Category Archives: Various

Digital Transformation

August 24th 2017, Amazon officially  bought Whole Foods. I first thought what are there alter-motives in this buy out.  Why would Jeff Bezos want to buy a food company? At first, I thought it was a  genius idea all around, but after further reading, I then realized the  disruption it would have on the millions of jobs made for supermarket retail. After  doing further research and watching this video, it not only will take jobs a  way for cashiers but also for people who stock the aisles, security, eventually  the idea of going to the grocery store will dissipate, because soon amazon will  be delivering our groceries right to our front door. We can literally shop for our  food on the amazon prime app and have it delivered within two days. Let us not  forget what Amazon was originally designed for, book  retail, and look where that market has gone. “Remember  the company’s original disruption: bookselling. Jeff Bezos not only shifted how  and where books were sold; he also changed how they were made, by forcing  publishers, authors, and everybody else along the book supply chain to cut  their costs.” Now we see toys R Us filing for bankruptcy, why? Because why  go to a toys store that has limited supply of toys for children, when you can shop  on Amazon and just type in the search bar on what you want and it be there.  Walmart’s market has been reduced significantly as well, because what industry  did Amazon get into as well? Furniture, clothing, kitchen supply, Etc. these  are all examples of how Amazon has disruptive these markets through technology  in a negative way.  The very same thing  can happen with the food industry, and by the looks of its virtual testing and  videos of it, it certainly will. Is it a more efficient way to shop on all  ends? Yes, but does it destroy the job markets it gets into? It has been and  will continue.

August 24th 2017, Amazon officially  bought Whole Foods. I first thought what are there alter-motives in this buy out.  Why would Jeff Bezos want to buy a food company? At first, I thought it was a  genius idea all around, but after further reading, I then realized the  disruption it would have on the millions of jobs made for supermarket retail. After  doing further research and watching this video, it not only will take jobs a  way for cashiers but also for people who stock the aisles, security, eventually  the idea of going to the grocery store will dissipate, because soon amazon will  be delivering our groceries right to our front door. We can literally shop for our  food on the amazon prime app and have it delivered within two days. Let us not  forget what Amazon was originally designed for, book  retail, and look where that market has gone. “Remember  the company’s original disruption: bookselling. Jeff Bezos not only shifted how  and where books were sold; he also changed how they were made, by forcing  publishers, authors, and everybody else along the book supply chain to cut  their costs.” Now we see toys R Us filing for bankruptcy, why? Because why  go to a toys store that has limited supply of toys for children, when you can shop  on Amazon and just type in the search bar on what you want and it be there.  Walmart’s market has been reduced significantly as well, because what industry  did Amazon get into as well? Furniture, clothing, kitchen supply, Etc. these  are all examples of how Amazon has disruptive these markets through technology  in a negative way.  The very same thing  can happen with the food industry, and by the looks of its virtual testing and  videos of it, it certainly will. Is it a more efficient way to shop on all  ends? Yes, but does it destroy the job markets it gets into? It has been and  will continue.

The Calm before the storm

The world stands before a valley, behind us is the worn landscape we have used for centuries, the same landscape that has brought us so far. Before us is a desolate valley that we cannot fully see the bottom to but we can see the end. Beyond the valley lies another plateau, full of potential, resources and opportunity. The problem is that most people do not realize that we are about to take the step into that valley and while most people are going to be blindsided, the signs were certainly there. McDonald’s is experimenting with kiosks replacing cashiers at many of their stores and restaurant chains like Apple bees has almost completely replaced their waiters/waitresses with tablets. The world is on the edge of the valley and it just needs a push.

While it may seem small at first, only a few companies come to mind for most when the question of cutting edge is brought up. Companies like Tesla and their advances in cars, Amazon with their delivery services and drones, Google and their many advancements. But one company that many might not know is a company called Ziosk. Ziosk is one of the companies behind restaurant chains like Apple bees turning to the aforementioned tablets instead of waiter/waitresses.

Some may ask why digital transformation is taking such a long time and while some point towards the potential bad public relations a company may get for perceived act of “killing jobs,” but a study done by MITSloan, this study has shown many important insights into the minds of CEOs and their employees. Examples are “Where CEOs have shared their vision for digital transformation, 93% of employees feel that it is the right thing for the organization. But, a mere 36% of CEOs have shared such a vision.” This quote right here shows that there is a division in the thinking between the generally aging CEOs and the much younger employees. And when you get CEOs with the mentality of the employee you get a CEO like the Ziosk.

