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Since the advent of Microsoft Windows, way back then, the globe has been moving in a direction of standardization. MS Windows, regardless of how much its founder is vilified, standardized the desktop, not just technically, but the way things are done. It was a remarkable technology engineered shift to a world that might one day enjoy homogenized culture of thought, values, ethics, customs, ethos and morals. It was never forced on us, I believe, as we gladly gravitated towards this “Democratization of Technology” as Friedman referred to it in The Lexus and the Olive Tree. Today the world is rapidly transitioning and hurtling towards this new society as technology adapts, advances and alters the shape of global society. But there are some who will resist it, and egos and sometimes arrogance will not allow acceptance and technology will be viewed not as a friend. That, can be perilous.
“Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” George Bernard Shaw.
It culminated in the angst of a nation, as Coach, Captain and Vice-Captain we’re reduced to tears, and dismissed from the world of cricket through resignations and firings. The world looked on in disbelief as the infractions of the Australian Cricket Team were revealed in stark reality, as rules were broken, as conventions were trampled on and the game was brought into disrepute. The undeniable evidence was produced for the world to see, as it happened in real-time.
On March 24th, 2018, Cameron Bankcroft, a player on the Australian Team, was discovered on live television cameras, to be using something to interfere with the condition of the cricket ball. This contravenes Law 41, Subsection 3 of the Laws governing cricket of The International Cricket Council (ICC). the world governing body for the sport of Cricket. The Coach, Darren Lehmann, The Captain, Steve Smith, and the Vice-Captain, David Warner have resigned and/or dismissed from the team and/or banned from Cricket. It is uncertain what will be their future, but having departed, they have left in their wake, apart from the debris of Australian Cricket in general, a huge opportunity to transform their Cricketing culture into one which conforms to the Laws, instead of trying to push the boundaries of FairPlay.
The Australian Cricket Board (ACB) will no doubt immerse themselves in deep retrospection to allow for a new approach.
How did this all begin
It all started when on March 23rd, 2018, during the 3rd Test Match, on the 3rd Day, television cameras picked up Cameron using an object of some sort, to interfere with the cricket ball. The images were shown on the ground’s giant display screen. It spark a firestorm and as Cameron tried to conceal the object, the situation rapidly escalated from there as the Umpires, Match Referees and other officials quickly got involved. The firestorm which resulted was unprecedented in the history of Australian Cricket, and the Game in general. The Australian Prime Minister was moved to make public statements on the unfolding drama as the Australian and World media were thrown into a frenzy. The events that unfurled are well documented on social media.
In this entire episode, which in my mind is an opportunity to improve, digital technology, in the form of television coverage, with over twenty digital cameras covering all angles of the play, second by second, for the duration of the game.
There is no doubt the technology uncovered and provided the evidence to cause the upheaval. Digital Age technology makes it near impossible to hide wrong doing on the field of play. Without it it would have been impossible to gather and show evidence of wrongdoing. The high definition cameras with ultra slow motion display can make the review of any time segment almost instantly, and capable of displaying even the blades of grass on the ground. The technology is powerful. The result was swift justice.
Societal Change effected by the Technology
It is clear that the technology will effect meaningful and lasting change. It’s role in bringing change is demonstrated powerfully in this intervention. But it does not end there. The use of Digital Aged technology, as amplified in the Cricket scenario, goes far beyond Cricket.
It means a profound shift in society, in business, in governance. Illegal behavior, says this message, will be dealt with swiftly and effectively, engendering societal change as it renders cheating and other ills to be useless.
Just as high definition digital broadcasting caused this realization, other digital age technologies such as Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence have the potential to enable a complete and impenetrable firewall of accountability in everyday transactions, financial or otherwise.
When such technology resonates with their value to society, a better and more value based society emerges. The proof of concept of the value of technology was demonstrated in all its power and reach during that Cricket Test Match in Cape Town, South Africa on March 24th 2018.
Ushering in the Digitally Advanced Society
The Digital Age is about how we live, respect for law and order, universally applied, about the highly advanced societies that are about to be created with Digital Transformation.
The Digital Age reaches far beyond the transformation of the business of governance but into the realm of a Golden Age of existence. It is simply not just about software or the digital skills required in the 4th Industrial Revolution.
