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The truth about technology is that it lures us into a thinking that we can all be equal, and that we can be just as good as others. The “Democratization of Technology” ensures that foundational technologies are available to all. Smartphones, tablets, iPads iPhones, Android, Java and python are commonplace today. There has been an explosion of innovation and creativity that has spawned millionaires in the software world from applications to apps, from Algorithms to Artificial Intelligence to Robotics. The Digital Age is an Industrial Revolution capable of tremendous disruption because of this accessibility and availability. It can bring unimaginable benefits in efficiencies, cost reduction, environmental monitoring and evaluation, and sustainability given the foundations laid during the past Industry 3.0. These benefits come with a price though , which impacts directly and forcefully on the traditional.
The Human Learning
The emergence of operating systems such as Microsoft Windows, Apple’s IOS, and Android all created a very easy and standard way of doing things, one in which every individual on the planet can learn easily and quickly. It’s now easy to operate a personal computer of any kind, be it a desktop, smartphone or tablet. Almost everyone can use MS Word or Ms Excel.
Accessibility to technology has become affordable and available to all, on a global scale and anyone can download software, music or videos. Knowledge is available, online. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has a free online platform, MIT OpenCourseWare, where MIT classes in Computer Science can be learnt. Learning new skills are easy and readily accessible online.
Microsoft’s standardization of the desktop operating system created the platform for ease of use, knowledge acquisition and sharing, globally. It really “democratized” Technology, created a wave of innovation as programmers now found ways of computerizing processes. The software development generation took off with great speed, overflowing with innovation and creativity as gaming and business applications burgeoned.
Global IT organizations emerged and prospered in the Information Age. Entrepreneurs, like Gates and Jobs Built empires form scratch, and other individuals were emboldened to pursue careers in consultancy, design and development.
Fast-forward to today, in the Digital Age of Machine Learning, Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, Cloud Computing and a growing reliance on cloud computing, global platforms like Facebook and Uber, and suddenly there is a real need for re-skilling and retooling.
Wonderful possibilities to create and innovate as digital technologies disrupt the traditional. Growing of crops take a new image as sensor technology can provide huge benefits in growing extra-large volumes, in technology driven mega-farms. Drone technology to deliver fertilizers, monitor and evaluate conditions with analytics generated by Algorithms, availability and customer services through apps.
What about the tremendous opportunities that lie in medical services, governance & government services, education and environmental sustainability as pollution and emissions level are monitored real-time. Huge possibilities in improved standards of living as driverless cars, law enforcement and civic society are impacted by technology. Human Learning, ingenuity, creativity will provide many sustainable endeavors.
Learning new skills are key for sustainability.
The Future State
Technology influences society. Throughout history, technology has impacted society in very positive ways. Certainly the cynics will articulate their point of view, which I believe is important for balance, but I wish to focus on the positive side of the equation. In an increasingly lawless society, technology such as Cloud Computing, The Internet of Things and mobile computing can deliver a distinct advantage to law enforcement in tracking and apprehension. Robotics also enter the equation as potentially dangerous situations encountered by law enforcement can be mitigated, as also in the case of civil society were there are particularly hazardous jobs.
Telemedicine will deliver fast and efficient services coupled with driverless, solar powered, augmented reality cars, the stage is set for a new kind of service delivery model. Deployment of personnel will be quick and accurate, as smart-home, Smart-Cities become a reality.
Drone delivery of goods are advancing at a rapid pace as Amazon and Google ramp up their efforts. It will herald a new wave of innovation and creativity. These are just a few of the many, many opportunities availing themselves in this new age.
The Rise of City States, the Smart City Approach
The emergence of the City State is fast approaching, and implications for governance are far-reaching, as accountability becomes open an transparent. Blockchain is a foundational technology with real enforcement power, especially in public procurement.
City states such as Dubai, are implementing technology at a rapid and advance rate, throwing state resources for creating the society and governance that is futuristic. One might admit that it is an existential threat to the politico of the West, because of the example Dubai illustrates, but the standardization, globalization and adoption of universal technology, Digital, will create change in societies of the West. Microsoft is building its own city, and so is Google.
Tel-Aviv connects its citizens via free WiFi and app, which won the 2014 World Smart Cities Award in Barcelona. India has invested usd 15b in a Smart Cities Mission program in a mission to develop 100 cities country-wide to make them more “citizen friendly and sustainable.”
