“Mors certa, vita incerta”

The Latin quote popularised by Dick’s book is one I particularly have close to my heart and thoughts every day. We never know what is out there waiting for us. Our freedom can be taken away, out lifestyle, our loved ones and even our own life. A million things can obliterate our plans and shattered our dreams. Even if some may find reasons to be boastful we must understand that we all have the sword of Damocles dangling over our heads. Whatever you think you have can be taken away.

In one of the oldest written poems known to us, ‘The Epic of Gilgamesh’ is written that “Man is snapped off like a reed in the canebrake! The comely young man, the pretty young woman— All too soon in their prime Death abducts them!”

The Stoics also had that at the heart of their philosophical thinking…

“Keep death and exile before your eyes each day, along with everything that seems terrible—by doing so, you’ll never have a base thought nor will you have excessive desire.” —EPICTETUS, ENCHIRIDION, 21

“Don’t behave as if you are destined to live forever. What’s fated hangs over you. As long as you live and while you can, become good now.” —MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 4.17

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In conclusion, to do good and to be good are the only virtues that matter. We must live and celebrate the now, our present. Many of us keep postponing happiness as if that will happen one day in the future when everything will somehow work out. Gratitude today is key to happiness. Being thankful for what we have and who we have in our lives.

In the final scene of Shakespeare’s final play, The Tempest, the main character Prospero says “And thence retire me to my Milan, where / Every third thought shall be my grave.” It evokes and acknowledges death as a possibility and imminent threat. However, reflecting on our mortality should not leave us in dread, it should rather have the opposite effect. To die while you are alive is the best way to purposely live after all nobody can kill and nothing can affect a dead being. That gives us clarity and motivates us to live a full fearless and purpose-driven life.

Check out this TED Talk

14708461348_fac7e2d560_bI’ve recently watched this TED Talk where Chris Anderson (TED Curator) interviews  Educator and entrepreneur Sebastian Thrun on “The new generation of computers is programming itself”

Sebastian believes that AI has the potential to free humanity of repetitive work and unleash our creativity. In this inspiring and informative conversation with Chris Anderson, Sebastian describes the progress of deep learning in the past few years debunking some of the fears encroaching society and why we shouldn’t fear runaway AI.

According to him, “Only one per cent of interesting things have been invented yet,” Thrun says. “I believe all of us are insanely creative … [AI] will empower us to turn creativity into action.”

It is indeed a truly inspiring talk yet one would have to question whether AI and machine learning will be open democratically to all? Who controls AI? Would every human on the planet truly benefit from it? Looking back in history one would argue that no technological advancement has favoured every human being but rather it has been used to create even more inequalities. Why should AI and machine learning be different?

Should we be concerned? Will AI really empowers us? Can it make us all more creativity helping us to improve human enterprise and local communities? What is your take on that? What and comment!

 

“The Digital Skills Gap and the Future of Jobs 2020 – The Fundamental Growth Mindset”

A few years ago I’ve watched a Gary Vee talk about how hustling and grit allied to today’s socio-technologies could help one to achieve anything one dreamt of.

“There is now excuse in 2009 for you to do s#&t you do not like” Gary Vaynerchuk

At the event he only added (in his own words) one ‘should stop watching f*&#ing ‘Lost’. Yes, that’s old right? Lost’s gone, but now we have Netflix and Amazon Prime! I guess what he meant was: stop waisting your time. We’ve got way too many distractions and entertainment.

Tic-tac-tic-tac…I’ve written that on my bedroom mirror, it is the first thing I see when I get up. It is just a note to self that time is short and running out. Time is the only thing we can never get back.

We have no time to lose! But most of the activities in our modern society is designed and packed for us to leave us in a contant numbing state, dorment and alienated from reality. They are incredibly well-thought through and created to distract us or to impede us from reaching our destination, our full potential, to achieve our life-given dreams.

Which bring us to the theme of this blog: the future of our work!

Time is our most prescious commodity in a age where every bit of technological advancement is moving faster than our skills, abilities and human capacity for change and absorption. That goes the same for our workplace and professional careers.

