Thursday, December 11, 2014

Friday Thinking, 12 December 2014

Hello all –Friday Thinking is curated in the spirit of sharing. Many thanks to those who enjoy this. J

Technology is the name we give to things that we do not yet use every day.
Brian Eno

Retaining technological dominance is a strategic choice ...
The nation must actively break down the bureaucratic antibodies that resist investment in innovation and redouble its focus on sustaining technological dominance.
Game Changers - Disruptive Technology and U.S. Defense Strategy

A warfare regime based on unmanned and autonomous systems has the potential to change our basic core concepts of defense strategy, including deterrence, reassurance, dissuasion and compellence. These systems will have different characteristics than their manned counterparts and will reshape how the U.S. military postures and bases its forces around the world and how senior decisionmakers consider decisions about the use of force.
...Thousands of unmanned systems of various types are now found in the U.S. inventory. At least 75 countries are investing in unmanned systems.

Other emerging technologies may disrupt the global military balance as well, such as offensive cyber warfare tools; advanced computing; artificial intelligence; densely interconnected, multiphenomenology sensors; electric weapons such as directed energy, electromagnetic rail guns and high-powered microwave weapons; additive manufacturing and 3-D printing; synthetic biology; and even technologies to enhance human performance on the battlefield. All of these technologies – driven primarily by demand and advances in the commercial sector – are emerging today and hold the potential to spark a new “military-technical revolution.”
20YY - Preparing for War in the Robotic Age

Mobile continues to register impressive growth around the world too, with GSMA Intelligence registering almost 1 million new unique users every day since our last report– that’s more than 11 new users every second.

The total number of active subscriptions continues to grow too, and at 7.267 billion, the number of connections is rapidly approaching the same figure as the world’s total population, which today stands at 7.272 billion according to Worldometers.

However, it’s important to note that the average mobile user still maintains more than 2 active mobile subscriptions, and global mobile penetration still hovers around the 50% mark.  The number of unique mobile phone users around the world has just passed 50% of the world’s total population - 3.614 Billion.

The usage figures – provided by GSMA Intelligence – suggest that 100 million more people started using a mobile device since April of this year. To put those figures in context, that’s more than 750,000new mobile users every day – or 9 new users every second.
Internet Users Pass 3 Billion Mark

Many people suggest that rates of new product introduction and adoption are speeding up, but is it really, across the board? The answer seems to be yes. An automobile industry trade consultant, for instance, observes that “Today, a typical automotive design cycle is approximately 24 to 36 months, which is much faster than the 60-month life cycle from five years ago.”  …. It took decades for the telephone to reach 50% of households, beginning before 1900.  It took five years or less for cellphones to accomplish the same penetration in 1990.  ... By analogy, firms with competitive advantages in those areas will need to move faster to capture those opportunities that present themselves.

It took 30 years for electricity and 25 years for telephones to reach 10% adoption but less than five years for tablet devices to achieve the 10% rate.  It took an additional 39 years for telephones to reach 40% penetration and another 15 before they became ubiquitous.  Smart phones, on the other hand, accomplished a 40% penetration rate in just 10 years, if we time the first smart phone’s introduction from the 2002 shipment of the first BlackBerry that could make phone calls and the first Palm-OS-powered Treo model.
The Pace of Technology Adoption is Speeding Up

Culture is more important than strategy. The 21st century business is driven by its people, and its people end up guiding the strategic choices that need to be made. The evidence suggests that organizational culture is a far more effective lever for creating productive and profitable organizations and workplaces than any amount of strategy, especially in turbulent business environments. Businesses with engaged workforces outperform those without by a significant margin. And when employees are enabled and energized, as well as engaged, profit margins are three times as high as those of companies with low levels of engagement.66 The idea that culture eats strategy is not a new insight—it probably originated with Peter Drucker—but it is one that businesses find hard to act on.
Intrinsic values trump extrinsic values. For your staff and your customers, the route to a high-performance business is through intrinsic values. For staff, these values create trust and motivation. For customers, intrinsic values represent their whole identity as citizens, not just the fraction that interacts with your products and services. Because such citizen-customers are more socially engaged, they help you achieve your goals as a sustainable business. And understanding the underlying intrinsic wellbeing needs of your customers puts you one step ahead of your competitors who still focus on creating wants and driving extrinsic values.
The 21st Century Business - Planning for success in a changing world