Political regimes faced with an increasingly knowledgeable society, may not be able to continue along traditional lines. They will be disrupted, by technology if they procrastinate, hence the major push to a technology, innovation-driven society. The challenge is really how society adapts. For Trinidad and Tobago, this is an imperative for sustainability as indeed for many other island nations in the Caribbean.
The encouraging, positive aspect is accessibility through standardization, Globalization and adoption that provides the platform for growth and development…and change!
On behalf of Augmented Consulting™️ let me wish you a very happy holiday season, and thank you for your readership. This blog was created to enlighten and inform and we will continue to do just that!
See you on the other side of 2017.
The predictions of most of the global institutions are positive GDP growth in 2018. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) suggest a trend of upward movement. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) suggests “The growth forecast for 2018 is 1. 9 for advanced economies.” It looks to be positive news and will boost confidence. The recent months has seen a little gain in oil prices as NASDAQ shows, meaning oil producing countries would be benefiting in their revenue generation, ostensibly improving their economic conditions. Certainly, when oil prices increase, advanced economies of oil producing nations have more disposable income, and can positively effect job creation to stimulate economic activity through increased consumer spending. For some other economies, that is not necessarily so as illustrated in present Venezuelan experience, as well as some parts of the Middle East. Less advanced oil producing nations who do not produce internally in agriculture, for example, cannot feed themselves, and must remain dependent of the more advanced economies for sustenance, and pay the price. For some 2018 is positive, but it is difficult to predict comfort or prosperity for others.
Factors Impacting Oil & Gas Economies
Increase in Alternatives
There are several alternatives profoundly affecting the global environment today, directly impacting on oil producing economies and growth worth consideration. These substitutes are beginning to make a huge impact on advanced economies, critically reducing costs, benefitting the environment and enhancing people’s lives. Societies are increasing adoption rates, becoming more aware and knowledgeable.
Wind, Solar, Biotechnology
Dubai, an advanced city state, from the oil producing advanced economy of the United Arab Emirates, recently awarded a 3.9 Billion Dollar contract. According to the Associated Press, September 2017, a Consortium of Shanghai Electric and Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power secured the contract to build and operate a 700 megawatts solar Power plant.In Spain, it is estimated that wind will account for 20% of Energy consumption.The predictions are very positive and according to the Independent, renewable energy projections for the future are raising at almost exponential rates.
Saudi Arabia’s, an oil & gas, advanced economy, push to diversify its economy is instructive. The Globe & Mail Inc., reports Abdullatif Al-Othman, former Saudi Aramco executive as saying ” Oil has been a good source of income, but it’s a depleting Resource. The cyclicality of that resource reinforces our strategy and our commitment to diversifying the economy.”
Oil & gas is a non-renewable, extractive Industry, capable of doing great harm to the environment. It does not offer an economy that is sustainable, and therefore, other sources, or resources must be found. Renewable resources such as wind, solar, wave, or biofuels are imminent substitutes.
Saudi Arabia and Saudi Aramco partnering with a Chinese firm to produce solar energy for another oil rich Middle Eastern country. Even oil recognizes the future.
Additionally, shale oil is also now becoming a factor with new technology coming to the forefront, but there are severe environmental concerns.
The Fourth Industrial Age, The Digital Age or more popularly Industry 4.0, is conjuring up Utopia. All the platforms, tools and opportunities exists for life as we know it to reach a new dimension. The age of Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Algorithms, Augmented Reality, Cloud Computing, IPv6, 3D Printing is upon us. Countries are investing and creating entire economies, with a huge opportunity for Human Capital Development.
Already we can see the effects of 3D Printing as tissue is actually being made for replacement organs etc. Robots of all types are being developed in a frenzied race involving the advanced economies as they recognize the potential for improving human existence. Driverless cars, drones, and mass communications platforms such as Facebook & WhatsApp, and Uber and AurBnB are models that are transforming business models from capital intensive organizations to innovation intensive, ownerless models.
Online business is the order of the day as costs of ownership become an obsolete model. Facebook advertises to the world with billions of users on its platforms, but people bear the peer to peer cost, such as connectivity and end devices. Similarly with other global platforms such as AirBnB and Uber.
Blockchain takes accountability to a global level since it’s a foundational technology available to all, similar to TCP/IP.
The Global Economy is real-time and online and the pace is blinding. It is very possible for many to be left behind as any thinking or philosophy apposed will only generate ill feelings, especially amongst the young, young adults and post baby-boomer era. Those younger ones demand technological freedom, healthy environments, openness and transparency and it is more than likely they will prevail.
