Creating Generational Legacies

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Google tests VR as a replacement for dull training videos

A contest between training videos and virtual reality goes to VR.

We've heard about medical professionals using VR to augment their suites for years, but Google is testing its fit in the broader workplace, starting with employment's least fun experience: Training. The company's Daydream Labs hosted an experiment to see if hypothetical new hires learned better by watching training videos or donning a VR headset and walking through simulations -- and it turns out, immersive education does a better job. For this single trial, anyway.

how it works

The experiment pit two groups against each other in the time-honored competition of brewing better coffee. One watched barista training videos on YouTube, while the other went through a course in VR with a simulated espresso machine (think Job Simulator without the jokes). Ultimately, the VR crew took less time and made fewer mistakes -- though Google was quick to point out that neither group made impressive java.

A single trial isn't enough proof to definitively give VR the work training crown, but it's certainly promising for anyone making educational tools in virtual reality. It also pointed out the medium's drawbacks: The VR group might have learned how to twist the right dials on the 3D-modeled espresso machine, but the simulated training didn't teach the pressure-sensitive art of tamping down grounds into the espresso scoop -- something that haptic vibration in controllers doesn't sell. Plus, hot steam nozzles in VR didn't carry the same danger as those in real life, and chaperones had to yank the workers' hands away.

Gloves with better tracking and haptics could make up the difference, but there might just be jobs that can't be simulated well in VR -- at least with our current technology, Google's Daydream team wrote in a blog post. There were other hurdles with training in virtual reality: Namely, people don't follow instructions, rush ahead and ignore hints. They also didn't perform steps in order, so the team had to redesign the training like a video game wherein folks could fulfill tasks in any sequence (steaming the milk before grinding the coffee instead of after, for example).

While this VR session won't be ported into a Starbucks training course tomorrow, it was still a successful experiment, the Daydream team asserted in the post -- and it has promising lessons for learning experiences beyond occupational skill-building.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

“We need to start getting it together to think about the Future of Work."

BBG Mastermind Series  “Beyond the Future of Work”  with Heather Mcgowan and Chris Shipley  

Heather Mcgowan and Chris Shipley launching the "Beyond the Future of Work" Series
“We need to start getting it together to think about the Future of Work."

Heather Mcgowan talking about needing to
"learn throughout the journey of employment".
At school and university, the focus should be to "learn to learn" 

The Comfort Zone, Learning Zone and Panic Zone

The meaning of lifelong employment is now more abstract. It is to pursue a long distance race of learning, to run with the speed of change. To evolve with the value of knowledge and keep up with the currency of time and effort: to surrender to a paradigm of perpetual instability. To expect nothing but the need to become the unexpected as the expected will expectedly be replaced by technology. 
The comfort zone, the learning zone and the panic zone are virtual spaces that differentiate employees not according to their age, but by their competency to engage with an innovative mindset. Currently, the comfort zone of someone fresh to the industry is the panic zone of someone with fifty years experience. The comfort zone is no longer safe. Your job is likely to be replaced with a different job of a different title and skillset. Yet, it need not be replaced with a different person. If one pursues lifelong employment, one pursues a long life in the learning zone. Working to learn makes it possible for changing jobs to be occupied by the same employee.  

The Hunter-Gatherer Era valued efficiency of labor, strength, speed and use of literally cutting-edge technology: a sharp instrument. 

The Agricultural Era called for the augmentation of this labor, survival relied on the knowledge and stamina for farming. 

The Industrial Era saw the replacement of labor with machines for efficiency and optimization of production. 

The Information Era allowed for cognitive reduction as knowledge and skill are easily acquired. In this past period, the predictable timeline began with formal education, transitioned smoothly to career, concluding in retirement. A comfortable happily-ever-after Romantic tale of the workforce. 

Today we welcome the Augmentation Era, where machines and minds are united to enable cognitive augmentation that makes space for creativity, agility and adaptability to the changing economic climate.  There are fewer humans needed to contribute to traditional tasks at hand and there are more humans needed with a bandwidth for the complex and ambiguous.

The vocabulary to sufficiently write about the future of jobs does not exist yet. Here are some abstract buzz words to appease us in the meantime. “unprecedented” and “technological transformation”, “shared economy” and “learning agility”. We will have to unlearn our native language surrounding what it means to have our own steady job, profession and career. We must relearn the way of resilience, adaptability, continuous learning and openness to change. 

How else can the average professional worker of this generation experience 17 different jobs across 5 different industries or survive multiple paradigm shifts? Don’t dismiss this postmodern, multi-narrative pastiche as a psychological thriller. 

