How Prepared are You for the future?

In an review entitled, “The 4 Waves of AI: Who Will Own the Future of Technology?” on The Singularity Hub, Peter Diamandis provides a succinct review of Kai-Fu Lee’s AI Superpowers.

Diamandis’s review focuses on Lee’s analysis of the completion between the United States and China and it’s a sobering analysis for those who aspire to at least maintain the balance of power between the countries.

It also clearly shows how the general non-interest in learning how AI and the other emerging technologies is putting the US in a very bad competitive position. It seems Americans are generally uninterested in the technologies that will soon be entwined in our lives – except for their entertainment value. It’s imperative that we come to an understanding of what makes these technologies tick, what benefits they bring and what threats they will enable.

Lee discusses 4 Waves of AI and share’s his analysis of the competitive balance between the US and China today and 5-10 years in the future.

AI Market Today

  • US has clear lead today
  • particularly in 2nd and 4th waves

1st Wave – Internet AI

Recommendation engines are the big piece of this wave. Think Amazon, Netflix, and Spotify. The Chinese have Alibaba and Baidu as heavyweights in this category. But Lee points to Tautiao as the example of where this wave is headed. Tautiao provides hyper personalization of the news to millions of subscribers – even rewriting headlines to fit individual profiles.

Lee calls the current 1st Wave market a dead heat between the two countries, but sees China surging a bit ahead within 5 years.

2nd Wave – Business AI

Business AI leverages historical data to identify previously unseen patterns and correlations. While Lee places the US far ahead in this Wave (90-10), he points to a few factors that may tip this Wave dramatically toward China.

Because it is a fair newer economy, China has fewer legacy issues regarding its data – particularly the credit market basis of US business. In addition, China’s economy is primarily dependent upon mobile payments rather than credit cards. Rather than crunching numbers to determine a customer’s likelihood to repay a loan, China’s lenders are looking at customers’ behaviors. Smart Finance takes into consideration over 1200 data points – some seemingly unrelated to finance like typing speed and battery percentage data from your phone – to help determine your credit worthiness. Sound crazy? Smart Finance has an astounding repayment rate.

We don’t need human beings to tell us who’s a good customer and who’s bad. Technology is our risk control.’ —Yongqianbao founder and CEO Jiao Ke

Want a Loan in China? Keep Your Phone Charged,

3rd Wave – Perception AI

In this Wave, Diamandis writes “AI gets an upgrade with eyes, ears, and myriad other senses, merging the digital world with our physical environments.” Sensors are going to be everywhere able to watch us, follow us, and guide us. The beginning of this Wave is your Alexa home system and your Nest thermostat.

With the added fuel of Chinese government support and a relaxed Chinese attitude toward data privacy, China’s lead may even reach 80-20 in the next five years.

Lee has this Wave as somewhat close today with China leading 60-40. But with infrastructure already in place and a manufacturing advantage for creating smart devices, he sees China dominating this Wave 80-20 in the next 5 years.

AI Market in 5 years

  • China will be clear leader
  • significant advantages in 2nd and 3rd waves

4th Wave – Autonomous AI

This Wave is where all predictions become wilder and more encompassing. Right now autonomous vehicles and Boston Dynamic’s Atlas humanoid and other robots are leading examples. In the 4th Wave all of the characteristics of the previous three Waves are joined together to give AI the ability to sense and react to its environment.

While 4th Wave technologies can very quickly begin to sound like things only found in science fiction, Boston Dynamic’s Spot dog robot and cars that park themselves and can take actions based on their environment are on the market or soon will be.

Lee puts the US far ahead (90-10) of China today in this Wave. But with government investment ramping up, he estimates that this Wave will be a dead heat in 5 years.

Where Does This Lead Us

As learning professionals in the workplace, we have a responsibility to understand the changes the organizations we work for will need to undertake to compete in a very fast changing world. We need to understand the skills employees will need to have in 5 years and develop strategies to help them make the necessary transition. This requires that we come to an understanding of what these technologies are and the impact they are going to have on our employees, our organizations, and our communities.