Let me ask you this question: Is your career future-proof?

If you are not preparing yourself for upcoming future changes within your workplace and sector you might be heading for a pitiful disappointment. Some of these changes are already here and creeping in without you seeing or perceiving them.

In a recent TED talk Dorie Clark stated that 20 to 30 percent of adult professional in Europe are either in freelance or independent working contract and the trend is on the raise.

Watch the video below and make your own judgement and conclusions. Above all, I urge you to conduct your own piece of research and start working on yourself and your skills.

Learn to work harder on yourself than you do on your job. If you work hard on your job you can make a living, but if you work hard on yourself you’ll make a fortune.” Jim Rohn

The only way to survive these changes and workplace transformation is to develop a life-long learning attitude and character.

There’s no value in keep blaming technology, AI, robotics, Sylicon Valley, Google etc… As Jordan Peterson mentions in his book 12 Rules for life “if the world you are seeing is not the world you want, therefore it is time to examine your values…It might be even the time to sacrifice what you love best, so that you can become who you might become, instead of staying who your are”

Eliminate every ounce of distraction and focus on what you want to achieve. Whenever possible help others on the way…

Blockchain: future or fad?

What is the new technology behind cryptocurrencies and how it might change the way we do business?

Unless you have been living under a rock or have just got back to earth after a return trip to Mars, you have certainly heard of Bitcoin as well as the meteoric growth of interest around cryptocurrencies. But what is Blockchain, the technology underpinning Bitcoin? And, what should you care about it? What is the real hype about Blockchain and cryptocurrencies all about? What all that have to do with your business, industry or marketplace?

Right now, your customers might already be involved in some form of crypto-transaction or researching new Blockchain applications and technologies. In today’s information-driven society, people do not wait for companies to show them the way. They search and learn and soon start demanding products and services that can make their lives more efficient and pleasant.

In this article, I will be exploring the nature of the technology behind Blockchain with its various potential applications for different sectors, industries, companies and individuals. I will consider how this technology comes with a promise to disrupt the way we do business, transact, exchange data or simply engage in menial day-to-day life activities. Some of the high-tech new start-up projects as well as large businesses and governmental institutions experimenting with Blockchain will also be introduced. There are a sizeable number of them starting to disrupt various industries and sectors. Once this is established, it would be up to you to decide whether Blockchain is right for your business or if it will ever be relevant to your industry and sector.

How did it all start?

Blockchain and the Bitcoin protocol is said to be created by a mysterious unidentified person under the moniker of Satoshi Nakamoto. Whether this is a real person or a small group of people nobody really knows. He is attributed to have created the bitcoin protocol and then published that in a paper via the Cryptography Mailing List in November 2008. For the first time in history ‘his’ invention allowed money to be transferred around the world without the need for banks, government and other intermediaries.

The first version of the bitcoin software client was released in 2009 and other later projects were still attributed to Nakamoto until 2010, when he finally made his stage exit. It was the starting point of what came to be known as Distributed Ledger[1] Technology or DLT (a group of computers sharing information). It provides a decentralized and transparent method for transactions, while maintaining a high level of security.

According to Professor Leemon Baird[2], the inventor of the Hashgraph distributed consensus algorithm (another similar DLT application), many of the most influential Blockchain systems, including Bitcoin, rely on a concept called ‘proof of work’ (PoW). Under this model, anyone who wants to add to the Blockchain must perform a work-intensive task using information from the existing Blockchain in order to add new information. It is built on a system called asynchronous byzantine fault tolerant (BFT) which is the gold standard for security in distributed systems. Most computer experts agree that perhaps nowhere is BFT more essential than on a Blockchain system. In contrast to Blockchain, most traditional distributed computing environments have central configuration databases or authorities that can help right wrongs in the event that Byzantine failures occur. The difference is that, in Blockchain systems, there is by definition, no central authority. Blockchain’s ability to legitimate transactions is based on what is referred to as ‘trustless consensus’ and that is exactly what makes it so singular and unique.

