shift 2020 Brain Food Newsletter #6

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Welcome to this weeks shift 2020 Brain Food #6 newsletter with insights on digital transformation changing our world in business and society. This week’s topics include Sustainability / Cleantech, AI, VR, BitCoin, Blockchain, and Search.

Let me know if you enjoyed reading this newsletter and which sections you like the most by simply replying to this email or to send me your feedback, tips & links to add or simply start a conversation.



Sustainability, the Soul of Technology

A couple of weeks ago, I presented at the Technology Ventures Conference in Cambridge, UK on “Sustainability, the Soul of Technology”. It was a challenging presentation for me as I included lots of new material and research in front of a crowd of academics, investors and entrepreneurs.

A video should become available soon, I’ll include it here as soon as it becomes available.

Sustainability is such a broad topic and there is so much to tell and do in all its different area’s. Limiting global warming to no more than two degrees has become the internationally accepted target for climate policy. Scientists think the risks of climate change increase as temperatures rise. Two degrees isn’t a ‘safe’ level of climate change, but nor is it a red line with only chaos beyond. The world has already warmed by 0.85 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial average and if emissions stay high we’re on course for more like three to five degrees by 2100. In order to get back on track, emissions need to peak and then fall by between 40 and 70 per cent by 2050 with unabated fossil fuel burning almost entirely phased out by 2100, according the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

In short, this means we need to get rid of the fossil-fuel economy, powered by coal, oil and gas during the past three centuries and move towards a sustainable economy. Among many climate scientists, gloom has set in. Things are worse than we think, but they can’t really talk about it.

The Dutch government was ordered recently to cut carbon emissions in a landmark ruling stating to reduce emissions by 25% within five years to protect its citizens from climate change in world’s first climate liability suit.

In technology, we see a lot of promising signs of leaders showing examples (Googleand Apple) and entrepreneurs like Elon Musk opening new potential with solar powered electric vehicles and home batteries.

Startups like Airbnb and Nest have created a real ’smart’ partnership last year to install free thermostats in the homes of the Airbnb hosts in order to make the rental service more environmentally friendly and to frame the company’s new eco-friendly branding. It’s also a shrewd business move for Nest.

Yeloha, a new startup matching people with solar and people without solar, Yeloha is like Airbnb, except the excess capacity on offer isn’t a room in someone’s house, but spare cells on their roof. It’s called Solar Sharing.

Transfix – the Uber for trucks – a logistics company matching drivers and loads through an app, making the whole truck transport sector more efficient and sustainable.

Note there’s also an Uber for Trash startup movement coming up.

SolarKiosk enables and empowers the sustainable economic development of Base-of-the-Pyramid (BoP) communities worldwide through the provision of clean energy services, quality products and sustainable solutions. The Berlin-based startup has pioneered and scaled up a solar-powered technology design and an inclusive business model that are tailored for the specific needs of BoP communities. It includes local entrepreneurs as franchise partners who provide clean energy services, affordable solar products and quality consumer goods.

In the near future we can imagine an open-source Energy Internet where citizens will move into microgrid living and start producing their own sustainable living, as well as distribute their positive energy output back into the grid, potentially creating a global Energy Internet.

All that and a lot more you can view in my “Sustainability, the Soul of Technology” presentation.


It’s No Myth: Robots and Artificial Intelligence Will Erase Jobs in Nearly Every Industry

“With advances in artificial intelligence, any job that requires the analysis of information can be done better by computers. This includes the jobs of physicians, lawyers, accountants, and stock brokers. We will still need some humans to interact with the ones who prefer human contact, but the grunt work will disappear. The machines will need very few humans to help them.

This jobless future will surely create social problems — but it may be an opportunity for humanity to uplift itself. Why do we need to work 40, 50, or 60 hours a week, after all? Just as we were better off leaving the long and hard agrarian and factory jobs behind, we may be better off without the mindless work at the office. What if we could be working 10 or 15 hours per week from anywhere we want and have the remaining time for leisure, social work, or attainment of knowledge?

Yes, there will be a booming tourism and recreation industry and new jobs will be created in these — for some people.

There are as many things to be excited about as to fear. If we are smart enough to develop technologies that solve the problems of disease, hunger, energy, and education, we can — and surely will — develop solutions to our social problems. But we need to start by understanding where we are headed and prepare for the changes. We need to get beyond the claims of a Luddite fallacy — to a discussion about the new future.”

Read Vivek Wadhwa’s full article.

The deep mind of Demis Hassabis

Part 4 of the must read Steven Levy interview with Demis Hassabis, co-founder of DeepMind

Deep-Learning AI Is Taking Over Tech. What Is It?

If you’re following the tech giant’s news these days, you know that ‘Deep Learning’ is one of THE upcoming trends in the AI field. Deep Learning takes the AI a step further: it trains machines to recognise patterns in the data, then classify and categorise them, all on their very own (so with less engineering labour). And second, it enables the process to unfold huge reams of previously unmanageable data.

Read this <re/code> article on this topic.


Oculus founder confirms VR is shaping up into an unavoidably fragmented mess

Ever since Oculus launched its Kickstarter, hopeful fans of VR technology have looked to the company to provide a cutting-edge gaming solution. Since then, we’ve seen a number of companies announce their own VR efforts, from the Vive (Valve and HTC) the Gear VR (Samsung and Oculus), Razr’s OSVR, the new StarVR, to Sony’s Project Morpheus, there’s currently a race on to see who can provide the best hardware for virtual reality gaming. Unfortunately, as a new reddit thread illustrates, that future may be considerably more fragmented than users would prefer.

Oculus is building more than just a headset — it’s planning to build an entire platform, including motion controllers. Another race for the winning platform!


Bitcoin innovations will come from developing countries

“Today, in 2015, I still can’t use Paypal to send money to friends in Nicaragua,” saysForde, former senior adviser for mobile and data innovation at the White House. “But I can send them Bitcoin instantly.”


Rethink Music released a report claiming that the cryptocurrency system could help to ensure musicians to get paid fairly and quickly for their work. Isn’t that what Kobaltis already doing on the Internet today?


Search After the Search Box: Google Now Pushes Into the Next Frontier of Mobile Behaviour

Search is evolving swiftly, moving to the realm of apps and intelligent voice-based exchanges — all of which currently have little room for Google’s core business of selling search ads. Google has laboured to amend that. The company has released a series of features designed to magnify and entrench its presence within mobile search, which now dominates the desktop.

Read all about it.


IoT Shifts Conference, Pompeu Fabra University of Barcelona, October 19-20, 2015

How to adapt your company strategy to an increasingly connected future of people and things? Learn about new opportunities and business models applied in IoT through the use of connected data for the digital natives generation who want purposeful products and contribute to build a sustainable future. This conference will capture this essence and showcase main trends and products brought to you by some of the brightest minds in the business.

If you’re interested to speak, direct a workshop, partner, sponsor or volunteer for this event, please send your request here. The conference will cover Consumer and Industrial IoT in Retail, Health & Fitness (Quantified Self & mHealth), Gaming, FinTech, Connected Home, Manufacturing, Energy, Smart City and Transportation.

A first batch of speakers will be announced here soon!

The weekend before the conference, we’re organising the IoT Shifts Transformation Retreat – a brand new, ground-breaking two-day custom designed workshop at a beautiful luxury 5-star resort in Spain.

That’s it for this week. Feel free to pass this newsletter around to your friends and colleagues interested. You can subscribe (or unsubscribe) here.

Read the previous editions of this newsletter here.

Be kind to yourself and your loved ones.

Have a week!


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