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Posts Tagged ‘Technology’

Unwinding the Personal Productivity Paradox

Posted by hkarner - 10. Juni 2019

Date: 09-06-2019
Source: The Wall Street Journal By Irving Wladawsky-Berger

So much tech, so little time

The past 10 to 15 years have seen a number of technology advances, from smartphones to machine learning. Yet, despite these impressive advances, economies around the world have been stuck in an era of slow productivity growth. Opinions abound, but in the end, there’s no consensus on the causes of this apparent productivity paradox, on how long the slowdown will likely last, or on what to do about it.

Companies and industries are not the only ones trying to adjust to our fast changing digital economy. Individuals are also experiencing their own version of the productivity paradox.

In principle, the advent of smartphones, apps, and other major technologies should save us time and make our lives easier. But, as we well know, that’s not quite been the case. Article after article reminds us that thanks to the internet and smartphones, everybody is available all the time; that work can feel like a never-ending cycle of overflowing inboxes and urgent demands; that no matter how hard we work, we’re overloaded and overwhelmed because there’s far more to do every day than there is time to do it. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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The technology industry is rife with bottlenecks

Posted by hkarner - 9. Juni 2019

Date: 07-06-2019
Source: The Economist

The US-China tech cold war is making companies more aware of them than ever

Japan had long since lost its lead in electronics. Or so many thought. When an earthquake and tsunami hit the country in 2011, its continued centrality to the industry quickly became apparent. Copper foils for printed circuit boards, silicon wafers to make chips, resin to package them—for many components Japan was the home of the biggest, sometimes only, supplier. As production ground to a halt, customers scrambled to find alternatives. Many had to limit their output, like carmakers reliant on Renesas Electronics, a leading maker of engine-controlling chips whose wafer-fabrication plant sustained heavy damage.

Natural disasters—whether cataclysmic like the Japanese earthquake or merely destructive like floods or wildfires—regularly test the electronics supply chain. Now a geopolitical shock from President Donald Trump’s efforts to isolate China has thrown the industry’s structure into sharp relief—and exposed its choke points (see table).
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Wall Street Isn’t Buying What Silicon Valley Is Selling

Posted by hkarner - 27. Mai 2019

Date: 26-05-2019
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Some of the best-funded startups disappoint when they go public; ‘a tough pill to swallow’

Silicon Valley is pumping out giant startups with expansive visions, but Wall Street isn’t sold.

It isn’t just Uber Technologies Inc. whose public performance has looked grim compared with its private fundraising. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Big tech and the trade war

Posted by hkarner - 25. Mai 2019

Date: 23-05-2019
Source: The Economist

As the fight spreads, it is becoming a danger to investors, consumers and American interests

When trade talks between America and China fell apart on May 10th, the effect on financial markets was muted. Most firms and investors are betting on a long struggle between the superpowers but not a sudden crisis or a financial panic. As the conflict over the tech industry escalates, however, that assumption looks suspect. On May 15th America’s Commerce Department said that companies would need a special licence to deal with Huawei, China’s hardware giant, which it deemed a threat to American interests (it later said the order would not take full effect for 90 days). Fears that other Chinese tech firms will be blacklisted have caused their shares to tumble. A chain reaction is under way as a giant industry braces for a violent shock.

The hawks in the White House may believe that isolating the tech industry will slow China’s long-term development and that isolation is a good negotiating tactic, since China has more to lose in the short term than America does. In fact the brutal fallout from a full-blown tech war would rapidly be felt by financial markets as well as by America’s allies and the world’s consumers. In the long run it may even make China self-sufficient. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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America still leads in technology, but China is catching up fast

Posted by hkarner - 19. Mai 2019

Date: 18-05-2019
Source: The Economist

Commercial competition is turning into a zero-sum contest

A rare thing happened in an industrial park near Washington, dc, last November. Construction began on a $3bn extension to a semiconductor foundry owned by Micron Technologies, a maker of advanced memory chips, based in Idaho. “A few years ago, opening that sort of extension would have people saying, well, that is going to be moving to China soon, isn’t it?”, observes James Mulvenon, an expert on Chinese cyber-policy and espionage.

