Tag Archives: Disruptive Technology

Digital Transformation Final Summary

The world will look nothing like it did in the past, we are undergoing a period of digital transformation. The American Dream is no longer what it used to be; Capitalism is shrinking, and technology is taking the jobs of the working-class. Americans are having trouble finding their place in society because technology has taken the role of human physical presence. The past American Dream offered a pre-determined agenda that was simple to complete, founded on simple jobs like “factory worker”, “waitress” or “cashier”, but now these ‘stable’ positions are all disappearing. Navigating the former route of the American Dream is not an option because it is no longer so set in stone. Life proves to be unpredictable, and same with the direction of the American Dream. New jobs are emerging on the web, and we must adapt to this digital transformation, even if it means adjusting our American Dream. We can no longer settle for one job, rather settle when the jobs are done.

We must cope with the fact that there is almost no room to climb up the capitalist ladder anymore. We must work with the ones at the top in order to expand our overall potential for success. Platform companies control most of the IoT and technologies that come with it. They offer many opportunities for businesses to grow: Shopify, Amazon, and Facebook offer many services to help customers and sellers engage in business, Ziosk offers an easy-to-use food ordering service for dine-in customers at Applebee’s and other restaurants, and Microsoft Office changed the way we create and submit reports. Neglecting these innovations will leave you behind, there is much success to be gained by properly utilizing these technologies.

We must not learn a specific set of skills, rather a much broader set of technology skills that cover multiple fields. Being F.A.I.R. will help people transition into their new skills. F.A.I.R. people will always be innovating new products/services, so no longer can we restrict our skills, we must anticipate and adapt to change.

Achieving the American Dream is still possible, but it requires a new route to success. We must expand our knowledge in different fields rather than one to adapt to the never ending changes we will face. We cannot have a narrow focus to our next step in life when the future requirements to our jobs require us to think more broadly. Being able to adapt to change, “learn, unlearn, and relearn”, will help us reach the next chapter in our lives.

Link to our group presentation!

 

So the Climate Is Changing…Now What?

The impact we have on the environment is not something we can overlook, but it is something we have chosen to ignore. If we are trying to look at the big picture of what climate change is and how it is affecting us, the most obvious thing to point out is global warming. While our group did discuss global warming, we decided to focus more on the smaller aspects of climate change and investigated how global warming affected other aspects of the environment. The clear impact of global warming is the rising temperatures, and we discussed the implications of the warmer weather in many different cities. Through investigation, we also stumbled across the impact our pollution has on animals, how it can stir up dormant diseases, or how it can damage our atmosphere. The real focus of our project, however, was the many ways we can mitigate the effects of climate change.

To generalize the numerous problems that are attached to climate change, it is not untrue to say “the end is near and society is essentially screwed.” Climate change is more than the planet getting a “little” hotter. A difference of a few degrees from the average range of the Earth’s temperature has greatly affected the weather, which in turn effects land, and ultimately where life is sustainable. Climate change has caused a domino effect of problems that is perpetuated by continued creation carbon emissions, as well as lack of addressing carbon emissions already present in the atmosphere. Moreover, there is no single solution to fix climate change. Carbon emission may arguably be what facilitate current and future climate change issues, but cutting back on carbon emissions will do virtually nothing to address the issue. Humans have been pumping carbon into the atmosphere for centuries and carbon takes thousands of year to dissipate. As a result, action, like that set by the Paris Accord, will not do much to solve climate change. Even if emissions were cut to zero, the emissions already created would continue to linger, thus perpetuate the effects of climate change. Instead of searching for a single solution to climate change, we need to address every issue individually before they arise.

One effect of global warming is the rise in sea level. Only concerning sea level rising, the increasing temperature of the Earth causes thermal expansion, melting of the ice caps, and ice loss in areas like Greenland and West Antarctica. Thermal expansion and the melting of the polar and glacial ice caps are direct results of global warming; however, unlike the melting ice caps, thermal expansion is reversible if carbon emissions were severally cut back. The melting ice caps are adding more water into the ocean and there is impossible to take that water back. Similarly, ice loss in Greenland and West Antarctica also means more water is flowing into the ocean. Compounding the issue of more water being added into the ocean and the “expansion” of water, the sea level is rising at an alarming rate.

