Tag Archives: Disruption

317 – Digital Transformation Update

A few months ago, Amazon acquired Whole Foods for $13.7 Billion, one of the largest amounts paid to acquire a company. This is all apart of Jeff Bezos’ strategy to bring cheaper products to the consumer market. This acquisition may be great for consumers, but Bezos’ purchase will force other companies to digitally transform.

Towards the end of August, Amazon began dropping the prices of Whole Foods products by significant amounts. This acquisition has clearly impacted grocery stocks, which have struggled since the merge. A main reason why Amazon is successful is because they minimize their profits as much as possible and reinvest capital back into the company. By doing this, Amazon will continue dropping prices so that customers will run into their inexpensive services.

At the moment, Amazon/Whole Foods is competing at the same level of competition as other grocery markets, but this is unlikely to last for long. Eventually, Amazon will implement their new Artificial Intelligence that will make shopping simpler and faster. However, there is a huge down side that will come with this new technology. Although this technology will eliminate store lines, and allow the option to pay for items later, the technology will displace millions of cashier jobs across America. Eventually, this AI will be found in every store, and the near future may include different variations of this technology for small businesses (unless you are paying in cash).

Many companies are struggling to compete with Amazon’s advanced technologies and strategic business decisions. Toys R Us, Sears, and Macy’s are just a few companies that are being affected by Amazon’s success, and they are running out of ideas to save themselves. The reason why these companies fail to compete with Amazon is because they do not offer the wide range of services that Amazon does. Amazon competes in almost every market, and none of these companies can make the expansion into multiple markets like Amazon already has.

Additionally, Amazon has outperformed these companies digitally. Amazon has disrupted many businesses through their innovative technologies and AI. There is a lot of good that has come out of Amazon (such as Amazon Go) which is why I believe the government has not stepped in on their monopoly yet, the government would not want to hinder their incredible progress. On the other hand, what Amazon is doing is arguably illegal. Although the technology Amazon has come up with is considerably brilliant, it cannot mask the fact that it will destroy millions of jobs and hundreds of multi-million dollar companies.

Given the Whole Foods deal has been approved, there are no signs of Amazon slowing down. Something needs to be done in order to prevent companies like Amazon from expanding too large. The outcomes will impact the economy more negatively than positively. In the near future, Amazon’s innovative ideas like Amazon Go will be embraced, but not unless it is shared among other businesses. If Amazon grows too large, there will be no room for other companies to grow, no competition, and fewer jobs. For now, companies need to focus on keeping up with Amazon so they do not fall behind. I believe Amazon will be stalled eventually, but until then, the market MUST adapt to technological advancements.

Executive Summary-Energy of the Future

Introduction

The energy sector is facing many difficult challenges to address how globally the power sector must be transformed in the near future to sustain technological advances. These challenges entail meeting requirements of securing energy for when the need arises in the future, ensuring that they are addressing climate change as well as helping those people who lack access to energy resources.

The Future in Energy Transformation

The world is in the midst of an Energy Revolution. Energy technology innovation has become an integral part in meeting the increasing demand for energy. In order to meet this objective the United States has promoted energy efficiency in all sectors; due to higher future energy demand it has implemented changes specifically in the production and consumption of energy. Such changes include measures to utilize technology innovation for the reduction of gas emissions, increase utilization of renewable sources to produce electric energy, and an increase of awareness of how energy efficiency affects climate change. In the past ten years energy companies have been required to review and restructure their current business model. Power companies have been forced to think outside the box by implementing new strategies in order to be able to sustain a market share in the energy sector. Extensive initiatives have been taken by these power companies to address the increasing electricity demand as a result of the evolution of technology. The utilities companies have concluded that if they don’t act fast they will be left behind, especially with the drastic decrease in prices for renewables and energy storage. The protruding of distributed energy resources caused many changes to take effect at a faster pace than originally planned by the energy companies. As such, the electric power industry realizing that in order to remain competitive they must continuously invest monies in research and development. Energy companies are also required to make extreme modifications to their current business model in order to comply with the new requirements pursuant to the Paris Agreement on climate change; the framework has been finalized for the nation’s first carbon regulations. The energy revolution sets the ground work and the foundation on a global basis for the efforts to address climate change as well as coming up with ways to sustain a low-carbon energy future. Recent changes in the energy sector have resulted in the recognition of the importance of economic growth in the energy division, and at the same time the need to address climate change. It has become apparent that the emerging of advanced energy technologies provides many options to implement and address the challenges of the increased energy consumption. Advances in technology are the leading factors in driving this energy revolution to a whole new spectrum. The energy transformation creates additional possibilities for technologies which have proven that their exceptional accomplishments have been regarded as having the potential to change and reshape the surroundings in which we live and work.

