2018 TECH TRENDS REPORT — from the Future Today Institute
Emerging technology trends that will influence business, government, education, media and society in the coming year.


The Future Today Institute’s 11th annual Tech Trends Report identifies 235 tantalizing advancements in emerging technologies—artificial intelligence, biotech, autonomous robots, green energy and space travel—that will begin to enter the mainstream and fundamentally disrupt business, geopolitics and everyday life around the world. Our annual report has garnered more than six million cumulative views, and this edition is our largest to date.

Helping organizations see change early and calculate the impact of new trends is why we publish our annual Emerging Tech Trends Report, which focuses on mid- to late-stage emerging technologies that are on a growth trajectory.

In this edition of the FTI Tech Trends Report, we’ve included several new features and sections:

  • a list and map of the world’s smartest cities
  • a calendar of events that will shape technology this year
  • detailed near-future scenarios for several of the technologies
  • a new framework to help organizations decide when to take action on trends
  • an interactive table of contents, which will allow you to more easily navigate the report from the bookmarks bar in your PDF reader



01 How does this trend impact our industry and all of its parts?
02 How might global events — politics, climate change, economic shifts – impact this trend, and as a result, our organization?
03 What are the second, third, fourth, and fifth-order implications of this trend as it evolves, both in our organization and our industry?
04 What are the consequences if our organization fails to take action on this trend?
05 Does this trend signal emerging disruption to our traditional business practices and cherished beliefs?
06 Does this trend indicate a future disruption to the established roles and responsibilities within our organization? If so, how do we reverse-engineer that disruption and deal with it in the present day?
07 How are the organizations in adjacent spaces addressing this trend? What can we learn from their failures and best practices?
08 How will the wants, needs and expectations of our consumers/ constituents change as a result of this trend?
09 Where does this trend create potential new partners or collaborators for us?
10 How does this trend inspire us to think about the future of our organization?




2018 Workplace Learning Report — from learning.linkedin.com


The path to opportunity is changing
The short shelf life of skills and a tightening labor market are giving rise to a multitude of skill gaps. Businesses are fighting to stay ahead of the curve, trying to hold onto their best talent and struggling to fill key positions. Individuals are conscious of staying relevant in the age of automation.

Enter the talent development function.
These organizational leaders create learning opportunities to enable employee growth and achievement. They have the ability to guide their organizations to success in tomorrow’s labor market, but they can’t do it alone.

Our research answers the talent developer’s most pressing questions:
* How are savvy talent development leaders adapting to the pace of change in today’s dynamic world of work?
* Why do employees demand learning and development resources, but don’t make the time to learn?
* How do executives think about learning and development?
* Are managers the missing link to successful learning programs?


From DSC:
Even though this piece is a bit of a sales pitch for Lynda.com — a great service I might add — it’s still worth checking out. I say this because it brings up a very real trend that I’m trying to bring more awareness to — i.e., the pace of change has changed. Our society is not ready for this new, exponential pace of change. Technologies are impacting jobs and how we do our jobs, and will likely do so for the next several decades. Skills gaps are real and likely growing larger. Corporations need to do their part in helping higher education revise/develop curriculum and they need to offer funds to create new types of learning labs/environments. They need to offer more internships and opportunities to learn new skills.




Who’s Teaching the Teachers? — from chronicle.com by Elizabeth Alsop

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

Last fall, the academic career coach Jennifer Polk conducted an informal Twitter poll: How many of you, she asked her followers, received any meaningful pedagogical training during graduate school?

Replies ranged from the encouraging to the mostly dispiriting, with one doctoral candidate noting that the only training the program had offered took the form of “trial by fire.” Just 19 percent of the 2,248 respondents said they had received at least “decent” training — a number that, however unscientific, is also symptomatic.

This statistic reflects something that many of us could confirm firsthand: Teaching remains undervalued in the context of doctoral training and the profession at large. The result, by this anecdotal reckoning, is that less than one-fifth of aspiring college teachers are effectively taught how to teach.

