify have never been played. Start Listening!

Upcoming speaking gigs

Recently I spoke in Baku for Azercell’s yearly Infoday and did a Keynote at Critical Communications 2015.

Upcoming speaking gigs are at Cambridge’s Technology Ventures Conference (26/6) where I will speak on “Sustainability: The Soul of Technology” and the HRM Expo in Cologne (September) to keynote on “Reshaping Work in the Digital Age”.

I’m welcoming all feedback, tips & links to add, discuss or improve this newsletter. Just reply to this mail. 

Feel free to pass this newsletter around to your friends and colleagues interested. You can subscribe (or unsubscribe) here.

Be kind to yourself and your loved ones.

Have a great week!


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