Tag Archives: future

The Future of Digital Transformation

Over the past two months, I have researched the disruptive impacts of digital transformation and how they affect our society and the future. To me, I think the most important hypothesis that I discovered throughout my research is that most businesses and jobs that exist today are doomed in the future. Technology companies, specifically Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft, have become necessities to our daily lives and while in the process of becoming so important to us, other businesses have fallen off the radar.

There is really only one reason why this is happening and that is digital transformation. Really, only a few companies are leading in digital transformation and other than those leaders, other companies are only transforming in reaction to others transforming. Typical scenarios include technology companies creating software and platforms for other companies to use (Amazon Web Services, Facebook Pages, Square).

(For example, many restaurants in South Orange utilize online ordering, but back where I am from, that transformation has yet to be made. I assume in South Orange, once one small business took on the challenge, many others were forced to compete. The level of competition has not yet increased where I live, so for now, many businesses still use the phone to take orders until one business discovers the trend).

There is a lack of awareness when it comes to this issue, which may be a reason why there has not been more and/or faster transformation. However, digital transformation is not easy, which may be why it has taken companies awhile to get the ball rolling on this pressing issue. MITSloan lists three critical elements to digital transformation, including, transforming customer experiences, operational processes, and business models. In short, it looks like a complete business remodel, which most executives do not wish to undergo due to time and risk.

On the other hand, if companies do not wish to digitally transform, they will risk their own success. If companies wish to be successful, making processes more efficient is the answer, even if that means making harder decisions along the way. As result of these technologies, lots of business operations will become autonomous, and jobs will be lost along the way. Digital transformation not only affects companies, but their workers, since much of the new technology will overtake human tasks. Companies are being forced to choose between technology and human, and the better choice is clearly technology.

In the end, digital transformation will force us to choose between ourselves and the potential of technology, and it is likely that technology will be chosen. So what does that mean for the rest of us not running the few companies that dominate our everyday lives? If people want to survive in a digitally transformed world, people must not only learn new technologies, but more specifically how to be F.A.I.R. Being able to be F.A.I.R. maximizes the potential of becoming successful because in the world we enter, it is not all about being skillful, rather being able to change directions at a moments notice. Moving into the future, the only way to survive digital transformation is by embracing it in whatever way possible.

Why Technology Companies Lead Digital Transformation

In prior blog posts, I have discussed how the growth of technology companies have disrupted companies in almost every field. Existing companies are now forced to improve their products and compete with the innovative products/services of technology companies.

Platform companies all started out simple, Amazon wanted to sell books on the web, Google was just a search engine, but instead they expanded way beyond what they started out as and integrated themselves into everything we do in our daily lives. Now of days, technology is almost always necessary in everything we do, we use it for a number of reasons including: to check in on our health, view our mail, and retrieve information.

These technology companies did not all plan to be so successful, but there are a number of factors that have led them to this point. One reason why these companies are so successful is because they are leaders in Artificial Intelligence Technologies. Notably, these technology companies are large spenders in AI, and globally, existing companies have followed their trend as well (as shown in the chart below).

global ai commerce financing trend

Overtime, humans have become much more attracted to AI technologies. More often, these technologies make experiences for the customer simpler, so customers continue using their technologies. For example, tech companies have a great lead in voice recognition technologies and is now becoming a technology that is commonly used. In the chart below, it is evident that overtime more and more people will be accustomed to voice recognition technologies.

bii consumer usage and interest in VAs global 2017 accenture

Even incorporating voice recognition technology into customer support calls can make companies much more efficient. Voice recognition technologies are a beneficial technology to incorporate into a digital company, it serves as a useful tool to customers.

However, the problem for many existing companies is that they did not start out as technology companies so making this shift is more complex than traditional. It requires ‘exponential‘ thinking for a shift as such; thinking outside the box. If companies want to succeed in transforming their businesses digitally, they must come up with new ideas in order to grow. Following the same routine over and over will not change results, companies must learn to adapt to their markets.