 

Energy transformation has contributed to the economic growth as well as the great contribution to cleaner energy in the future. Currently in the United States the utilization of fossil fuels has drastically decreased, this was due to the vast technological innovations. It has resulted in the remarkable task of continued technological progress in wind, solar, and biofuels of which it has caused an increase in the use of renewable energy. The makeup of these energy sources has resulted in a vast shift: petroleum and coal are being replaced by the growing use of natural gas and renewables, resulting in a cleaner energy future. In addition to the benefits of meeting the increased demands of energy in the future, there have been also economic benefits. Increased production of oil, natural gas, and renewable energy has contributed to the increase in employment in these industries. Technological innovation and increased production of energy translates to price reduction for the supply of energy. The reduction in prices will benefit businesses as well as the residential arena; businesses realize an increase in their net income which translates to having to pay higher taxes to the taxing authorities, and households have an increase of disposable income.

http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/energy-and-the-environment/renewable-energy-and-electricity.aspx

 

As stated earlier, the breakthroughs and advances have been made predominantly in the technology sector of renewable energy. Energy companies have concluded that solar wind and hydro power are more efficient for meeting today’s growing energy demands; how will renewable energy be utilized in 30 years? The development of energy storage technology has been determined to be of the defining feature in the future of energy. There are various benefits to energy storage which is due to the renewable energy technologies, such as wind and solar, these will have the capacity to meet the supply and demand for energy. There are some drawbacks as well to the utilization of wind and solar. Since the production of renewable electricity is associated with wind and solar power they are also considered unreliable when it’s dark or there is minimal wind blowing. As we have realized how vital these power sources have become to our growing demand for energy, there is an increase demand for the investment in technologies that allow energy producers, such as the power sector, to come up with the capacity to store energy that is generated when the sun shines and the wind blows. The stored energy will be released on a need to basis, which results in providing a clean air environment as well as satisfying the high demand or when the wind or the sun is not available. As the world discovers new ways to meet its growing energy needs, there is also consideration taking place on how power companies are increasing their efforts to address climate change.

 

Conclusion

Renewable energy in various forms offers great opportunities for technological innovation and progress. Over the next thirty to fifty years continued efforts without interruption must be facilitated in order to keep up with the increase in demand for energy. Renewable energy development can be beneficial in underdeveloped and developing countries. Biofuels are highly regarded as a means of addressing climate change as well as satisfying the increased demand for the use of energy. The increase in the development of energy storage technology, finding new energy carriers will result in meeting greater energy demands.

 

 

 

Recommendations

 

  • Continue to invest in research and development for new ways for improved energy storage technologies.
  • Continued efforts to educate the public on energy efficiency – the purchase of energy efficient appliances
  • Implementing stricter building guidelines – the construction of buildings and homes to be built with higher energy efficiency codes.

Technology and the Art World

The age of robots is quickly approaching if not already here, and it may pose a threat to aspiring artists. There are two technological advances that will have a particular impact on the art industry: Virtual/Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence.