Instead of associating our identity with our job, our company or our education, we should begin to think of ourselves in a whole new way. 

To conceptualize a job as the skills it requires, rather then the title at hand, is the mindset with which one can strive. Employees are empowered to view themselves as a partner, to realize the profound value in a portable skillset and an ability to learn from the tools and technology as well as with them.

While our species is getting smarter and more ‘efficient’ at completing tasks, the individual has the same cognitive capacity and bandwidth. However, the individual will need to shift toward utilizing the emotional and imaginative faculty of creativity, critical thinking and problem solving as machines will replace every possible aspect. To access our cognitive bandwidth is to employ automated technology that will replace non-creative tasks. 

The domain of the elite is making ones passion productive, which can be done by being open to every industry, as we carve the line between ‘what is human work’ and ‘what is machine work’.  Human work involves innovative entrepreneurial problem solving. Soft skills. The ability to help others. There is a misconception that high level jobs are safe from automation and low level jobs are at risk. 

As degrees don’t guarantee jobs, we enter a renaissance period of learning, which values learning agility and mindset as what is needed are highly skilled people who can solve ambiguous and complex problems with creativity and collaboration, while anything task related will be replaced by Artificial Intelligence and Machines.   
Heather Mcgowan - People are living longer,  and the skillsets needed are for the younger generation. How are we going to close the gap? 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Emotional Intelligence and the Future of Work

Emotional Intelligence has helped businesses explain why some of their best performing staff and leaders don’t necessarily have the best academic qualification or professional skills.
But many leaders are still confused by emotional intelligence and its importance to the workplace. They are asking:
“How do I know if I am emotionally intelligent?”
“How can I measure it in myself and what do I look for in others?”
In order to answer these questions, it helps to first understand the main traits of emotional intelligence. Once you know these, you can start looking for them in yourself and others and assess how you measure up. You can then take steps to improve those that you are weakest on, if you want to raise your EQ.

Below, Ush Dhanak identifies 15 initial questions you can ask yourself to self-assess your level of emotional intelligence:

  1. Do you have the ability to listen to others?
Blindly ploughing your own course with no regard for others is no sign of EQ! Instead, emotionally intelligent people are able to listen and take in the thoughts, feelings, and opinions of others. They actively seek these out and are able to process them without judgement.
  1. Can you identify and express emotions?
We all experience a multitude of emotions – but people with EQ recognise what these emotions are and are able to label them and express what they are. Labelling emotions has the effect of diminishing their intensity and creating clarity – which can lead to better decision-making in the workplace.
  1. Are you curious about others?
Because you have the ability to empathise with others, you are also curious about them, if you have high emotional intelligence. This connects with the first above: you listen and care about the responses of others – which makes you curious about what they’re going through.
  1. How self-aware are you?
People with EQ are comfortable in their skin. They know what they’re good at and what they’re not so good at. They certainly don’t think or act like they are the best at everything. They are also better able to handle situations when their weaknesses may be exposed – because they are prepared for them.
  1. Do you display confidence?
Because of high self-awareness, emotionally intelligent people have a confidence about them – but not excessive or misplaced confidence. It comes across as an air of authority and balance. 
  1. Do you view change as threat or opportunity?
Emotionally intelligent people don’t feel threatened by change; because they are comfortable, aware, prepared, and confident in their abilities, they are flexible enough to approach change as an opportunity. They can help others to see it positively too: partly for this reason, high EQ points to strong leadership qualities.
  1. Are you easily upset – or unruffable?
People with EQ are thick-skinned and can take a joke; that of course doesn’t mean that they are immune to emotion – they are just not offended easily or over-sensitive to criticism and can control their emotions. The balance and confidence that they exhibit makes them seem more ‘unruffable’ than most.
  1. Do you build strong relationships?
Another trait is the ability to build strong, lasting relationships. Emotionally intelligent people don’t waste time with partnerships that won’t bear fruit; instead, they focus on working on the relationships that do matter.
  1. Are you good at finding compromises?
Every social situation has people we don’t get along with. The difference with emotionally intelligent people is that they don’t get angry, irritated, or frustrated by them. Instead, they are able to recognise emotions brewing up and to then rise above them. This makes them better able to see the other person’s point of view and more likely to find a compromise.
  1. Are you a good judge of character?
Being aware of your own traits and emotions also helps you see qualities in others. This can make you a better judge of character. You are able to scratch the surface and to see what really lies beneath with other people: a very useful skill when you’re a leader hiring employees, for instance.
  1. Do you find the positives in all situations?
Emotionally intelligent people are able to get over mistakes, negative experiences, and setbacks more easily than others. They see things positively and realise that most events in life are learning experiences; so they pick themselves up and get on with it. This also makes them more likely to take calculated risks – because they are less fearful of making mistakes.
  1. Can you say NO?
People with EQ know where to draw the line and realise that saying ‘yes’ to things actually means saying ‘no’ to other things (which may be more important). They are clear about priorities and so are not scared to say ‘no’ when necessary. This avoids the stress associated with agreeing to things just to please others.
  1. Do you know when to disconnect?
Emotionally intelligent people may often be hard-working leaders – but they also know when to switch off and disconnect from the working world. They know that family time, rest, and ME time is important to their wellbeing and they will make time for it. They have work-life balance.
  1. Are you usually in a good mood?
You’ll usually find emotionally intelligent people in a good mood and pleasant to be around; they don’t get too stressed and seem generally content with life. This is because deep-down they are in a ‘good place’ and the day-to-day stresses don’t get to them too much.
  1. Do you trash talk?
Finally, you won’t find people with a high EQ talking people down; they avoid negative conversations about others and don’t indulge in gossip. They implicitly know that focusing on the negative actions of other also brings your own energy down – so they prefer to focus on the positives.
Hopefully the above questions help you get clearer on the attributes of emotional intelligence. Apart from these observational measurements, there are validated tests you can take that will provide an indication of your level of emotional intelligence.
Want to assess emotional intelligence in your workplace? Or measure your own EQ?