Digital transformation has the potential to push humankind into an unprecedented era or discovery, progress and innovation, but at the same time it has the potential to put humanity in a state of stasis, where we neither go forward no back or just completely destroy us if we are not careful. But there is one thing that is certain, digital transformation is coming and we as a species are going to have to make a choice and that choice may be on of the most important we make.

Nuclear Energy Continues to Struggle

One point that our current president made very clear during his campaign is the decline of the coal industry. Increased environmental regulations and a decline in the price of natural gas have made burning coal impractical and inefficient. Another source of energy that is often overlooked is Nuclear energy. Nuclear power is struggling to expand its share of the market; an article in Axios, claims that the market share for nuclear power has hovered just below 20% for the past decade. Nuclear energy growth has been stagnant compared to the rapid growth of clean energy sources. Advocates of nuclear power have gave financial support to struggling nuclear power plants in New York and Illinois. People are reluctant to expand the use of nuclear energy because of the safety concerns present. Two of the most infamous nuclear reactor disasters occurred at Fukushima and Chernobyl. Many are skeptical and worried about the aftermath if an issue ever occurred at a nuclear reactor in the United States. However nuclear energy has become safer, more reliable and more efficient over the past two decades. Nuclear energy has extremely high energy outputs. For example, China is expanding their use of nuclear energy to supply energy to its immense population; over half of the nuclear reactors being built are in China. The major impediment for the growth of nuclear energy is cost and time; projects are slow and very expensive.

AI and Quantum Computers Influence

AI as we know are here, but for one mere robot to look and live among us is another. I just find it weird to have a robot that has become a citizen of Saudi Arabia to be comfortable for everyone. How could it be that their technology advancements has lead to Sophia the robot with being a citizen that has been checked for all flaws so quickly. Their is a long way to go with AI and quantum computing but each and every technological company around the world wants to be the one to make the breakthrough first; rather then making a strategic plan to make sure these computers are ready to go into the world. Sophia the robot is not only intelligent in numerous areas, but is also capable of emotion, facial expressions. Sophia the robot is a self learning machine and if this is not enough to creep you out I don’t know what is. We have just given the foundation of computational research a human platform with a human identity to live with us. However, what does this mean moving forward for our world with robots leaving in it. Does this make humanity safe with them, what problems does this solve? I just think it is to soon to release something into the world knowing their are complications that can arise but as always is taking into effect later. What will a typical day look like for an AI living a human life will they have a profession in a desired career path, will they have an income, or would they have a household as well. Having Sophia declared as an citizen means where actually moving way faster than expected and with one robot already living like an human what will the future look like.

Quantum Computers is surely coming up faster than we know too because every company wants to be the first to announce an actual working quantum machine. Quantum computing is set to take over the world and become the master mind behind everything. Microsoft has made a breakthrough into general quantum computing moving them closer to the answers how to master the quantum computers. Microsoft plans to build a quantum computing ecosystem that is based on Freedman’s field of math and branch of physics seemingly mystical its early pioneers invoked philosophy and spirituality. Microsoft experts believe quantum computing innumerable practical benefits.That allows scientists to do computations in minutes or hours that would take a lifetime of the universe on even most advanced even most classical computers we use today. Microsoft has the same views as any company about what we will expect to have accomplished if these computers are online and fully functional. Quantum computing has some time to go before being released into society because their is only one shot you get to impress the world with a computer that can manipulate human intelligence and current data to make it into something new. Moreover, quantum computing can be a good thing with good intentions for humanity depending on the nature of its use or purpose to help the economy become stronger. As well as making significant changes the world making it a better place for everyone.

The first to fall.

Back when I was in high school, my friend and I decided to go to Uno’s. I had been there several times before when I was a kid and when we had finally got there, I was shocked to see not a waiter/waitress but a small black box with a touch screen. While i was not confused as to how to work the machine. I had thought that automation like that was still several years out. But then it dawned on me, while not immediately profitable, these waiter/waitress replacements would probably pay for themselves within 5 years as the restaurant would have to hire less staff overall to work the same amount as tables as before. Looking back on this now, you can see many restaurants starting to prepare for the eventual take over of machines when it comes to order taking. Fast food chains like McDonald’s have these small “kiosks” that can take customer’s orders in place of an employee and we are now seeing more of the non fast food chains adapting to the new technology.
http://www.iretron.com/blog/posts/are-waiters-in-danger-of-being-replaced-with-tablets-and-robots/

Another factor that is increasing the speed of adaption by companies like this, is the increase in support for the $15 minimum wage. Now regardless of political standing on the issue, the fear of this new minimum wage passing through congress has led chains like Applebees, McDonald’s and others to begin to prepare for what was going to happen eventually, automation.

