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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.
Is your company made up of a CEO and 3-4 Executives who make key decisions?
From the excerpt below, this Harvard Business Review article tells you why you should not be doing this and much more.
“In general, therefore, we suggest that CEOs avoid delegating input on strategic decision making to groups of only four or five people. To be sure, smaller teams reduce coordination and communication costs and reach consensus faster. But larger teams have more information-processing capacity and a greater diversity of perspectives. We recommend enlisting 10 to 14 executives when it comes to debating the company’s long-term strategy. (More than 14 is inadvisable, because members of very large teams tend to disengage.)”
What if you never have to type a password or PIN again?
“As a peering solution for digital value, the blockchain offers a secure and open digital ledger system that can’t be tampered with or changed. The technology is based on absolute transparency and everyone on the ledger has access to all entries at every moment in the lifetime of every transaction.”
Click here to read more.
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!
By Carlvon Ramsingh
Much has been said and written in terms of the cost of Hurricane Irma on the Caribbean islands, especially in Antigua & Barbuda, St. Maarten, Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, and the US Virgin Islands. Many officials from Britain and France have visited along with their military, and some leaders in the Caribbean. All have reported seeing massive destruction and devastation the likes they have not seen, and indeed Caribbean diplomat Ronald Saunders pointed out the fact that for the first time in 300 years, the island of Barbuda has been totally abandoned, without a soul on land.
The cost of restoration has been projected to be billions of dollars, and whilst this might be true, the narrative of cost and restoration versus sustainability is a pertinent and urgent one which must be addressed. Rebuilding, restoring and sustaining the islands must be a priority.
In this context then, the following must be considered:
1. The islands have not been destroyed. It’s the vegetation and houses and infrastructure that has been destroyed, not the island.
2. Having said that, what is being proposed is to rebuild those physical structures. Mind you, the trees will regenerate, the beaches will regenerate, and the waters will be calmed again.
3. I therefore submit that it is the people, and the island, its vegetation, its beaches, it’s seas, bays and reefs, will remain, and therefore the sustainability, both economic and social is what is more important.
4. Rebuilding must therefore take place in that context, I.e. Creating a better life for the people socio-economically, socio-culturally, socio-technically and socio-politically.
4. Through current, emerging and future technology in this the Digital Age, these islands can leapfrog into the 21st Century, and therefore “rebuilding” must take place in this context, I wish to strongly suggest.
Buildings built to withstand Category 5 hurricanes, will sustain economic activity in Tourism, as it will provide the confidence and trust for tourist to visit, comfortable in the fact that they can more than survive in the event of an emergency. Building can be made self-sustaining as emergency solar and wind energy generation provide water and air-conditioning, heat for cooking and power for realtime communications. Less damage will result in the event of a storm or hurricane as islands become more resilient to an environment of increasing storm activity due to the increasing temperature of ocean surfaces in the hurricane belt.
Whether, these islands belong to the US, Britain, France or the Netherlands, they belong first and foremost to the Caribbean and the people of the Caribbean. The foreign powers, whilst I acknowledge their contributions should not assume a neo-colonialist stance, but treat with the human capital of these islands as a resource that can be nurtured, developed and actualized as wealth creating for all, including themselves.
The islands have long been exploited as assets, not resources, under the guise of being tourists destinations, dependent on tourist spending, grants and loans which have kept these places as play grounds for the rich and famous.
It is a chance for a new beginning. I submit in 2017, that must no longer be the case.