Blockchain predictions: What it means to you — from enterprisersproject.com by Minda Zetlin
How can you prepare for tomorrow’s blockchain world? TCS blockchain expert Andreas Freund shares perspective

Excerpts:

Blockchain technology will be as revolutionary as the internet, or maybe even the steam engine, predicts Andreas Freund, Ph.D., a senior manager for Tata Consultancy Services‘ blockchain advisory. It’s a bold claim. But in the first part of our two-part interview, Freund makes a strong case that blockchain technology will, at the very least, change our marketplaces and our enterprises in ways that are hard to imagine right now.

Blockchain protocols (best known for enabling cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin or ether) create a distributed ledger in which many nodes on a network each have a record of every transaction that has taken place. (See our recent story, Blockchain: 3 big implications for your company.)

“To really understand and appreciate the value blockchain can bring, you need to understand why it’s a paradigm shift,” Freund says. “You need to look at human beings. What defines us is our physical strength, our intelligence, and our trust relationships. The most fundamental shifts occur when these functions become automated and exponentiated.”

When we’re interacting through the blockchain, not only as human beings but as things as well, I can trust the transaction will be executed properly every single time. There’s no chance of tampering or censorship. From a human perspective, I can now trust you without trusting you.”

Right now, people who want to transact with strangers must use a trusted intermediary, as people do when they buy and sell items on the Amazon Marketplace, or buy and sell shares on an exchange, or, say, summon an Uber ride.

 

 

It’s more important to understand how blockchain will change many common practices than it is to understand the precise technology behind it, Freund notes. “In the end, how the technology works doesn’t matter,” he says. “TCP/IP enables the internet, although nobody really knows how it works. Without it, we’d still have the walled gardens of the AOL era.”

When it comes to blockchain, he says, “We are still in the AOL era. We have these walled gardens, with many companies experimenting and many public blockchains, but eventually there will be something equivalent to that moment when TCP/IP broke down those walls.”

 

 

 

From DSC:
What happens with blockchain-based technologies and systems could easily impact higher education in the future, especially in the area of credentials and competencies (i.e., did someone really take that class/module/certificate program/etc.?). Blockchain-based techs are likely a part of our future learning ecosystems and next generation learning platforms, and may significantly impact and better support lifelong learning.

 

 

 

 

 

Global Human Capital Report 2017 — from the World Economic Forum

Excerpt from the Conclusion section (emphasis DSC):

Technological change and its impact on labour markets calls for a renewed focus on how the world’s human capital is invested in and leveraged for social well-being and economic prosperity for all. Many of today’s education systems are already disconnected from the skills needed to function in today’s labour markets and the exponential rate of technological and economic change is further increasing the gap between education and labour markets. Furthermore, the premise of current education systems is on developing cognitive skills, yet behavioural and non-cognitive skills that nurture an individual’s capacity to collaborate, innovate, self-direct and problem-solve are increasingly important. Current education systems are also time-compressed in a way that may not be suited to current or future labour markets. They force narrow career and expertise decisions in early youth. The divide between formal education and the labour market needs to be overcome, as learning, R&D, knowledge-sharing, retraining and innovation take place simultaneously throughout the work life cycle, regardless of the job, level or industry.

 

Insert from DSC…again I ask:

Is is time to back up a major step and practice design thinking on the entire continuum of lifelong learning?”

 

Education delivery and financing mechanisms have gone through little change over the last decades. In many countries, many youth and children may find their paths constrained depending on the type of education they are able to afford, while others may not have access to even basic literacy and learning. On the other hand, many developed world education systems have made enormous increases in spending—with little explicit return. Early childhood education and teacher quality remain neglected areas in many developed and developing countries, despite their proven impact on learning outcomes. Both areas also suffer from lack of objective, global data.

Generational shifts also necessitate an urgent focus by governments on human capital investments, one that transcends political cycles. Ageing economies will face a historical first, as more and more of their populations cross into the 65 and over age group and their workforces shrink further, necessitating a better integration of youth, female workers, migrants and older workers. Many emerging economies face change of a different kind as a very large cohort of the next generation—one that is more connected and globalized than ever before—enters the workforce with very different aspirations, expectations and worldviews than their predecessors.