Not now. Instead, that Micron foundry is a glimpse of the future. Trust in China has collapsed among American government and business bosses, and a consensus has grown that Chinese firms have closed the technological gap with Western rivals with indecent speed and by illicit means.

Today’s tensions make the original cold war look simple. In 2018 China accounted for 57% of Micron’s net sales. In the 1960s and 1970s American tech companies did not rely on Soviet customers. But Micron is a symbol, several times over, of how commercial competition is turning into a zero-sum contest, in which one side wins at the other’s expense. In 2015 Micron rebuffed a $23bn takeover bid from a Chinese state-backed investment fund, saying that it thought such a deal would be blocked on national-security grounds by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (cfius). In 2018 the Department of Justice indicted a state-owned Chinese firm, its Taiwanese partner and three individuals on charges of stealing trade secrets relating to Micron’s memory chips—technology worth tens of billions of dollars. That followed lawsuits and countersuits in which the accused Chinese firm asserted that it owned the relevant patents in China and was therefore Micron’s victim. A Chinese court sided with it, then Micron was hit with an antitrust probe. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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A bright future by Paul Mason

Posted by hkarner - 29. April 2019

Date: 28-04-2019
Source: The Guardian
Subject: Clear Bright Future by Paul Mason review – in the midst of crisis, a work of radical optimism

The current chaos contains the seeds of revolutionary change, argues the author of PostCapitalism. We need to challenge markets, take control of technology and consider what it means to be human

Tour de force … Paul Mason.

In a classic Little Britain sketch, David Walliams, playing a bank clerk named Carol, flatly refuses applicants for a loan – however reasonable, hopeful or desperate – with the robotic “Computer says no”. As this catchphrase illustrates, the everyday consequences of our surrender to machines are by now maddeningly familiar. Less evident is the political and intellectual work that has gone into legitimising it. In his latest tour de force, the former TV economics editor turned activist and author Paul Mason traces how an alliance of popular science gurus and Silicon Valley tycoons has led us to belittle our unique capacities as human beings, preparing the ground for the approaching supremacy of AIs.

As with machines, so with markets, whose worship has reduced relationships to competitive transactions, and individuals to homo economicus – a crass fictional construct programmed to maximise financial advantage at all times. Mason also chides the newer discipline of behavioural economics for framing us as flawed decision-makers who need to be “nudged”.

We have forfeited faith in our own capabilities, Mason argues, just when we need to strategise our way out of multiple political and environmental crises. The good news is that the current chaos contains the seeds of revolutionary change: the “clear bright future” of the title is from Leon Trotsky. We can uncancel this future, Mason insists, but only by rediscovering a quality that has become curiously unfashionable – humanity – and seizing control of technology. The socialisation of knowledge will enable us to overthrow capitalism, and automation will abolish our need to work. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Tech Offers a Virtual Window into Future Climate Change Risk

Posted by hkarner - 25. April 2019

Date: 24-04-2019
Source: Scientific American

AI and supercomputing are rapidly shifting the way disaster planners, regulators and insurers gauge climate hazards

Accurately predicting the on-the-ground impacts of climate change remains one of the thorniest challenges facing scientists, regulators, planners and insurers.

But as climate disasters occur with alarming frequency, experts are relying more heavily on predictive technologies that leverage supercomputing and artificial intelligence to identify the where, how and why of climate impacts.

Known as “climate risk analytics,” the delivery of data-based predictive information about risks associated with wind, floods, fires, droughts and other climate disasters is rapidly proliferating, according to experts. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Work in the Year 2030

Posted by hkarner - 24. April 2019

Date: 23-04-2019
Source: The Wall Street Journal By Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Expect robots, re-skilling

April 12, 2019 – Orlando, Florida, United States – Customer orders are carried on a conveyor system at the newest Amazon Robotics fulfillment center during its first public tour on April 12, 2019 in the Lake Nona community of Orlando, Florida. The over 855,000 square foot facility opened on August 26, 2018 and employs more than 1500 full-time associates who pick, pack, and ship customer orders with the assistance of hundreds of robots which can lift as much as 750 pounds and drive 5 feet per second.