The American Association of University Professors estimates that over 70 percent of all faculty positions are non-tenure-track, so these are teaching, not research, appointments.

Ennobling as such rhetorical constructs may be, they obscure not only the very real labor of teaching, but the fact that teaching is teachable: something that results not from divine, Dead Poets Society-like bursts of inspiration, but, as in other career fields, from study, apprenticeship, and practice. There are any number of books — including Ken Bain’s What the Best College Teachers Do, John Bean’s Engaging Ideas, and Cathy Davidson’s The New Education — that offer excellent advice for college instructors.

It’s also worth noting that the resistance to addressing pedagogy in graduate education may be practical, as well as philosophical: Teaching someone to teach is hard. Like writing, teaching is a craft, learned not just in a single class, practicum, or workshop. Rather, it’s a recursive process, developed through trial and error — and yes, by “fire” — but also through conversation with others: a mentor, a cohort, your peers.





4 Things Experts Want You to Know About Blockchain in Higher Ed — from edtechmagazine.com by Meghan Bogardus Cortez
The electronic ledger software holds a lot of potential for university data.


At universities, blockchain is poised to help in aspects of data management, credentialing and research. From boosting security to enhancing access, the e-ledger tool has a lot of possibility.

Here are four ways experts think blockchain has a place in higher education:




In Move Towards More Online Degrees, Coursera Introduces Its First Bachelor’s — from edsurger.com by Sydney Johnson


These days, though, many MOOC platforms are courting the traditional higher-ed market they once rebuked, often by hosting fully-online masters degrees for colleges and universities. And today, one of the largest MOOC providers, Coursera, announced it’s going one step further in that direction, with its first fully online bachelor’s degree.

“We are realizing that the vast reach of MOOCs makes them a powerful gateway to degrees,” Coursera CEO Jeff Maggioncalda said in a statement.

The new degree will be a bachelor of science in computer science from the University of London. The entire program will cost between £9,600 and £17,000 (approximately $13,300 to $23,500), depending on a student’s geographic location. According to a spokesperson for Coursera, the program’s “cost is adjusted based on whether a student is in a developed or developing economy.”



From DSC:
At least a couple of questions come to mind here:

  • What might the future hold if the U.S. Department of Education / the Federal Government begins funding these types of alternatives to traditional higher education?
  • Will Coursera be successful here and begin adding more degrees? If so, a major game-changer could be on our doorsteps.




Scientists Are Turning Alexa into an Automated Lab Helper — from technologyreview.com by Jamie Condliffe
Amazon’s voice-activated assistant follows a rich tradition of researchers using consumer tech in unintended ways to further their work.


Alexa, what’s the next step in my titration?

Probably not the first question you ask your smart assistant in the morning, but potentially the kind of query that scientists may soon be leveling at Amazon’s AI helper. Chemical & Engineering News reports that software developer James Rhodes—whose wife, DeLacy Rhodes, is a microbiologist—has created a skill for Alexa called Helix that lends a helping hand around the laboratory.

It makes sense. While most people might ask Alexa to check the news headlines, play music, or set a timer because our hands are a mess from cooking, scientists could look up melting points, pose simple calculations, or ask for an experimental procedure to be read aloud while their hands are gloved and in use.

For now, Helix is still a proof-of-concept. But you can sign up to try an early working version, and Rhodes has plans to extend its abilities…


Also see:




Uber and Lyft drivers’ median hourly wage is just $3.37, report finds — from theguardian.com by Sam Levin
Majority of drivers make less than minimum wage and many end up losing money, according to study published by MIT

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Uber and Lyft drivers in the US make a median profit of $3.37 per hour before taxes, according to a new report that suggests a majority of ride-share workers make below minimum wage and that many actually lose money.

Researchers did an analysis of vehicle cost data and a survey of more than 1,100 drivers for the ride-hailing companies for the paper published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research. The report – which factored in insurance, maintenance, repairs, fuel and other costs – found that 30% of drivers are losing money on the job and that 74% earn less than the minimum wage in their states.