Friday, July 14, 2017

Why AI will be a $60b a year business

From the desk of Bob Pritchard 

What is AI? Why is it so hot all of a sudden?  What will AI mean to you?  Why should you take notice?  For a start, it’s the technology powering Siri, Alexa and Cortana, smart home devices, driverless cars, news generation, purchase projections, fraud protection and the Facebook feature that automatically tags your friends when you upload photos.
SunTrust recently released a report that breaks down how AI works and reported in Business Intelligence.
AI is what people call computer programs that try to replicate how the human brain operates. For now, they only can replicate very specific tasks. One system can beat humans at the complicated and ancient board game called Go, for example. Lots of these AI systems are being developed, each excellent at a specific task.
AI systems all operate in basically the same way. AI systems are unique because they are set up like human brains. AI is even talked about in terms of neurons and synapses, just like the human brain. AI systems have to be trained, which is a process of adjusting these checkpoints to achieve better results. This training process takes a huge amount of computer process to fine tune. The better a system is trained, the better results you can get from it. The huge amount of processing power required to run and train AI systems is what has kept AI research relatively quiet until recently, which explains why it is now such a hot topic of conversation..
There is a famous AI contest where researchers pit computers against humans in a challenge to correctly identify photos. Humans usually are able to identify photos with about 95% accuracy in this content, and in 2012, computers were able to identify about 74% of photos correctly, according to SunTrust’s report. In 2015, computers reached 96% accuracy, officially beating humans for the first time. This was called the “big bang” of AI, according to SunTrust.
The big bang of AI was made possible by some fancy new algorithms, three specifically. These new algorithms were better ways of training AI systems, making them faster and cheaper to run.  AI systems require lots of real-world examples to be trained well, like lots of cat photos for example. These cat photos also had to be labelled as cat photos so the system knew when it got the right answer from its algorithms and checkpoints. The new algorithms that led to the big bang allowed AI systems to be trained with fewer examples that didn’t have to be labelled as well as before. Collecting enough examples to train an AI system used to be really expensive, but was much cheaper after the big bang. Advances in processing power and cheap storage also helped move things along.
Since the big bang, there have been a number of huge strides in AI technology. Tesla, Google, Apple and many of the traditional car companies are training AI systems for autonomous driving. Google, Apple and Amazon are pioneering the first smart personal assistants. Some companies are even working on AI driven healthcare solutions that could personalize treatment plans based on a patient’s history.
AI technology could be as simple as making your email smarter, but it could also extend your lifespan, take away your job, or end human soldiers fighting the world’s wars.  SunTrust says AI has the capability to change nearly every industry. The moves we are seeing now are just the beginnings, the low hanging fruits. Cities can become smarter, TSA might be scanning your face as you pass through security and doctors could give most of their consultations via your phone thanks to increased AI advancements.
One is for sure. AI is exciting, sometimes scary, but ultimately, here to stay. We are just starting to see the implications of the technology.
Maybe the only significant difference between a really smart simulation and a human being was the noise they made when you punched them
Don't forget to listen into my radio show on VoiceAmerica Business at 5pm PST every Tuesday. Listen to any of my previous shows on VoiceAmerica archives at any time you choose. I interview some of the top people in business every week     
Bob Pritchard
Have a successful, healthy and profitable day