It is way, way beyond, towards a value based society, a “tech-tonic” shift that creates a new world society, interconnected, integrated and interrelated through the World Wide Web of technology.
This new world is irrevocably progressing, and it must be understood, that in order to erect a new house in the space occupied by the old one, inevitably the old has to be broken down.
Digital technology will create the new, but it doesn’t have to destroy the old, if the traditional recognizes the power of global transformation through technology. The swiftness with which the old was destroyed in the Cricketing world is evidence, but had there been a propensity to play within the respect of the rules of the theory of moral sentiments, such harsh and painful scenes of destruction of lives and careers could have been avoided.
The globe, whether we like it or not, is moving to a point where technology will be able to decide whether wars are fought or not, whether there will be loss of lives or not. Will robots fight wars or build societies, will artificial intelligence save lives or not, the choice of whether there is an easy or seamless transition or not is mankind’s.
A new global society built on values is more than possible, and highly likely as the changes in Cricket have demonstrated, and technology will be at the forefront on the new order. But the final say will always be that of humankind’s.
Australia-South Africa handshakes a show of respect – Tim Paine, new Australian Captain
The whole idea of the 4th Industrial Age is meant for people to change their way of living.
The Digital Age makes everyone who has access to the Internet, capable of doing and achieving greater things.
It is not only a cultural change, it’s much more than that as the socio-Digital economy, the socio-Digital politics, the socio-Digital technical spheres are transformed through the availability and accessibility of information. The “Democratization of Technology” has created more empowered people, who are more likely to demand a new way of living much more forcefully than anytime in the history of civilization except the times when city states were the habitual domains of emperors and kings who led narcissistically and encouraged revolt and subterfuge by their own individual limitations to care for others.
Today, habitation is no longer an issue. The ultra modern City of Dubai, now being powered by artificial intelligence, was built up from literally nothing, just sand. As more terrorism and idealism takes hold, urbanization is increasing, and the return of the City State is inevitable as the digital technologies that have emerged are capable of utilizing every non-diminishing and renewable resource such as sun, sea, and wind to build highly sustainable futures. The socio-Digital political space is being centered and contracted into more defined locales, with easy management of services provided through the utilization of digital technology.
Closely knitted communities are more likely to prosper and learn to demand and acquire their own space in the City State, with the possibility of collaboration for the common good a compelling argument for mutual existence.
The socio-Digital economic sphere is also being contracted spatially, as the digital technologies provide more food, using less land, and higher yields. The physical space needed is now being minimized, as technology driven, self sustainable farms continue to emerge rapidly. Use of non-diminishing, renewable resources, will drive efficiencies higher with less wastage, and greater effectiveness, reducing costs greatly. Self-sustaining Nations, like India, are now stronger as solar and wind energy drive food production even higher at greatly reduced costs. As internet infrastructure becomes more prevalent locally, there is the distinct possibility of achieving self-sustaining status.
Smart cities will become smart countries, using technology to educate and communicate with populations. There is no question that this is already being achieved in developed countries.
There are many ills to be solved through technological solutions as people begin to enjoy better health and live longer, due to reduced stress and workloads, the issue of working safer with minimum effort makes it very necessary to provide for those who will now have greater leisure and free time. Artificial intelligence, automation, robotics, drones and driverless, solar powered vehicles are set to disrupt with great force. The result will be more jobs for the younger generations in data Science and coding, innovations, inventions and environmentally friendly living, giving rise to a new world order.
Some countries are already experimenting with universal minimum guaranteed salaries in the form of grants to deal with the period of transition from mechanical labor intensive jobs to digital aged jobs. In other words, people don’t have to work, and the state will pay a guaranteed amount to every citizen. Finland is trying basic income for unemployed.
The ideal of a technology driven Trinidad and Tobago is not far fetched then. We have an abundance of sun, wind and sea, resources that can be utilized to become self sustaining. India, is very near to achieving this, and other countries are frantically engaging solar and wind as sustainability components.
The financial resources in T&T are not infinite and it takes Political will to move this country into the Digital Aged, Global Economy.