Being consensus-based, it means that Blockchain allows for fairness and transparency in distribution and transactions besides being incorruptible, eliminating forgery. In his book, Blockchain Revolution, technology author Don Tapscott[3] argues that this new technology allows for ‘companies and individuals to collaborate with an unprecedented degree of trust and transparency’. According to Tapscott there are seven distinct design principles for the Blockchain economy: networked integrity, distributed power, value as incentive, security, privacy, rights preserved and inclusion. He believes that these seven principles may offer guidance in the designing of the next generation of high-performance and innovative companies, organisations and institutions. You will be able to read from the list below some of the many sectors that have already been disrupted by the technology that many have already hailed as the “third wave of the Internet”.

This raises questions such as:

  • Can blockchain be used in your own industry?
  • Can it increase efficiency, transparency and safety while speeding the volume of transactions?
  • Can it help to improve consumers’ trust and enhance competitiveness?

“We believe that Blockchain technology could be an important tool for protecting and preserving humanity and the rights of every human being. A means of communicating the truth, distributing prosperity…” Don Tapscott

Tapscott is one of the global leading Blockchain advocates who believes that the internet will never be the same again with these types of applications; it will soon be ubiquitous and help us to reshape the world’s economy.

Generations of development

According to Baird, the development of Blockchain technology has gone through four generations of development. Firstly, through Bitcoin and cryptocurrency transactions, people realised they could have money (in digital wallets) without the need of a government through fairer transaction using PoW and agreeable timestamps to eliminate forgery and corruption. It then allows for micro-transactions to be performed, more anonymity while still being transparent and for utility tokens to be created. Developers then realised they could do more than only put money in the ledger. In that way, lands, files and other assets could be added to the Blockchain, thus enabling the second generation. This involved the creation of small files systems that no one could change, people having a shared view and rules being enforced by the whole community. The second generation moved beyond money and began storing ownership, performing revocation, uploading and updating of shared medical records, etc. With the third generation, blockchain application was extended to sales, purchasing and swapping of goods and services through smart contracts, agreements with non-repudiation, voting and distributed applications to organisations. Then the fourth generation made possible matching buyers and sellers, stock markets and dark pools application, games, auctions, patent office and domains. Many new business cases and models are coming into being every day as we write this article there are hundreds of new ICOs (initial coin offers) and tokens from new start-ups offering blockchain DLT and consensus-based applications in some of the areas above and many more.

So, if we could just get past the whole Bitcoin and crypto-frenzy greed from ‘investors’ (to avoid using the word ‘gamblers’) at one end and the thirst for control and regulatory power from financial institutions and governments at another, we might just find ourselves in a system that offers a new type of decentralised governance, transparency and fairness. An application that can be used in most industries and marketplaces on earth promoting trust and reliability to any type of transaction, data exchange and records and contracts.

Swiss Professor Roger Wattenhofer[4] from ETH, affirms that there a two main components in the Blockchain technology: asymmetric cryptography and distributed systems. These mean that we are able to create records that are indelible, transfer valuable by making updates to those records and automate the updates through smart contracts. By looking beyond Bitcoin, Ethereum or any other cryptocurrencies, we can start seeing it as a powerful tool with the potential to bring about true parity and balance, transforming the nature and value of transactions through the use of public ledgers while individuals and organisations can access it without any single person, institution or government holding control over it.

Large corporations and new start-ups

Blockchain offers true network capabilities and cooperation between different parties in a trustless consensus and democratic way. For that reason, many ‘big players’ within industry, as well as high ranking officials in government and institutions, feel threatened by it. The current system always seeks to kill and destroy what it cannot understand or control.

However, not all large corporations are shying away from the new technology. Microsoft, for example, has been investing heavily in applications using DLT based on the Ethereum[5] Blockchain system. Derek Martin[6] (Microsoft Blockchain Team) affirmed that though Blockchain might not solve all the worlds’ problem, it might enable the creation of a much opened and decentralised network for businesses and society in a trustless environment.

According to Martin, in 2016 the value projected for blockchain investments was around $226million. Microsoft forecasts a growth by 2023 of around $5.5billion in value and by 2030 the business value generated by Blockchain could well surpass $3.1trillion.

