Tag Archives: 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!

 

Education- 4IR Summary

The world is on the precipice of another revolution. New technologies have allowed the human race to push for a new standard of living. In the new future we can help create a world with less poverty, where people can live longer, transform they way we consume energy so it is more efficient, and automate the workforce. These new advancements will drastically change the way we live, and after taking DT&L it has become apparent that the world is not ready for these new technologies. We are progressing so fast when it comes to technology that our society cannot catch up.This is why we have had such massive hacks on our public and private institutions. Us being behind explains why some scientists and inventors are worried with what we will do with AI. Our societal awareness is so far behind our technological awareness that disaster may be looming around the corner and we can not see it. Now how do we fix these problems? The consensus of our class is that education is the key to understanding this new future. The major issue we face, however is that the way our current educational system works is inadequate to help students prepare for this future.

Our current educational system is outdated, even by today’s standards and as the fourth industrial revolution begins our schooling system will be placed further behind than ever before. If students are unprepared for today’s economy then there is little hope schooling will prepare students for the future economy. As our economy is led into another technological revolution it is time for us to take schooling along with it. Yet, how do we do this?

The future of our education system has been a hotly debated issue in politics for decades. Programs like President George Bush’s No Child Left Behind are a recent reminder. Most people agree that there are massive flaws in the way we educate the nation’s youth. The video below went viral last year and has garnered millions of views.

 

 

There have also been many TED talks highlighting the importance of education reform and that the current way of teaching is inadequate. Below is a TED talk from Sir Ken Robinson talking about how to escape education’s death valley.

 

Both of these videos highlight two important flaws that our education system has: It is a rigid system and it stifles individuality. Since there are millions of students in America it was seen as an easier solution to standardize the basics. Standardized tests decided where kids can go to school, which states receive grants, and hammer in basic study skills to students. This system has in turn stifled individuality and this is an issue because it handicaps students who think differently, a perfect analogy is teaching a goldfish to climb a tree. This standardization and mechanization of our education system has held it back from change. Sir Ken Robinson create a good point in his TED Talk, “Education is not a mechanical system it’s a human system.” The main issue plaguing education is that it has failed to adapt to the individual needs of the student and has forced students into a box. Thankfully with the new technologies ushered in by the Fourth Industrial Revolution we have the potential to individualize education and make it possible for every student to learn at their own pace, so everyone can prepare themselves for the future.

 

AI will change the way students from all age groups will learn. The current education system has been in place for over one hundred years and the same static classroom look has not changed. Artificial Intelligence will change the general approach to education to a more focused and refined version for each student. AI will be able to detect what subjects are harder for students at an earlier age and will be able to work with that student to improve his/her skills. The more individualized the education is, the more likely the student will gain more out of the class. Education with the help of AI will become more immersive and will become a long term approach to generating new skills for students. Giving students exposure to smart boards and new online tools such as Slack, will empower them to learn and become more efficient. Artificial intelligence is one the most important technologies in the contemporary world, it is apart of everyone’s daily lives and we are bounded to the power it gives us. The classic student and teacher relationship will become more engaging and less hierarchical. Virtual reality and AI will go hand in hand to create a new way of learning. The ability to learn anytime and anywhere will change the way we view schools and rigid structure.  

 

There is another question we have to ask ourselves when we update our education system What do we want to get out of it? When we are able to create an education system that adapts new technologies and embraces a student’s individuality the question becomes what will we teach. The video below gives a quick explanation on what the new curriculum should be.

 

Near the end of this video an interesting point was made. Education should not end at a certain point, people can continue to grow and learn even after they are no longer in school. With the help of the internet and sites such as Udemy, people can learn new skills at a cheap price. With this new technology and system, adults can learn and experience new things just as students do. This is the future of education and this will help fix the issues like rigidity and lack of individuality. The internet is excellent at passing on information fast and creating new content in response to changing times. With online classes and YouTube teaching channels students can learn what they want to learn and in depth. All of human knowledge and history is available for humans to view. When a new disruptive technology enters the world economy, people will be able to go to the internet and learn how to adapt. In the future someone can learn new skills that will allow them to succeed in an ever changing economy.