A much more transformative trajectory with far reaching effects for the longer, longer, longer term is needed to leapfrog into the Digital Age. This is a highly strategic approach designed to emerge our creativity and innovativeness, as more time is available for cultural maturing, technological savvy and intellectual and physical excellence now becomes a pursuit of all…digitally driven! The Digital Economy is one for the younger generations to prosper in a world that is exciting and new, where the pursuit of the higher consciousness is facilitated by automation, robotics, Artificial Intelligence, The Internet of Things and standards of living that are acceptable and favorable to all.
The Digital Age and Economy, offers an intervention capable of global transformation in living and learning and leading!
There is a great amount of disruption about to be unleashed on this world of traditional thinking, and, Is Trinidad and Tobago ready for that, in this the Digital Age?
The Lexus and the Olive Tree, Friedman, T
Global Trend towards Urbanization, UNESCO
The World Economic Forum, Education and Skills
Speaking recently to a friend, who is an attorney at law, he expressed a certain amount of doubt, even fear that artificial intelligence is a threat to his relevance. It is of course a valid concern…that is if another informed point of view is expressed otherwise.
It all started when I told him of a story which I read recently of law firms adopting Artificial Intelligence to augment their business capabilities and processes. My friend was of the belief that such technology might make him less worthy as a person, with the technology replacing him. Of course, I simply had to interject with the other side of the equation, pardon the expression which may seem linear, I suppose.
Legal practitioners are faced with the daunting tasks of researching, assimilating, developing insights and presenting cogent arguments that can affect people’s lives on a daily basis. Faced with huge amounts of legal literature to deal with, lawyers are often called upon at short notice to develop and present arguments to support their positions, to give advice and guide the legal process to try to ensure that justice is served. In many cases, their input is critical, as in times where very serious punishment is involved, such as execution. Lawyers are called upon to take their knowledge, Commitment and passion to the extreme limits, often pushing the boundaries further and further. These critical junctures requires accurate and relevant research at a moments notice.
Accuracy, in the context of relevant case law, demands every possibility be referenced and considered.
It is in the instance of the legal profession, Artificial Intelligence can be a huge benefit to the efficacy of the legal profession, without rendering anyone useless. Even at the lowest rung of the ladder in the hierarchy of the profession, effectiveness and efficiency can be greatly enhanced, thus making work a better experience, when one considers the stresses involved in high pressure, high volume environments.
At all levels, judgement and intellect is required to discern correctness, accuracy and relevance and veto, even when the results are narrowed to the least expandable level. The human judgement is needed, and simply cannot be reduced to irrelevance.
The same can be held for many occupations, professions and vocations. The technology will enhance and uplift.
The fear of the human being made irrelevant and replaceable has to be measured against the need for tacit knowledge, obtained through the acquisition of knowledge through academic endeavor and practice, giving rise to experiential knowledge, disseminated through wisdom.
The fireman or policeman removed from going into a dangerous, life threatening situation by an intelligent device, perhaps a robot or a drone to survey and report back are all possibilities like any other hazardous jobs, but will always require the immediate response of a discernible intellect.
People should embrace technology for what it is and meant to be : a tool for the benefit to humankind!
The World Economic Forum just concluded in Davos, Switzerland and its theme for the 2018 Conference was “Creating A Shared Future in A Fractured World.”
The theme is reflective of the world today and the concerns for the future. In an era of self-interest punctuated by Brexit, immigration refugee policies and building walls, indeed there are fractures. The dismantling of net neutrality, the restrictions on immigration to developed countries, and refugees pouring into Europe are all factors fueling this time of protectionism. The America First Strategy deepens the already fractured global economy and slows down trade. It no wonder world Leaders came to defend free trade with the intention of frontally dealing with the issue of global trade and its slowdown.
Apart from the issues of immigration and self preservation, the wider global issues of climate change were at the forefront of most leaders minds. Prime Minister Modi spoke to Climate Change, Terrorism and Globalization as threats. The topic of Globalization was dealt with in the context of some “societies and countries more and more focused on themselves.” He also said ” it feels like the opposite is happening.” Certainly, such posturing by some countries are contributing to this fractured world, leading to the problems with climate change and other global economic issues.
In 2017, the United States announced its intention to withdraw from the Paris Accord. The effect will result in more degradation of the environment, threatening sustainability of many countries as climate conditions continue to deteriorate bringing more powerful storms and other natural disasters. The effect on food production and economic activities are negative on rising food prices and the costs of living with severe societal consequences. Prime Minister Modi identifies these threats and brings it to the forefront.