Maybe this will incite a world movement for cities to take provide Internet access as a public commons. I hope so.
New York City is building 10,000 internet pylons for free public Wi-Fi
"LinkNYC will be the fastest and largest free municipal Wi-Fi deployment in the world."
Say goodbye to New York's public pay phones and hello to one of the largest public Wi-Fi experiments ever. A new city plan dubbed LinkNYC will replace public pay telephones with a console that provides free public Wi-Fi ("up to gigabit speeds") 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The physical pillar will also provide free domestic phone calls (including 911 and 311), a charging station for your phones, and a "touchscreen tablet interface to access City services, directions, and more."

LinkNYC will reportedly be funded entirely through advertising revenues — if you noticed, there's a large screen on the sides for bright promotions — and "will be built at no cost to taxpayers." The project is estimated to generate more than $500 million in revenue for NYC over the first 12 years.

Here’s a new short research report with some wonderful graphics.
The Future of Work - Making the Future Work
Research sponsor: The Jensen Group. Through our ongoing Search for a Simpler Way Study, we have already surveyed and interviewed over 1,000,000 people globally.
Our latest research is focused on The Future of Work.
Rather than add to all the hyperventilating about how disruptive changes will impact and reimagine work...
We studied what it will take to make those disruptive changes work and what truly matters to people. Two of the three findings are sure to stir controversy
and very heated debate! Find out why…

Speaking of the future of work - here’s some next year horizon for HR - maybe not for government organizations though :| However there is an interesting ‘from’ ‘to’ table that may be closer than people think.
9 emerging HR trends for 2015
Looking at the trends and following developments in the market, some of the emerging HR trends for 2015.
  • No more performance reviews
  • The org chart is fading away
  • Privacy seems to be less of an issue
  • The sharing economy is also entering organisational life
  • Mobile/ Mobile/ Mobile
  • Real time succession management
  • Robots in the boardroom
  • The end of Powerpoint
  • Community management as a recruitment tool

Speaking of the future of work - here’s a short 7 min. TED talk that is interesting on a number of dimension - the speaker is representing IBM - most cutting edge computing capability - in application to cooking. Wait till you see the close-up of the speaker. Now think of the future of the workforce. What is going to be important? This is beyond just a diversity issue. Well worth the view and the neurons for thinking.
The future of food: cognitive cooking: Florian Pinel at TED@IBM
Imagine an original recipe for every meal that takes into consideration dietary restrictions, personal preferences, and what is in your fridge at that moment? Meet Chef Watson, the world’s first Cognitive Cooking application, and its head software engineer: Florian Pinel. Florian explores some of the implications for society once computers catch up with the culinary arts.

Florian is a senior software engineer in the Watson Life department ofthe IBM Watson Group. He received an M.S. in Computer Science and Engineering from Ecole Centrale de Paris in France, and a Culinary Arts diploma from the Institute of Culinary Education in New York. His current research interests are computational creativity and cognitive computing, and he is the lead architect of the Chef Watson project. After several years working weekends in high-end restaurants, he now spends his free time with his family, traveling and creating original recipes for his food blog,  

So how do we explore the Future?
How to predict the progress of technology
MIT researcher finds Moore’s Law and Wright’s Law best predict how technology improves.
Researchers at MIT and the Santa Fe Institute have found that some widely used formulas for predicting how rapidly technology will advance — notably, Moore’s Law and Wright’s Law — offer superior approximations of the pace of technological progress. The new research is the first to directly compare the different approaches in a quantitative way, using an extensive database of past performance from many different industries.

Some of the results were surprising, says Jessika Trancik, an assistant professor of engineering systems at MIT. The findings could help industries to assess where to focus their research efforts, investors to pick high-growth sectors, and regulators to more accurately predict the economic impacts of policy changes.

The report is published in the online open-access journal PLOS ONE. Its other authors are Bela Nagy of the Santa Fe Institute, J. Doyne Farmer of the University of Oxford and the Santa Fe Institute, and Quan Bui of St. John’s College in Santa Fe, N.M.