Virtual Reality devices provide fully immersive experiences that allows users to personally interact within a computer-generated, three-dimensional environment. Virtual Reality is not limited to video games. Graphic Designers may want to take a look into this, not only for game design but also for social media platforms and educational platforms. Videographers ought to consider adapting to this trend by training themselves on how to use 360° cameras. Painters may want to have a go at Google’s Tilt Brush, which allows you to paint inside a virtual reality. Augmented Reality devices allow users to function in the real world, supplemented by computer-generated information. There are an increasing number of exhibitions that allow viewers to interact with art pieces that ‘come to life’ through augmented reality with their smartphone. Those who like to stick with traditional mediums may want to consider using augmented reality to show photographs of their artworks at multiple galleries at the same time.

Machines with Artificial Intelligence function in ways normally thought to only be associated with human minds. For example, some AIs are self-learning or are able to understand human speech. What does this have to do with artists? Well, people have created algorithms that allowed them to 3D-print an original painting that looked exactly like a Rembrandt.

Scared now? But Artificial Intelligence cannot possibly encroach on the beauty of the human soul…can it? Take a look at Cozmo, an AI robot designed to mimic human emotions. Of course, this robot is not the end-all-be-all; but neither were flip-up cell phones. It may not be impractical to predict that one day, AI will be able to do everything that we artists can do.

A few consoling thoughts; I expect that ours would be one of the last occupations to be replaced by AI, considering how challenging it is to quantify emotions and personalities. I also imagine that after the robot-craze over digital realities, autonomous vehicles, 3D-printers and AI, people may look once again to the value of the ‘human touch’ and the raw, natural world. Humans are flawed, and we may need to be prepared to market that aspect of ourselves; our struggles are what makes us unique – what makes us beautiful.

It is very important for us artists to begin asking ourselves how we are going to adapt to this increasingly technological world. Once upon a time people bought from whatever artists were in the local area. Now, people can buy from any artist they like via the internet, making it all the more challenging for each one of us to stand out among millions of other artists. How exactly do we do that?

Let me explain one approach with a personal experience of mine. Two summers ago in Anchorage, Alaska, I found a very nice handmade belt with native designs on it, made by a man who called himself Ziggy. We talked briefly about our lives, and he told me that he painted most of the murals in Anchorage, learned more than 100 trades throughout the course of his life, and ran for mayor of Anchorage 3 times. After I bargained the belt down to $75, I watched him finish making it by customizing it to fit my waist. Had I seen the same exact belt for sale at Macy’s, I would never have bought it in a million years. But I got a handmade Alaskan belt made by a man with a scraggly beard who ran for mayor three times – I do not regret a thing.

There is a saying that people do not buy artwork – they buy the artist. Marketing one’s artwork on social media is just the beginning. One needs to market their personality, their character, their visions, and even other passions. Our art is not the only thing that has to be relatable; the more relatable you as a person are, the easier it becomes to make exchanges.

In summary, current technological advances have as huge an impact on our industry as any other. I strongly encourage other artists to think critically about how they can adapt to current and incoming trends in order to share their individual gifts and insights to the world.

 

This is a rough-draft article expected to publish on The Stillman Exchange sometime in the near future.

Blockchain: What we’ve learnt so far

As a group, we researched blockchain and identified multiple uses and functions of this groundbreaking technology. Central banks, corporations and financial institutions alike are understanding the importance of integrating this encrypted ledger. In doing so, they hope to ensure longevity by avoiding disruption.

Please enjoy the video below:

What I Have Learned about Virtual Reality

Along with the rest of the Virtual Reality team, I too made my own video explaining some of the most important things that I learned from the investigations my group and I have done on VR and AR. Extending beyond some of the basic information about virtual reality that you can read on Wikipedia, I hope this video will make you think about the ways that we use these technologies in our everyday lives. Hope you like it and please feel free to leave a comment below with any questions or criticisms.

How DT&L and Virtual Reality Changed Me

Hello everyone! For my blog post this week, I thought it’d be fun to share a video of how DT&L, and Virtual reality really opened my eyes. In the video I discuss my reasons why I took Disruption, Technology, and Law, what VR and AR are, and the most interesting aspects of them I learned. It’s been an eye opening class, and I don’t regret taking it at all. DT&L is and always will be an eye opening class. I have learned more about myself that in any other course. Enjoy my video, and feel free to leave comments!