Countries such as small island states are being decimated and destroyed by rising sea levels, more powerful Category 5 Hurricanes, with flooding and destruction as a result of higher surface temperatures. Climate Change is an existential threat as Leaders chose to ignore its effects on the wider world.
Despite the real opportunities of the Digital Age and the 4th Industrial Revolution, the threats are real, and Davos 2018 appears to acknowledge these negatives but attempted heal the fractures before more irreversible damage occurs.
The Fourth Industrial Age continues to hold the interest of the conference as the focus shifts to the use of digital age technologies as societal benefits. Blockchain takes centre stage as a foundational technology for greater accountability. The applications scope of this technology is wide and varied and can be used in many different ways. It will add great benefit to open societies as transparency gives rise to more efficient and effective delivery of public goods and services.
In less developed nations, its adoption and use as a catalyst for good governance has emerged. Blockchain is scalable and robust, and it will deliver positive change.
The world is witnessing a phenomenal period of unprecedented technological advancement, mostly exciting and sometimes scary, depending on one’s point of view. The emergence of transformational technologies has created a vacuum between skills and emerging jobs, between the traditional and the digital. In many instances in previous ages, technology has intervened to solve a problem or improve a system, playing a temporary, just in Time role in creating a solution. Innovations have moved the technology forward but only at a linear rate. The wheel for example, stepped in to facilitate the movement of goods, the steam engine facilitated increased production, the railroad facilitated the train powered by a steam engine that opened up pathways and new markets. Innovations led to cars, new societal norms and quality of life. This new age of digital disruption is different because it destroys traditional processes. The railroad has become the Internet, the World Wide Web the vehicle for delivery. Products and services can be delivered on the internet via the Web, instantaneously. However, it is the speed of innovative creativity on the Web that has outpaced people needs and wants, and people lag behind the technology in finding ways to implement and benefit in ways still unknown. 3D Printing goes far beyond the manufacturing of consumer products. Health issues can be ameliorated as tissues and organs and prosthetics can be custom made. It’s zero-wastage capability will add significant value in the manufacturing value chain. Inputs will be recyclable thus creating a beneficial environmental impact. Robotics and Artificial Intelligence will make jobs safer and more effective, thus creating new streams for investment, research and development, and a world that is more environmentally clean. The world no longer has to wait for technology to catch-up with its needs, but the world must catch-up with the technology. The technology doesn’t wait, as traditional is not only being disrupted, but eliminated. Case in point, Kodak. There is exponential growth : Facebook, Uber, Airbus, WhatsApp, Crypto currencies, Blockchain, driverless cars, drones, Robotics etc. The list is long. Coal led to steam engines, oil lead to combustion, the new age of alternative, renewable energy in solar, wind, wave and ambient energy are all real and becoming entrenched. Electric powered vehicles such as cars and drones are changing our landscape of everyday living.
Cloud Computing, The Internet of Things, Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence and Algorithms are Digital Age technologies set to literally explode in the short to medium term as their value become more apparent. Blockchain, Robotics and 3d Printing appear as evolving technologies capable of completely disrupting traditional systems of manufacturing, and delivery. With the Internet of Things fast becoming a reality, Cloud Computing, Big Data, Algorithms etc will demand greater computing power with the vast amount of unstructured data being generated and collected. The development of Quantum Computing is imminent with the need. Alternative energy in solar, wind and wave and ambient environment energy are being developed as good sources, whilst there remain possibilities in other areas of clean energy as research and development persists. Many possibilities and opportunities will become apparent, as entrepreneurs are currently doing with great effect. Elon Musk is a great example of how to capitalize on these, to great effect.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) Davos 2016 formalized Industry 4.0, the Digital Age of Technology, or The 4th Industrial Revolution, ushering exponential growth through the digital disruption. Speed and accessibility is the growth force with the Internet enabling almost anything to be designed, produced and delivered direct “to-the-home.” A 3d printer can be purchased and located in the home, a design of a product can be accessed on the Internet, chosen or even customized to your liking, and printed in your house. Household items like cups and plates, personal items like clothes can be customer fit and printed. There are instances of tissue and organs being made at medical facilities for patients, and prosthetics also custom fitted and made.and Drone technologies are being designed to carry loads delivering products. The opportunities and possibilities are endless. Online direct home delivery, of goods and services such as telemedicine, food, clothing and critical services are now all very possible.