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Welcome to the future - your life is going to start to be weird

Written by

The world of technology will impact on all industries. Many Industries will merge, disappear and become automated. Some businesses will thrive and new industries will form as a result of new technology.
We have also looked at how in general that this will affect all industries. The only constant we can guarantee is change! Find out what businesses are becoming popular and what affect technology could have on your business. Could you be replaced by software in the near future or a robot? There are robots already replacing humans in some Industries. 
Many prominent thinkers of our generation state we are currently in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, in which new technologies are changing both the physical and digital worlds, changing much about our day to day lives and revolutionising many industries and economies.
Here's how the World Economic Forum describes the new technological age to come: "We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before."
Artificial Intelligence and Big Data Changing our Lives. As capabilities to store massive amounts of data continue to improve, our lives change with it. Available digital data is doubling every two years. In 2013, it encompassed 4.4 zettabytes, and by 2020 the digital universe – which is the data we both create and copy annually – will reach 44 zettabytes, or 44 trillion gigabytes.
Because Big Data is so Big. We need Artificial Intelligence to help keep track of it. Artificial Intelligence is already a part of our lives, whether we realize it or not. Between Amazon suggestions, Google searches, and inside our cars, narrow AI is already happening. Things like Microsoft’s Cortana and Apple’s Siri are services which use language processing to extract questions from speech. They can then do a limited number of useful things with this data, like looking for movie times or scheduling an appointment in a calendar.
Artificial Intelligence will improve and change the Wellness and fitness Industry
Artificial intelligence has nearly infinite potential and uses. An area in which it has been, and will continue to, innovate and change our lives is healthcare.
Better Supplements Creating supplements can take decades, and involves time-consuming research and trials. Computers can now be used to search for treatments from sequences of molecular structures. Recently, AI was used to search for an Ebola cure and found 2 options. This was done in less than a day, as opposed to the years it may have taken previously. 
This could have a positive or negative effect on nutritional companies as people will be guided to take the right nutrition that’s required according to their DNA. This is the future
Wearable devices use the latest information of programming and science data analysis to offer you the best technology. The algorithms developed with machine learning techniques allow the devices, combined with the apps, to better understand your body day after day. Together with these advanced techniques, these devices apply Artificial Intelligence to develop data analysis and algorithms with a predictive method that understands and learns from the behaviour of the users.
How does this work - Principle of PPG?
Photo plethysmography (PPG) is an optical technique used to detect volumetric changes in blood in peripheral circulation. It is a non-invasive method that makes measurements at the surface of the skin. The technique provides valuable information related to our cardiovascular system.
Uses of PPG with Wearable Devices. These devices have a sensor that monitors minor variations in the intensity of light transmitted through or reflected from the tissue. These intensity changes are associated with changes in blood flow through the tissue and provide vital cardiovascular information such as the pulse rate for example.
Specific applications include the following:
  • Clinical physiological monitoring
  • Blood oxygen saturation
  • Blood pressure
  • Cardiac output
  • Heart rate
  • Respiration
  • Vascular assessment
  • Arterial disease
  • Arterial compliance and ageing
  • Venous assessment
  • Endothelial function
  • Microvascular blood flow
  • Vasospastic conditions
  • Autonomic function monitoring
  • Vasomotor function and thermoregulation
  • Blood pressure and heart rate variability
  • Orthostatic
  • Other cardiovascular variability assessments
Artificial Intelligence can help users to apply improvement to their own life and can help prevent unnecessary actions.
Better Decisions for Better Wellness This is especially true in the wellness and medicine industries. With so much data like patient records and family histories combined with things like daily trackers, this data can help people make healthier and smarter decisions. It can also help those in the wellness industry, design plans based on individual patients and their needs.
There is a wearable technology company that has had amazing results as a Category Creator in healthcare.
This is not a Fitbit, Apple, Garmin, Samsung or Pebble device. This wearable device is in a league all of its own and focuses mainly on health by measuring your vital statistics in real time.
They have for 12-months had the wearable technology for consumers. Here is already an impressive list of amazing features for consumers available today. This reads your blood pressure, breath rate, daily steps, calories burned, quality of sleep, measure your EKG/ECG in 2 minutes, your mood, fatigue levels. You can remotely track the health of your loved ones. Once they breach safety margins an alert is sent out to guardians. They also have a panic button that provides an immediate alert with your exact location and a map.
Shortly coming are these additional features, for the consumer.
•Glucose Measurement (The worlds first non-invasive blood/glucose continuous test)
•Alcohol Sensor
•Oxygenation (to monitor the effect of Germanium on the body this is health benefit you receive directly from Germanium stones within the wrist strap)
•Fertility Prediction (new algorithm)
•Flu Detection (new algorithm)
•Pulse Diagnostic (new algorithm)
•Mosquito Shield (amazing the device will send a different frequency according to your location to deter mosquitos)