Blockchain Technology in the Next Election

The question of election rigging in the United States has now been addressed in more than one election: the 2ooo Bush v Gore presidential elections and this past presidential election and in other nations around the world, news of election rigging is all too familiar. How do we solve this, and more specifically how do we solve this problem for future generations?

To avoid rigged elections, the future is e-voting using blockchain technology. Follow My Vote is a company that is practically spearheading the innovation behind allowing voters to vote online using end to end blockchain technology whose aim is to combat electoral fraud and protect user credentials. Their goal for future elections is to have voting without endless lines, fraudulent registration practices by simply using a webcam and a government issued ID. Because of the underlying blockchain technology, the virtual electoral process assures a quick and auditable process. It guarantees real time reflection on the process and cryptography would then ensure the security of one’s vote in the blockchain enabled voting platform.

Watch the video below for a visual understanding of how Follow my Vote works:

Of course there are skeptics who are opposed to the sudden branching out into using blockchain technology in the electoral process. One of the main fears is that blockchain is not fully matured as a technology for it to handle something as sensitive as voting. The other fear is that an online platform present risks for hackers who might compromise the authenticity of the process by “interception or malware” as Jeremy Clark, a specialist in cryptographic voting systems at Concordia University, advises. Although the skepticism is rational, the underlying issues currently being addressed when operationalizing blockchain are the ones being solved constantly to make it a viable technology, not only by firms such as Follow My Vote, but by central banks and corporations alike.

The fundamental reality is that sometimes various technologies are invented to maximize profit and win wars, but other times they are actually created to transform or have the capacity to transform injustice and unfairness experienced today and in the past. Using them for good, not only in the United States but globally, is significant. Eradicating the reality of fraudulent elections means setting up a future framework for free and fair elections that enable administrations to work for the benefit of their citizens, not the corrupt.

Here’s a Ted Talk by Santiago Siri to sum it all up:

Will Automated Vehicles Change the World?

In a world that is defined by one constant: change, one single technology being called “ the most influential technology in the past century” is a bold statement that people cannot ignore any longer. But is this truly a technology which will revolutionize the way in which we see our world? Is this really the aforementioned “most influential technology in the past century”? As we’ve covered previously, car manufacturing and transportation, two of the sectors that people are perhaps most familiar with and can relate to will experience massive changes that will effect not only the people in the industry, but also the world at large. And yet, the positive aspects of this technology are immeasurable. Looking at the U.S. transportation system current day, once a person is 17 they are flung into the traffic and daily struggles of navigating on some of the most dangerous roadways. Now stop and think for a second as the future of driving will be changed with upgrades to the standard vehicle today: Roads will be safer, traffic could be eliminated, and “passengers” (anyone in an automated vehicle) will experience an increase in the amount of free time they have due to shorter rides. 

We can see one very apt comparison can be made when buildings first adopted fully automatic elevators. There was a similar reaction made by many people back then akin to the reaction people have when talking about automated vehicles today.  Many felt uncomfortable to be in an elevator that was automatic, these people longed for an operator in the elevator to make sure they could get to their floor safely because they simply did not trust the new technology. Current-day generations unsurprisingly take this technology for granted because they never experienced a time where there was not automated elevators. Is this starting to sound familiar? It should. Just how the idea of automated vehicles driving around and having free reign on the road is a scary thought for so many people today, so too was the idea of elevators working on their own in the past. So then, will automated vehicles one day be as simple and regular as automatic elevators? We’ve all seen videos online like this one involving young children who display a familiarity and enjoyment in using an iPad, so in that same vein will these self-driving cars become the new iPad or automated elevator? A tool that newer generations will accept much more easily than those who live through the transition? I’d like to think that as the technology advances, and the world gets more and more exposure to autonomous vehicles it will become a banal normality to no longer drive your vehicles any longer. The common person will have to become comfortable with the fact that their cars were pre-programmed and they do not have complete control in decision making.

