[TRENDS] What technology will do to tomorrow’s jobs…and what to do about it.

19th century engraving of Luddites smashing factory equiptmentA new article in The Economist takes a hard look at how technology-driven automation will impact jobs in the next 20 years. Their conclusion? Just as the Industrial Revolution “swept aside” the livelihoods of most of those who made their living as craftspeople who made things by hand, the Digital Revolution will eliminate ever-increasing numbers of jobs considered “white collar” (and automation-proof) today. The result will be increasing income inequality and rising unemployment. The disruptions of recent years provide a model for where things may be headed in the future:

[We’re looking at] history repeating itself. In the early part of the Industrial Revolution the rewards of increasing productivity went disproportionately to capital; later on, labour reaped most of the benefits. The pattern today is similar. The prosperity unleashed by the digital revolution has gone overwhelmingly to the owners of capital and the highest-skilled workers. Over the past three decades, labour’s share of output has shrunk globally from 64% to 59%. Meanwhile, the share of income going to the top 1% in America has risen from around 9% in the 1970s to 22% today. Unemployment is at alarming levels in much of the rich world, and not just for cyclical reasons. In 2000, 65% of working-age Americans were in work; since then the proportion has fallen, during good years as well as bad, to the current level of 59%.

So what can be done? The answer, according to The Economist, is (in large part), education. The education system itself needs to be overhauled:

…schools themselves need to be changed, to foster the creativity that humans will need to set them apart from computers. There should be less rote-learning and more critical thinking.

And what if we don’t change things? The lessons of the past tell us that maintaining the status quo will lead to a world of even greater disruption. Only by beginning to change today will we be able to head off the inevitable revolution(s) of tomorrow:

Innovation has brought great benefits to humanity. Nobody in their right mind would want to return to the world of handloom weavers. But the benefits of technological progress are unevenly distributed, especially in the early stages of each new wave, and it is up to governments to spread them. In the 19th century it took the threat of revolution to bring about progressive reforms. Today’s governments would do well to start making the changes needed before their people get angry. 

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[TRENDS] Get ready for Amazon Prime Air: 30 minute delivery by drones

Of course, the world still won’t be complete until TacoCopter becomes a reality.



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[TRENDS] 10 Most Shared Video Ads of 2013

Social video company Unruly has just released its list of the 10 Most Shared Video Ads for 2013. We thought it’d make a perfect diversion to ease you out into the Thanksgiving holiday. Here they are, in order:

Dove “Real Beauty Sketches”

GEICO “Hump Day”

Evian “Baby & Me”

Kmart “Ship My Pants”

Coronetto “Yalin”

Budweiser “Clydesdales Brotherhood”

Pepsi Max “Jeff Gordon Test Drive”

MGM “Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise”

Ram Trucks “Farmer”

Volvo Trucks “Jean Claude Van Damme Epic Split”


You can also view them in a YouTube Playlist. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


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[BUSINESS] Bitcoin Demystified

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Mystified by Bitcoin? You’re not alone.

If you’ve been following the news at all, you’ve probably heard heard a lot about something called “bitcoin” lately. Typically it’s billed as a “virtual currency” or, less generously, as an “alternative payment system.” Stories about Bitcoin are usually accompanied by at least one of two other elements: 1)a breathless reference to how the “anonymous currency” is the new currency of drug dealers, arms traffickers, and other criminals; and/or 2)how a lucky few people who got in on the whole Bitcoin thing before it was cool are now discovering, thanks to the incredibly volatile Bitcoin market,  that they’re Bitcoin Millionaires. If a pseudoanonymous, open source, distributed, global, virtual currency could be considered hip, Bitcoin is the new “It” coin.

Unfortunately very little of the buzz around Bitcoin actually takes the time to explain what the heck it is. How is it created? How do you get it? Where can you spend it? Is it really “money?” How the heck does the whole thing work? All in all, Bitcoin is more than a little mysterious.

Luckily there are people like Alexandra Berke out there who are able to bridge the gap between the tech-know-it-alls and the rest of us by providing a remarkably clear explanation of the inner workings of Bitcoin. In the first part of her two-part series “Bitcoin Demystified: A Hacker’s Perspective,” Berke  lays out the basic vocabulary of Bitcoin, how Bitcoins are created, how you own them, how you spend them, and how the built-in features of the virtual currency virtually guarantee that it can’t be counterfeited. It’s a great primer for anyone who’s been confused about Bitcoin. Let’s just hope she writes part 2 soon!

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[CULTURE] Nominet Trust 100 inspiring digital ventures for social change

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Nominet Trust names top 100 digital innovations for social change

If you really want to get a good idea about how advances in digital technology are impacting culture, check out the Nominet Trust 100 list. Billed as “a list of inspiring ventures that use digital technology as a tool for social change,” the site offers a wonderful overview of companies, organizations, and inventions that are changing the world. Check it out and be inspired…and amazed!


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[TRENDS] Gartner releases “Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2014”

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Graph by Richard Giles

It’s always a little dicey trying to predict the future, but that’s what analyst firms like Gartner get paid the big bucks to do. And they’re usually pretty good at it, too…though nobody’s perfect. But even if they miss every once in a while, it’s often useful to look at what the big analysts are saying about upcoming technology just to get a general idea about what might be coming down the pike. For that reason we present to you Gartner’s brand spankin’ new predictions for the top technology trends for 2014. Considering that most of these predictions are, well…predictable, it’s probably a pretty fair guess that they’re more or less on target. Check ’em out and judge for yourself:

Mobile Device Diversity and Management: business will struggle with how to manage all the new mobile gadgets.

Mobile Apps and Applications: Lots of choices, lots of competition, less proprietary development and more HTML5

The Internet of Everything: Everything and everyone is going to be connected to the Internet all the time.

Hybrid Cloud and IT as Service Broker: Like a gathering storm, personal clouds are going to merge with external private clouds…and developers better take heed.

Cloud/Client Architecture: Moving processing to the cloud makes for smaller and more lightweight apps. Unfortunately it also puts a major strain on bandwidth. In 2014 we’ll see more experimentation on how to balance what goes on in The Cloud with what goes on at the client level.

The Era of the Personal Cloud: Kick your hard drive to the curb.

Software Defined Anything (SDx): It’s all going to be about standards. Everything needs to get along with everything else.

Web-Scale IT: IT products and services delivered to the enterprise via the web. Get used to it.

Smart Machines: Computers are going to get more aware, more helpful, give more advice, and do more things without human intervention.

3D Printing: It’ll be everywhere. Shipments of printers are expected to grow 75% in 2014. Say hello to the desktop manufacturing era.

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