The fourth industrial revolution is coming and it is going to completely change the way we see the world. Currently we are unprepared for this revolution. In order to become prepared we have to look at our current education system and fix the flaws plaguing it. We have to make education more personal and fitting for every student and make the system less rigid. Today we have the technology and equipment to implement this properly. In the future we can have an economy that will produce disruptive technologies, but we do not have to fear it. Using the internet we can have people constantly learning new things and adapting themselves to the changing world around them. As talked about in the last POV by some students, we have to keep ourselves up to date. We believe that this dream can be a possibility and that we can update education to fit the challenges of the future and a 21st century world.

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.

An Unlikely Solution to Climate Change

Artificial Intelligence has been making waves in the past decade and the opportunities it unleashes are endless. AI is able to find, analyze, and understand millions of different articles, journals, and scientific reports. Because of this feature, AI would be able to analyze the data concerning climate change, the possible solutions or, at least, mitigation and it can suggest the best possible plans to implement. While AI has many stigmas and morality issues that come with its existence, it is obvious that it would be very beneficial to find a quick solution, which is especially important now. We do not have much time as people to still be waffling over the existence of climate change. We need to start thinking and acting on solutions that will help our planet in the long run, rather than just looking for short-term solutions.

Weather research and three types of climate change are the fields that are most affected by the introduction of AI. By using machine learning algorithms, the AI is able to analyze and sort data from extreme storms to identify early inklings of tropical storms and cyclones. By reviewing a wide set of data about past storms and their formations, the program is able to predict where future storms will form and can indicate which can help  people prepare for them better. The video below also shows a program that has the ability to predict when a flash flood would occur:

The AI can also prepare many different modules and scenarios for scientists in a short amount of time, so they do not need to waste time seeing if something would actually work and can spend their time creating something they know will work. The program would also have a smaller margin of error, so the calculations and predictions would be increasingly more accurate. Scientists can also use AI to produce a more accurate prediction of how long a storm will last and if it might produce a more dangerous type of precipitation, like hail. One downside to using AI to predict weather and climate phenomena is that the computer does not show the process it used to reach its conclusion, so a scientist is left to guess at how the program arrives at their prediction.

Another innovation being utilized in climate change research is cube satellites. Unlike the regular satellites we are used to seeing with cylindrical bases and large wing-like structures hanging out the side, cube satellites are much more compact. However, they are much more fragile and they have a much shorter shelf life once they are launched into space. This can also be beneficial. Because there is a need to change out the satellite more often, the software will be updated more often and the data can be updated. Additionally, we are able to change the course and objective of the satellite without the hindrance of delay. The satellite provide a live monitoring of climate change and its effects and can help gather more data to be studied.

By linking these cube satellites up with artificial intelligence, we would be able to gather present data and procure real-time solutions from the program. When we give the AI more data, it will be able to utilize machine learning to give a more educated and confident prediction. Additionally, we can give the AI data about the methods we have already tried that have failed and methods that have worked. As we give it more data, it is able to work around these failed methods and detect patterns in order to create a more successful method. By integrating Artificial Intelligence into climate change, humans will be able to slow the process and potentially reverse the effects of climate change in a more timely manner.

 

Climate Change: Cleaning Up Carbon Dioxide

We can attempt to protect ourselves from the effects of climate change, but we still have to address the future effects of climate change. Cutting emissions will help not make the situation worse; however, it does not significantly improve the situation. Even if emissions were cut to zero, we would still have to deal with the effects of climate change for the thousands of years. With this said, we do not have to wait for the carbon in the atmosphere to dissipate to recover from the effects of climate change, instead we should begin to filter the carbon dioxide out of the air.