This has attracted huge interest from the Scientific Community, which looks at this device as not only as a personal device but, thanks to the accuracy and the technology, they think this device can revolutionise the M-Health sector.
This company is launching another division to cater specifically for the Medical Industry.
DNA testing and analysis services coming soon also for the consumer. This is the opportunity to help everyone to discover, preserve and share their family history.
DNA is very exciting and this will have massive implications in the health and fitness industry. Look at what this could do for you and it will give you a really good idea of why this will be so HUGE.
From amazing yet very simple things, as some people DNA testing reveals that even healthy foods can cause inflammation in others. At the root of nearly every disease and health issue is inflammation.
There are people who for instance react to foods internally but silently .... meaning it does not cause any obvious issue but it is causing inflammation within the body that eventually leads to health issues. This could be Grapefruit, Spinach and Turmeric as DNA may reveal that they have a genetic complication. For most people these common healthy foods have wonderful health benefits. However, there's a part of the population that should avoid them because they are causing silent inflammation within the body with no outward obvious issues. Turmeric in fact is widely known for being a powerful anti-inflammatory... in some people the reaction is opposite.
DNA tells us ahead of time what to avoid - what will help - what won't. This is why diets are not an answer. Eating vegan or paleo etc is not a good choice for everyone. For some it's wonderful because it works with their specific DNA for others it works against you.
This company is light years ahead of the Industry and is changing and evolving all the time - no wonder their shares have gone through the roof!
Prevention is better than cure. There are millions of borderline diabetics simply unaware that there heading in the wrong direction. Imagine being guided to make simple lifestyle choices so you can avoid this dreadful health challenge.
I cured myself of cancer without chemo intensely researching the health, fitness and technology industries for more than 12 months. I maintained my research and came across this wearable technology. It is of my opinion that it might well have guided me to improve my vital signs and perhaps I could have avoided my health challenge that took me over 12 months to get clear. However, I am much better off for the experience and this has taken me in a different direction. What could I have done with personalised feedback in real time.
The Health industry is a growth industry now and in the foreseeable future. Doctors, wellness consultants, fitness trainers and those is the nutrition industry will be using tools to guide and design health and fitness programs personalised to suit their clients and patients. This will create an extra revenue stream for those in the health industry and fitness sector as they be able to assess remotely their customers/athletes/patients. Wearable technology of this nature working in real time will provide instant data to whoever the user nominates as their guardian. They can guide them even from a different country. This is already taking place with those in the health industry already charging small monthly fees for this service.
The end of the smart phone? This same company is planning to put a smart phone in your wearable and it is predicted that smartphones as we know it will be something of the past. This company is planning to do this in a couple of years. They have recently launched a smart phone that is more powerful than iPhone 7. This is the worlds first smart phone that emits little to NO radiation.
This study below, reflects a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper published recently, used data on the number of robots from the International Federation of Robotics (there is no consistent data on the monetary value of the robots in use.) It assessed the effect of robots on employment and wages in commuting zones, a way to measure local economies.
Automation is decimating industries like the car industry. Where whole assembly lines of robots are replacing humans. The industrial robots are used most in the manufacturing of electronics, metal products, plastics and chemicals. They do not require humans to operate, and do various tasks like welding, painting and packaging. Take for example the USA from 1993 to 2007, one new industrial robot was added for every thousand workers — mainly in the Midwest, South and East — and Western Europe added 1.6.
The next question is whether the coming wave of technologies — like machine learning, drones and driverless cars — will have similar effects, but on many more people. It has been said that we wont have taxi drivers or the need to have truck drivers in the future they will be driven by robots.
While some Industries will be a causality of ‘progress’ there will be those that will thrivelike the new Technology age that is the fastest growing sector. You may not be aware that an Industry growing fast is life coaching. These days there are many different types of coaches available, from:
  • Health Coaches
  • Executive Coaches
  • Life Coaches
  • Academic Coaches
  • Spiritual Coaches
  • Financial Coaches
  • Fitness coaches
  • Health and Longevity Coaches
… and many, many more.
Do you think that new technology could support or replace your business in the future? Do you have an exit strategy to retire from your business or are you relying on your current business to have value?
Folks need to have the ability to see around corners and plan ahead. It pays to adapt and learn new skills. Where you see there’s a problem area go and be the one that provides a solution. In this day and age more people are considering additional income streams rather than relying on one source of revenue.
P.S. This article is natural and organic. What may be considered by some as typos, spelling and grammar are deliberate and enhance its individual character and beauty and in no way are to be considered flaws or defects. 
If you would like to contact Graham Williams - please email him on

Monday, June 26, 2017

Is this the real life - or is this fantasy?