The best-known of the formulas is Moore’s Law, originally formulated by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore in 1965 to describe the rate of improvement in the power of computer chips. That law, which predicts that the number of components in integrated circuit chips will double every 18 months, has since been generalized as a principle that can be applied to any technology; in its general form, it simply states that rates of improvement will increase exponentially over time. The actual rate of improvement — the exponent in the equation — varies depending on the technology.

The analysis indicates that Moore’s Law is one of two formulas that best match actual technological progress over past decades. The top performer, called Wright’s Law, was first formulated in 1936: It holds that progress increases with experience — specifically, that each percent increase in cumulative production in a given industry results in a fixed percentage improvement in production efficiency.

The rates of change vary greatly among different technologies, the team found.
“Information technologies improve the fastest,” Trancik says, “but you also see the sustained exponential improvement in many energy technologies. Photovoltaics improve very quickly. … One of our main interests is in examining the data to gain insight into how we can accelerate the improvement of technology.”

The original paper is here:
Statistical Basis for Predicting Technological Progress

And here’s a recent World Economic Forum list of emerging Technology.
Top 10 emerging technologies for 2014
Technology has become perhaps the greatest agent of change in the modern world. While never without risk, positive technological breakthroughs promise innovative solutions to the most pressing global challenges of our time, from resource scarcity to global environmental change. However, a lack of appropriate investment, outdated regulatory frameworks and gaps in public understanding prevent many promising technologies from achieving their potential.

The World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Emerging Technologiesidentifies recent key trends in technological change in its annual list of Top 10 Emerging Technologies. By highlighting the most important technological breakthroughs, the Council aims to raise awareness of their potential and contribute to closing gaps in investment, regulation and public understanding. For 2014, the Council identified ten new technologies that could reshape our society in the future.
The 2014 list is:
  • Body-adapted Wearable Electronics
  • Nanostructured Carbon Composites
  • Mining Metals from Desalination Brine
  • Grid-scale Electricity Storage
  • Nanowire Lithium-ion Batteries
  • Screenless Display
  • Human Microbiome Therapeutics
  • RNA-based Therapeutics
  • Quantified Self (Predictive Analytics)
  • Brain-computer Interfaces

Speaking of the Future - here’s something that is only Five Years ahead. The article is mostly the headline but there is a good infographic and a 2 min video about a tweeting fridge as well.
Consumer Internet of Things Market (IoT) To Reach $2.5 Trillion by 2020
The Internet of Things (IoT) has long been the purview of industrial manufacturers. But today the IoT is more and more about the Consumer Internet of Things and how people interact with the technology in their lives. Technology is beginning to allow consumers to take more control of their lives and help improve efficiency in managing personal resources and time.

Thinking Things Proliferating
Home refrigerators in the 1990’s consumed between 120 to 300 kWh per month while today’s range is just 31 to 64 kWh, testimony to the success of the US government’s Energy Star program which transformed electronics, lighting, appliances, office equipment, heating and cooling systems and transformer technology.

Just as the Energy Star system transformed technology in the 1990’s, the IoT will do the same, only on a larger scale, as products become more interactive, connecting to each other, the internet and social networks. A slew of new technologies is enabling a build out of the IoT and a huge new consumer market estimated at $2.5 trillion by 2020.

Speaking of the global village - here’s some great Internet statistics and infographics and slideshow - they take just a few minutes to view - but give an amazing picture of the speed of connectedness. Worth the view.
Internet Users Pass 3 Billion Mark
The digital world passed another huge milestone today, with InternetLiveStats reporting that the number of global internet users has just passed the 3 billion mark.
InternetLiveStats extrapolates its numbers from data provided by the ITU, the World Bank, and the United Nations, so the timing won’t be exact; however, the number remains a very useful guide to the continuing growth of the internet around the world.
Beyond this historic milestone, there are some more juicy numbers in this month’s Digital Statshot too, which you’ll find in the SlideShare above.