The expansion of the digital economy is accelerating the presence of a new kind of productive entity, somewhere between human capital and physical capital—robots and intelligent algorithms. As a result, some experts expect a potential reduction in the use of human labour as part of economic value creation while others expect a restructuring of the work done by people across economies but stable or growing overall levels of employment.19 Yet others have cautioned of the risks to economic productivity of technological reticence at the cost of realizing the raw potential of new technological advancements unfettered.20 While in the immediate term the link between work and livelihoods remains a basic feature of our societies, the uncertainty around the shifts underway poses fundamental questions about the long-term future structure of economies, societies and work. However, for broad-based transition and successful adaptation towards any one of these or other long-term futures, strategic and deep investments in human capital will be even more—not less—important than before.

 

 

 

 

VR Is the Fastest-Growing Skill for Online Freelancers — from bloomberg.com by Isabel Gottlieb
Workers who specialize in artificial intelligence also saw big jumps in demand for their expertise.

Excerpt:

Overall, tech-related skills accounted for nearly two-thirds of Upwork’s list of the 20 fastest-growing skills.

 


 

 


Also see:


How to Prepare Preschoolers for an Automated Economy — from nytimes.com by Claire Miller and Jess Bidgood

Excerpt

MEDFORD, Mass. — Amory Kahan, 7, wanted to know when it would be snack time. Harvey Borisy, 5, complained about a scrape on his elbow. And Declan Lewis, 8, was wondering why the two-wheeled wooden robot he was programming to do the Hokey Pokey wasn’t working. He sighed, “Forward, backward, and it stops.”

Declan tried it again, and this time the robot shook back and forth on the gray rug. “It did it!” he cried. Amanda Sullivan, a camp coordinator and a postdoctoral researcher in early childhood technology, smiled. “They’ve been debugging their Hokey Pokeys,” she said.

The children, at a summer camp last month run by the Developmental Technologies Research Group at Tufts University, were learning typical kid skills: building with blocks, taking turns, persevering through frustration. They were also, researchers say, learning the skills necessary to succeed in an automated economy.

Technological advances have rendered an increasing number of jobs obsolete in the last decade, and researchers say parts of most jobs will eventually be automated. What the labor market will look like when today’s young children are old enough to work is perhaps harder to predict than at any time in recent history. Jobs are likely to be very different, but we don’t know which will still exist, which will be done by machines and which new ones will be created.

 

 

 

Making the future work for everyone — from blog.google by Jacquelline Fuller

Excerpt:

Help ensure training is as effective and as wide-reaching as possible.
Millions are spent each year on work skills and technical training programs, but there isn’t much visibility into how these programs compare, or if the skills being taught truly match what will be needed in the future. So some of our funding will go into research to better understand which trainings will be most effective in getting the most people the jobs of the future. Our grantee Social Finance is looking at which youth training programs most effectively use contributions from trainees, governments and future employers to give people the best chance of
success.

 

Helping prepare for the future of work

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

The way we work is changing. As new technologies continue to unfold in the workplace, more than a third of jobs are likely to require skills that are uncommon in today’s workforce. Workers are increasingly working independently. Demographic changes and shifts in labor participation in developed countries will mean future generations will find new ways to sustain economic growth. These changes create opportunities to think about how work can continue to be a source of not just income, but purpose and meaning for individuals and communities.Technology can help seize these opportunities. We recently launched Google for Jobs, which is designed to help better connect people to jobs, and today we’re announcing Google.org’s $50 million commitment to help people prepare for the changing nature of work. We’ll support nonprofits who are taking innovative approaches to tackling this challenge in three ways: (1) training people with the skills they need, (2) connecting job-seekers with positions that match their skills and talents, and (3) supporting workers in low-wage employment. We’ll start by focusing on the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia, and hope to expand to other countries over time.

 

 

 

 

Getting students ready for the gig economy — from gettingsmart.com by Emily Liebtag

Excerpt:

1) Finding a Passion and Making an Impact
Exploring passions, interests and causes that matter should be a part of every student’s education. Projects or several short-term gigs are a great way to help students reveal (or discover) their personal passions and to facilitate their interest explorations (all while still covering core content and standards). There are many students who already have opportunities to explore their passions during the regular school day through projects and are thriving as a result.

We’ve seen students at High Tech High create business plans and sell self-designed t-shirts, students at Thrive Public Schools engage in projects around kindness and empathy in their communities, and students at One Stone work with clients on advertising and marketing gigs, exploring their passions one project at a time.

Need ideas? Engage students in projects around the Sustainable Development Goals, snag an idea from the the PBL Q & A blog or simply ask students what they are curious about exploring in their community.

 

 

Robots and AI are going to make social inequality even worse, says new report — from theverge.com by
Rich people are going to find it easier to adapt to automation

Excerpt:

Most economists agree that advances in robotics and AI over the next few decades are likely to lead to significant job losses. But what’s less often considered is how these changes could also impact social mobility. A new report from UK charity Sutton Trust explains the danger, noting that unless governments take action, the next wave of automation will dramatically increase inequality within societies, further entrenching the divide between rich and poor.