Machine Learning In Our Everyday Life

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When we think about artificial intelligence we might imagine something out of a science fiction movie. However, we might not realize that in one way or another we are using some type of machine learning in our day to day routine. Machine learning is a form of artificial intelligence which allows computers to learn from examples rather than having to follow step-by-step instructions. We encounter machine learning systems daily through our smartphones and our computers, and whether we realize it or not we have become dependent. One thing that’s for sure is that machine learning is already part of our everyday life.

The following are just a few examples on how we constantly interact with ML:

  1. Commuting: Through something so simple as using our GPS or taking advantage of online transportation services such as Uber or Lyft. Using location data from our smartphone, Google Maps can analyze the speed of movement or traffic at any given time. While we are driving, our current locations and velocity are being stored in a central server for traffic management. Our data is then used to build a map of the current traffic, thus giving us route suggestions and estimated time of arrival. As for App based transportation services such as Uber, machine learning systems are used to determine an estimate price of your ride, to minimally optimize your wait time, and to optimally match you to the best service.
  2. Virtual personal assistants/Voice to text: A standard features of smartphones today is voice-to-text. Using spoken commands to ask your phone to carry out a search, or make a call, relies on technology supported by machine learning. Virtual personal assistants (VPA) such as Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant are able to follow instructions due to voice recognition. Machine learning is an important part of VPA since they collect and refine information, and later that data is used to render better results in accordance to our preferences.
  3. Social Media: From personalizing our news feed to ad targeting, social media platforms use machine learning in many ways. Facebook uses AI for facial recognition, so when you upload a photo, faces are automatically highlighted with suggested friends to tag. Instagram, which FB acquired in 2012 uses machine learning to contextual the meaning of emojis. As for Snapchat, the facial features (lenses) track facial movement allowing us to use animated effects or masks that adjust to the movement of our faces
  4. Online Shopping: Think about how Amazon suggests certain products as “customers who viewed this item also viewed”, machine learning is the technology that helps deliver these suggestions through recommender systems. By analyzing data about what customers have bought before, these systems can pick up on patterns in purchasing history (On the basis of our behavior, items liked, items added to our cart, etc).
  5. Music & TV Streaming Services: Recommender systems are also used to suggest movies or TV shows on streaming services such as Netflix. These systems use machine learning to analyze viewing habits and on how we rate that show/film. Music streaming services (Spotify/Pandora Radio) also use machine learning to suggest music.

 

Geoengineering Will Not Fix Our Energy Problem

Researchers in the field of climate change and energy have been spending a lot of time looking into a practice known as geoengineering; deliberately changing the environmental processes of the earth. This practice is one that could be very beneficial to our climate, and may be an option we must resort to in the future, but it is not the answer. This has become a hot topic in the field of science, and I fear that the current administration, who refuses to acknowledge climate change, will resort to this practice and neglect the efficiency of our energy. Rather than worrying about emissions now, and looking to modernize our systems, they will take the “we will fix it later” approach they use with everything. This should not be our last resort, we must continue looking for solutions to fixing our energy systems, by taking a modern approach in which we look to maximize efficiency. This efficiency can be described as providing the most output, with the least emissions and other negative side effects. Prefacing with that, I would like to examine geoengineering, as I believe it will be highly beneficial, I just wanted to point out that its not the only answer.

The goal I have been working towards in this research process, is finding a solution for efficient energy that mitigates effects on the climate as much as possible. So far, I have identified methods to reduce emissions, boost supply, and not harm the climate. As I said earlier, in this post I would like to examine a hot topic that is being talked about as an answer to our energy problem. Geoengineering  is essentially hacking the climate, whether it is glaciers, rocks, waterways, and other natural parts of the environment. This “hacking’ involves fixing problems created by emissions, and other side effects of our energy sources, such as coal. This hacking could actually be a good thing, I believe this should be used as supplemental assistance in the effort of making our energy more efficient. For example, carbon emissions are one of the major reasons our earth is warming, polar climates are melting, and the ozone layer is depleting. The current administration has neglected carbon emissions, for example pulling out of the Paris Agreement. I fear that this trend is going to continue, and we are in for a terrifying future. I don’t want to see them neglect the climate science, and leave our outdated energy sector the way it is. They need to work towards addressing these issues now, rather than later. Final point on this issue, I would love to see this climate hacking implemented as supplemental assistance for reducing emissions and other negative effects, now not later!