This is coming.........soon

Building cities of the future Adelaide is up there

By Jonathan Nally 
Tuesday, 27 June, 2017
Read more:

Dollarphotoclub 77295105Local governments around Australia are implementing strategic plans to place themselves at the forefront of the smart cities revolution.
Twenty years ago, no-one had heard of smart cities. Today, the concept is rapidly growing all around us. And in 20 years’ time, any city that hasn’t become smart will seem like a quaint and somewhat bewildering relic of the past.

According to analyst firm Gartner, the global smart city market is expected to exceed US$1 trillion in 2019, rising to US$3.48 trillion by the end of 2026. India alone plans to develop more than 100 smart cities by modernising some of its medium-size cities. And Australian cities and towns are jumping on the bandwagon, racing to implement strategies that will improve efficiencies and boost the bottom line, all while providing better services to their communities.

Addressing the Australian Smart Communities Association’s annual conference in Adelaide at the end of May, Martin O’Malley — former governor of Maryland, former mayor of Baltimore and a respected authority on technological change — said the South Australian capital is perfectly placed to harness big data and the Internet of Things to make the city the ‘smartest’ in the country.

“When you have government, business community and thought leaders committed to embracing new technology, you can completely rethink how cities are planned and operated to develop economic and social growth,” Governor O’Malley said.
“I’ve seen a new way of governing emerging — a change that’s being brought about by smart cities.
“Cities that understand that spatial intelligence allows us to better reduce crime, better manage traffic and understand what’s going on at any given point in time in our city. This visibility to see, track and act ultimately delivers better data-driven decisions.”Martin O'Malley on stage giving a presenation, gesturingSmart cities expert Martin O'Malley spoke at the Australian Smart Communities Association in Adelaide.

Named a Cisco ‘Lighthouse City’ in 2015, Adelaide was an early leader with public Wi-Fi, smart lighting and smart parking. It’s now leveraging the possibilities offered by geographic information systems (GIS) technology.integrating data sets from a variety of business sources and visualising them across a time-space continuum, decision-makers can see more clearly the cause and likely remedy of even the most complex of issues,” said Brett Bundock, managing director of geospatial technology firm, Esri Australia.

“Adelaide is showing real leadership in this space.”

That space includes research into driverless car technologies; smart lighting that lowers energy consumption; environmental monitoring of CO2, noise and temperature; and innovative plans to make the city a high-speed internet zone.

“The technology is here. By displaying big data, policy and program information on a map, a clear picture emerges that can show the best ways to target resources, track performance and communicate with the public,” Bundock said.

The South Australian capital is also the first non-US city to sign up to the Smart Gigabit Communities Program run by US Ignite, which bills itself as fostering “the development of next-generation internet applications with transformative public benefits for the education, energy, transportation, health and manufacturing industries”.

“South Australia will develop and share cutting-edge applications with other US Ignite communities,” said Science and Information Economy Minister Kyam Maher.

“This has the potential to deliver important advances in areas such as health care, education, public safety and other priority areas using advanced internet applications that are not yet available on today’s commercial internet.”

Adelaide’s Lord Mayor, Martin Haese, said stronger internet services would be the key to Adelaide achieving its smart city and carbon neutral goals.
“We’ve launched a four-year strategic plan to look at a range of measures including reviewing our own fleets, procurement practices, leading by example over the installation of solar PV over more of our buildings,” he said.
“Point one in that strategic plan is to become a smart city. This relationship between data speed, the environment and automation to some degree is converging.”Looking up at tall buildings in a cityImage credit: © Tomayo
Sunny and smart
Located about an hour’s drive north of Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast is Queensland’s third most populous region, and home to a thriving tourist market. It encompasses such well-known destinations as Noosa Heads, Caloundra and Maroochydore. With a little over 300,000 residents, it ranks as Australia’s ninth-most populated area.

But with the population expected to expand by 40% over the next 20 years, Sunshine Coast Regional Council faces significant challenges in coping with demand for services while being pressured by ubiquitous revenue constraints, while also desiring to advance in an environmentally friendly and culturally sensitive manner.
To this end, the council has positioned itself at the forefront of the smart city revolution, with ambitious short- and long-term plans to reinvent the way in which many services are provided, as well as the introduction of new services, all energised by the latest technologies.