Babe Ruth once said “It’s hard to beat a person that never gives up”, and the technology companies do not give up. Existing companies have not changed their agendas for years and technology companies have given them a wake up call. Technology companies are successful because of their drive to bring new and creative products/services to the market. In order for a company to be successful in the 21st century, they must adapt to changing markets.

How Climate Change is Affecting Animals

Animals are more reliant on the Earth’s survival and are merely victims of the destruction humans have wrought on the environment. They do not contribute to global warming, but it is their homes being burnt or, in the case of the polar bear above, melted.  Because of global warming, this polar bear does not have the appropriate environment it needs to survive. The icebergs are not freezing until much later in the season and are melting much earlier in the spring. Humans are too worried about their homes to even think of helping or protecting defenseless animals and their ecosystems. Other animals threatened by climate change include orange-spotted file fish, a fish that lives in and depends on their coral reef habitats. The warmer temperature caused by global warming is causing the coral reefs to dry out and even bleach. This means the orange-spotted file fish, and many other marine animals, are not able to get their necessary nutrients from the coral and algae. This fish has gone extinct before as a result of warmer ocean temperatures in Japan in the late 1980’s. Another animal affected by the icebergs melting is the Adélie penguin. The krill the penguin is accustomed to eating only lives on the under side of icebergs near the algae it normally eats. However, since the icebergs are not forming as quickly or in the same areas, the krill are not where they should be. Thus, the penguins must spend more energy foraging for food instead of breeding or raising their young. This results in a decrease of Adélie penguins in the long-run. If something drastic is not done about climate change, these species could die off forever with no chance of coming back.

The animals stated above are not the only ones affected either; among others, sea turtles, moose, and even koalas are feeling the brunt of human mistreatment. The nesting site where sea turtles lay eggs are more vulnerable to flooding because of the rise in sea-level. The eggs laid could be swept away by the tide, by an especially crazy storm, or they could fry under the newly intense heat. Without a safe place to lay eggs, these sea turtles can one day become extinct. Furthermore, Australian koalas are feeling the effects of the rise in temperature. The video below highlights the struggles the koalas are going through because global warming that we caused is drying out their only source of hydration.

They are being forced to act out of character, like being awake in the day, which can expose them to predators, and it can have serious repercussions on their systems if they do not know what time they should be active. We have been too worried about what will happen to us if the world burns, that we have not even given a second thought to what may happen to these defenseless animals. If we cared half as much about saving them as we did ourselves, they may actually have a fighting chance.

Climate Change: The End of National Parks

Our national parks are dwindling and fading away and a majority of the damage has occurred in the last decade. The National Parks Service has declared 412 national parks and monuments threatened because of loss of glaciers, rising sea level, wildfires, and rising temperatures. Ecosystems are in danger and national icons like Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty may not make it the next time a hurricane hits the East Coast. National Parks we all grew up with like the Glacier National Park and Yellowstone are at risk of becoming memories if we do not take action in limiting the effects of climate change. We can see the demise of Glacier National Park in the following video:

The loss of Glacier National Parks has many different consequences and they are outlined by the National Park Service in their brief. One of the most important being the rise in sea level caused by the extra run-off, which I discussed in a previous update, and affecting the local environment and ecological systems. By producing more run-off than usual, rivers and streams will overflow, causing displacement of fish and other species that rely on them as water sources. In the past 50 years, the glaciers have lost 85% of their masses with some losing 30% in the last decade

The once great park with over 150 glaciers now has around 30 because of global warming. Of those remaining glaciers, only 26 can actually be considered glaciers as they exceed 25 acres, the standard. The glaciers themselves are only an effect that is easy for us to measure, but the surrounding environment in the park is being affected just as much. The warmer winters hitting Montana are certainly not helping matters, and a big cool-down is needed to have any chance of saving this national landmark.