Here are the questions I’m asking myself:

  • Am I learning how these emerging technologies work?
  • Do I understand the gains that the organization will achieve with their implementation?
  • Does my management team have a clear understanding of the changes that will be required?
  • What skills will be needed to enable my organization to transition and the operate at a high level in this future state?


Do you think these regulations will change anything? Will they drive greater support for data collection in learning? Motivate more collaboration between the business units and L&D?

Feature image provided by PNG ALL under a Creative Commons 4.0 BY-NC  license.

Organizing Your Lightbulbs

Vint Cerf, “one of the Fathers of the Internet,” presents a list of properties he feel are vital to the Internet of Things being a success in the Shannon Luminary Lecture at Nokia Bell Labs in March of 2018.

Earlier this summer I came across the video below.  It is a recording of the Shannon Luminary lecture by Vint Cerf at Nokia Bell Labs in March of this year. Cerf is often referred to as the “Father of the Internet” for his work co-inventing the TCP/IP protocol which is the foundation of the internet and enabled it to scale to the ubiquitous utility it is today.

The reality is this may be fairly complicated.  Figuring out how do we do this in a smooth way that will be intuitive is going to be a challenge?   – Vint Cerf

In this presentation, Cerf turns his attention to the Internet of Things and particularly the properties that need to be addressed to enable the Internet of Things to prosper in the same way the Internet did.

It’s a lengthy video, but he’s pretty entertaining.

Cerf walks through a long list of scenarios that he believes the developers of IoT devises and systems must collectively and collaboratively consider to ultimately lead to successful implementation of this emerging technology.

He lists 16 categories that he feels need to be addressed to assure a smooth running, intuitive IoT that may meet the expectations for a new world filled with tools that make our lives easier and more comfortable.  They are:

  • Reliability – They work all the time
  • Safety – Won’t use if not safe
  • Security – Won’t use if it appears that it can be easily hacked
  • Privacy – Will by privacy be secure or will
  • Interoperability – All the devices need to be able to work together
  • Autonomy – If the internet goes down, the IoT house continues to function
  • Scaleability – Installation and configuration must work for a dozen devices to thousands
  • Permissions – How will systems know who has the right to access which devices
    • Parents, kids, guests, emergency responders
    • what authorities are given to who?  To which devices?  How are they rescinded?
    • Would emergency responders have situational access? overrides?
    • Parental controls/User controls
    • How do you add a new user?  Drop one?
  • Ownership – What happens when devices are transferred to a new owner or a new owner takes possession of a house/office?
  • Updates – how do the devices know that updates are legitimate
  • Instrumentation – must easily know that each device is working properly
  • Data Control – Does data need to be shared? With whom? Under what circumstances?
  • Firewalls/Hubs – How do the lesser devices (like lightbulbs) protect themselves?  or how are they protected?
  • Effortless Configuration – How do you set up a system?
  • Paranoid Devices – Devices need to be smart enough to know where they belong and don’t.  Systems need to know what devices belong to them.
  • Standards – A devices following industry-wide standards to ensure interoperability of various devices with each other.

How do I refer to the lights I want to turn off and on? Do I have to give them names like George and Eddie and Frank?  – Vint Cerf

My reaction to this lecture was one of a bit of relief.  With all the soaring predictions of robots and chatbots and artificial intelligence transforming our world, Cerf’s concerns sound like brakes being applied to the headlong rush into the future.

Meeting the optimal end of all 16 of these principles is going to be challenging and will simply take time to reach the nirvana some predict IoT will bring.  Although between now and then or if we stray from pushing for these properties, we may experience “Nightmare on Elm Street”, as Cerf calls it.

Cerf finishes with a number of “Bottom Line” comments:

  • We’re going to put billions of these devices to work
  • some of them will get inadequate or no support after installation
  • Some of them will not meat reliability, privacy, and safety expectations
  • Roles for regulation, industry standards/norms, consumer training
  • New jobs: IoT Installers, Maintainers, Remote Diagnosticians
  • IoT could herald a utopian future or usher in a new Nightmare on Elm Street
  • It is a shared responsibility to try for the former and avoid the latter

YOUR TURN:  Where do you sit with IoT and the impact it will have on the future?  Do you have any IoT devices currently?  Do any of Cerf’s properties ring true to you given your experiences?  Please leave your ideas in the comment section below.