Perhaps contrasting the final point regarding a loss of control in the previous paragraph, another angle to self-driving cars is to think about the amount of companies that will grow and prosper making their living off of the rise of this technology. Not only that, we must also try to observe and understand the amount of change that will be brought on not only on a personal level by automated vehicles but also for city planning and other logistical endeavors. This article does an extraordinary job looking at the different ways in different approaches to automated vehicles will have different results for society as a whole. For example, Uber has already taken over Pittsburgh with their autonomous fleet as we’ve discussed previously. However, this is just one of the three options currently being talked about for the future of autonomous vehicles. The first option is private ownership, which is perhaps the most well known category. We see this already with the current state of our transportation system using buses, trains, etc. to move people from point A to point B that are all owned by companies. Another option is buying into companies and “renting” cars from Tesla, Google, or Ford. This means that after paying a fee to a specific company whenever a car is needed you would simply call for it and they would send a car. The last option is a bit similar to the last but for key reasons is the favorite of urban planners because it will eliminate the most cars: a shared fleets of cars. Acting like Uber Pools or a taxi, a car would pick up a group of people all heading to the same location and would drop them off and then when a car is needed again, another one can just be called. The key difference here is that these pools would be owned by the government much like buses or trains and not require fees be paid to a company for the service.

Now there is currently a three-era breakdown of the installation of fully functioning autonomous vehicles that starts at 2015, goes to 2020, and finally stops at 2050. The first era as most of you may already know has already started: automated vehicles are already a reality and being tested in fleets across the world like in Singapore and Pittsburgh. Couple this with the fact that there are now emerging models and technologies that are being created and released and that testing has been ramped up especially in a state like California and you get a formula that is set for mass amounts of innovation in a very quick time span. Tesla is one of the best examples of this with their release of Autopilot 2.0. The next era is set to begin in 2020 and end in 2030: this era will be marked by the insurance companies no longer covering an individual driver, but rather now covering companies due in large part to private ownership becoming a thing of the past, causing companies to own the cars and rent out their vehicles to citizens in the country. Along those lines, since the driver will have no longer have liability of any decision that the car makes the insurance must also insure that the technologies controlling the vehicles is for lack of a better word, bulletproof. Finally, the years from 2030 to 2050 are forecasted to be when automated vehicles are predicted to become the primary means of transportation. The most important milestone reached in this era will be that vehicle crashes will fall 90%, saving billions of dollars per year and making the roads a safer place for all drivers. This will then lead to the redesigning of major cities and towns as we know; as an example, with cars constantly coming and going parking spots can be replaced or removed. Today, cars are parked 95% of the day which will be dramatically decreased to a mere 40-50%. The extra space can lead to further innovation of new technology in now available space. Right now it may be hard to fathom of a world where the drivers will no longer be driving but rather passengers in their own car however once the world has become fully comfortable with this idea, look out for the rapid of advancements of this great technology. The world of tomorrow will undoubtedly become more efficient and roads will look dramatically different than they do present day.

Virtual Reality: Ethical Issues, Global Impact, and Impact on your Career

Virtual and Augmented Reality Ethical Issues:

There are a few ethical issues in regard to virtual environments which need to be addressed. These are related to human behavior, motivations, and inappropriate/ uncensored content in open sourced VR worlds. There are also physical and physiological health concerns in regard to the virtual reality experience.

As the researchers point out, there are good reasons to be especially concerned about the influence of virtual reality on the human brain, as opposed to television or non-immersive video games. Concerns have been raised about a possible relationship between virtual reality and desensitization. This refers to virtual reality games in which there are high levels of violence or training exercises for the military in which soldiers engage in simulated combat scenarios which include killing. Desensitization means that the person is no longer affected by extreme acts of behavior such as violence and fails to show empathy or compassion as a result. This has been noticed with gamers, especially those who play first person shooters or role playing games which involve a high degree of immersion. Unlike other forms of media, VR can create a situation in which the user’s entire environment is determined by the creators of the virtual world.