The full 183 page report that contains statistics for all continents and major countries is here as a downloadable pdf:

From global village and individual connectivity through the mobile as node there is another dimension to consider - that which is encompassed by collective/augmented/artificial intelligence. Stephen Hawkins and some others have made some considerable waves related to the need for caution (if not fear) of Artificial Intelligence. Here are a few more recent articles on Artificial Intelligence.
Google’s Intelligence Designer
The man behind a startup acquired by Google for $628 million plans to build a revolutionary new artificial intelligence.
Demis Hassabis started playing chess at age four and soon blossomed into a child prodigy. At age eight, success on the chessboard led him to ponder two questions that have obsessed him ever since: first, how does the brain learn to master complex tasks; and second, could computers ever do the same?

Now 38, Hassabis puzzles over those questions for Google, having sold his little-known London-based startup, DeepMind, to the search company earlier this year for a reported 400 million pounds ($650 million at the time).

Google snapped up DeepMind shortly after it demonstrated software capable of teaching itself to play classic video games to a super-human level (see “Is Google Cornering the Market on Deep Learning?”). At the TED conference in Vancouver this year, Google CEO Larry Page gushed about Hassabis and called his company’s technology “one of the most exciting things I’ve seen in a long time.”

Researchers are already looking for ways that DeepMind technology could improve some of Google’s existing products, such as search. But if the technology progresses as Hassabis hopes, it could change the role that computers play in many fields.

DeepMind seeks to build artificial intelligence software that can learn when faced with almost any problem. This could help address some of the world’s most intractable problems, says Hassabis. “AI has huge potential to be amazing for humanity,” he says. “It will really accelerate progress in solving disease and all these things we’re making relatively slow progress on at the moment.”

This short article discusses Google’s approach as well as a 5 min video showing the DeepMind AI in action by learning to play a game - this is well worth the view.
Google Has An Internal Committee To Discuss Its Fears About The Power Of Artificial Intelligence
In an interview with MIT Technology Review, published yesterday, Demis Hassabis, the man in charge of DeepMind, spoke out about some of the company's biggest fears about the future of AI.

Hassabis and his team are creating opportunities to apply AI to Google services. AI firm is about teaching computers to think like humans, and improved AI could help forge breakthroughs in loads of Google's services. It could enhance YouTube recommendations for users for example, or make the company's mobile voice search better.

But it's not just Google product updates that DeepMind's cofounders are thinking about. Worryingly, cofounder Shane Legg thinks the team's advances could be what finishes off the human race. He told the LessWrong blog in an interview: "Eventually, I think human extinction will probably occur, and technology will likely play a part in this". He adds he thinks AI is the "no.1 risk for this century". It's ominous stuff. (Read about Elon Musk discussing his concerns about AI here.)

People like Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk are worried about what might happen as a result of advancements in AI. They're concerned that robots could grow so intelligent that they could independently decide to exterminate humans. And if Hawking and Musk are fearful, you probably should be too.

Google is also concerned about the "other side" of developing computers in this way. That's why it set up an "ethics board". It's tasked with making sure AI technology isn't abused. As Hassibis explains: "It's (AI) something that we or other people at Google need to be cognizant of." Hassibis does concede that "we're still playing Atari games currently" — but as AI moves forward, the fear sets in.

And finally for this week - here’s a response by Wired magazine.
Sure, Artificial Intelligence May End Our World, But That Is Not the Main Problem
The robots will rise, we’re told. The machines will assume control. For decades we have heard these warnings and fears about artificial intelligence taking over and ending humankind.

Such scenarios are not only currency in Hollywood but increasingly find supporters in science and philosophy. For example, Ray Kurzweil wrote that the exponential growth of AI will lead to a technological singularity, a point when machine intelligence will overpower human intelligence. Some think this is the end of the world; others see more positive possibilities. For example, Nick Bostrom thinks that a superintelligence could help us solve issues such as disease, poverty, and environmental destruction, and could help us to “enhance” ourselves.

On Tuesday, leading scientist Stephen Hawking joined the ranks of the singularity prophets, especially the darker ones, as he told the BBC that “the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.” He argues that humans could not compete with an AI which would re-design itself and reach an intelligence that would surpass that of humans.