The findings have raised fresh concerns about labor standards in the booming sharing economy as companies such as Uber and Lyft continue to face scrutiny over their treatment of drivers, who are classified as independent contractors and have few rights or protections.

“This business model is not currently sustainable,” said Stephen Zoepf, executive director of the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford University and co-author of the paper. “The companies are losing money. The businesses are being subsidized by [venture capital] money … And the drivers are essentially subsidizing it by working for very low wages.”



From DSC:
I don’t know enough about this to offer much feedback and/or insights on this sort of thing yet. But while it’s a bit too early for me to tell — and though I’m not myself a driver for Uber or Lyft — this article prompts me to put this type of thing on my radar.

That is, will the business models that arise from such a sharing economy only benefit a handful of owners or upper level managers or will such new business models benefit the majority of their employees? I’m very skeptical in these early stages though, as there aren’t likely medical or dental benefits, retirement contributions, etc. being offered to their employees with these types of companies. It likely depends upon the particular business model(s) and/or organization(s) being considered, but I think that it’s worth many of us watching this area.



Also see:

The Economics of Ride-Hailing: Driver Revenue, Expenses and Taxes— from ceepr.mit.edu / MIT Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research by Stephen Zoepf, Stella Chen, Paa Adu, and Gonzalo Pozo

February 2018

We perform a detailed analysis of Uber and Lyft ride-hailing driver economics by pairing results from a survey of over 1100 drivers with detailed vehicle cost information. Results show that per hour worked, median profit from driving is $3.37/hour before taxes, and 74% of drivers earn less than the minimum wage in their state. 30% of drivers are actually losing money once vehicle expenses are included. On a per-mile basis, median gross driver revenue is $0.59/mile but vehicle operating expenses reduce real driver profit to a median of $0.29/mile. For tax purposes the $0.54/mile standard mileage deduction in 2016 means that nearly half of drivers can declare a loss on their taxes. If drivers are fully able to capitalize on these losses for tax purposes, 73.5% of an estimated U.S. market $4.8B in annual ride-hailing driver profit is untaxed.

Keywords: Transportation, Gig Economy, Cost-Bene t Analysis, Tax policy, Labor Center
Full Paper
| Research Brief



Addendum on 3/7/18:

The ride-hailing wage war continues

How much do Lyft and Uber drivers really make? After reporting in a study that their median take-home pay was just 3.37/hour—and then getting called out by Uber’s CEO—researchers have significantly revised their findings.

Closer to a living wage: Lead author Stephen Zoepf of Stanford University released a statement on Twitter saying that using two different methods to recalculate the hourly wage, they find a salary of either $8.55 or $10 per hour, after expenses. Zoepf’s team will be doing a larger revision of the paper over the next few weeks.

Still low-balling it?: Uber and Lyft are adamant that even the new numbers underestimate what drivers are actually paid. “While the revised results are not as inaccurate as the original findings, driver earnings are still understated,” says Lyft’s director of communications Adrian Durbin.

The truth is out there: Depending on who’s doing the math, estimates range from $8.55 (Zoepf, et al.) up to over $21 an hour (Uber). In other words, we’re nowhere near a consensus on how much drivers in the gig-economy make.



Personalized Learning Meets AI With Watson Classroom

Personalized Learning Meets AI With Watson Classroom — from gettingsmart.com by Erin Gohl

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Teaching is truly a Herculean challenge. Even the very best teachers can keep only so many of these insights in their heads and make only so many connections between expectations and circumstances. They can be aware of only a fraction of the research on best practices. They have only so much time to collaborate and communicate with the other adults in a particular student’s life to share information and insights. To be the best of themselves, teachers need to have access to a warehouse of information, a research assistant to mine best practices, note takers to gather and record information on each student, a statistician to gauge effective practices, and someone to collaborate with to distill the next best step with each student. In recent years, a plethora of vendors have developed software solutions that promise to simplify this process and give schools and teachers the answers to understand and address the individual needs of each student. One of the most promising, which I recently had a chance to learn about, is IBM’s Watson Classroom.