Photo by Diz Play on Unsplash  (lightbulbs)

Photo by Gian D. on Unsplash (billions)

Look Beyond the Surface to Know the Future

I’m fortunate to be in one of those rare “between projects, take inventory, reflect and reorient” periods, that I know I too often have frittered away before I came to know their value. After being head down and focused on a project for the better part of eight months, I’m catching up on lots of things – including blogging.

This morning I stumbled across two videos from Chief Learning Officer magazine that I thought encapsulate where learning technology is and how we learning professionals need to think/prepare for it.

Both feature Casper Moerck, head of learning technology at Siemens.  In the first, he talks about the state and future of learning technologies being quite muddled and uncertain.

While I agree with everything Moerck says in this video, I do think that there is a strong movement to building learning technology ecosystems with multiple tools that are interoperable with each other and other “non-learning” technologies.  This puts a great pressure on the development of secure connector (enterprise safe versions of IFTTT or Zapier), data interoperability standards (xAPI), and understanding of such tools by learning professionals.

In the second video, Moerck advocates for learning professionals to gain a basic understanding of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Natural Language Processing.

Again, I agree with all he says in this video, but I would extend the need for and benefit of this basic understanding to beyond understanding the technology and being able to check vendor claims.

Understanding AI, ML, and NLP (along with augmented/virtual reality and the Internet of Things) will also be required because they are going to dramatically impact instructional design, delivery of learning experiences, and our ability to report the success of those experiences.

Your turn:  Are you personally addressing your knowledge in these areas?  How is your learning team preparing?  Please share your thoughts in the reply section below.

Featured Image: Photo by yatharth roy vibhakar on Unsplash

Fact Checking the News

Mike Caufield outlines and demos a quick and easy process to fact check news statements on the web.


I talk about 90-second fact-checks and I think people think I’m a bit unhinged sometimes. What can students possibly do in that short amount of time that would be meaningful?

A lot, actually.

For example, this press release on some recent research was shared with me today:

eureka alert.PNG

Now I want to re-share this with people, but I’d like to be a good net citizen as well. Good net citizens:

  • Source-check what they share
  • Share from the best source possible
  • Provide source/claim context to people they share with when necessary

To do that in this case we need to get to the source of the press release, on a site controlled by the American Psychological Association directly, and share that version of this. We also need to check that the American Psychological Association is the credible organization that we think it is. How long will this take?

Literally thirty seconds, if…

View original post 285 more words

Through the Looking Glass Darkly

Admittedly, I have been hesitant to wade into the AR/VR/MR world (augmented, virtual, and mixed realities) primarily because it’s a massive body of knowledge for which I feel I just don’t have the bandwidth to comprehend given everything else going on in my life.

I guess I believe it’s so far down the road in the future that I’ve got time to learn about it later. But Craig Weiss’s post,  Special Report – Hacking in the MR World — The Craig Weiss Blog has me wondering if I may be wrong.  I’m sure it’s the futuristic science fiction fan in me that makes the topic of Craig’s post so chilling to me:

Mixed Reality will become the leader in immersive experience. But what no one is paying attention to is the hacking potential.

Craig provides three mixed reality hacking scenarios that seem simple to execute by a hacker and certainly would dupe me by utilizing socially trusting moments (social conversations, a date).  In each of the scenarios, I definitely can see myself falling victim to hackers without a clue that my data was being stolen.

Craig has called upon the corporations who are driving this new technology platform to build in safeguards to protect our data.  But what do we need to do to protect ourselves?

Two major questions come to my mind.

When I do enter into these new realities what do I need to be aware of?  As we started using the internet, we all learned to not put our phone numbers our websites and how to conduct e-commerce safely.  As I wrote 10 years ago in ,the darkside reaches the blogosphere on eelearning, every technological advance has afforded con men the opportunity to take advantage of adopters of that technology.

But the case of Mixed Reality feels radically different. In the past, a healthy distrust of the technology was, in general, enough to protect us.  How do I come to trust a hologram?  What are the telltale signs of a malicious hologram?  Is this one out to get me?  Or is it really my best friend?