The Sunshine Coast partnered with Cisco and Telstra in 2014 to develop a comprehensive plan for the municipality. According to the resulting Smart City Framework, published in 2015, the council aims to use “information and communications technology… to improve quality of life, stimulate economic growth and ensure environmental sustainability throughout our region”, with expected benefits to include: improved council services, reduced service delivery costs, shorter waiting times and increased customer satisfaction;reduced carbon emissions, traffic congestion and energy use;increased public safety; attraction of more investment and business, with concomitant increased employment opportunities and local business competitiveness; and improved town planning and designing. Michael Whereat, the council’s Smart City Framework Co-ordinator, said that part of the plan is to demonstrate that the city is a “cutting-edge, investment-attractive location for people to move to from a business as well as from a residential perspective”.

“What we’re actually doing is digitising the urban environment, and by that I mean the IoT, the sensor networks, the connectivity arrangements,” he said.
“We’ve been working on it for a number of years and have quite a bit of investment in the way we’re doing it.

As one example, the council has smart sensors that turn on watering systems if the weather forecast says there’ll be no rain in the next 24 hours. But if it’s in a public park, citizens won’t get wet because the system can sense their presence using Wi-Fi to detect their mobile phones. “We have that operating right now,” Whereat said.
“It’s an integration approach where we’re not working on silos, we’re actually joining the dots together,” he added. “So it’s that kind of intelligence approach [that makes] Sunshine Coast one of the leading cities in Australia, because we are already applying these learnings in a fairly broad scale across the region.”

Whereat said one thing the council is particularly proud of is its flagship smart centre in Caloundra, where members of the community can come in and learn what is being done.

“We use a living lab to test before we deploy at scale, so we learn that these things do in fact integrate at a technology level, not just visually and financially. If they fail, we want them to fail fast and move on to the next thing,” he said. “So it’s a kind of entrepreneurial approach.”
Whereat is also president of the Australian Smart Communities Association, which counts among its members more than 130 local and other governments that represent more than 12 million Australians citizens. The association’s 2017 conference brought together experts from around the country.
“The conference is about being able to collaborate and share at a national scale,” he said.

Whereat added that although Australia is not the first and not necessarily best in the world when it comes to smart cities, “Australia is a high technology adopting nation, and despite the fact that we’re only 24 million people, the fact that across such a huge continent we are deploying agricultural equipment that uses smart farming, through to [solutions for] our urban environment, means that we are pretty well placed”.

“It’s pretty exciting.”

The Real Threat of Artificial Intelligence


BEIJING — What worries you about the coming world of artificial intelligence?

Too often the answer to this question resembles the plot of a sci-fi thriller. People worry that developments in A.I. will bring about the “singularity” — that point in history when A.I. surpasses human intelligence, leading to an unimaginable revolution in human affairs. Or they wonder whether instead of our controlling artificial intelligence, it will control us, turning us, in effect, into cyborgs.

These are interesting issues to contemplate, but they are not pressing. They concern situations that may not arise for hundreds of years, if ever. At the moment, there is no known path from our best A.I. tools (like the Google computer program that recently beat the world’s best player of the game of Go) to “general” A.I. — self-aware computer programs that can engage in common-sense reasoning, attain knowledge in multiple domains, feel, express and understand emotions and so on.

This doesn’t mean we have nothing to worry about. On the contrary, the A.I. products that now exist are improving faster than most people realize and promise to radically transform our world, not always for the better. They are only tools, not a competing form of intelligence. But they will reshape what work means and how wealth is created, leading to unprecedented economic inequalities and even altering the global balance of power.

It is imperative that we turn our attention to these imminent challenges.

What is artificial intelligence today? Roughly speaking, it’s technology that takes in huge amounts of information from a specific domain (say, loan repayment histories) and uses it to make a decision in a specific case (whether to give an individual a loan) in the service of a specified goal (maximizing profits for the lender). Think of a spreadsheet on steroids, trained on big data. These tools can outperform human beings at a given task.

This kind of A.I. is spreading to thousands of domains (not just loans), and as it does, it will eliminate many jobs. Bank tellers, customer service representatives, telemarketers, stock and bond traders, even paralegals and radiologists will gradually be replaced by such software. Over time this technology will come to control semiautonomous and autonomous hardware like self-driving cars and robots, displacing factory workers, construction workers, drivers, delivery workers and many others.

Unlike the Industrial Revolution and the computer revolution, the A.I. revolution is not taking certain jobs (artisans, personal assistants who use paper and typewriters) and replacing them with other jobs (assembly-line workers, personal assistants conversant with computers). Instead, it is poised to bring about a wide-scale decimation of jobs — mostly lower-paying jobs, but some higher-paying ones, too.