Moreover, if the ice caps are melting then the ocean must be heating up to some extent. Heating of the ocean affects the weather, namely referring to the progression of tropical storms into hurricanes. Hurricanes form in warmer bodies of water. As areas of water heat up, water vapor rises into the air creating thunderstorms. Wind currents then begin to “push” around the storm, thus giving the storm more energy. At 39 mph winds, the thunderstorm is officially a tropical storm, when wind speeds exceed 75 mph the storm is a deemed a hurricane. It is important to understand how hurricanes form because as the ocean heats up, the rising temperature gives these storms more energy, thus become more dangerous. Climate change may not cause more hurricanes, but it may cause more dangerous hurricanes, such as category 4 and 5 hurricanes, to form more frequently. For example, four of the five costliest hurricanes to hit the U.S. have occurred since 2005; these hurricanes include Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Sandy, and Hurricane Katrina. Hurricane Maria, while it did not hit the U.S., was so strong a new category of hurricanes may be needed to classify it. If more category 4, 5, and possibly 6 hurricanes form, then there could be more damage to coastal areas, infrastructure, and may put more people in danger. For example, Hurricane Maria, arguably a category 6 hurricane, has decimated the electrical grid in Puerto Rico; Puerto Rico may go months without power. It is somewhat bothersome to not have power to watch the news, but to not have power for hospitals is devastating.

The issues of rising sea level and stronger hurricanes combine to make flooding worse and more frequent. As sea level rises, water will consume more land. In addition, if there is an increase in more powerful storms that carry more water and energy, they will leave behind more water further inland. Damage of flooding becomes worse when the infrastructure meant to drain the water overflows, like in Florida. For example, the flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey may take months to recede fully- thus having the potential to destroy whole communities. Moreover, the event of the flood receding may cause additional damage. For example, in Puerto Rico after some of the flood receded, it eroded chunks of land beneath houses. Flooding also perpetuates issues of fixing power lines and transportation.

The following is an image of a house after flooding caused by Hurricane Maria receded:

While there is no universal solution to issues of rising sea level, hurricanes, and flooding, potential solutions do have the characteristic of flexibility in common. For example, past and present solutions to hurricanes and rising sea level are mainly hard defenses. Hard defense are generally man made constructs, such as bulkheads, coastal barrages, and rock walls, used to as a “shield” to stop storms. However, such defenses erode over time, and there is no way of knowing if they will work until the storm arrives. Therefore once it is apparent a hard defense has failed, it is too late to take additional protective measures. On the other hand, soft defenses, such as marshes, and coral reefs, absorb the energy of storms, and move with storms and rising sea level. In addition, soft defenses grow over time and protect against land erosion. For example, marshes have protected the northern coastline of Florida for years. The downsides of soft defenses include the amount of time they take to grow and their inability to be effective on a large scale; marshes would have to extend mile off the coastline of NYC to be effective. However, instead of relying on only hard defenses or only soft defenses, an optimal solution is to use both together. Relying on one or the other is repeating the same mistake of waiting until existing defenses fail and not being able to take additional protective measures. Moreover, we cannot only rely on hard defenses and soft defenses to stop invading sea level and hurricanes because the issue of flooding if they were to fail still holds true. Like hard defenses, there are fixed systems to help mitigate flooding. For example, Tokyo, Japan has a massive canal system that diverts water from Tokyo called the G-Cans Project. The G-Cans Project is a series of underground tunnels that total 3.7 miles long, and vertical shafts that measure 580 feet long, 59 feet high, and 256 feet wide. This network is capable of channeling 12,500,000 L of water per minute. However, for cities like New York City where a major portion of underground real estate is used up, the scale of the G-Cans Project may not be possible. Nevertheless, the format of the system may still be useful because, similar to soft defenses, there is infrastructure that moves with flooding. For example, the POP-UP parking garage moves up and down with water from sewers, thus combing a parking garage and water reservoir. The technology used in the POP-UP garage can also be applied to other architecture that follows the Archimedes Principle. For example, vertical farms, extensive “tower” farms that raises and grows various foods in a controlled environment, using this technology would also be able to move with floods, thus protecting our food sources. However, “POP-UP technology” is still fixed to some extent. Carrying the ideas of flexibility further, Floating City App created floating schools using refurbished shipping containers. These floating schools are solar powered, and include a classroom, a kitchen, and a bathroom. On the other end of the floating infrastructure spectrum, even floating airports have been created. In 2000, Mega Float created a floating airport in Tokyo Bay, Japan that measured 1000 meters long. The airport was so long that it rode multiple wave cycles at once that canceled each other out, and allowed the airport to remain stable. Since the airport was not viewed as necessary, it was dismantled in 2003. However, floating airports are not the limit of floating infrastructure- whole cities could be manufactured to float. Floating cities have the potential to solve the issue of rising sea level and flooding because there would no longer be a worry of losing land, the land would move with the storm.