One example of a CO2 filter is Climework’s CO2 collector. The collector has the ability to filter CO2 out of the air around it with the use of a sponge like filter. After roughly three hours of running, the filter becomes saturated with CO2. At which point the collector seals itself, and heats the contents to 212 degrees Fahrenheit, thus separating pure carbon dioxide from anything else the filters may have collected. Pure CO2 can be sold or stored, at relatively low cost, for commercial uses. Carbon Dioxide is used to control in reactor maintenance to control temperature, in refrigeration, in water treatment, in fire extinguishers, in food products, and in pharmaceuticals. In short, Climework’s CO2 collector recycles the carbon dioxide already on the environment by removing it from the air and making it available for other use.

The following is an image of the Climework’s CO2 collector:

A different approach to removing carbon from the environment involves technology that uses The Origen Power Process. The Origen Power Process makes uses of natural gas to create electricity. However, only half of the chemical energy from the natural gas is used to create electricity; the other half of the energy is used to breakdown limestone into lime. In addition to electricity and lime, the process also creates pure CO2 that could be used like discussed earlier. Normally using natural gas to generate electricity creates more CO2. The overall process of Origen Power actually has a net removal of CO2 from the air; so while it may be creating pure CO2, it is removing more CO2 than it creates. Moreover, lime can be used remove additional CO2 from the environment. For example, since lime acts a neutralizer, it can be used in bodies of water to lower acidity level because of too much CO2 in the water. Therefore, lime has the potential to protect aquatic life, but also combat acid rain and the damage caused by acid rain. Overall, The Origen Power Process creates four products, lime, a CO2 filter, pure CO2, electricity, and removal of CO2 form the environment.

The following is a video of The Origen Power Process explained by Tim Kruger:

As a result of pure CO2 production from the use of the Climework’s CO2 collector, and The Origen Power Process, I would imagine there would be an abundance of pure CO2. Moreover, we have been “pumping” CO2 into the environment for decades upon decades so if we were to “recycle” any fraction of that amount of CO2, there most definitely would be a surplus of pure CO2. Yes, there are the previously mentioned uses for CO2, but there would still be an abundance. With this said, a development team in China, the Hefei National Laboratory for Physical Sciences, have created a process to take surplus CO2 and turn it into clean fuel. In short, by running an electrical current through a microscopic layer of cobalt surrounded by CO2, the CO2 becomes CHOO, also known as formate. Formate has the potential to be used as a clean fuel source; however, currently not enough data has been collected to get the most energy out of formate, but experiment continue.

It is important to keep in mind that all the process mentioned, while useful to some extent, only work well with plans of cutting emissions; the same can be said vice versa. Measure still need to be taken to protect ourselves now from the effects of climate change, but not preparing for the future is what caused the current mess.

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.

Climate Change: A Clean Space

Climate change is often thought of as the result of the greenhouse effect; and therefore, the cause of the rise in sea level, and bizarre weather patterns, such as extreme heat waves and record-breaking hurricanes. While all of this is true, the focus on climate change is centered on the weather occurrences being observed and experienced in the present. Climate change affects the Earth and its atmosphere. On a side note, the Earth’s upper atmosphere is a junk yard composed of remains of satellites, rockets, and other objects that have entered space. As a result of the increasing temperature of the lower atmosphere, where we live, the temperature of the upper-atmosphere is decreasing. The decrease in temperature causes the upper atmosphere to contract, thus removing some of the air; with less air, there is less friction in the upper atmosphere. If there is less friction in the upper atmosphere, less “space junk” falls back to Earth.