IBM is clear about what makes Watson different than existing solutions. First of all, it is a cognitive partner; not a solution. Secondly, it does not require proprietary or additional assessments, curriculum, or content. It uses whatever a district has in place. But it goes beyond the performance of tiering difficulty, pace, and reading level that is now standard fare for the solutions promising individualized, adaptive and personalized learning. Watson takes the stew of data from existing systems (including assessments, attendance records, available accommodations), adds the ability to infer meaning from written reports, and is able to connect the quality of the result to the approach that was taken. And then adjust the next recommendation based on what was learned. It is artificial intelligence (AI) brought to education that goes far beyond the adaptive learning technologies of today.

Watson Classroom is currently being piloted in 12 school districts across the country. In those classrooms, Watson Classroom is utilizing cutting-edge computing power to give teachers a full range of support to be the best versions of themselves. Watson is facilitating the kind of education the great teachers strive for every day–one where learning is truly personalized for each and every student. Bringing the power of big data to the interactions between students and teachers can help assure that every student reaches beyond our expectations to achieve their full potential.




Learn with Google AI: Making ML education available to everyone — from blog.google


To help everyone understand how AI can solve challenging problems, we’ve created a resource called Learn with Google AI. This site provides ways to learn about core ML concepts, develop and hone your ML skills, and apply ML to real-world problems. From deep learning experts looking for advanced tutorials and materials on TensorFlow, to “curious cats” who want to take their first steps with AI, anyone looking for educational content from ML experts at Google can find it here.

Learn with Google AI also features a new, free course called Machine Learning Crash Course (MLCC). The course provides exercises, interactive visualizations, and instructional videos that anyone can use to learn and practice ML concepts.



7 Ways Chatbots and AI are Disrupting HR — from chatbotsmagazine.com
Enterprises are embracing AI for automating human resources


Chatbots and AI have become household names and enterprises are taking notice. According to a recent Forrester survey, roughly “85% of customer interactions within an enterprise will be with software robots in five years’ time” and “87% of CEOs are looking to expand their AI workforce” using AI bots.

In an effort to drive increased labor efficiencies, reduce costs, and deliver better customer/employee experiences enterprises are quickly introducing AI, machine learning, and natural language understanding as core elements of their digital transformation strategy in 2018.

Human resources (HR) is one area ripe for intelligent automation within an enterprise. AI-powered bots for HR are able to streamline and personalize the HR process across seasonal, temporary, part-time, and full-time employees.

There are 7 ways in which enterprises can use HR bots to drive increased labors efficiencies, reduced costs, and better employee experiences:

  1. Recruitment
  2. Onboarding
  3. Company Policy FAQs
  4. Employee Training
  5. Common Questions
  6. Benefits Enrollment
  7. Annual Self-Assessment/Reviews


From DSC:
Again, this article paint a bit too rosy of a picture for me re: the use of AI and HR, especially in regards to recruiting employees.




Implementation of AI into eLearning. Interview with Christopher Pappas — from joomlalms.com by Darya Tarliuk


Every day we hear more and more about the impact that Artificial Intelligence gains in every sphere of our life. In order to discover how AI implementation is going to change the eLearning we decided to ask Christopher Pappas to share his views and find out what he thinks about it. Christopher is an experienced eLearning specialist and the Founder of the eLearning Industry’s Network.

How to get ready preparing course materials now, while considering the future impact of AI?
Christopher: Regardless of whether you plan to adopt an AI system as soon as they’re available to the mass market or you opt to hold off (and let others work out the glitches), infrastructure is key. You can prepare your course materials now by developing course catalogs, microlearning online training repositories, and personalized online training paths that fall into the AI framework. For example, the AI system can easily recommend existing resources based on a learners’ assessment scores or job duties. All of the building blocks are in place, allowing the system to focus on content delivery and data analysis.