The following describes the possibility of floating cities:

Stepping back from issues of rising sea level, hurricanes, and flooding, the cause of them is the increase in the temperature, which, alone, is also a threat. By 2100, the Persian Gulf could experience temperatures exceeding 170 degrees Fahrenheit causing the area to become uninhabitable. Areas within the Persian Gulf, such as Doha, Abu Dhabi, and Bander Abbas, some of the richest cities in the world, would have to be abandoned. By 2100, 3 out of 4 people could face deadly heatwaves. Rising temperature will be especially prevalent in cities as a result of the urban heating affect. The urban heating effect states that because of the large amount of human activity within in cities, cities become hotter than the surrounding rural areas. Moreover, the pavement used in cities and human activity does not allow urban areas to properly release the heat absorbed throughout the day at night, thus retaining a high temperature. Immediate solutions to impending dangerous heatwaves include green areas and cooling pavement, in addition to currently implemented cooling centers. Cooling centers are public areas, such as a public library, that offer A/C to the public; however, cooling centers only cool the one building and not necessarily a part of the city. Green areas, by using foliage, create more shade, and thus mitigate pavement heat absorption and lower the overall temperature of an area. An extreme version of green areas are forest cities. Forest cities make plant life an integral part of architecture by covering whole buildings in foliage. By implementing a “jungle,” cities are able to combat the urban heating effect. However, heatwaves are not a problem limited to urban areas. Rural areas, specifically farms, will have to deal with drought because of rising temperatures. In 2012 farmers in the West and Midwest, because of a drought, lost billions of dollars in crops. Additionally, as temperatures increase, vital amounts of food may be lost. If water becomes constrained, it will need to be used efficiently; “spongy” soil is a potential solution. “Spongy” soil retains more water and reduces run off, and therefore gets the most use out of water during drought and collects water during storms. The soil could also be used to cultivate the green areas in the urban areas discussed earlier. Moreover, the soil would complement the use of vertical farms by optimizing the use of water. The rise of global temperature will affect the entire world. People can move to escape rising sea level and floods, but there is no “escaping” rising temperature.

We examined the impact of rising temperatures in developed cities, but they also have an effect on animals in areas without a large human populace and our National Parks. The animals rely on the resources their environment is able to provide them. However, with the increased ocean temperatures and the melting of the ice caps, their ecosystems are being severely disrupted. For example, marine animals, like penguins, in the northern hemisphere are attuned to arctic temperatures and an abundance of krill in the water. The krill are also accustomed to the colder water, but when the temperature of the water rises, they elect to move to where there is cold water. The penguins in that region with a krill-based diet now need to alter their diet to something else. There are many dangers like the lack of nutrients in other shellfish or the potential risk of it being poisonous or otherwise detrimental to their health. Animals are innocent bystanders in our path to destroying the natural resources and we need to take the necessary measures to cut our impact in their environments. One way, albeit extreme, is to adopt a vegan lifestyle. It has many environmental benefits and cuts back on the suffering animals face. We can also take larger steps to cut back on emissions that are a leading factor of the temperature rise. The rise in temperature is also affects Glacier National Park, for the reasons stated in the paragraph above. Another park that is being affected is Grand Canyon National Park. The Colorado River flows through the whole park, but over the years, it is clear to see the decline of the water level. Some of this is due to the erosion, but a majority is the rising temperature causing evaporation. The water is disappearing before our eyes and we are turning a blind eye. What will happen when the water dries up and the ecosystems throughout the canyon are left to scramble for a new water source? We need to take action before we lose these national treasures.

