Welcome to the shift 2020 Brain Food #12 newsletter with insights and links to must read articles on digital transformation changing our world in business and society, carefully curated by yours truly.
The last two weeks since the Paris attacks have been quite an emotional roller coaster for many of us. We’re living in a world in a constant flow of chaos with more polarisations happening all around us. Just check the dialogues in your own communities!
While technology is changing many area’s for the good – disrupting entire dominant sectors on its way – the global challenges we’re facing the coming years and decades, are not minor: extremism/terrorism, rapidly changing demographics, climate change and moving away from the fossil fuel economy, growing wealth gap between middle class and the rich, growing international depth, on-going workplace automation and the redefining or elimination of jobs, continuous learning and the disruption of current educational systems, and so on …
We’re moving from a neo-liberalist capitalist model into a post-capitalist sharing society. Whatever the result will be is not clear but there are many signs in the air and discussions online on this topic. If you’re with me on this, read on and you’ll find some very interesting links included in this newsletter.
One of the reasons I see is that we all have been ‘programmed’ to function in an industrial ‘last century’ type of society, but we are now steaming into a new ‘digital’ world, dominated by technological disruption. It is a new era with new rules, new rituals, concepts, paradigms, business models and strategies. In order to be a key driver in this new economy, we need to explore new frameworks to start designing that new world we want to live in.
Socratic Design Workshops @ Mobile World Congress 2016
One of these methods, I discovered and learned about recently, is the Socratic Design Method, a method to free people and organisations from the burden of unproductive or even destructive procedures, unclear language, old thoughts, silo thinking and wrong assumptions. If we want to create strong new values, we must be in a state of virginal thinking, not as a stand alone, but as a hyper creative collective.
shift 2020 and Schwab Filosofia are organising two Socratic Design Workshops before and after the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Global business leaders can learn to use new tools to transform themselves and their business to prepare for the perpetual technological changes ahead.
IoT Stars back at Mobile World Congress 2016 #mwc16
On Monday, February 22, 2016 at the amazing Antiga Fàbrica Estrella Damm, 10 startups will be pitching in front of a top-notch jury and our audience. It’s a unique opportunity to meet and network with C-level industry leaders, entrepreneurs, designers, developers, investors, press & media working in the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem.
If you’re a startup working in the IoT and want to pitch at the event, apply here before January 15th.
Early Bird tickets are now available to attend the event. Don’t wait last minute to book as the event sold out quickly last year.
We have several speaking opportunities – as a speaker or with a seat in the jury – for industry experts to share their expertise. Get in touch and let us know if you’re interested to participate, sponsor or sit in the jury.
And now for the best brain food of the week, all must reads, really!
Resist and Thrive by Kickstarter CEO and cofounder Yancey Strickler
A seminal statement in this area of perpetual change may be the “Resist and Thrive” post by Yancey Strickler (co-founder & CEO of Kickstarter) on the choice we all have to resist the Monoculture of Money.
The post is based on a talk he gave at the Web Summit in Dublin. It’s a first-draft of thoughts that he felt compelled to share in a room of entrepreneurs and VC’s and explains what happens when a culture is driven by the need for money to make more money.
“In tech, many investors’ first question for entrepreneurs is “what’s your exit strategy?” Big rounds, big burn rates, and big valuations push startups in the same direction. Maximise growth so you can eventually maximise money for yourself and somebody else.
When everyone is optimising for money, the effects on society are horrific. It produces graphs that are up and to the right for all the wrong reasons.“
Capitalism is failing, and it’s time to panic by Paul Mason (video)
The neoliberalist capitalist model has resulted in civil wars and economic disaster, and it’s only going to get worse. Unless, Paul Mason argues, we take advantage of the technological revolution we are living through and create a postcapitalist sharing society. If we let prices fall and delink work from wages, we can save the world from disaster.
Matthew Rognlie, is making waves for an alternative theory of inequality: the problem is housing. Rognlie’s blockbuster rebuttal to Piketty is that “recent trends in both capital wealth and income are driven almost entirely by housing.” Software, robots, and other modern investments all depreciate in price as fast as the iPod. Technology doesn’t hold value like it used to, so it’s misleading to believe that investments in capital now will give rich folks a long-term advantage.