Can You Trust Intelligent Virtual Assistants? — from nojitter.com by Gary Audin
From malicious hackers to accidental voice recordings, data processed through virtual assistants may open you to security and privacy risks.


Did you know that with such digital assistants your voice data is sent to the cloud or another remote location for processing? Is it safe to talk in front of your TV remote? Are you putting your business data at risk of being compromised by asking Alexa to start your meeting?





Thanks, Robots! Now These Four Non-Tech Job Skills Are In Demand — from fastcompany.com by Christian Madsbjerg
The more we rely on AI and machine learning, the more work we need social scientists and humanities experts to do.


Automation isn’t a simple struggle between people and technology, with the two sides competing for jobs. The more we rely on robots, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning, the clearer it’s become just how much we need social scientists and humanities experts–not the reverse.

These four skills in particular are all unique to us humans, and will arguably rise in value in the coming years, as more and more companies realize they need the best of both worlds to unleash the potential from both humans and machines.






The number of Americans working for themselves could triple by 2020 — from work.qz.com by Amy Wang

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Americans are as eager to work as ever. Just no longer for somebody else.

According to FreshBooks, a cloud-based accounting company that has conducted a study on self-employment for two years, the number of Americans working for themselves looks to triple—to 42 million people—by 2020.

The trend, gauged in a survey of more than 2,700 full-time US workers in traditional, independent, and small business roles about their career plans, is largely being driven by millennial workers. FreshBooks estimates that of the next 27 million independent workers, 42% will be millennials. The survey, conducted with Research Now, also finds that Americans who already work for themselves are suddenly very content to keep doing so, with 97% of independent workers (up 10% from 2016) reporting no desire to return to traditional work.



From DSC:
With the continued trend towards more freelancing and the growth of a more contingent workforce…have our students had enough practice in selling themselves and their businesses to be successful in this new, developing landscape?

We need to start offering more courses, advice, and opportunities for practicing these types of skills — and the sooner the better!  I’m serious. Our students will be far more successful with these types of skills under their belt. Conversely, they won’t be able to persuade others and sell themselves and their businesses without such skills.



Robo retail: The automated store of the future is heading closer to our doorsteps. — from jwtintelligence.com’


The automated store of the future is heading closer to our doorsteps.

Self-checkout and online delivery services might soon be outmoded. Automated, cashier-less and mobile, doorstep-accessible shopping outlets are popping up globally—these offer not only a quick and seamless shopping experience, but also allow customers to handpick the items they are seeking.

Retail giant Amazon launched its Amazon Go store in Seattle in late January 2018. Amazon Go stocks everyday items, Whole Foods Market goods and Amazon-branded meal kits, but has no cashiers, no check-out lines and no barcode scanners. Shoppers enter by scanning an app, shop and leave—items purchased are automatically charged to their accounts. Dilip Kumar, vice president of technology for Amazon Go, suggests the concept is Amazon’s answer to solving “time poverty,” which he calls people’s “number one problem.”

This is just the tip of the iceberg. While Amazon Go currently only operates in Seattle, two other mobile concepts are hoping to reach a wider audience by physically bringing roving stores directly to the consumer. Robomart, based in the Bay Area, is a prototype tap-to-request grab-and-go food mart. Conventional grocery delivery services like those run by Amazon, FreshDirect or Instacart don’t let customers select products for themselves. If you’re particular about the ripeness of an avocado or conscious about bruises on tomatoes, being able to choose your own produce is essential. An autonomy-focused platform like Robomart puts consumers in the metaphorical driver’s seat, while still maintaining a high level of ease.




From DSC:
Speaking of cashiers, I had some comments regarding the future of cashiers towards the bottom of this posting here.  Another relevant posting is: “Tech companies should stop pretending AI won’t destroy jobs” + 6 other items re: AI, bots, algorithms, & more




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