“Global Blockchain technology market size is projected to grow to USD1.693.70 million by 2021 at a CAGR of over 55%” Derek Martin, Microsoft Blockchain Team

It is never an easy ride; new technologies often have a rough start until it gets fully accepted and adopted. The journey can be a bit bumpy for those innovators setting off in the initial stages of the race. However, the later reward far outreaches the initial challenging early development. Some of these challenges in adoption, according to Martin, are: corporate muscle memory (no blue print or past experiences), technology maturity (very early stages of development), enterprise needs (a clear POC – resources needed measured against potential rewards), fragmented technology landscape, regulatory and legal systems and a not so clear ROI.

Nonetheless, some new bold upcoming players are starting to disrupt new as well as old established industries and marketplaces. Take OB1, for example, a leading Blockchain based company in the development of the world’s first widely-used decentralized marketplace called OpenBazaar. They managed to secure a strategic investment from different VCs and investment funds raising a combined $4.2 million to build their innovative peer-to-peer e-commerce protocol using Bitcoin. Nobody controls it, no fees, no oversight! Watch out E-bay, Alibaba and big giants out there…

Start-ups such as OB1 are threatening to turn the tables forcing giant corporations to rethink their centralised corporate strategies towards a more decentralised approach to business. YouTube, the largest video sharing and search platform in the world, offers great visibility and yet original content creators are suffering a slash in revenue within a very fragmented space filled with piggyback or copycat channels. Consumers, by the same token, complain about too much disruptive prevalent advertising. Flixxo is another example of a decentralised community-based video distribution promising to fix these issues.

These are just two of some of the new generation start-ups banking on decentralized platforms to allow freedom and value-exchange among content creators, vendors, artists, and freelancers etc. to interact directly with their audiences using, for example, a crypto token. At the same time, users get more choices and control in how their attention can be monetized. They can choose which ads to watch, control their personal data or even contribute part of their computing power to the operation of the system.

Potential areas for disruption

Blockchain’s decentralised system removes the need for a database to sit at a closed system allowing for more than one website to be built around the same database while decreasing operational costs and improving efficiency inventory management. Take a mobile device for example; it could sit in the same database as many other products, and yet different websites could be built around it and share the same data. That same mobile could be listed in a variety of marketplaces but, when sold on any one marketplace, it would show as sold on all of them.

Gee Chuang, CEO of Listia[7] believes that scenario is possible. He affirms that “Ink Protocol’s vision is to decentralize peer-to-peer marketplaces, taking the power away from the companies that run them and giving it back to the buyers and sellers. As a result, more value is distributed back to the actual user.” Chuang also said that “sellers in decentralized marketplaces have the freedom to use any platform they like at any time, while bringing that hard-earned reputation with them everywhere they go”.

Derek Martin argues that there are some great verticals where Blockchain is ripe for disruption and will experience phenomenal growth in new platforms and apps in the upcoming months:

Financial Sector

There strong potential in the financial sector to redesign costly legacy workflow, improve liquidity and free up capital. It will also help to improve infrastructure costs increasing transparency, reducing fraud and improving execution and settlement times. Local currencies can also be replaced or traded with less barriers allowing a flow of capital and investment cross borders more freely. A few governments are already studying how they could replace their local currency entirely by cryptocurrencies. What Blockchain applications are aiming to achieve is faster transactions at less cost and with unsurmounted degree of security. IBM has partnered with Axoni and R3, for example, to develop and deploy distributed ledger technology to the financial industry. It can also allow access to credit and finances to the unbanked.

Retail Manufacturing

Retail is normally one of the first sectors to be disrupted by new technologies as it is naturally the one closest to end-users and consumers. We will see better chain management applications, smart contract platforms, various digital currencies used for trading and a tighter cyber-security. Blockchain can, for example, validate and certify product or origin and source, transport data and tracking for better quality control etc…

We could see better trustless global trading empowering local producers, better provenance, and improved logistics allowing for much higher quality of products from the producers to the end user.