Now, the main question is what is the solution? The solution is the complete opposite of what we are seeing now. WE need to ensure that our energy policies are innovative, and continue to push an agenda of modernization into more clean and renewable sources. Right now, we are going back to coal and other fossil fuels, this is simply ineffective and harmful to the environment. We need to make a push towards more solar, nuclear, and electric sources of energy. Studies show that fossil fuels are damaging the climate, and even the inhabitants of the earth. This is not a sustainable model, and we must continue looking for effective solutions. Continuing to invest in these technologies, building our workforce, and limiting the amount of carbon emissions allowed, is a great start for mitigating negative environmental effects. This is a very basic, but effective framework for cleaning up our energy and ensuring the safety of our climate. The switch to clean energy such as solar and nuclear will save us a lot of time, before we need to manually edit the environment. To me, this is unethical, and risky. This is why we need to start right now; actively pursuing efficient sources of energy.

 

Google Reveals there Quantum Computer

 

As mentioned in prior post about Quantum computing it has become a breakthrough in today’s society and more relevant to the economy as well as businesses greatest asset. Along with quantum come their effects to education, machine learning, energy. But Google has just revealed there Quantum computer and what they believe to be the best computer and no computer can compare to it. Googles quantum computer would have nearly 50 qubits making it a powerful supercomputer that has surpassed conventional computing which is also known as “Quantum Supremacy“. There intention of the quantum computer is to create a system where it supports 49 qubit superposition. Google has begun running their test on the quantum computer starting a 20 qubits and by the end of 2017 they plan to have 49 qubits fully functioning and working for the upcoming year. Googles quantum computers will make personalized medicine reality, parsing out the function of every protein in the human genome and modeling their interactions with all possible complex molecules very quickly. Quantum computing will make a drastic change to our medical, science, engineering sectors bringing us limitless outcomes to technological advances in the future and it starts now.

Will Google succeed with their new quantum computer? Google has been running a series of test with there quantum computer called coin-flip. This happens by storing two numbers and choosing one of them at a random each time. The coins are suppose to behave like particles to obey the laws of quantum mechanics. There are 50 coins that will act in place of a qubit so Google can test there theory about quantum computing. I will say from reviewing Googles breakthrough in quantum computing, it looks like they still have a long way to go knowing some of there testing has not worked in there favor. Google has some minor kinks they need to work out before revealing such an important machine to the public that can cause damaged if not properly ready to be on the market. Moreover, I strongly believe that googles quantum computing breakthrough was merely an act to say they did it first and other companies might prolong there time to release there quantum computers. But releasing there technology so early could be a defect to there own process causing numerous effects.

The Modern Energy Workforce

Like any major sector of the United States, energy employs millions of people per year. Studies show that approximately 6.4 million people are employed in the energy sector, and it appears to be trending higher. Energy jobs are some of the most important; they are necessary for keeping our grid safe, ensuring effective transmission and distribution, and mitigating emissions. These elements provide a simple, but effective framework for determining our goals with regards to energy. Like anything, strategy combined with end goals, is an effective formula for completing tasks in a specific field. In this piece, I would like to outline how to effectively build the modern energy workforce, using specific examples to define which fields employees will be needed. In the nuclear, electrical, decarbonization, and other fields, tasks, such as innovation and technological advancement are necessary for the foundation of the workforce.

The energy workforce needs to promote the growth of our communities, locally, and nationally. The second major goal of our workforce should be to enhance the overall position of the United States in the global markets. These employees need the proper training, in order to gain the proper skills for ensuring we have the best supply, and most efficient transmission and distribution systems. A framework created by the energy futures initiatives, recommends a regional approach to creating energy related jobs, and providing the training. This approach seems the most logical to me, simply because it divides the country into portions that aren’t too small or too large. This allows for easy identification of issues, efficient allocation of resources, and more user friendly on the job training. This is the first step in expanding our energy workforce; without a solid foundation, expansion will not be possible.