A number of recent studies have taken a close look at the the future of work over the next 10 to 15 years. Recently the World Economic Forum in collaboration with the Boston Consulting Group released the Eight Futures of Work Scenarios and Their Implications. The white paper considered eight distinct scenarios on what work might be like by 2030, based on different combinations of three of the most impactful and uncertain variables affecting the future of work: the rate of technological change; the evolution of learning in the workforce; and the magnitude of talent mobility across geographies.

For simplicity, the study considered two possible outcomes for each variable:

Technological Change. Developments in data science, AI, robotics, IoT, blockchain and other advanced technologies will have a major impact on labor markets over the next 10 – 15 years. The two possible outcomes are:

Ÿ       Steady: Change proceeds at the current (or slower) pace, with large-scale automation of blue- and white-collar routine tasks, but higher skilled tasks remain relatively untouched.
Ÿ       Accelerated: In addition to routine tasks, machines become capable of performing non-routine tasks requiring cognitive skills, as well as a wide range of physical tasks.

Learning Evolution. An even larger challenge will be ensuring that workers have the skills and support needed to transition to new jobs. The growing demand for expertise in rapidly advancing technologies will require continuous training. We’ll see increased demand for human skills like creativity, originality, critical thinking, emotional intelligence, leadership, reasoning, problem solving and ideation. The two outcomes considered are:

Ÿ       Slow: Many displaced workers compete for fewer roles that match their skills, while companies face increasing talent shortages.
Ÿ       Fast: Concerns about technological change and talent gaps lead o reforms in education systems. Companies invest heavily in the training and re-skilling of their workers, which along with lifelong learning help create a dynamic, creative workforce.

Talent Mobility. The third major variable, worker’s movement within and across borders, will be affected by a number of factors, including economic opportunities, travel regulations, crises and conflicts. The two possible outcomes are:

Ÿ       Low: National as well as local governments impose restrictions on migration to protect jobs in the short term. Talent shortages impact economic growth, while low levels of mobility dampen the exchange of new ideas and the expansion of markets.
Ÿ       High: Large scale movements of people searching for better opportunities become the norm. High-skilled workers flow to high-income enclaves, which are generally concentrated in large urban areas all around the world.

The eight future of work scenarios are based on different combinations of these three variables. Let me briefly summarize the salient qualities of each.

Workforce Autarkies: Steady technological change; slow learning evolution; low talent mobility.

Workforce autarkies are nationalist economies that aim to be self-sufficient. “Reacting to the worries of displaced workers, governments have imposed restrictions on international labour mobility and sought to fulfil their economies’ talent needs internally.” State protectionism can provide some relief to lower-skilled workers, but forces employers to move work requiring higher-skilled talent to countries with unrestricted markets. “The resulting reduction in knowledge transfer and continued talent shortfalls for local companies has reduced growth and dynamism over time, reducing the capacity of local labour markets.”

Mass Movement: Steady technological change; slow learning evolution; high talent mobility

In this scenario, both lower- and higher-skilled workers are on the move searching for better opportunities. This helps businesses access the best talent, but increases competition between workers at all skills levels, potentially leading to social tensions.

Robot Replacement: Accelerated technological change; slow learning evolution; low talent mobility

In this scenario, technology and machines advance rapidly while many in the workplace are unable to keep pace and face shrinking opportunities, further leading to increased automation. This hollowing out of the labor market will potentially lead to “deep and growing inequalities, polarized values and divided views about technology,” with conflict on the rise.

Empowered Entrepreneurs: Steady technological change; fast learning evolution; low talent mobility

This scenario is characterized by a highly skilled, motivated workforce, leading to a dynamic market for workers to create entrepreneurial opportunities for themselves. It might also lead to governments restricting labor mobility to protect their investments in high-skilled talent.

Polarized World: Accelerated technological change, slow learning evolution; high talent mobility

The combination of accelerated technological change and slow learning has led to large sections of the workforce being unemployable, while the lack of human skills is increasing the pressure to automate. Deep and growing inequalities dominate society, with large-scale movements of people within and across countries in search of opportunities. Affluent, globally-dispersed urban super-economies trade ideas, goods and services with each other.