2018 and Beyond
The clash between technology and economics is going to bring changes, some painful to those who are inflexible and steadfast in their ways. In the early days, in Industry 3.0, the then Information Age, people were quite averse to the Personal Computer in the workplace. Folks complained bitterly to IT staff about the computer not working. They simply pulled the plug. But that same generation, PC averse, cannot do without their smartphones now.
The upheavals are likely to be more severe as obsolescence become apparent and real. Loss of jobs and income are real hardships that have been avoided by places like Saudi Arabia, Estonia, Singapore and Dubai. Smaller states, such as island nations of the Caribbean are in for a tough time ahead. Still there are shining examples such as the island of Grenada, who lead the way in developing a diverse economy coupled with prudent leadership.
For 2018, then, economies will suffer as alternatives start to make a bigger impact, thus further suppressing oil prices, which will mean less financial ability to operate at levels accustomed to. Oil rich economies spur consumer spending internally, which affect global environments who provide goods and services to these consumer spending economies. As oil prices remain low, and are likely to remain at that level, countries such as Saudi Arabia are adjusting while they still have substantial amounts to invest in a diversified, sustainable economy. Places like Venezuela are not so fortunate.
Concurrent with these shifts in technology, is the fact of increasing uncertainty. The United States of America is experiencing serious challenges to its executive as there are investigations pending and ongoing concerning the President, alongside increasing uneasiness with North Korea. Problems with Russia are also surfacing as a result of continuing examination of the machinations of the last Presidential Elections. Uncertainty can have a debilitating effect on trust based systems such as global financial markets and traditional banking. The meteoric rise of crypto currency Bitcoin, trading at past $16000.00 today December 7th 2017 can also be a source of concern, fueled by uncertainty and lack of trust.
In 2018, the challenge is to be able to recognize those imminent changes on the horizon, think, plan and execute strategically, whilst exercising caution. As the Saudis have done!
The versatility of Blockchain is becoming more apparent as it is being adopted in almost every sphere of life. It’s use in health, HR, Financial, Procurement, Legal, Education and scientific research are just some examples.
By Carlvon Ramsingh
Over the last two years, Mrs. Kamla Persad-Bissessar, former Prime Minister and now Leader of The Opposition in Trinidad and Tobago, has championed the 4th Industrial Revolution, The Digital Age as a diversification strategy. This is quite encouraging especially in times of economic downturn, as it represents an avenue for engaging the human capital of the country, in an increasingly restless social environment.
Charting a Digital Way Forward
Given this posturing, there are many challenges to be surmounted, the first being political. Mrs. Persad-Bissessar’s stance represents a remarkable development in the emergence of technology as a mainstream economic growth strategy. It is the first time in the Caribbean that a Leader has emerged as an advocate for technological advancement and represent a shift in the political thinking. The effect of such a change speaks volumes for the future of Trinidad and Tobago in an ever-decreasing global market for fossil fuels. The Oil & Gas Sector in Trinidad and Tobago has been experiencing the shocks of low oil prices and consistent lower production in both oil and gas.
Increasingly, the need to diversify the economy is becoming urgent and critical. This requires the political directorate to make the decisions and support the diversification efforts. So far, little is being done by the present regime.
Investment is needed. Critical infrastructural capacity and capabilities are competencies needed to achieve this thrust forward. The country’s financial burdens weigh heavily of its ability to adequately invest in the paradigm shift. The door is therefore open to engage International funding agencies in the development process. Several Initiatives have been undertaken or are in the process. The IDB has entered into a loan agreement with the Trinidad and Tobago government for the thrust into the ITeS global sector, Loan 3112OC-TT. This Initiative was started under the Mrs. Persad-Bissessar Government, and although there are structures in place for the administration of it, the commencement has been quite cumbersome and given its pace, it is dubious such an Initiative will result in the economic growth of the country in the near future.
The opportunity to invest in creating the digital economy for Trinidad and Tobago is real.
In this regard Augmented Consulting has created a roadmap for the development of this Sector, as well as a Smart Industrial Policy to engage the rest of the economy and we shall welcome investors to help create this new economy.
The relentless, breathtaking speed of technological advancements and innovations continue to drive towards a new standard of living, of society and of governance. We are constantly and consistently pushed to new frontiers in global finances, global delivery, global technology the likes of which are shaping a new global order. These all point to greater benefits for the masses, but can pose a serious challenge to the economic order that has ruled countries, continents, and conglomerates.