The second question is my decision to adopt this technology. When, why will I be compelled to adopt this technology?  I’ve been a “curiosity adopter” with much of the technology that has been introduced in my lifetime. I also do get a kick out of being an early adopter. The ability to access more information and to communicate more effectively where the two drivers of my adoption of the internet.  Voluntarily providing my credit card number in a secured form is very different than exposing my deepest secrets to a hologram I’m on a date with.

While I think I would argue with Craig’s statement that we are just a few years from the widespread adoption of MR, I do think that we need to begin thinking through what it will mean for us who will end up using it.  What do we need to know?  How do we make sense of a mixed reality that may not always be looking out for our best interests? We know how to protect ourselves in the real world.  We can’t assume that it will be the same in a manufactured mixed reality.

What do you think? Are you ready for AR/VR/MR?  How should we approach these new realities?  Should we?  What will compel you to adopt it?  Please share your thoughts below in the comments to this post.

Featured image: “Gamescom 2015 Cologne Sony Morpheus Virtual Reality”
by dronepicr is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Challenges of the Social Age

I am participating in Julian Stodd’s Foundations of the Social Age MOOC (It’s not too late to join if you’re interested).   One of the first questions he asks is:

I find that the mind shift required is incredibly exhausting and time-consuming.  As I’ve been curating content in areas that I’m most interested (my xAPI Resource Center being the first product of this effort) I’ve found myself working late into the night.  With the perfectionist streak I have, I find myself feeling a need to read everything and then struggle to write about it because it “has to be right.”

On the other hand, it’s wonderfully liberating and fun.  I’m learning that putting my ideas out there by working out loud is ok and helps make connections.  And it involves getting to know people that I may never have gotten to know in the old hierarchical paradigm.

That said, my challenges to adapt to the new Social Age include:

Time Management – I can be consumed with the Seeking stage of Harold Jarche’s Personal Knowledge Mastery.  The value is really in the Sense and Sharing stages.

Building my Personal Learning Network – I’m still developing my network of people and resources that I can go to when I need to learn something, test a hypothesis, get honest feedback, and collaboratively build knowledge.  Helen Blunden provides a set of guidelines for creating a PLN.

Participation in Multiple Venues – Having a social presence involves participation in multiple venues on a continuous basis.  LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, MOOCs, internal networks, work teams, professional organizations, blogging, SnapChat, Periscope, and many more all offer opportunities to connect with others and share, connect, collaborate and learn.  But it can be dizzying trying to keep up.

How are you coping with the shift to the Social Age?  How do you manage staying up-to-date?  What are you tips for dealing with all the information and activity?  Please share your thoughts in the comment area below.

Bots, Bots, Everywhere Bots

John Bruner, O’Reilly Media, does a nice job in his article Bots: What you need to know of providing a real beginner’s look at what bots are, how they are being deployed, and what role they will play in the near future

Much like Robot from Lost in Space, these bots are ready and able to have conversations with us, answer customer service questions, look up information based on our location, and other AI enabled feats of magic.  But unlike Robot, they don’t have tractor treads for getting around and a glass dome with whirling thingamabobs for a brain.

No, these bots are invisible, but ever-present in tools we are already using.  Slack and What’s App have a veritable army of bots to meet various needs.  Siri and Cortana are super bots.

Bots use artificial intelligence to converse in human terms, usually through a lightweight messaging interface like Slack or Facebook Messenger, or a voice interface like Amazon Echo or Google Assistant.

Bruner points to three use cases that bots may have a significant impact on: Customer Relationship Management, Productivity, and Publishing and Entertainment.

To those, I would add workplace learning (well any learning, I blog about workplace).  A bot could be created to help employees find the right resource in a curated library.  Another could be programmed to understand the process and activities of an onboarding program to help keep new employees on track and help them find important resources and people.

There are numerous tools designed to make building bots easy.

Microsoft’s Clippy was born in 2003.

Bots can be the ultimate guide on the side.  Always waiting for that moment to cheerfully chime in.  Hard to believe that the natural language conversational bots of today owe their heritage to Microsoft’s Clippy.