The are a number of reasons for this, say the report’s authors, including the ability of richer individuals to re-train for new jobs; the rising importance of “soft skills” like communication and confidence; and the reduction in the number of jobs used as “stepping stones” into professional industries.

For example, the demand for paralegals and similar professions is likely to be reduced over the coming years as artificial intelligence is trained to handle more administrative tasks. In the UK more than 350,000 paralegals, payroll managers, and bookkeepers could lose their jobs if automated systems can do the same work.

 

Re-training for new jobs will also become a crucial skill, and it’s individuals from wealthier backgrounds that are more able to do so, says the report. This can already be seen in the disparity in terms of post-graduate education, with individuals in the UK with working class or poorer backgrounds far less likely to re-train after university.

 

 

From DSC:
I can’t emphasize this enough. There are dangerous, tumultuous times ahead if we can’t figure out ways to help ALL people within the workforce reinvent themselves quickly, cost-effectively, and conveniently. Re-skilling/up-skilling ourselves is becoming increasingly important. And I’m not just talking about highly-educated people. I’m talking about people whose jobs are going to be disappearing in the near future — especially people whose stepping stones into brighter futures are going to wake up to a very different world. A very harsh world.

That’s why I’m so passionate about helping to develop a next generation learning platform. Higher education, as an industry, has some time left to figure out their part/contribution out in this new world. But the window of time could be closing, as another window of opportunity / era could be opening up for “the next Amazon.com of higher education.”

It’s up to current, traditional institutions of higher education as to how much they want to be a part of the solution. Some of the questions each institution ought to be asking are:

  1. Given our institutions mission/vision, what landscapes should we be pulse-checking?
  2. Do we have faculty/staff/members of administration looking at those landscapes that are highly applicable to our students and to their futures? How, specifically, are the insights from those employees fed into the strategic plans of our institution?
  3. What are some possible scenarios as a result of these changing landscapes? What would our response(s) be for each scenario?
  4. Are there obstacles from us innovating and being able to respond to the shifting landscapes, especially within the workforce?
  5. How do we remove those obstacles?
  6. On a scale of 0 (we don’t innovate at all) to 10 (highly innovative), where is our culture today? Where do we hope to be 5 years from now? How do we get there?

…and there are many other questions no doubt. But I don’t think we’re looking into the future nearly enough to see the massive needs — and real issues — ahead of us.

 

 

The report, which was carried out by the Boston Consulting Group and published this Wednesday [7/12/17], looks specifically at the UK, where it says some 15 million jobs are at risk of automation. But the Sutton Trust says its findings are also relevant to other developed nations, particularly the US, where social mobility is a major problem.

 

 

 

 

Everyday Life in the Future — from hpmegatrends.com by Andrew Bolwell

 

Technology will play an increasingly vital role in our lives as we move into the future. Four major Megatrends — Rapid Urbanization, Changing Demographics, Hyper Globalization, and Accelerated Innovation — will have a sustained and transformative impact on businesses, societies, economies, cultures, and our personal lives.

 

 

 

 

Realizing the Potential of Blockchain: A Multistakeholder Approach to the Stewardship of Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies — from the World Economic Forum

Excerpts:

Like the first generation of the internet, this second generation promises to disrupt business models and transform industries. Blockchain (also called distributed ledger), the technology enabling cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and Ethereum, is pulling us into a new era of openness, decentralization and global inclusion. It leverages the resources of a global peer-to-peer network to ensure the integrity of the value exchanged among billions of devices without going through a trusted third party. Unlike the internet alone, blockchains are distributed, not centralized; open, not hidden; inclusive, not exclusive; immutable, not alterable; and secure. Blockchain gives us unprecedented capabilities to create and trade value in society. As the foundational platform of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it enables such innovations as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, the internet of things (IoT), robotics and even technology in our bodies, so that more people can participate in the economy, create wealth and improve the state of the world.

However, this extraordinary technology may be stalled, sidetracked, captured or otherwise suboptimized depending on how all the stakeholders behave in stewarding this set of resources – i.e. how it is governed.

At the overall ecosystem level, we look at the need for a proper legal structure, regulatory restraint, diversity of viewpoints and scientific research in tandem with business development. We introduce each of the eight stakeholders in the ecosystem: innovators, venture capitalists, banks and financial services, developers, academics, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), government bodies, and users or citizens.