The rise of Blockchain technology and crypto currencies has been nothing short of phenomenal and since our post of December 2016 this blog has been speaking to this specifically, whilst focusing on the emerging Digital Economy since inception. As we speak, Bitcoin Cash, a crypto currency spinoff from Bitcoin, has hit staggering new heights, The growth of other crypto currencies has also risen. Etherum, has risen steadily and is considered a major substitute. The trajectory is an upward trend and this is expected to continue as its usability becomes more entrenched.
Quite apart from the crypto currency though, is the technology running Bitcoin. That technology is Blockchain. Blockchain is considered to be a foundational technology according to Karin Lakhani, Professor, Harvard Business School. Blockchain is basically an online distributed ledger, and each participant in a transaction has a copy of that transaction. This authenticates the transaction providing fair evidence, which then becomes the basis of proof of contract etc. Certainly digital transactions can be added to show proof of work and completion of work within scope hence enabling an agreement to pay.
The consequences of such a technology is enormous in ensuring accountability and engendering the culture of fairness and accuracy. In Trinidad and Tobago, the enabling factor for the proper enactment of the Procurement And Disposal of Public Property Act 2015, can be Blockchain.
Blockchain is a game changer.
The fact is we live in an ever changing world. Some people are comfortable with this change and relish it. The price of Bitcoin reach past the $7000 on Thursday 2nd November 2017 and attracting great attention by the public. Such huge shifts are bound to get noticed. The private Central Banks and their owners must be scrutinizing, in great detail, these going’s on to figure the effect it will have on their wealth. The Harvard University Press reported Oxfarm as saying the world’s wealth is controlled by a minute few.
What then can we expect from this super-wealthy elite? What would their reaction be to this real threat and how would such a realization manifest itself, but your guess is as good as mine. When personal wealth is threatened, people can be very defensive.
Technology definitely has its great benefits. Of that, there can be no argument, but it also has the effect of challenging the status quo, and can result in terrible consequences and of that, I’m certain.
Trinidad and Tobago is a multicultural society, where people of many different backgrounds converge to create this wonderful cacophony of music, dance and creativity, unique to this place and space. The beautiful colors, hues and textures are simply amazing viewed through lens of patriotism and love of country. The smiles, the laughter and the looks are reflective of the people’s charm, and inner beauty, but also of the country’s steadfastness to preserve its good natured way of life, filled with humor, understanding, patience and caring.
But this piece of nature, it seems, has been under threat lately. The Leader of The Opposition in the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago had this to say “We in the Opposition, and indeed the citizenry are very disturbed by what some have described as the sordid or depraved utterances of the Prime Minister. Such recurring unsavoury pronouncements by him can only serve to contribute to the disrespect being meted out to women and girls in our society.” This was in response to utterances made by the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, which were deem disparaging to women and girls.
The Leader of The Opposition was moved to remark further “…as we seek to lift our country out of the darkness that has pervaded it as a result of the ill-thought out measures imposed by the current administration.” This being said in the sanctity and midst of one of the country’s major religious and cultural events, The Divali Nagar.
The Divali Nagar, is a cultural site in Trinidad and Tobago, managed and operated by the National Committee for Indian Culture (NCIC). The site hosts a major, week long celebration of Divali, the Hindu Festival of Lights, and draws the attention of the national community, with Hindus forming a very significant section of the landscape. The Leader of The Opposition, and a former Prime Minister, Mrs. Kamla Persad-Bissessar, herself of the Hindu faith, made her remarks during her feature address at the Divali Nagar.
During that address, Mrs. Persad-Bissessar also made pointed remarks of the way forward, and the need to engage actively in the 4th Industrial Revolution, The Digital Age. The rapid onset of digital technology globally makes it as necessity to formulate, initiate and execute initiatives, programs and projects to make Trinidad and Tobago digital ready. Indeed, the Opposition Leader has been championing this since first making reference to it in her Budget Response of 2016, again doing so in 2017.
The Leader of the Opposition also advocated the need for an initiative for economic prosperity to “nurture and incentivize” the talent of Trinidad and Tobago as a means of further diversification.
Economic diversification is a real need for Trinidad and Tobago, facing low oil prices, falling oil and gas production has seen the island’s once thriving economy resort back to the old strategy of austerity emphasized by increased taxes and the reduction of fuel subsidy. Coupled to that are the seemingly ever present economic depressants of high crimen corruption and inefficiency. GDP has been falling and the Debt to GDP has risen to over 60%. Not very good news, and there is increased agitation amongst various working groups who feel disenfranchised.