Hopefully, none of today’s bots will be as annoying as Clippy was!

What do you think?  Are Learning Bots part of our future?  Where would you deploy bots in your learning ecosystems?  What potential efficiencies do imagine they could drive?  Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.  And don’t forget to share this post, if you found it helpful.

The Role of Humans in the Future of Work

This past July, McKinsey published Where machines could replace humans—and where they can’t (yet),an article on its automation study, which examined the technical feasibility of automating 7 different occupational activities. (The results are presented as a percentage of the time spent in these activities that can ben automated by current technologies):

  • Predictable physical work in e.g., manufacturing, packaging, warehousing, food service: 78% automatable;
  • Data Processing, e.g., billing, payroll processing, bookkeeping, insurance underwriting, delivery route optimization  69% automatable;
  • Data collection, e.g., customer and product info, maps and addresses, health insurance claims, 64% automatable;
  • Unpredictable Physical work  e.g., construction, trash collection, agriculture: 25% automatable;
  • Stakeholder interactions, e.g., customer service, personal financial advising. patient care: 20% automatable;
  • Expertise in decision making, planning, creative tasks, e.g., scientific and technical services, goal setting, education leadership,: 18% automatable;
  • Managing others, e.g., management, law enforcement, social services, educational: 9% automatable;

While there are other factors involved in what is automated and how much of a particular job can be, this data, along with a myriad of similar reports on the future of work, clearly demonstrates that there is a large amount of work that humans currently do that will be done by machines in the near future.  Jobs will disappear, others will be radically changed, and there will be new jobs needing new skills.

Last week, posted AI is Disrupting Everything and These 3 Industries are Next that discusses how some of these changes are happening already.

So what does this mean for Learning and Development professionals?  How do we prepare individuals and organizations for a world that is changing this radically, this fast?

Ross Dawson, a futurist who writes and speaks on the impact of technology and social networks, has developed a Framework: The role of Humans in the Future of Work in which he differentiates what work will be done by machines in the future and what will remain uniquely human.   Expertise, Relationships, and Creativity are the broad catchalls that define the capabilities that Dawson sees as uniquely human.  The framework also addresses the structure of work.  Many of these concepts are part of every day conversations amongst L&D folks:

    Machine-human complementarity
    Fluid work roles
    Location independence
    Serendipitous connections
    Job sharing
    Emergent collaboration
    Continuous learning
    Analytics feedback loops
    Aligned values
    Diverse perspectives
    Ad-hoc networks
    Internal work markets
    Culture of participation
    Mutual trust development
    External work ecosystems
    Open peer communication

I believe the L&D community is aggressively driving the items I’ve highlighted in blue through various initiatives like communities of practice, social learning, working out loud, personal learning networks, learner-generated content, collaborative learning, 70:20:10, personal knowledge mastery, etc.

While the challenge that we are faced with is daunting and will create a tremendous amount of fear and anxiety in the workforce, I believe that our profession is poised to lead the necessary change to adapt to the future of work.

I’d love to hear your perspective on all of this.  Please comment below.

Grumpy Toasters and the Internet of Broken Things

The latest information regarding yesterday’s massive DDOS attack that affected Twitter, Netflix, PayPal, Amazon and dozens of other major websites around the word is that it was executed through the networked devices (TVs, refrigerators, security devices, home climate devices, wearables) that are becoming more and more a part of our daily lives.

This network of individual tools is referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT) and the optimistic projections are that we will be sounded by a personal “digital mesh” which will tend to our needs and help us navigate our day-to-day lives and decisions.  Some say that this will happen within in the next 10 years.

While I’m no Luddite, I’m am a bit more cautious about the speed of this massive change in our lives.   Continue reading “Grumpy Toasters and the Internet of Broken Things”

A New View through Social Learning

On this cloudy day in Chicago, a ray of sunshine came bursting through my Feedly list of readings to catch up on. In Social Learning: A Window Into What’s Really Going on in Your Business, I was expecting to hear how Big Brother can keep an eye on all the minions in the organization.

Instead, Janet Lanee Effron outlines three positive outcomes that can be gathered now with  the advent of xAPI and social learnings tools: Continue reading “A New View through Social Learning”