Four fundamentals of workplace automation by McKinsey&Company
As the automation of physical and knowledge work advances, many jobs will be redefined rather than eliminated—at least in the short term.
The potential of artificial intelligence and advanced robotics to perform tasks once reserved for humans is no longer reserved for spectacular demonstrations by the likes of IBM’s Watson, Rethink Robotics’ Baxter, DeepMind, or Google’s driverless car. Just head to an airport: automated check-in kiosks now dominate many airlines’ ticketing areas. Pilots actively steer aircraft for just three to seven minutes of many flights, with autopilot guiding the rest of the journey. Passport-control processes at some airports can place more emphasis on scanning document bar codes than on observing incoming passengers.
What will be the impact of automation efforts like these, multiplied many times across different sectors of the economy? Can we look forward to vast improvements in productivity, freedom from boring work, and improved quality of life? Should we fear threats to jobs, disruptions to organisations, and strains on the social fabric?
Earlier this year, McKinsey&Company launched research to explore these questions and investigate the potential that automation technologies hold for jobs, organisations, and the future of work. This research is ongoing, and in 2016, the company will release a detailed report. What follows here are four interim findings elaborating on the core insight that the road ahead is less about automating individual jobs wholesale, than it is about automating the activities within occupations and redefining roles and processes.
The Doomsday Invention by Raffi Khatchadourian (The New Yorker)
Will artificial intelligence bring us utopia or destruction?
Last year, a curious nonfiction book became a Times best-seller: a dense meditation on artificial intelligence by the philosopher Nick Bostrom, who holds an appointment at Oxford. Titled “Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies”, it argues that true artificial intelligence, if it is realised, might pose a danger that exceeds every previous threat from technology—even nuclear weapons—and that if its development is not managed carefully humanity risks engineering its own extinction. Central to this concern is the prospect of an “intelligence explosion,” a speculative event in which an A.I. gains the ability to improve itself, and in short order exceeds the intellectual potential of the human brain by many orders of magnitude.
Facebook has recently launched a limited beta of its groundbreaking AI called M. M’s capabilities far exceed those of any competing AI. Where some AIs would be hard-pressed to tell you the weather conditions for more than one location (god forbid you go on a trip), M will tell you the weather forecast for every point on your route at the time you’re expected to get there, and also provide you with convenient gas station suggestions, account for traffic in its estimations, and provide you with options for food and entertainment at your destination.
As many people have pointed out, there have been press releases stating that M is human-aided. However, the point of this article is not to figure out whether or not there are humans behind it, but to indisputably prove it.
a16z Podcast: Artificial Intelligence and the ‘Space of Possible Minds’
Azeem Azhar (who also curates the excellent The Exponential View newsletter), The Economist Deputy Editor, Tom Standage and Murray Shanahan, scientific advisor on the movie Ex Machina and Professor of Cognitive Robotics at Imperial College London discussing artificial intelligence and the space of possible minds.
BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking Festival: Work Available. No Humans Need Apply
Paul Mason joins Richard and Daniel Susskind, authors of The Future of the Professions, who argue we will no longer need doctors, lawyers, accountants, teachers and others to work as they did in the 20th century.
With Lucy Armstrong, Chief Executive of The Alchemists and chaired by Free Thinking presenter Rana Mitter.
A new metaphor for organising knowledge is emerging.
Trees have inspired how people understand the world around them for millennia. The worship of trees, known as dendrolatry, is present in practically all cultures and their ability to represent spreading connections has inspired many to adopt their form for a wide variety of knowledge representations. The tree metaphor can be seen in everything from the religious illustrations created by Joachim of Fiore, the biological classifications of Aristotle and Darwin, and your own lineage represented as family trees.