 

The next question that must be visited, is what kinds of jobs are we looking at in the future? The current administration insists on pushing this idea that we are somehow going to bring jobs of the past back to the United States. Frankly, this is a logical fallacy; rather than forward thinking this is backward thinking and will only set us back for years to come. Manufacturing and production jobs, that once dominated this country no longer exist. Rather than looking into the past, we should search for new means of labor for our citizens that will have a greater impact on society. From research conducted by Ernest Moniz, former secretary of energy, it has been forecasted that 2.2 million jobs will be available in energy efficiency. This means mitigating emissions, improving our electrical transmission systems, ensuring the security of our grid, and decarbonizing our systems. All of these factors combine to create an efficient energy sector. One with high output, quick speed, and little to no emissions. If this type of system can be achieved then we are guaranteed to expand the employment in the energy sector.

A simple but effective strategy I believe we can use to expand the workforce is through college recruiting, through internships, summer programs, and other co op type opportunities. Gaining the interest of the brightest young minds in America, to innovate and create within this sector would profoundly impact the effectiveness and competitiveness of our sector. The second component to this plan would be reaching out to the unrepresented population, and providing them with education programs and on the job training to people such as veterans, and those from less fortunate communities. This whole strategy allows for outreach, and can potentially bring together the brightest minds in our country; all while providing everyone with equal opportunity no matter the background. The end goal of this is job creation, and putting the necessary workers in place to improve our overall efficiency.

In this piece, I outlined a framework that will allow for expansion in our workforce, particularly in the energy sector. If we work towards growing the 6.4 million current jobs, through forward thinking, with the a goal of improving efficiency, we will see a workforce that is well trained, involving people of all backgrounds, producing results. We need to work towards mitigating emissions and improving our overall transmission and distribution of energy. In the end, this will increase our global competitiveness and bring clean energy to our communities.

Digital Transportation Part 2: More than Autonomous

Over the past two weeks, I have talked about Amazon and Tesla dominating their markets through digital transformation. Over the past decade, these companies have developed into big name brands, and I think that has a whole lot to do with change. Until Amazon and Tesla came along, business models and consumer goods did not see a whole lot of change because it was not needed. There was no need for one company to outdo the other because competition was simple, but that changed real fast. Technologies such as Amazon Go, and autonomous driving, have forced other companies to compete and create their own technologies, or go out of business trying. Through improved products and services, Amazon and Tesla have been able to dominate their markets, and now, two more companies are trying to replicate their success through brand new modes of transportation.

In the future, it is probable that Hyperloop One, and The Boring Company, will compete for the top transportation service. In short, the Hyperloop One is a very fast train that will be able to reach speeds of 670 mph (much faster than the Amtrak!). If the Hyperloop One is able to reach this speed, then serious disruption would occur. Overtime, the speed of the Hyperloop One would make airports less useful. The amount of flights needed daily would decrease along with the workers needed at an airport. It would be much faster to transport a person or package by Hyperloop One than by flight. In addition to airports being disrupted, the Amtrak would quickly go off the tracks too. The only use Amtrak will have is for medium distances, distances public transportation (short) and/or Hyperloop One (long) will not travel. The Hyperloop will not take planes out of the sky, but it will at least derail the Amtrak. If not, The Boring Company will.

The Boring Company is Elon Musk’s latest project with a goal to transport cars through tunnels at high speeds at least 130 mph. It is not too much different from the Hyperloop One, it is just a more personal way of traveling. Rather than board a Hyperloop One with hundreds of other people, you can board the Boring Company with a few others in the comfort of your own vehicle. Even though both of these modes of transportation sound luxurious and fast, they both will come at the cost of other services and companies. If the Hyperloop One does not hurt Amtrak, then the Boring Company definitely will. The Boring Company is direct competition with Amtrak, they both will travel the same distances at the similar speeds. In addition, The Boring Company will have wait times instead of scheduled departures. Instead of having to worry about missing the Amtrak, with the Boring Company, you can travel whenever you please. The Boring Company should certainly draw in some business.

Clearly these companies share disruptive qualities and both of them will shift the economy. Going into the future, it is important to pick up on the trends that coincide with digital transformation: quickness, adaptation, and innovation. These are two prime examples of products that have been digitally transformed for efficiency. The Hyperloop One is a faster train, and the Boring Company is a building block to cars. Digital transformation of some products and services just go to show that nothing stays the same forever. Life is always changing and all about catching onto the trends. As technology continues to improve, it is important to improve with it.