The rise in temperature is also causing something that seems straight out of a sci-fi post-apocalyptic movie- zombie diseases. These are diseases that have been hidden in ice for years, encased in permafrost. We are not equipped or ready to deal with anthrax, small pox, or even a variation of the plague. It is not all that surprising that miners want to push aside the dangers of these diseases to access mineral and petroleum deposits. However, we need to acknowledge the dangers these diseases present and how they could affect our world. A recent outbreak of anthrax in Serbia illustrated the peril of allowing this issue to go unsolved. Many died because a deer encapsulated in ice thawed and, with it, a strain of anthrax. It contaminated the soil and the water, which led to poisoned crops. We also face the issue of refugees carrying local diseases, like dengue fever or malaria, into other countries where citizens’ immune systems are not accustomed to these new diseases. The warmer temperatures are the force behind some refugees leaving their homes, but it can also allow the diseases like Lyme disease and rat lungworm to survive in places they never could before. Therefore, any disease that can thrive in warmer temperature may soon have increased outbreaks- not just the ones already listed. If multiple outbreaks occurred at the same time, we would not be equipped to handle the aftermath.

Global warming is not the only causation we face. Another driving motion of climate change is pollution. While it is expected that we discuss the pollution of the ocean or streets, those types of pollutions are not destroying our atmosphere- space junk is. Space junk refers to the remains of objects that have entered space, and became trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere.

Because of the increasing temperature in the lower atmosphere, the temperature of the upper atmosphere decreases, causing a contraction of that layer. When the atmosphere contracts, air is removed and less friction is in the upper atmosphere. Therefore, the space junk would not be able to re-enter the atmosphere and burn up, so they remain on the outer layer of our atmosphere. If this junk remains in the atmosphere, it can hit other satellites and create more debris, which can then hit another satellite and make more debris and so on. There is no long-term solution for the dealing with space junk, but there is a satellite created by CleanSpace One that can grab debris and bring it back down to Earth, so it can burn upon re-entry. The downside to using this satellite is that the satellite can only be used once, as it burns upon re-entry as well. Another, more lasting solution, would be the use of materials that break apart gradually after they are exposed to ultra-violet rays. Other satellites that are helping us combat climate change are cube satellites. These satellites were created to scan the Earth’s surface and collect data about which areas are more prone to hurricanes, how hurricanes form, and they are significantly cheaper than normal satellites. These satellites have a shorter shelf-life, which means we will have to replace them more often. However, that also means we can update the software regularly and modify design whenever necessary. If we used the data from these satellites to fuel a flood-predicting AI, it would be able to learn better with the extra information. Other types of AI can also be used to discover new and more efficient ways to combat climate change.

We are currently in an administration that refuses to acknowledge or believe in the scientific fact that climate change is occurring. Despite most of the country (and even world) knowing and accepting the truth that Earth’s climate is changing, Trump and many of his top appointees refuse to acknowledge it. This proves unpleasant and profound implications for the United States too, as not only do we risk physical damage like many of our coastal cities or even Puerto Rico with the numerous hurricanes we have had, our economy and leadership is also shaken, as our nation’s leader refuses to believe something so matter-of-fact as climate change. Earlier this month, at the Paris Accord, the agreement in which nations stand to acknowledge and deal with climate change, had even Syria sign, leaving the United States as the only country in the world that has not sign it, and will not sign it so long as Trump sticks by his ideals (or stays in office). The previous administration set several acts in motion in efforts of reducing greenhouse gases and our effect on the climate, all of which have been contested by Trump, in efforts to repeal those laws, to no avail as of yet. His idea that climate change is a “hoax” is baffling as his energy secretary Rick Perry, even notes that the “science is still out on whether or not human activity is the primary driver of climate change” (japantimes.co.jp). The EPA under Trump is rolling back on the climate change initiatives like noted earlier, including the Clean Power Plan or Clean Air Act, set forth by Obama and his administration. Scientists and federal agencies part of the National Climate Assessment in the US Global Change Research Program have published extensive research on the subject matter and are considered the most comprehensive and authoritative statements on climate science by the US Government. Even the US military is very cognizant of the existence of climate change and its potential to cause havoc to the world and also cost several hundreds of billions of dollars to deal with if something is not done to prevent or minimize the effects. It is embarrassing for a country so advanced and aware of world problems, to refuse to accept the existence of climate change, something that has extensive research on to prove.