For organisations operating within very complex logistic and distribution ecosystems, supply-chain management transactions are documented in a permanent and decentralized record being monitored securely and transparently. It can reduce time, costs, labour, wastage and emissions. An open logistic system may help to understand the environmental impact of products, verify authenticity of fair trade status of products tracking the same from its origins to its final destination.

Healthcare sector

Blockchain technology in the healthcare can provide direct and safe link to patient records for clinical and financial stakeholders. Able to give patients the ability to grant access or revoke access to their data to private organisations or other medical institutions. It provides fast, secure and authenticated access to personal medical records across healthcare organisations and geographies. It is widely accepted that an easy access to patient data and exchange medical records is paramount to improve the sector’s bad reputation across different countries. The use of Blockchain technology to healthcare records can improved data security, with better access for healthcare professionals and patients alike, granting greater transparency in all healthcare transactions. Gem[8] has partnered with healthcare tech firm Philips in this space with the aim of addressing these needs.

Government Sector

The benefits of Blockchain technology can vary from increased transparency and traceability on how money is spent to tracking asset registration such as vehicles. It can also help to reduce frauds and operational costs. And what about voting? After hearing of so many recent electoral frauds all over the world, who still believes in the voting system? Well, perhaps if you live in Finland or any other Scandinavian country, maybe so? Not the case with most other countries though. According to a recent Techradar article, “The application of blockchain technology could eliminate voter fraud, providing a clear record of the votes cast, preventing any chance of a rigged election.” Voters can simply get their mobile out of their pockets or purse and exercises their democratic civic rights. Followmyvote[9] is a platform that promises to bring transparency and trust back to voting.

Government public records exist mostly in paper or in siloed database. The management of this data is expensive and complex. It must be handled with extreme care, be made readily available without any error and protected against hacking and manipulations. The use of the Blockchain offers an innovative solution to encode this data in a digital ledger, keeping the information safe from being altered. Ubitquity[10] is a US based company which a Blockchain-based system for property record management including titles, being tested now overseas at the Land Records Bureau in Brazil.

Blockchain and the IoT

Everybody is jumping on the new electronic device craze called ‘smart home assistants’, you might as well own now an Alexa or a Google Home or perhaps an Apple Home Pod. These connected devices is part of what we called ‘The Internet of Things’ (IoT). Blockchain technology is allowing connected devices to communicate without the need of using the original manufacturer’s hub. Samsung and IBM for example, are working together to create a decentralised network of IoT devices built on blockchain technology. A project called ADEPT (Autonomous Decentralized Peer-to-Peer Telemetry) comes with a promise to decentralize the IoT allowing devices to communicate directly, by-passing the manufacturer’s hub which tries to lock users into a their own digi-world or ecosystem.

De Muro from Techradar wrote – “The IoT promises an ever-growing number of online devices to monitor and contribute to our connected lifestyle. But a significant barrier to the adoption of various smart gadgets is the walled ecosystems which some manufacturers insist upon, locking out devices from other vendors, and generally making things harder for the consumer looking to use a variety of different bits of hardware.”

Cloud storage

The cloud has become part of our daily lives, individuals and companies alike rely on cloud storage to run their lives and businesses more efficiently although not without its problems. From downtime and losing access to your data temporarily, to more severe malware and the threat of the cloud service being hacked (it has become a pretty common activity for hackers these days and many companies have been attacked already), cloud storage is far from being trouble free. Companies such as Storj use Blockchain for open source cloud storage. Their users connect via Blockchain and peer-to-peer technology with a distributed network to store their data on. People can even rent their spare storage space as a side hustle via the Storj app and make some money, as the storage space is crowd-sourced.

Recruitment

Much has change in recruitment lately, with the help of AI enabled Natural Language Processing and speech recognition technology people can be interviewed by virtual recruiter. Still to date, many companies struggle to fill their job positions with the right candidate. They want to make sure they are hiring the right candidate for the position, the most qualified with the best set of experiences and skills that ultimately matches the company’s culture and values.