Another park that may be gone by the end of the century is Yosemite. While the forest surrounding accounts for most of the park, the great geysers that once attracted tourists from around the world are only a fraction of what they once were. The geysers erupt less frequently when the climate is particularly dry, so with global warming lessening the amount of rainfall while also raising the temperature, it is the perfect storm to decrease the amount of eruptions occurring each day. Yosemite is also home to over 35 species of trees that are in danger from being burned by the raging fires that currently engulf northern California. There are 3 fires in Yosemite Park that are only 85% contained, but there are 9 other fires in smaller national forests that are still burning fiercely and give no indication of slowing down in the next few days. These fires give off smoke and carbon dioxide which then goes into the atmosphere and does not really help solve the issue of trying to cut down greenhouse gases. The fires are more prominent and dangerous now because the increase in temperature and lack of rainfall in the summer has dried out the brittle brush that covers much of California, allowing it to catch fire much more easily. The winds are pushing the fires into both Yosemite National Park and Glacier National Park, putting our preserved parks at risk.

A national park near and dear to my heart is the Grand Canyon National Park. A monumental aspect of this national treasure is the Colorado River, but even the seventh-largest river is not immune to the effects of climate change. When rowing down the river, it is hard to miss the white rings that make up the lower half of the rock walls. Those lines indicate that the river is now 130 feet lower than it was in 2000, and it will only decrease from there. Many factors are the cause of this: rising temperatures and decrease in rainfall resulting in higher evaporation rates. These lower levels are causing fish and other aquatic life to either die off or move to other actuaries that can sustain their life. Additionally, original settlers in the southern Arizona mountains built their homes into the mountains, but the excessive rainfall in that region is causing the historic structures to slide out of the mountain. The region is not accustomed to receiving that amount of rainfall and was never expected to receive that rainfall, but climate change had other plans. We could lose these pieces of ancient architecture if there is no drastic change.

These national parks are a part of history, but if we do not try to halt the effects of climate change, we will soon only be able to see them on postcards and in pictures. Preserves and national parks allow us to save a piece of the environment from industrialism, but they are now deteriorating because of the damage we have done to the environment. The fragile eco-systems will not be able to last if there is too great of damage and we could lose them forever. If we are not more careful with how we treat Earth, we will harm everything that is on our planet, including us. We need to ask ourselves if we want to be the cause of the end of national parks and how their end would affect the environment surrounding them.

Quantum Computing & Education

Quantum Computing has the power to revolutionize and change industries and institutions in a capacity we cannot even wrap our minds around. The outstanding capability these machines have to process and analyze information can be understood best if we take a step back and consider how a computer today relies on information. (1)  In our computers, a unit of information (called a “bit”) is represented as either a 0 or a 1. Combined, these series of on’s and off’s provide instruction on how to process information.Dario Gil  (2), Vice President of Science and Technology at IBM, compared a bit to an arrow on the inside of a sphere. That arrow can only point to the North or South Pole, a 0 or a 1. But in quantum computing that “bit” is now a “qubit”. A qubit has the capacity to exist as both a 0 and a 1. That arrow can now point to any position on the internal surface of the sphere, creating endless possibilities to the amount of states that can represented and thus the ability to analyze information on a level that is expected (3) to work beyond what all the computers in the world working in tandem could achieve. What this has the potential to do is help industries and institutions worldwide solve problems faster, innovate further, or even change completely.

In regard to education, there one area in particular that quantum computing will help and it has the ability to play huge role in the future of the institution: Artificial Intelligence. Already schools are using immersive technologies that help determine what their students are interacting with, ignoring or even not comprehending. Through the use of headsets, they can determine through pupil size the amount of mental strain or emotional entanglement in a subject. This goes back to a study done by Princeton psychologist Daniel Kahneman which explained that pupil size increases in proportion to the difficulty of a task at hand. As the student interact with the AI, the headset is collecting data that can then be used to create highly-accurate psychological and behavioral profiles of students. This is technology that already exists within our standard computing power, imagine what this could be with the power of quantum computing.In order to improve machine learning there must be vast amounts of data collection. Quantum computers have the ability to organize and analyze large amounts of this data and provide artificial intelligence machines with the feedback necessary to improve and develop much more efficiently than a standard computer.