The following is an image of roughly the amount of space junk around the Earth:

There are those who think that less space junk falling back to Earth is a good thing because there is less to potentially cause damage upon re-entry. However, most space junk that does fall back to Earth burns up upon re-entry, an object would have to be significantly large in order to touch ground upon re-entry. In contrast, small objects in space can cause a lot of damage. There are roughly 520,000 trackable pieces, while millions pieces of debris that cannot be tracked. As a result of space junk building up, it has created a space junk yard, and imbedded in that space junk yard are communication satellites. Communications satellites play an integral role in daily activity. For example, without communication satellites technology like satellite internet, phones, satellite TV, GPS, weather tracking, and military communications would either not work or become over loaded with data and slow down. Imagine a world were cable internet would become so congested with data, it becomes almost impossible to use. Moreover, imagine a scenario where because weather patterns cannot be tracked, a hurricane like Maria hit Puerto Rico before people got any notice to take safety precautions. In addition, without TV it would become extremely difficult to notify people of such dangerous weather patterns. Without military communications, or at least slowed military communications, would leave, troops and the country vulnerable to attacks. With this said, these scenarios are only possible if all or at least most of the current communication satellites are wiped out. As a result of less space junk falling to Earth, the chance of satellites being damaged increase significantly. According to the Kessler Syndrome, the odds of damage to satellites increase with every collision of debris. The Kessler Syndrome states when one object bumps into another object, the momentum of those two objects increase the chances of the objects hitting into another two objects. Therefore, one object causes a total of two objects to be in motion, two becomes four, four becomes eight, eight becomes sixteen, so on and so forth. The initial bump between two pieces of space junk sets off a chain reaction substantially increasing the odds of any of the satellites in use becoming significantly damaged.

 

To no surprise, there is no immediate or fast solution for protecting satellites and clearing the “space junkyard.” For example, CleanSpace One has created a satellite with the purpose of grabbing debris and carrying it back in orbit, thus burning up itself and the debris upon re-entry. However, this cleaning satellite is not designed to handle like amounts of debris at once, and is a one-time use satellite. Multiples of these satellites would have to be shot into space to create any significant change, but remain a viable solution for getting rid of large debris in the case of an emergency.

The following is a video further describing how the CleanSpace One satellite works:

Moreover, it is equally important to make sure the issue does not become worse over time. To prevent more debris building up, future space vessels should be built with material that erodes easily in the presences of ultra-violet rays. Using such materials causes allows debris to break apart over time, and specifically helps with getting rid of smaller debris, thus allows satellites like CleanSpace One to focus on collecting larger objects. Without action now the issue will continue to grow, while it literally hangs over our heads.

Gene Therapy Update: How it Works and Why it’s Risky

Gene therapy has the potential to be the most innovative and disruptive medical procedure in the modern world, but it is still in its earliest stages of development. Technology moves faster than any other industry on the planet, but when paired with science and medicine, the pace may be so fast that it becomes detrimental. Gene therapy is equal parts technology and medicine and there will be an eternal struggle between the two. From a technological standpoint, it’s full steam ahead for companies like CRISPR. For those focused on the medical side however, there is a long road ahead. It is important to remember that the success of gene therapy depends first on the development of the technology, but without testing and a safe implementation in the medical field, no lives will be saved. It is much different than Silicon Valley pushing Face ID or a new app because in both of those instances, the faster the technology is available to consumers the better, or so they have us believe. When Apple pushes new tech like Face ID, they know that they can usually work out the bugs with a software update, but things aren’t that simple when the technology involves pumping new genes into people’s bodies.

The science behind gene therapy is just as amazing as the technology behind deciding which specific genes need attention. In order for a patient to receive the treatment, the new genes must be introduced into the body via a number of possible procedures. The most common of which include specifically placed injections or IV treatments, depending on the disease the treatment is aimed to fight and where the problem is within the body. Once inside the body however, the procedure is essentially the same. The new or modified genes are brought to their desired locations using a vector. The most common vectors are bacteria, viruses, and plasmids. They are the most common because while they are completely different, they all share the essential characteristic of being able to multiply quickly once in a cell. Under normal circumstances, their hyperactivity is a bad thing because it is the very reason that diseases are able to spread so quickly. In gene therapy however, this trait makes them the perfect candidates to transport genes. The video below provides a visual demonstration of this process during a treatment of a retinal disease.