This transformation will result in enormous profits for the companies that develop A.I., as well as for the companies that adopt it. Imagine how much money a company like Uber would make if it used only robot drivers. Imagine the profits if Apple could manufacture its products without human labor. Imagine the gains to a loan company that could issue 30 million loans a year with virtually no human involvement. (As it happens, my venture capital firm has invested in just such a loan company.)

We are thus facing two developments that do not sit easily together: enormous wealth concentrated in relatively few hands and enormous numbers of people out of work. What is to be done?

Part of the answer will involve educating or retraining people in tasks A.I. tools aren’t good at. Artificial intelligence is poorly suited for jobs involving creativity, planning and “cross-domain” thinking — for example, the work of a trial lawyer. But these skills are typically required by high-paying jobs that may be hard to retrain displaced workers to do. More promising are lower-paying jobs involving the “people skills” that A.I. lacks: social workers, bartenders, concierges — professions requiring nuanced human interaction. But here, too, there is a problem: How many bartenders does a society really need?

The solution to the problem of mass unemployment, I suspect, will involve “service jobs of love.” These are jobs that A.I. cannot do, that society needs and that give people a sense of purpose. Examples include accompanying an older person to visit a doctor, mentoring at an orphanage and serving as a sponsor at Alcoholics Anonymous — or, potentially soon, Virtual Reality Anonymous (for those addicted to their parallel lives in computer-generated simulations). The volunteer service jobs of today, in other words, may turn into the real jobs of the future.

Other volunteer jobs may be higher-paying and professional, such as compassionate medical service providers who serve as the “human interface” for A.I. programs that diagnose cancer. In all cases, people will be able to choose to work fewer hours than they do now.

Who will pay for these jobs? Here is where the enormous wealth concentrated in relatively few hands comes in. It strikes me as unavoidable that large chunks of the money created by A.I. will have to be transferred to those whose jobs have been displaced. This seems feasible only through Keynesian policies of increased government spending, presumably raised through taxation on wealthy companies.

As for what form that social welfare would take, I would argue for a conditional universal basic income: welfare offered to those who have a financial need, on the condition they either show an effort to receive training that would make them employable or commit to a certain number of hours of “service of love” voluntarism.

To fund this, tax rates will have to be high. The government will not only have to subsidize most people’s lives and work; it will also have to compensate for the loss of individual tax revenue previously collected from employed individuals.

This leads to the final and perhaps most consequential challenge of A.I. The Keynesian approach I have sketched out may be feasible in the United States and China, which will have enough successful A.I. businesses to fund welfare initiatives via taxes. But what about other countries?

They face two insurmountable problems. First, most of the money being made from artificial intelligence will go to the United States and China. A.I. is an industry in which strength begets strength: The more data you have, the better your product; the better your product, the more data you can collect; the more data you can collect, the more talent you can attract; the more talent you can attract, the better your product. It’s a virtuous circle, and the United States and China have already amassed the talent, market share and data to set it in motion.

For example, the Chinese speech-recognition company iFlytek and several Chinese face-recognition companies such as Megvii and SenseTime have become industry leaders, as measured by market capitalization. The United States is spearheading the development of autonomous vehicles, led by companies like Google, Tesla and Uber. As for the consumer internet market, seven American or Chinese companies — Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent — are making extensive use of A.I. and expanding operations to other countries, essentially owning those A.I. markets. It seems American businesses will dominate in developed markets and some developing markets, while Chinese companies will win in most developing markets.

The other challenge for many countries that are not China or the United States is that their populations are increasing, especially in the developing world. While a large, growing population can be an economic asset (as in China and India in recent decades), in the age of A.I. it will be an economic liability because it will comprise mostly displaced workers, not productive ones.

So if most countries will not be able to tax ultra-profitable A.I. companies to subsidize their workers, what options will they have? I foresee only one: Unless they wish to plunge their people into poverty, they will be forced to negotiate with whichever country supplies most of their A.I. software — China or the United States — to essentially become that country’s economic dependent, taking in welfare subsidies in exchange for letting the “parent” nation’s A.I. companies continue to profit from the dependent country’s users. Such economic arrangements would reshape today’s geopolitical alliances.

One way or another, we are going to have to start thinking about how to minimize the looming A.I.-fueled gap between the haves and the have-nots, both within and between nations. Or to put the matter more optimistically: A.I. is presenting us with an opportunity to rethink economic inequality on a global scale. These challenges are too far-ranging in their effects for any nation to isolate itself from the rest of the world.

Kai-Fu Lee is the chairman and chief executive of Sinovation Ventures, a venture capital firm, and the president of its Artificial Intelligence Institute.

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