 

Machine learning in education will be the future faster than we know it, with the capabilities these machines already have they will know us better than anyone. Same goes for the teachers in the profession who want to be able to teach but probably won’t over time due to the vast knowledge the machine has and continues to gain. Quantum computers have the knowledge of using existing data to their advantage to solve problems within seconds. Machine learning can definitely benefit from quantum computing because it would amplify the machine learning problem solving. Which leads back to education and the effects quantum computing can have because these machines will be impossible to keep up with. The demand for quantum computers will be greater and a cheaper rate than teachers knowing what they can do.

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.

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.

Exploring the Future of Blockchain

Fortune’s 30-second definition of Blockchain is quite simple “the blockchain is a way to structure data…This coding breakthrough—which consists of concatenated blocks of transactions—allows competitors to share a digital ledger across a network of computers without the need for a central authority. No single party has the power to tamper with the records: the math keeps everyone honest” Notice that the definition makes no mention of money. That is because blockchain technology can be applied to more than just monies. Currently, forty of the world’s top financial firms are experimenting with the technology; there have been over $1 billion invested in Bitcoin, the most popular form of blockchain.

Blockchain technology is set to disrupt over 20 industries. Companies are going to harness the power of the Blockchain in the next several years. One already is attempting too, Bit Bastion. The banking system as we know it is going to get a complete overhaul. They will incorporate private Blockchain powered technology to create cryptographic ledgers to enable banks to deliver secure end-to-end financial systems.

Money transfers as we know it will be powered by Blockchain. Blockchain will create a more direct payment flow across the globe. There will not be any intermediaries to charge high fees.

Blockchain is also able to reduce conventional cybersecurity risk by removing the need for human intermediaries. This instantaneously lowers the potential security concerns from hacking to corruption. Blockchain technology will even be used in schools, to authenticate academic certificates. There will be no way to falsify student accreditation, not to mention the cost-savings potential.

Credit Suisse, recently conducted a project to demonstrate the potential of the blockchain, here are their findings: “This project demonstrates the potential for blockchain technology to fundamentally reshape the syndicated loan market and the capital markets more broadly,” said Emmanuel Aidoo, head of the distributed ledger and blockchain effort at Credit Suisse. “This demonstration sets us on a path to increase efficiency and reduce costs, which will benefit banks and clients alike. By connecting a network of agent banks through blockchain, we can achieve faster and more certain settlements in the loan market.

Throughout the world, nations are shying away from globalization and leaders promising an isolationist agenda are receiving more attention and votes… only look at the rise of party leaders like Donald Trump and Nigel Farage (the leader of UKIP and the Brexit movement). Some experts believe that technology could not only save globalization but spur it. In a world where everything from good and services to people will exchange almost instantaneously, blockchain will allow us to keep track of everything and one.  “By translating the language of the legal chain into a digital language — an achievement that required us to develop a set of 21 typologies — we have created a system that could locate and capture any ledger in the world and make it public.

For coming weeks our blockchain team will explore the wonders and capabilities of this increasingly prominent technology. In the coming weeks, our team will discuss how blockchain will impact the banking industry, cyber security industry, academia and more. We have already seen the capabilities of the blockchain, Bitcoin and Silk Road. However, for our first post, we thought it was paramount that we stress blockchain has more implications than transforming the way you send and receive money.

There are many questions associated with a technology like a blockchain. How long until central banks adopt the technology? How much money could be saved or even lost? What industries are set to benefit the most? Who will be left behind and who will prosper? How will blockchain shape our world? This technology has endless applications, and we only see the first stages of it. Much like the Wright brothers who were pioneers of flight; we will be the pioneers of the blockchain.