In light of these factors, there seems to be trouble in paradise, but there is hope.
The Age of Digital Technology has ushered in a new era of economic prosperity, as there are tremendous opportunities to engage the youth, professionals, and other demographics of the population who can re-skill to meet the 4lth Industrial Revolution. Businesses can benefit greatly in reduced costs and well as high efficiency in the age of online business.
As this blog has been advocating since January 2016, the Digital Revolution is a saving grace. It must be embraced, amd we are pleased the Leader of the Opposition has now started to champion this cause as a diversification initiative.
It is most appropriate therefore, that Divali, the Festival of Lights, illuminates our pathway to the future!
Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria or HIM, plundered, looted and annihilated the Caribbean, Houston and Florida leaving suffering, death, misery and a distinct lack of responsiveness and sometimes empathy because of the sheer weight of the frequency, strength and pathways of these storms. The weight of the burden seems to have cornered the psyche into a reluctant acceptance of the inevitable, and place tremendous stresses on the response mechanisms in place to help.
The total devastation of property in the small, northernmost islands of the Caribbean has created serious hardships for people, especially in Dominica, Barbuda, the BVI, the USVI and Puerto Rico. The scenes of roofs blown away, houses demolished, ships being deposited on roads, cars being mangled and destroyed, and vegetation reduced to mere branches, the Caribbean resembles the shock waved desolation of a severely bombed out city in World War 11. The brown branches creates a bizarre sight as if the sea blast from the hurricane winds rusted the trees and plants on the islands. The land looks barren, as if sprayed by some kind of leaf destroying chemical was used. The people look tired, frustrated, and weakened, but resolute, as all Caribbean people are, even when faced with such adversity.
In the BVI & USVI, St. Maarten and Anguilla, help is being administered from the nations to which they belong, but response, recovery and stability is ongoing through their various military and civil engineering capabilities. Re-building is a slow and painful process, even in territorial islands. Puerto Rico seems to have suffered greatly from the inertia created by the HIM effect i.e. The frequency and force, the destruction and disruption created by this stream of gigantic storms. There seems to be a psychological lag in the ability to deal and cope mentally with this effect. A resigned feeling of the weight of the burden as resources are stretched far and wide. The island suffered catastrophic damage, and at the point of writing is experiencing, a discombobulated bureaucracy, limiting the and severely hampering the delivery of aid so critically needed.
Dominica, has been reduced to rubble and memories as the island’s survival is at the forefront of the entire Caribbean diaspora. The Dominican Prime Minister was challenged to control his emotions as he sought help and assistance. It is not a good sight of this beautiful Caribbean gem. To simply survive in the immediate future will be a huge task, let alone the medium and long term.
It is critical Dominica receives aid to survive. But from where, firstly, distributed equitably secondly, and then utilized for sustainability. But is that reasonable, while sounding good. Is it reasonable to assume fairness, equitability and equality and political maturity. It is certainly possible as other islands such as Grenada has demonstrated. How can these islands seek out the future with boldness and confidence, in an environment of dependence created through historical antecedents and colonization. Breaking out requires a starting point. The devastation might just be an opening to stride purposely into the 21st Century, utilizing technological advancement for economic prosperity. Can this small island state negotiate with industry leaders to create this sort of development for island populations to be used as a model. Is it just a fantasy, or can Google or FB or the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation step in and donate their considerable wealth, expertise and generosity to create a new reality for the islands.
The answer is that kind of initiative is entirely possible but requires the foresight, will and relentless pursuit of this. It can become a catalyst for the CARICOM, as the regional organization representing the Caribbean to step-up and show some initiative. They have remained ineffective, relying on directives, grand plans, and stifling bureaucracy to merely exist. Their performance in terms of fostering a concerted effort to take part in the global digital economy has not been forthcoming, except to articulate a cumbersome Regional ICT plan which is becoming outdated because of the lack of urgency or will. CARICOM has not displayed the sort of global thinking for engaging the global economy except on a diplomatic level, and appears to be more concerned with representation rather than economic sustainability.
When the doom and gloom of the devastation and trauma of the hurricane has lifted, these affected island should not go back to the old, but instead look to the exciting new age, where there can be sustainability.
That is well within reach!