The use of vectors is relatively consistent across all forms of gene therapy, however, there are several different methods used to treat different diseases. On the most basic level, there are two forms of gene therapy, somatic and germline. Somatic treatments are targeted at cells that do not produce eggs or sperm, therefore the treatment will not be passed down to subsequent generations. Conversely, germline treatments target cells that do produce sperm or eggs, which means that any alterations made to cells in the patient’s body will be passed down. Germline treatments are arguably more dangerous because if something goes wrong during the procedure or if the new genes are incorrect, the faulty DNA will be passed down until it is corrected by another procedure.

Under the umbrella of somatic and germline treatments are three main forms of therapies that vary depending on the problem. The therapies include gene augmentation, gene inhibition, and targeted cell attacks. Gene augmentation is used when a cell has faulty DNA that needs to be corrected. In this case, the new genes are attached to a vector that will reproduce in the desired cells, and will replace the existing DNA in the hopes of delivering the correct directions. Gene inhibition does the opposite, as gene inhibition treatments are designed to stop cells from behaving a certain way instead of correcting an undesired behavior. This form of gene therapy is useful for treating cancer patients because the goal is to slow down the reproduction of cancerous cells. This is achieved by attaching genes to a vector that will tell the cancerous cells to stop reproducing. Doctors also have the ability to target a cluster of cells that they wish to eliminate altogether. This is achieved by either injecting vectors that will kills the cells directly, or by using vectors that will trigger an immune system response which will in turn kill the desired cells. This is slightly less effective because the vectors are used to trick the body into fighting a disease that it did not otherwise recognize. Regardless of the objective of the various forms of gene therapy, vectors are the most effective vehicles to deliver new genes to cells.

While the vectors are very useful for delivering the new genes to their desired targets, there are many risks involved with the procedure. Success of the treatment aside, there are risks associated with the injection alone. It is a high-risk procedure because while it can be extremely effective, it can just as easily catalyze a series of detrimental reactions within the body. If the new DNA is delivered to the wrong cells, it can disrupt necessary functionality completely unrelated to the disease it was aimed to fight. If the vectors used in the procedure trigger an unexpected immune system response, the treatment can be rejected altogether or in some cases even cause organs to fail.

Jesse Gelsinger’s story serves as a grim reminder of the unintended consequences of gene therapy. Jesse suffered from a rare metabolic disorder called ornithine transcarbamylase (OTC) deficiency, which made him an ideal candidate for a gene therapy experiment at the University of Pennsylvania. The vector that was used in the procedure was a weakened cold virus which was delivered via injections. The doctors at Penn had tested their vector on mice, baboons, monkeys, and one other human patient, so they were confident that Jesse had a real chance of improving. What the doctors did not predict, was the overwhelming inflammatory response that started a chain reaction in Jesse’s body. A mere 24 hours after the injection, there was 11 times the normal amount of ammonia in Jesse’s blood, he was hyperventilating, his ears had swollen shut, he had developed a blood clotting disorder called jaundice, his kidneys were starting to fail along with his lungs, and his brain had started to shut down. Shortly after the doctors thought they had things under control, Jesse died. His death marked the first documented casualty resulting from gene therapy and left the doctors in shock.

Jesse’s premature death exemplifies the uncertainty involved with gene therapy, and there will undoubtedly be others. The technology is so new that is impossible to predict the outcome of the treatments with any degree of certainty. On paper, Jesse’s treatment should have worked but all of the years of testing and analysis that took place before the procedure were flipped upside down when his body started to reject the treatment. The best doctors in the world cannot explain what caused Jesse’s body to react the way it did which speaks to the unpredictable nature of the technology. Gene therapy is an amazing advancement for both technology and medicine, but it is still wildly imperfect and will require many more brave patients like Jesse before it becomes a dependable procedure.