In the midst of so many CVs and applications it can be difficult to discern the truth and separate the wheat from the chaff, traditionally it is said that more than half of applicants lie on their job applications. One study showed that a quarter of applicants confirmed they worked for companies they had never worked for. The same goes to universities in need to verify the credentials of their faculty, and hospitals when it comes to medical doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals.

The Learning Machine is a business applying blockchain technology in the recruitment sector, wherein workers and professional credentials can be verified, kept in a secure digital ledger and used but not altered down the road. It promises companies a fraud protection system in order to facilitate the choice of the right person for the vacant position.

Entertainment industry

Entertainment is perhaps one of the most disrupted industry by the internet and social technologies in the past two decades. DLT enables the distribution of media content in a decentralised way but it is its immutability and “trustless” nature it is where the clear benefit comes from. Record-keeping and auditable data is the key, including data about who owns what assets, such as music and movies. The validity of an asset can verified as soon as it enters into the “chain” in the first place and then continuity is ensured from then on. It will benefit directly original creators guaranteeing that royalties and right are respected an issued that has plagued the industry since music and video became digitalised.

The entertainment industry is looking to blockchain technology to secure digital rights for music and other media, with the potential to recapture that income. British company JAAK is creating smart content with a “global view of content ownership and rights”.

Final thoughts

I may not have been able to convince you that Blockchain technology is here to stay but I would like to suggest that you keep reading and doing your own research. There are still many more applications to Blockchain in a variety of sectors such as photography, crowdfunding, public benefits, charities and third sector, forecasting, insurance, private transport, energy management, etc…

But do you know the most important industry that is being disrupted right now? That’s right, yours! If your industry deals with real data and transactions of any kind then it is very likely that it can also be disrupted by Blockchain technology.

As it has been demonstrated in this article, Blockchain applications go far beyond the cryptocurrency fever. It is more than a technology, it is a movement, it is a way where open networks aggregate real value and transparency via trustless consensus. The question is not if but when Blockchain disrupts our industry and sector. Are we going to be leading the way or playing the losing catching-up game?

In his acclaimed book “The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations”, Ori Brafman tells us how, historically, decentralised systems outlive closed ones. One of the examples is of the Apache tribes (open, decentralised) and the Aztecs (close, centralised) and how they responded respectively to the Spanish conquistadores. The open systems of the Apaches allowed them to survive the invasion while the Aztecs’ closed one drove them to ruins and obliteration.

“This is the first major principle of decentralization: when attacked, a decentralized organization tends to become even more open and decentralized.” ― Ori Brafman, The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations

Personally, I strongly believe that Blockchain offers us a unique possibility to develop truly democratic, decentralised and open network systems that can radically transform the way we do business forever. It is empowering as well as levelling-up the playing field. It has the potential to increase global trade through fairness and transparency across various sectors, organisations, government and institutions, local communities, cities and whole countries. DLT technologies such as Blockchain is just starting…

Web References:

https://www.coindesk.com/3-web-giants-decentralized-blockchain/

https://www.openbazaar.org/ob1-raises-4-2m-to-build-a-decentralized-marketplace-using-digital-currencies/

https://www.techradar.com/news/here-are-the-10-sectors-that-blockchain-will-disrupt-forever

https://www.finextra.com/blogposting/14888/what-next-in-banking-open-bank-blockchain

https://www.nasdaq.com/article/byzantine-fault-tolerance-the-key-for-blockchains-cm810058

https://hackernoon.com/demystifying-hashgraph-benefits-and-challenges-d605e5c0cee5

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2017/07/18/emerging-applications-for-blockchain/#db4258acf83b

[1] Ledger – classifies and summarises information, typically financial but also any other type of data can be used in ledgers

[2]Professor of Computer Science at the Air Force Academy; Adjunct professor or PhD committee member at University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, and Denver University, and University of Cincinnati

[3] Don Tapscott is the CEO of Tapscott Group and the bestselling author of Wikinomics, the digital Economy and a dozen of other highly acclaimed books about technology, business and society. He is currently he 4th most influential management thinker in the world, according to Thinkers 50.