How to Prevent Hurricanes Before We’re All Underwater

This past hurricane season has been one of the worst in history with more named storms in the first three and a half months than there have ever been in previous seasons. The tropical storms and hurricanes destroyed countless homes and displaced thousands of people, including the people of Puerto Rico and citizens of many islands in the Bahamas. We can not afford to have more storms and hurricanes of this caliber destroying these fragile communities again.

In the early ’90s a few scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, CO theorized possible ways to weaken and possibly destroy these tropical storms and hurricanes. A method they came up with was a process called marine cloud brightening (MCB). MCB mitigates one of the most dangerous parts of a hurricane- the warm water. Scientists are able to make clouds by infusing water vapor with sea salt and the water vapor would then be able to condense, creating a more white cloud that reflect sunlight more effectively. By creating clouds, we are able to place them over bodies of water in hurricane-prone areas so they can reflect the sunlight back up instead of letting it heat up the water. If these clouds were deployed prior to hurricane season, they could cause many of those category 5 hurricanes to lose their steam before they hit the shores of some poor island. Additionally, this method would not cause further damage to the environment or the aquatic ecosystem.

Pipeline companies are also throwing in their two cents about what could stop these hurricanes. They start on the same basis that the abnormally warm water is to blame for these particularly disastrous storms, so their solution is to bring cold water to the surface. They plan to build pipes that go to the lower levels of the sea, where the water is much colder than the water on the surface, and pump the warmer surface water down in an attempt to draw the cold water to the surface. An alternative use for the pipes is to array long vertical tubes from floating rings. As the waves lap against the rings, the water level in them rises to sea level which pushes the water in the pipe down and forces the cold water to the surface. One drawback of this plan is that there is no real way to anchor them securely during a storm, so they would drift around. Also, that displacement of water could be harmful to the creatures that reside in the cool depths as well as the ones that remain close to the surface. If these animals and plants are not used to the warmer temperature, then they could be harmed in this process.

This is what would happen to coral reefs if they were exposed to warmer water:

The final of cooling the oceans is also the most extreme. Some scientists believe that by pumping aerosols into the stratosphere, so they can reflect the sunlight back into space. The aerosols can weaken the development of hurricanes and wind speeds and, in some areas, can even cause them to fall apart. Studies have only been conducted in areas where there is a high aerosol concentration and the results have been promising. Typically, people have a negative connotation of “aerosols” because of the CFC’s that were banned in the ’70s. While other aerosols are not as dangerous as CFC’s, they are still harmful to our ozone layer and trap greenhouse gases, making this method a little circular. However, at this point, humans would need to make a drastic change to our lifestyle to make any real impact on global warming and other effects of climate change. We need to decide if this would be the right method to use for right now even if it may harm us in the future. Is the future of our planet more important than the lives of people on tropical islands or are we to hope the other methods may be more effective against the next extreme hurricane season?

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.

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.

What Has Kathrine (Katie) Learned?

Over the course of the semester I have obviously learned a myriad of diverse things. In the video above I have described all factors I have learned as well as my thoughts and opinions about these topics. All of my information is based off our previous blog posts or personal knowledge gained from the classroom.  I hope you enjoy my video and I would love to ponder about your thoughts if you have any questions, comments, or concerns feel free to email me kathrine DOT dwyer AT student AT shu DOT edu. I would like to thank my teammates Allison, Spencer, and Daniel for having a successful semester as well as Professor Shannon. Thank you Professor for all your patience, guidance, and trust in me. And always pushing me to exceed your expectations to make me into a stronger student. Enjoy the video 🙂

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.

Poll for the Future

Over the past two weeks a main theme within the classroom has been whether or not our classmates, family members, or friends know what we are talking about. This can discussion can lead to many talking points but as a group we collectively thought of simply questions to see whether or not people knew what we were discussing in class?