Skilled Flows: Steady technological change, fast learning evolution; high talent mobility

The fast pace of learning has led to a highly skilled, motivated, dynamic workforce across a range of industries and sectors. Labor mobility within and cross borders has become the norm, with credentials and degrees increasingly standardized across countries and regions.

Productive Locals: Accelerated technological change, fast learning evolution; low talent mobility

The combination of accelerated technological changes and fast learning leads to a strong demand for high-skilled human workers to work with and complement increasingly smart machines. However, low mobility lead to talent shortages and dampen the exchange of new ideas and expansion of markets, causing companies and workers to focus on their local economies.

Agile Adapters: Accelerated technological change, fast learning evolution; high talent mobility.

“There is a strong demand for human workers to complement machines, manage the shifts underway and specialize in new kinds of roles… High talent mobility within countries and across borders, combined with widespread opportunities for online platform work that crosses borders, has created a global workforce that is highly agile, productive and globalized, rapidly diffusing values, ideas, technologies, goods and services around the world.”

The white paper makes it clear that scenarios are not predictions, which, in the end would be an impossible feat. Rather the scenarios are designed to stimulate discussions among policy-makers, businesses, academic institutions and individuals so they’re better prepared for the potentially big changes to come.

“All of the scenarios we present are possible, but none is certain,“ the paper concludes. „The most likely outcome is a combination, with different scenarios playing out simultaneously in different geographies, industries, age cohorts and socio-economic groups.”

Irving Wladawsky-Berger worked at IBM for 37 years, has been a strategic advisor to Citigroup, HBO and Mastercard and adjunct professor at Imperial College.  He’s currently visiting lecturer and research affiliate at MIT,  and is a regular contributor to CIO Journal.

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The Machines That Will Read Your Mind

Posted by hkarner - 7. April 2019

Date: 06-04-2019
Source: The Wall Street Journal By Jerry Kaplan

Ever more sophisticated brain scans are combining with artificial intelligence to produce tools that can track thoughts, test truthfulness and someday, perhaps, download our very selves

When magnetic resonance imaging came into common use in the 1980s, it made the human brain visible in ways it had never been before. For the first time, we could see the soft brain tissue of a living subject, at a level of detail that could be observed previously only in autopsies. For doctors trying to help patients whose brains were damaged or diseased, MRI provided an invaluable snapshot of their condition.

By the 1990s, researchers had begun to measure changes in brain regions by using “functional” MRI. The technique detects oxygenated blood flow, revealing brain activity, not just brain structure. For cognitive neuroscientists, who study mental processes, fMRI was a godsend: It made it possible to identify which parts of the brain react to, say, faces, words or smells. It was a window through which to see the brain making sense of the external world. Suddenly we could watch human thought rippling across the rainbow-colored regions of brain scans. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Elizabeth Warrens große Ideen zu Big Tech

Posted by hkarner - 3. April 2019

Kenneth Rogoff, Professor of Economics and Public Policy at Harvard University and recipient of the 2011 Deutsche Bank Prize in Financial Economics, was the chief economist of the International Monetary Fund from 2001 to 2003. The co-author of This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly, his new book, The Curse of Cash, was released in August 2016.

CAMBRIDGE – US-Senatorin und Präsidentschaftskandidatin Elizabeth Warren hat einen Angriff auf die großen Technologie-Unternehmen – darunter Facebook, Google, Amazon und Apple – gestartet und legt dabei ein Maß an Mut und Klarheit an den Tag, das sich schwer überbetonen lässt. Warrens Vorschläge laufen auf ein völliges Umdenken bei der ungemein freizügigen Fusions- und Übernahmepolitik der USA der vergangenen vier Jahrzehnte hinaus. Dabei sind die großen Technologie-Unternehmen lediglich das Paradebeispiel für die deutliche Zunahme der Monopol- und Oligopolmacht in breiten Teilen der amerikanischen Volkswirtschaft. Obwohl nach wie vor alles andere als klar ist, worin die beste Vorgehensweise besteht, , das etwas passieren muss – insbesondere was die Fähigkeit der großen Technologie-Unternehmen angeht, potenzielle Wettbewerber aufzukaufen und ihre Plattformdominanz zu nutzen, um andere Geschäftsfelder zu erschließen. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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