The problem with such scenarios is not that they are necessarily false—who can predict the future?—or that it does not make sense to reflect on science fiction scenarios. The latter is even mandatory, I think, if we are to better understand and evaluate current technologies. It is important to flesh out the philosophical issues at stake in such scenarios and explore our fears in order to find out what we value most.

Yet an exclusive focus on AI and robotics in terms of “end of the world” and other doom scenarios (or, in Bostrom’s case, utopia) is that they tend to distract from very real and far more urgent ethical and social issues raised by new technological developments in these areas. For example, is there still a place for privacy in the ICT world we are creating? Does work become increasingly stressful due to information overload and the increasing speed of communication? Do large and powerful corporations such as Google, Facebook, Apple, and so threaten democratic governance of technology? Will they take over, if anything? Will further automatisation lead to (even) fewer jobs? Are new financial technologies a danger for the world economy? Is the internet conducive to a free and fair society? Is capitalism (or capitalism in its current form) changed by the new technologies, and is it morally and politically sustainable at all? What is the environmental impact of mobile devices? (To the credit of Hawking, privacy is mentioned in the interview, but then the discussion takes off to the end of humanity.)

Speaking about intelligence - here’s an interview about the future of education. The video is 23 min - and the interview transcript is included as the article.
Change Is Coming: What U.S. Colleges Must Do To Survive
Universities and colleges across the nation are getting it wrong.

So says University of Delaware president Patrick Harker, who has a plan to transform traditional Ivory Tower institutions into student-focused powerhouses that will shatter old educational models and usher in a new era of educational excellence.

The problem is, he says, it will be painfully difficult and some schools are bound to be left behind. In an interview with Knowledge@Wharton, Harker, who previously worked as the dean of The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, explains his view of the way forward.

Entering an era of unprecedented Real-Time sensing.
Below are a sample of breakthroughs that herald a new capacity for sensing in real-time.

Marshall McLuhan noted that technology extends the human - here’s something amazing about extending our sense of sight - the ability to watch light move. There’s two very short videos.
The Fastest Camera Ever Created Will Be Used to Study Invisibility Cloaks
If you're wondering what scientists can do with a camera that captures 100 billion frames per second, you're not alone. We've already got ​cameras that can film bullets as they burst through an apple, and ​watching high frames-per-second videos online is a pastime of many. So, what happens when you improve on existing cameras by several orders of magnitude?

Lots of things, it turns out. You can watch light move—and you can watch it go through and around objects, which is quite important when you want to eventually cloak them.

"It might be possible to improve the investigation into approaches to optical cloaking, in which light bends or is deformed around an object, instead of going through it," Brian Pogue, an engineer at Darthmouth,  ​wrote of the breakthrough in Nature.

Speaking of the speed of light - here more progress on extending our sensorium to new dimensions - we are entering a new horizon of sensing - a new vast universe of Cosmic Data. Also 3 videos demonstrating the power of these microscopes all less than 1 min. Despite how short they are these videos are simply Awesome - must view.
Weeks after winning a Nobel Prize for his microscope, Eric Betzig just revolutionized microscopy again
Earlier this month Eric Betzig shared the Nobel Prize in chemistry for his work on high-resolution microscopes -- specifically the one he'd designed and built on a friend's living room floor.

But when Betzig, a researcher at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Janelia Research Campus in Ashburn, Virginia, got news of his win, his best work yet was still a few weeks away from being published.Thursday in Science, he and a team of his colleagues reported on a new microscopy technique that allows them to observe living cellular processes at groundbreaking resolution and speed.

Betzig came up with his Nobel-winning microscope (PALM) when he'd grown frustrated with the limitations of other microscope technologies. The so-called lattice light-sheet microscopy that he describes in Thursday's paper was the result of his eventual boredom with PALM.

"Again, I just started to understand the limits of the technology," Betzig said. PALM was great at looking at living systems, but only when they moved slowly. It couldn't take  measurements quickly enough to get high-resolution pictures of fast cellular divisions.

Speaking of new ways to extend our nervous system - here’s something that not only does that - but will let us see how we see as we do that. This is another ‘dot’ in the matrix of the quantified self as well.
Wireless brain sensor could unchain neuroscience from cables
In a study in the journal Neuron, scientists describe a new high data-rate, low-power wireless brain sensor. The technology is designed to enable neuroscience research that cannot be accomplished with current sensors that tether subjects with cabled connections.