These questions include the following:

  • Do you know what Augmented Reality is?
    • Augmented reality is the integration of digital information with the user’s environment in real life atmospheres. AR creates a new environment based off the existing one rather than formulating a new environment overall, this provides a new layer of information on top of it. Augmented Reality functions by enhancing one’s current perception of reality with creating this new environment. Augmentation is conventionally in real-time and in semantic context with environmental elements, such as sports scores on TV during a match. With the help of advanced augmented reality technology, the world becomes interactive and digitally malleable.
  • Have you experienced virtual reality personally?
    • The majority of these people have not personally have experienced VR. We believe a portion of these users most likely have used a VR device but do not know exactly what VR is. Most of the time, whenever you walk into a Verizon store or any electronic device store for that matter the employers promote the newest VR device that pairs with the cellphones.
  • Do you believe technology will be disruptive in the workforce?
    • To gain a perspective on the many industries that VR can be disruptive in you just need to think of all of the physical limitations that the physical world has. Wherever the physical world is difficult to access like travelling to distant places, or simulating a training experience for vital industries like healthcare or the military. Looking at our past blog posts it is clear that there is a lot of potential for this newly emerging and highly disruptive technology.
  • Do you think that VR will become mainstream in the next decade (or in the next few years)?
    • This link from a previous blog post predicts that VR technology will be everywhere in just a few short years. Also, many people may not have seen the recent advertisements for VR products, but check out this article about all of the devices that are already available.
  • Will headsets be a commodity or a source of competitive advantage?
    • This question clarifies whether or not headsets will be a resource or a luxury.
  • Can this technology be used for anything more than entertainment purposes?

The majority of the class can obviously answer these questions but when we spread out the questions to our peers and parents the answers were not as we assumed. We surveyed 82 people as of Wednesday night. The most surprising statistic to the majority of was whether or not the people whom filled out the survey knew what augmented reality was.

52.4 % of the voters knew what augmented reality was. While 39% did not and 8.5% said maybe. This provides us some clarity in order to show that at minimum 50% of friends, classmates, and parents know what we are talking about. The majority of our survey was given to college aged students. Katie and Allison had their parents fill out the survey as well as Katie’s younger siblings and their friends (middle schoolers and high schoolers).  The other statistics are as followed on our poll.

the-results

survery

Overall we found this poll to be very enlightening. We found out that our friends may not be so in the dark as much as we thought but that does not necessarily mean we will be on the same page as them tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, or years to come for that matter.

Will Central Banks Approve of Blockchain Technology?

Blockchain is the future. This statement has become a fact in recent months, and it is simply a matter of time before it is fully implemented into our financial system. The question we are faced with is simple: What will be the impact of Blockchain on Central Banks?

The argument presented by many technology websites is that Blockchain technology will free up billions of dollars for banks, in turn revolutionizing the finance industry. Financial institutions will completely change their system, a system that has been in place for over one hundred years.

Four major banks are at the forefront of the Blockchain revolution. UBS Group AG, Bank of New York Mellon Corporation, Deutsche Bank AG, and Banco Santander S.A. are teaming up in order to create a digital-only payment system that will improve trade settlements immensely.

This system will provide generous cost savings because it will allow back-office settlement systems to process trades far more rapidly than they do today. It is going to streamline the process and make it more efficient. Experts in the industry estimate that financial institutions spend over $65 billion each year to clear and settle trades.

This is where we get to Central Banks. All of these predictions about broad success and cost-savings will only work with adoption central banks. The Federal Reserve, the Bank of Canada, and the Bank of England have all launched investigations into digital currencies, questioning the security of digital currencies, and also the stability of the banking system.

If the plan succeeds, it will save billions of dollars for banks, however, for that to happen, the system would need to obtain approval from central banks.

The Dutch central bank is one that the Federal Reserve should be taking some notes from. They have begun developing an internal Blockchain prototype that they hope to launch in the next year. The Bank of England is not far behind, with the deputy governor for monetary policy, Ben Broadbent, indicating that a central bank-issued digital currency is soon to come. It will allow for the ability of banks to extend loans should consumers migrate to the digital currency. Researchers in the United Kingdom have also proposed a new cryptocurrency that the Central bank might look towards adopting. The French central bank said that distributed ledger models will replace the traditional operating mode clearinghouses.

Here you can see how the Hong Kong central bank is looking to leverage Blockchain!

One thing is sure for the future, the Central Banks will make sure to keep their leverage throughout the expansion of Blockchain.