The VR experience can introduce a number of opportunities for new and powerful forms of mental and behavioral manipulation. Virtual Reality is just like any other experience in the real world in the sense that it can hurt people in the same way that real-world situations can affect people in a psychological sense. To avoid an ethical dilemma in regards to VR, it is important to remember:

  1. Experiments using virtual reality should make sure that they do not cause lasting or serious harm to the subject.
  2. Those participating in the experiment should be made aware of possible psychological and physical effects from VR.
  3. Create awareness about the many ways VR can be used for something other than its original intention.
  4. Adopting procedures through policy and law that ensure a user’s privacy and safety is protected and maintained.

Virtual reality is a form of technology that is continuously developing, because of this continuous progression VR may cause some problems that many of us have not encountered before. There will be problems that include poor ergonomics and then there are psychological issues. These issues are moral and ethical concerns that need to be looked upon with these technological advancements. There are physical effects and time constraints. Due to a person’s perception being distorted VR can provide users motion sickness. Some people are affected by this after spending only 30 minutes in a virtual environment whereas others can go several hours before they notice any ill effects. This is also known as cybersickness. These virtual realities and their devices unfortunately take a very long time to create and maintain, and as we should all know, time is money. Wasted time causes many issues within the surface of a company, the products it produces for the customers, the customer service, the research, the future technological advances, and so on. Researchers are attempting to create a balance between hyper-realism and production time but the equation is yet to be solved at this point.

How Virtual Reality Will Impact Businesses In The Next Five Years:

  1. We’ll Experience Our Reality Through Virtual Reality
    • AR and VR will be tools for our future to capture knowledge. The educational world and the way we will learn will dramatically change 5 years from now. VR will truly become an essential tool in the workforce. These technology-driven tools are getting better, more realistic, and are already accepted by those entering the workforce.
  2. Prototyping Will Go to the Next Level
    • VR and AR will allow companies to present their project in newer and better ways than ever before. These virtual prototypes will allow the customers, builders, and developers to have better planned designs and models which will lead to a higher rate of sales and a higher quality of goods sold as every minute detail of a project can be shown. Decision makers and end-users will be able to provide better and more valuable feedback early in the game. This will allow business to focus and spread out their timing more throughout the company and waste less money holistically.
  3. Certain Niche Markets Will Be Impacted
    • These devices will provide happiness and ease to travel around the world without flying or spending thousands of dollars to enjoy simple moments. However, these devices will be extremely expensive to purchase and most likely maintain.
  4. Advanced VR Will Become the Social Laboratory of the Elite
    • VR and AR will be simulating business strategies, assist government policies, and so on. These choices and devices are supported by billions of dollars in capital which makes this an audience and a market to dive into rather than to ignore.

VR and AR on a Global Level:

The insurgence of VR and AR has massive global implications. International Data Corporation (IDC) has projected that in just four years, the VR/AR market will reach sales up to $162 billion. More and more 360o videos have been showing up on video channels such as Youtube, subtly reminding viewers that they could be getting a better experience via a VR device. VR and AR are by no means constrained to video gaming. As mentioned in a previous blog post, VR is already having an impact in the medical industry, education, social media, and business. Surgeons could be using VR for surgeries, and patients for therapy sessions. Education could become much cheaper if entire courses begin to be taught by one teacher embedded into an immersive software. Social media platforms will become entirely new realities with virtual social spaces and avatars. Mark Zuckerberg has created a plan to do something like this in combining Facebook and VR.

So VR is not restricted to gaming; gaming is simply the gateway to people’s interest in VR. But the “gods of technology” seem to have greater plans for Augmented Reality. Virtual Reality will forever be an experience that takes us away from the present and physical world around us. AR, however, could potentially become an everyday part of our lives.

 

Having trouble believing this could be a close representation of our future? Samsung has already put in patents for smart contact lenses. Get ready world!