The Future of Cognitive Computing by Dr. John Kelly (IBM Watson Health)
(30 minute keynote video)
Dr. John Kelly is focused on the company’s investments in several of the fastest-growing and most strategic parts of the information technology market, including IBM Watson. The Watson team is charged with accelerating a new class of cognitive software, services, and apps that fuel an ecosystem of enterprises, academic institutions, and entrepreneurs. Previously, he spent seven years as Director of IBM Research, which expanded its global footprint under his leadership by adding four new labs. He recently published the book Smart Machines: IBM’s Watson and the Era of Cognitive Computing with writer Steve Hamm on Columbia University Press. Dr. Kelly holds a Ph.D. from RPI, and he has received three honorary doctorate degrees.
The developed world’s workforce will start to decline next year, threatening future global growth.
Ever since the global financial crisis, economists have groped for reasons to explain why growth in the U.S. and abroad has repeatedly disappointed, citing everything from fiscal austerity to the euro meltdown. They are now coming to realise that one of the stiffest headwinds is also one of the hardest to overcome: demographics.
Next year, the world’s advanced economies will reach a critical milestone. For the first time since 1950, their combined working-age population will decline, according to United Nations projections, and by 2050 it will shrink 5%. The ranks of workers will also fall in key emerging markets, such as China and Russia. At the same time the share of these countries’ population over 65 will skyrocket.
Great statistics and visualisations by The Wall Street Journal.
Check also the WSJ Demographic Destiny 2050 overview.
Music & the Blockchain
Blockchain technology allows for instant, private, and totally transparent transmission of artist royalties, including realtime distributions to co-writers, producers, technology partners, publishers, and even labels. In a presentation at Guardian Live, Imogen Heap explained why she’s releasing her latest song, “Tiny Human,” via the Bitcoin delivery platform.
Fast, actionable, asynchronous, yet near real-time nature of messaging has led to its graduation from being a standalone communication channel to a powerful nucleus supporting variety of emerging utilities and applications. Sensing a shift in preferences, businesses are advancing from “one-way, one-size-fits-all” communication (e.g., mobile alerts, reminders, authentication codes) to “two-way, personalized” messaging. We are at the cusp of unlocking a plethora of use cases, as major messaging apps (Messenger, Slack et al) open up their platforms to developers of complementary applications. Subsequently, a variety of applications and bots will emerge on the messaging layer. Telegram, a heavily encrypted messaging app with relatively smaller user-base of 60 million MAUs, has already leapfrogged to open up its platform. Its APIs empower developers to build customized clients and connect bots to the platform.
Lending money to individuals and businesses is at the heart of what banks do. But the rapid growth of alternative lenders, such as peer-to-peer platforms, is fuelling predictions that banks will suffer similar market share losses to those being inflicted on traditional taxi drivers by Uber, the ride-hailing service.
Driven by low interest rates and sub-zero yields, many private investors and hedge funds have poured billions into new peer-to-peer, or marketplace lenders. These platforms match borrowers and investors directly, outstripping banks by offering both higher yields to investors and faster, cheaper, more convenient loans for borrowers.
Great and very detailed reviews on the recent Exponential Medicine 2015 conference in San Diego
Dr. Daniel Kraft, Founding Executive Director and Chair of Exponential Medicine gave a broad overview of what’s coming down the pipeline in healthcare in terms of new ways to look at health and prevention as well as improved methods to identify diagnoses and provide therapy. A couple takeaways include the facts that where healthcare is happening today is beginning to shift towards lower cost options and that patients today have more transparency than every before about their doctors, hospitals, and how they rank against different metrics. Daniel also encouraged attendees to think past the current excitement around wearables to the next level which might include “insideables,” technologies that monitor from within our bodies, or “trainables,” technologies that don’t just monitor but create an immediate feedback loop to the consumer or patient.
Read the full reviews of the conference here:
The World Could Run Entirely On Wind, Solar, And Hydro Power By 2050
We can fully get rid of fossil fuels quickly, if countries can just find the political will.
Clear thinking needed
Global warming cannot be dealt with using today’s tools and mindsets. So create some new ones.
Check out TIME’s annual round-up of the best inventions making the world better, smarter and—in some cases—a little more fun.
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I’m delighted and grateful to be able to do what I love and share these wonderful stories and knowledge with you. How about you?
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Be kind to yourself and your loved ones.
Have a great weekend!