 

Climate Change: Moving with a Flood

Weather occurrences such as extreme rainstorms, hurricanes, and tsunamis are viewed as destructive forces which is true given how land, and infrastructure are used. Whether it is the skyscrapers in cities, neighborhoods in suburbs, or farmland in rural areas, none are capable of adapting in the middle of an extreme flood or storm. However, these various elements of society have to be preserved. Various defenses such as storm water drains, and bulwarks have been used to protect these areas, but these methods often fail. The issue is not that these areas are not properly protected, but the structures in these areas need a lot of protection to not be destroyed. The structures we build are rigid, and are not designed to adapted to drastic changed. In short, as a result of how land is used, and structures are built, society must fight against rising sea level. While sea level rising is currently a destructive force to current society, rising of sea level has the potential to be a tool for society.

Instead of creating defenses against flooding another solution is to control the water. A basic solution to controlling flooding is to utilize permeable pavement. Permeable pavement allows water to pass through it into the ground. In addition to helping water return to the water cycle, the pavement would lessen the chance of overflowing storm water systems and; therefore, cut down on flooding. This pavement has the potential to lessen the amount of rainfall going into sewage systems by 80%. A limitation of this technology is it may not be able to pass water into the ground quickly during anything like a hurricane. With this said, infrastructure like eco-boulevards could compensate for the limitations of permeable pavement by controlling flooding. Eco-boulevards work to control where floods take place within a city. Yangming Archipelago designed a city within the larger city of Changde, China so that floodwater would fall into the middle of the city. As a result, the eco-boulevards creates a temporary lake within a city and turns parts of a city into mini islands. Floods do not have to be seen as an invading body, but something that is part of society.

Some places simply cannot be flooded, and therefore would benefit from the technology used in POP-UP, a parking garage, designed by THIRD NATURE, that “floats” on water. The POP-UP garage moves up and down depending on the amount of overflow from sewers in the water reservoir underneath the garage. As the reservoir fills and releases water, the garage moves up and down accordingly. This technology works well in urban environments because it combines a parking garage with a water reservoir, thus creating more free space for other purposes. However, this technology is not limited to making floating parking garage, but could be applied to any architecture that follows the Archimedes Principle. For example, vertical farms could use this as additional safety. A vertical farm takes the mold of an expensive farm and makes it into a tower. At different levels of this tower, different foods and fish can be raised year round. A vertical farm would help protect farms from flooding, but the technology used in POP-UP would make the farm flexible to move with water, thus preserving the structure. The rise of sea level would not be as devastating if infrastructure did not resist various degrees of change.

The following is an image of how POP-UP works:

If flooding is going to be treated as a useful force then it has to be treated as a tool, not something to get rid of as soon as possible. For example, flooding has the potential to be real-estate, rather than a threat that destroys real-estate with the use of floating infrastructure. Floating infrastructure is not limited by issues such as space or continuing sea level rising, and thus works on a spectrum of facilities. For example, Floating City App has created a solar powered floating school by giving shipping containers an extreme make over. These floating schools come with a classroom, kitchen, bathroom, and solar powered battery pack. Given the compact nature of these schools that are easy to put into use. On the opposite end of the spectrum of floating infrastructure are plans like floating airports. 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, in the UK there have been proposals of creating a floating airport due to the growing population. Between population growth, the scarcity of real-estate, and rise of sea level, floating airports may become a reality again. With this said, there is not a reason to stop at airports as the extent of floating infrastructure, whole floating cities could be built. Floating cities change the issue of losing to rising sea leveling to a need to construct more space.

The following video discusses the future of floating airports:

The rise of sea level of force of flooding does not have to be a destructive force, but a force that requires change. Rising sea level is a current issue, and will persist for thousands of years. Fighting against rising sea level may only slow down the process, while making use of the floods and open water offer a more sustaining solution.

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.