The internet is entering a second era that’s based on blockchain. The last few decades brought us the internet of information. We are now witnessing the rise of the internet of value. Where the first era was sparked by a convergence of computing and communications technologies, this second era will be powered by a clever combination of cryptography, mathematics, software engineering and behavioural economics. It is blockchain technology, also called distributed ledger technology. Like the internet before it, the blockchain promises to upend business models and disrupt industries. It is pushing us to challenge how we have structured society, defined value and rewarded participation.

 

 

From DSC:
Institutions of higher education need to put the topic of blockchain-based technologies on their radars, as blockchain could impact how people get their credentials in the future. It could easily turn out to be the case that community colleges, colleges, and universities will join other organizations in terms of being able to offer credentials to their learners.

 

 

 

 

Infected Vending Machines And Light Bulbs DDoS A University — from forbes.com by Lee Mathews; with a shout out to eduwire for this resource

Excerpt:

IoT devices have become a favorite weapon of cybercriminals. Their generally substandard security — and the sheer numbers of connected devices — make them an enticing target. We’ve seen what a massive IoT botnet is capable of doing, but even a relatively small one can cause a significant amount of trouble.

A few thousand infected IoT devices can cut a university off from the Internet, according to an incident that the Verizon RISK (Research, Investigations, Solutions and Knowledge) team was asked to assist with. All the attacker had to do was re-program the devices so they would periodically try to connect to seafood-related websites.

How can that simple act grind Internet access to a halt across an entire university network? By training around 5,000 devices to send DNS queries simultaneously…

 

 

Hackers Use New Tactic at Austrian Hotel: Locking the Doors — from nytimes.com by Dan Bilefskyjan

Excerpt:

The ransom demand arrived one recent morning by email, after about a dozen guests were locked out of their rooms at the lakeside Alpine hotel in Austria.

The electronic key system at the picturesque Romantik Seehotel Jaegerwirt had been infiltrated, and the hotel was locked out of its own computer system, leaving guests stranded in the lobby, causing confusion and panic.

“Good morning?” the email began, according to the hotel’s managing director, Christoph Brandstaetter. It went on to demand a ransom of two Bitcoins, or about $1,800, and warned that the cost would double if the hotel did not comply with the demand by the end of the day, Jan. 22.

Mr. Brandstaetter said the email included details of a “Bitcoin wallet” — the account in which to deposit the money — and ended with the words, “Have a nice day!”

 

“Ransomware is becoming a pandemic,” said Tony Neate, a former British police officer who investigated cybercrime for 15 years. “With the internet, anything can be switched on and off, from computers to cameras to baby monitors.”

 

To guard against future attacks, however, he said the Romantik Seehotel Jaegerwirt was considering replacing its electronic keys with old-fashioned door locks and real keys of the type used when his great-grandfather founded the hotel. “The securest way not to get hacked,” he said, “is to be offline and to use keys.”

 

 

 

Regulation of the Internet of Things — from schneier.com by Bruce Schneier

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Late last month, popular websites like Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit and PayPal went down for most of a day. The distributed denial-of-service attack that caused the outages, and the vulnerabilities that made the attack possible, was as much a failure of market and policy as it was of technology. If we want to secure our increasingly computerized and connected world, we need more government involvement in the security of the “Internet of Things” and increased regulation of what are now critical and life-threatening technologies. It’s no longer a question of if, it’s a question of when.

The technical reason these devices are insecure is complicated, but there is a market failure at work. The Internet of Things is bringing computerization and connectivity to many tens of millions of devices worldwide. These devices will affect every aspect of our lives, because they’re things like cars, home appliances, thermostats, light bulbs, fitness trackers, medical devices, smart streetlights and sidewalk squares. Many of these devices are low-cost, designed and built offshore, then rebranded and resold. The teams building these devices don’t have the security expertise we’ve come to expect from the major computer and smartphone manufacturers, simply because the market won’t stand for the additional costs that would require. These devices don’t get security updates like our more expensive computers, and many don’t even have a way to be patched. And, unlike our computers and phones, they stay around for years and decades.

An additional market failure illustrated by the Dyn attack is that neither the seller nor the buyer of those devices cares about fixing the vulnerability. The owners of those devices don’t care. They wanted a webcam —­ or thermostat, or refrigerator ­— with nice features at a good price. Even after they were recruited into this botnet, they still work fine ­— you can’t even tell they were used in the attack. The sellers of those devices don’t care: They’ve already moved on to selling newer and better models. There is no market solution because the insecurity primarily affects other people. It’s a form of invisible pollution.

