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.
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.