Business & Society in the Digital Age
For Business, Cloud Computing, The Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Algorithms and Augmented Reality present avenues for creating value throughout the Supply Chain. Access anywhere, anytime for the business to operate virtually, always reachable to the customer, management and suppliers. The November-December 2017 Issue of the Harvard Business Review emphasized “Why Every Organization Needs An Augmented Reality Strategy” written by Michael Porter and James E. Heppelmann. Blockchain, a foundational technology promises to disrupt and innovate every process for accountability and transparency in Government, Business and Society. In an age where good governance can bring significant benefits through the inculcation of high integrity and adherence to morals and ethics, Blockchain is powerful tool.
These technologies have simplified but solidified business organizations in all aspects of management and the Value Chain. Organizations who embrace these technologies swiftly will reap the benefits of leadership in the marketplace by engaging customers in a way that has not been possible until now. The new era of value adding technology in front of the customer is now.
The Internet of Things will encompass big data, Algorithms, Augmented Reality to ensure customer focus, high efficiency and operational effectiveness in business, Smart Villages and Cities will emerge, allowing better governance, compliance and accountability.
China is in the process of implementing a National Smart Car Strategy, employing Artificial Intelligence (AI) and eventually this will evolve to electric powered cars. AI goes well with Augment Reality to provide safer, more efficient driving and journey planning.
Societies embracing technology such as Blockchain, demand greater accountability and transparency from Government and Business. It is a culture shift in the making for small and developing countries in a pathway setting global standards as the “Democratization of Technology” takes effect.
Energy in the Digital Age
Powering the Digital Age requires a high consumption of energy. Bitcoin , for example, consumes large amounts of energy and Cloud Computing requires large amounts of energy to power data-centers. The Digital Age is about endusers each carrying and operating a devices(s). Each new device adds to the amount of energy consumed.
Devices used in the Digital Age, The Internet of Things, will be an unprecedented volume of smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops, servers, totters firewalls, cameras, sensors, drones and cars. The energy needs are increasing by the minute. It places a huge burden on energy resources which are finite. The depleting resources traditionally used to generate power are increasingly under threat from environmentalists as well as the needs of consumers. More pointedly, there is an urgent need to develop alternative, sustainable sources of energy.
Solar, wind, wave and ambient energy sources are being developed at pace. Solar has advanced greatly as countries are now adopting the technology in far greater amount since it first began. Lower costs and more reliability and scalability has given it a special appeal. So to is it’s cost of setup and maintenance. In comparison, wind farms are more costly to setup, operate and maintain. Ambient energy is now being developed, and the possibilities are very encouraging.
Given these inventions and innovations, it makes encouraging readings into our future on this planet earth.
Threats & Opportunities
However, whilst there will be great opportunities for improving the standard of living, there are also new threats to be dealt with. Even so, CyberSecurity opportunities abound because of the new playground of those skilled enough to engage in deviant behavior. The opportunity for law enforcement is huge, especially in robotics designed to deal and encounter physical threats, as well as cyber-threats of bot-nets, ransomeware and intrusion. The influence on good governance is needed as behaviors, rule of law and enforcement can be a cultural shift.
There are opportunities for growth and development. The Digital Age offers many of such, especially in the environment of dwindling resources and aged infrastructure, plants and machinery. Large amounts of effort, costs and bold initiatives are being expended at a time when the wealth of nations are being preserved through strategies of diversification in their respective economies. Saudi Arabia is investing heavily in technology, and so too are the United Arab Emirates whose appointment of a Minister of Artificial Intelligence speaks to their trajectory. For small countries, and under developed Africa tremendous strides are being made as technology meets agriculture and people.
It is an amazing meeting of technology, people and land causing an inflection point on the continent. It will be a place of great opportunity. The opportunity is now. First movers are always Leaders but the challenge will to maintain that leadership which requires foresight, Forward thinking and the will to improve and be better. Africa, the awakening giant!
World Economic Forum, Davos 2016.
Harvard Business Review November-December 2017 Issue
Friedman, Thomas L. The Lexus And the Olive Tree. New York : Anchor Books, 2000, pg. 46, The Democratization of Technology.