[4] Roger Wattenhofer is a professor in the Distributed Computing Group, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich, Switzerland.

[5] Ethereum is an open-source, public, blockchain-based distributed computing platform and operating system featuring smart contract (scripting) functionality. It supports a modified version of Nakamoto consensus via transaction based state transitions. (Wikipedia)

[6] Derek Martin is a cloud solution architecture working with the Microsoft Blockchain team.

[7] Gee Chuang is the CEO of Listia, an existing marketplace that’s developing a decentralized version of eBay called Ink Protocol

[8] https://gem.co/health/

[9] https://followmyvote.com/

[10] https://www.ubitquity.io/web/index.html

People, personal computers and Blade Runner – digital technology in the 80’s ?

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” Steve Jobs

Blade Runner is a 1982 film direct by Ridley Scott which has just had its sequel released this year in cinemas around the world: The Blade Runner 2049.

The Plot: “…Set in a dystopian Los Angeles in 2019, the story depicts a future in which synthetic humans known as replicants are bioengineered by the powerful Tyrell Corporation to work on off-world colonies”(Source: Wikipedia)

The Reality in the 80’s: how did people see and engage with computers in those years? What did society think about them or were afraid of in the early years personal computers? How much of the digital future could they see and interpret through the lenses of films such as Blade Runner? The film depicted a reality in a future time that is today close to us, just around the corner from, in 2019.

The video above portrays the role computers were starting to have in society during those initial years in the 80’s. It also presents us with Steve Jobs views of the future, then a very young CEO and the founder of Apple computers. Jobs was incredible in foretelling to a sceptical audience what personal computers would mean to society in a near future.

Applying Jobs philosophy in the above’s quote, let’s look back to a time where a similar discussion to what we are experiencing today was already taking place. Concerns from the general public that computers would be taking their jobs, fear of loss of privacy and data security, companies implementing new automated system to improve efficiency in operations, smart payment processes, customer services and better user experiences. Sounds just like today, doesn’t it?!

‘You can’t do the simplest things today without the use of a computer’, said the reporter back in 1981. Almost 40 years later and how far have we come to understand how much more dependant we are on machines and computers. We need their help in most activities we engage in today, from our most simple menial day-to-day activities to shopping and communication needs as well as more processing complex activities?

It is said that of our smartphones which is now performing all sort of activities on our behalf (besides calling people), they are an ‘extension of humanity’, our operational system. And if it was almost inconceivable to leave home without them a few years ago, now they are also running our homes!

A 26 years-old Steve Jobs in his genius, had already foreseen this reality where computer would amplify mankind intellectual abilities wherein the impact and effects in society would far outstrip of the petrochemical revolution. But that’s is only one side of the story…

What is interesting in this video from the eighties is the realisation that people were already afraid that these ‘new’ revolutionising machines were going to take their jobs. Like in the Blade Runner movie where ‘replicants’ (fictional bioengineered or biorobotic android virtually identical to humans but much superior in many ways) where hunted down because they were seen as a menace to humans, people in those years thought that machines would eventually replace us, not much different from the talk we are increasingly listening to today.

The report asked Steve Jobs if there was any danger of these computers taking over our lives to which he just rebuffed stating that technology is just a tool to democratise society and make the experience more individual and if it wasn’t working we could just through out of the window. He also believed that machines would allow us to focus on the things we do best and release us to engage in more creative thinking instead of mechanical thinking. It would release us from the drudgeries of life so we can could focus on conceptual and creative tasks.

 

Blade-runner-directors-cut-poster-large-msg-119325148375Author David Burnham on the other hand, exposes the threat of invasion of privacy and how computer could then be used to manipulate us. This argument were contrasted by the news anchor arguing that computers, like guns, do not harm people, people do that to people. It would be then a matter of who is behind the computer or the executive order from above to engage in activities such as unsolicited data collection, mass surveillance etc… Moreover our society doesn’t seem to be alerted enough to fully understand how to use the web in a safe way, nor most members of the general public can clearly comprehend about the dangerous of loss of privacy, or the power of manipulation behind the information disseminated via social sites including how it is organised and categorised by search engines?