 

 

From DSC:
We have to do something about these security-related issues — now!  If not, you can kiss the Internet of Things goodbye — or at least I sure hope so. Don’t get me wrong. I’d like to the the Internet of Things come to fruition in many areas. However, if governments and law enforcement agencies aren’t going to get involved to fix the problems, I don’t want to see the Internet of Things take off.  The consequences of not getting this right are too huge — with costly ramifications.  As Bruce mentions in his article, it will likely take government regulation before this type of issue goes away.

 

 

Regardless of what you think about regulation vs. market solutions, I believe there is no choice. Governments will get involved in the IoT, because the risks are too great and the stakes are too high. Computers are now able to affect our world in a direct and physical manner.

Bruce Schneier

 

 

 



Addendum on 2/15/17:

I was glad to learn of the following news today:

  • NXP Unveils Secure Platform Solution for the IoT — from finance.yahoo.com
    Excerpt:
    SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 13, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — RSA Conference 2017 – Electronic security and trust are key concerns in the digital era, which are magnified as everything becomes connected in the Internet of Things (IoT). NXP Semiconductors N.V. (NXPI) today disclosed details of a secure platform for building trusted connected products. The QorIQ Layerscape Secure Platform, built on the NXP trust architecture technology, enables developers of IoT equipment to easily build secure and trusted systems. The platform provides a complete set of hardware, software and process capabilities to embed security and trust into every aspect of a product’s life cycle.Recent security breaches show that even mundane devices like web-cameras or set-top boxes can be used to both attack the Internet infrastructure and/or spy on their owners. IoT solutions cannot be secured against such misuse unless they are built on technology that addresses all aspects of a secure and trusted product lifecycle. In offering the Layerscape Secure Platform, NXP leverages decades of experience supplying secure embedded systems for military, aerospace, and industrial markets.

 

 

Equipping people to stay ahead of technological change — from economist.com by
It is easy to say that people need to keep learning throughout their careers. The practicalities are daunting.

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

WHEN education fails to keep pace with technology, the result is inequality. Without the skills to stay useful as innovations arrive, workers suffer—and if enough of them fall behind, society starts to fall apart. That fundamental insight seized reformers in the Industrial Revolution, heralding state-funded universal schooling. Later, automation in factories and offices called forth a surge in college graduates. The combination of education and innovation, spread over decades, led to a remarkable flowering of prosperity.

Today robotics and artificial intelligence call for another education revolution. This time, however, working lives are so lengthy and so fast-changing that simply cramming more schooling in at the start is not enough. People must also be able to acquire new skills throughout their careers.

Unfortunately, as our special report in this issue sets out, the lifelong learning that exists today mainly benefits high achievers—and is therefore more likely to exacerbate inequality than diminish it. If 21st-century economies are not to create a massive underclass, policymakers urgently need to work out how to help all their citizens learn while they earn. So far, their ambition has fallen pitifully short.

At the same time on-the-job training is shrinking. In America and Britain it has fallen by roughly half in the past two decades. Self-employment is spreading, leaving more people to take responsibility for their own skills. Taking time out later in life to pursue a formal qualification is an option, but it costs money and most colleges are geared towards youngsters.

 

The classic model of education—a burst at the start and top-ups through company training—is breaking down. One reason is the need for new, and constantly updated, skills.

 

 

 

Lifelong learning is becoming an economic imperative — from economist.com
Technological change demands stronger and more continuous connections between education and employment, says Andrew Palmer. The faint outlines of such a system are now emerging

Excerpt:

A college degree at the start of a working career does not answer the need for the continuous acquisition of new skills, especially as career spans are lengthening. Vocational training is good at giving people job-specific skills, but those, too, will need to be updated over and over again during a career lasting decades. “Germany is often lauded for its apprenticeships, but the economy has failed to adapt to the knowledge economy,” says Andreas Schleicher, head of the education directorate of the OECD, a club of mostly rich countries. “Vocational training has a role, but training someone early to do one thing all their lives is not the answer to lifelong learning.”

To remain competitive, and to give low- and high-skilled workers alike the best chance of success, economies need to offer training and career-focused education throughout people’s working lives. This special report will chart some of the efforts being made to connect education and employment in new ways, both by smoothing entry into the labour force and by enabling people to learn new skills throughout their careers. Many of these initiatives are still embryonic, but they offer a glimpse into the future and a guide to the problems raised by lifelong reskilling.

 

 

Individuals, too, increasingly seem to accept the need for continuous rebooting.

 

 

 

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