Experiments in the paper confirm that new capability. The results show that the technology transmitted rich, neuroscientifically meaningful signals from animal models as they slept and woke or exercised.

“We view this as a platform device for tapping into the richness of electrical signals from the brain among animal models where their neural circuit activity reflects entirely volitional and naturalistic behavior, not constrained to particular space,” said Arto Nurmikko, professor of engineering affiliated with the Brown Institute for Brain Science and the paper’s senior and corresponding author. “This enables new types of neuroscience experiments with vast amounts of brain data wirelessly and continuously streamed from brain microcircuits.”

In [one] experiment, the Brown and EPFL researchers used the technology to observe brain signals for hours on end as the animal subjects went through sleep/wake cycles, unencumbered by cables or wires. Again the data showed distinct patterns related to the different stages of consciousness and the transitions between them.

“We hope that the wireless neurosensor will change the canonical paradigm of neuroscience research, enabling scientists to explore the nervous system within its natural context and without the use of tethering cables,” Borton said. “Subjects are free to roam, forage, sleep, etc., all while the researchers are observing the brain activity. We are very excited to see how the neuroscience community leverages this platform.”

Speaking of fast - here’s a vision of the future of health - immunotherapy staying healthy before you get sick.
Amgen snags a lightning-fast approval for its leukemia immunotherapy
The FDA approved Amgen's ($AMGN) new leukemia treatment more than 5 months ahead of schedule, green-lighting the first contender among a new class of immunotherapies that promise to change the standard of care in blood cancer.

The drug, blinatumomab, is an antibody developed through Amgen's bispecific T cell engager (BiTE) system, designed to direct the body's disease-fighting immune cells to attack cancerous growth. The agency's approval, handed down just two months and change after Amgen's filing, covers Philadelphia chromosome-negative precursor B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), a rare form of the cancer. The company plans to market its therapy as Blincyto.

Amgen's treatment works by connecting CD19, a protein commonly found on cancer cells, to CD3, which is expressed by the immune system's T cells. By drawing the two proteins together, blinatumomab can redirect the body's natural defenses to home in on malignancies. And, in Phase II data submitted to support its approval, the drug met its primary endpoint of significantly improving rates of complete remission among ALL patients.

This is just plain cool - for bicyclers who have those hills on their regular routes. The graphics and video - illustrate this very well.
Developed through a partnership between MIT’s Senseable City Lab and the City of Copenhagen, the Copenhagen Wheel has been considered by Time Magazine as one of the “Best Inventions of the Year 2014
The Copenhagen Wheel Gives Cyclists a Battery Boost… Can Turn Any Normal Bike Into a Smart, Electric Hybrid
The basic design and concept of the bicycle has remained the same since it was invented in 19th century.
However, this might change soon with the “Copenhagen Wheel”, capable of transforming any bicycle into a smart, electric hybrid…quickly and easily.
The Copenhagen Wheel can be attached to any regular bicycle and the wheel contains a motor, batteries, multiple sensors, wireless connectivity and an embedded control system.

It learns how you pedal and then it helps you cycle anywhere. A tiny computer tells the powerful 350 watt motor when to kick in. It senses how fast you want to go from the effort applied to your pedals and gives a boost to bike faster and easier.

As you bike, the wheel captures energy when braking or going downhill that it stores in the integrated lithium battery pack. The battery is enough for a 20-mph speed and 30-mile range.

For Fun and Education
Here’s something about a viral meme and how computers & YouTube count.
Gangnam Style got so many views that it nearly broke YouTube
The video for Psy's song "Gangnam Style" is the most-viewed video in the history of YouTube, with more than 2 billion views. And that created some headaches for Google's engineers. Because it stores numbers in binary, YouTube was only designed to record up to 2,147,483,647 video views. Without a software upgrade, the "Gangnam Style" counter would have begun showing the song getting negative 2.1 billion views.

Why is the limit such a goofy number? And what did YouTube have to do to fix the glitch? Read on to find out.

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