Burnham arguments were that the general public is not sufficiently aware to what was happening and how it was been sold on to them. That’s is something way too important to be taken lightly or dismissed. The debate on machines taking over humanity is an old one, the question is about how far have we come to really understand the true impact they will have in shaping our future.

We might still be far from the reality shown in the initial Blade Runner movie but certainly computers and technology has evolved to permeate all aspects of our lives and they are gradually replacing some of the work we do…

Thoughts???

video credit to robatsea2009 channel

Jack Ma and our somehow painful Future…

 

In this video, Alibaba’s CEO Jack MA, presented us with a gloomy vision for the next 30 years. Although he does not specify which technology revolutions have caused the two other world wars, he points towards a future where the third world war might happen but unlike the other two it will eventually be a war fueled by data and information, and people are already worried about it. Jack calls for people to be creative and strategic lest their jobs will be taken away from them by machines.

In these third wave of technology, according to Jack, the key challenges humans will face will be related to poverty, disease and  the environment. Technology can improve people’s life and at the same time to create other problems. One way of looking at it is that technology is not harmful in itself but can be used by other humans to harmful and devious purposes turning ccomputers against them for control and manipulation. In his view, it can be used to stir up problems as well as to save us.

He moves on to say how disruptive new small business can be released to bring a wave of fresh thinking and innovation. These new business models can be the very component we need to see shooting grassroots movements coming to the surface to empower people. As personalization and customization becomes the new norm, smaller business can position themselves to deliver a better customer engagement through more personal long-tail customer centric strategies.

The key, according to Jack Ma, is to make sure local businesses can cross their geographical borders and sell globally. The way to sort out the work problem is by leveraging the power of small businesses locally he says.

He then moved to say that stopping Globalisation is impossible and within the next 20-30 years people will work only four hours a day a jobs will not require their presence. So, if that is true, what will they do with the rest of the day?

He believes that the biggest difference between us and the machines is that they display an immense intelligence, they are smart but only humans have wisdom. If that is true then, what is the difference between wisdom and intelligence? Wisdom is from the heart according to Ma and machines will never have one… Is that simple?

It is true that things are moving fast on the AI front but also the IA (Intelligence Augmentation) has been receiving a lot of investment from the top companies as well as front start-ups. So, there is a possibility that humans might also have computer level intelligence.

What are your thoughts about that???

What is the future like?

What is the Future like? Growing up as a kid that has always seem to be one of my greatest areas of concern. This site is about exploring three main universal areas and trying to make sense of it all. No matter who you are or what you do, where you work, how much money or friends you have, if you are successful or not, there are three realities surrounding everything we do, all we are, and amplifying the sense of being across all our networks.

We are all engaged in the physical world around us, the first reality we are welcomed in when we are born. Secondly, as our awarenesses grow as humans we realise we can think and engage with others in this physical world. Our thoughts start then reminding us that we do not only have a conscience but we also have feelings and emotions to deal with, though we haven’t got a clue how to handle them, we have decisions to make and barely any time given to think about them. Thirdly, in the world we live in today, we are surrounded by a invisible yet prevailing cloud of information, data and digital technology forcing us to learn fast how to navigate through the challenges presented by this new environment or risk to be left behind.

As a human being, lover of life and nature, artist, health eating advocate, and in my spare time people and business development coach;  I set out to explore and research about the intersection of those three realities and how they are now and will continue to shape our lives in years and decades to come.

The future is the only destination we have, but we look to the past and learn from our history, our personal stories and narratives, we learn to make decisions in the present that eventually will affect where we will be tomorrow. I would like to invite you to join me in discovering together what all that means to us. How we can build better relationships, business practices and learning systems to empower people to be and to live their life given dreams. Help business to grow ethically and sustainably, and hopefully to become  better human beings.

“…Your future hasn’t been written yet. No one’s has. Your future is whatever you make it. So make it a good one.

– CHRISTOPHER LLOYD, AS DOC BROWN (Back to the Future)