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Will AI Threaten People’s Livelyhoods

MIT Technology Review recently shared an interesting piece entitled “The Relentless Pace Of Automation” which highlights the profound impacts of AI on how we work and what jobs will be ripe for takeout.

As previously noted, autonomous cars are advancing literally everyday and it is estimated they are being positioned to threaten or alter 2.2M to 3.1M jobs in the US alone. What’s more staggering to me is that an estimated 1.7M of those jobs are driving long haul, tractor trailers. Highlighted in the article is a story about Uber’s test last October where it had one of its self driving trucks make a beer (Budweiser) delivery 200 kilometers away on the interstate while the driver spent the majority of the time in the sleeper bed, simply monitoring things via an automated system. This same capability has already been commercialized in Germany with large truck deliveries growing at an exponential rate. They are safer, less likely to make erratic movements on the road and frankly more pleasant than the truckers i encounter.

Further highlighted in the article is a reference to President Obama’s top economic and science advisers report on “Artificial Intelligence, Automation, And the Economy”  which highlights the impacts from proliferating AI across industry. The report suggests we are not headed for a catastrophe anytime soon, however it does highlight the need to ensure these populations of workers have a place to go and an opportunity to remain employed. These are the larger societal issues we will all have to deal with as robots take hold.


Mobile Payments Goes Mainstream In India

It appears the government continues to push for advancing India’s banking and commerce industries with the launch of it’s latest QR based mobile payments solution. As you know, India has long been reliant upon a cash based society and has been making a number of changes to the system to help migrate more transactions to digital. IndiaQR is an example of the latest attempt to bring mainstream consumer value propositions to the country.
Concept is not new, nor truly a breakthrough, but does show how fundamental technologies can be re-purposed. IndiaQR lets consumers connect bank account information to a unique QR code that they present at POS. Store owners can either scan using a POS scanner or now simply use and app and scanner on their own phone to collect funds instantly.  It is rumored that the solution was built by the global payment networks (Visa and Mastercard) and RuePay.

Significant investments are being made to establish a merchant acquiring network in India that will enable all sorts of next generation end to end payment solutions. These investments are being made by private companies looking to move people quickly to digital payments and then begin to monetize them.

It’s not hard to imagine a world that will enable consumers to simply scan codes when paying each other, paying merchants and or collecting funds in a B2B capacity.

Future Is So Bright, I Gotta Wear Augmented Reality Sunglasses

Samsung and its in house product development group C Lab seems to be lining a number of new hardware and software for announcements at Mobile World Congress. These additions appear to be focused on growing the use of AR & VR exponentially and making it more practical for our daily lives. They have invested significantly in the 1st generation gear platform and it appears we will begin (maybe) to see the potential for how these capabilities could be monetized.   Here are a couple of app launches expected over next few weeks:

“Monitorless” appears to build on the promise of Google glass by connecting your smartphone to a pair of sunglasses that can support both AR and VR experiences. Think of it as a second screen experience that has intelligence and interactions. Separately, the

“VulidUs” application will allow users to explore interior design by enabling them to see what furniture looks like placed around their house before they buy it. And lastly

“traVRer” is an app designed to allow users to experience 360-degree video before and after they take a trip. Travel, especially experience travel, has long been thought to be the next big thing in VR, allowing consumers to see and experience far off lands from the comfort of their own homes…looks like the future is arriving sooner than expected.


Can IOT Prevent Tooth Decay?

Philips is getting into dental hygene with the introduction of its Philips FlexCare Platinum Connected toothbrush line. These are not your average brushing devices, rather a smart devices that monitor 31,000 brush strokes per minute (the machine is doing the work don’t worry.) It looks for your patterns, coverages, amount of pressure and time spent per tooth to identify a 3 Dimensional report. And get this..the app (connected to device via Bluetooth) may instruct you to spend more time in certain areas and or even go back in for a touch up. All of this data is captured and can be synched with your dentist for review at your next check up.

Philips VP and General Manager of their Healthsuite Digital Platform initiative has a great way to summarize the move here for the company. He said ” We are moving from mainly a device-focused business to a health technology company focused on the health continuum of care and service.” This is what leading companies are doing to reposition their companies for the Digitial Era.

Expect to see more advancements in dentistry to the point where robotics may someday play a role in cleaning and surgery using historical data to optimize the experience.

AI Opportunity Grows In Auto Industry

AI is everywhere right now….with Alexa from Amazon dominating the headlines and use case scenarios reportedly touching every industry vertical coming out of CES this year. But not everyone wants to be owned by Amazon or Alexa, instead opting for major investments in hopes of owning their own destiny. Ford Motor Company, for example, reportedly invested $1 Billion dollars in the joint venture with Argo AI, based out of Pittsburg. The JV’s focus will be to accelerate Ford’s in delivering self driving vehicles that leverage AI to assist with everything from vehicle diagnostics, safety systems and self driving capabilities. You can expect them to also learn driving behaviors and offer connected commerce. Ford already launched their connected payment platform last year called “Ford Pass” although it provides little value to date.

Mark Fields, President and CEO of Ford Motor Company highlights the fact that Ford isn’t just an auto company, it is a mobility company…leaning into the fact that cars as we known them will fundamentally change over the coming decade and no longer be what we drive, but what we ride in.

Full announcement video can be found here

SpaceX seems destined to become a viable player

Elon Musk seems to be accelerating his SpaceX founded space flight company. On Sunday, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket gently floated to the earth after spending time in space launching an unmanned Dragon spacecraft towards the ISS (See Video Here). It only took approximately 8 minutes for the Falcon to do its job. This is the 8th successful recovery landing in recent times (3 on solid ground, 5 on drone ships based in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.) What’s exciting about today’s landing is that it is the first time Complex 39A was at Kennedy Space Center since the end of the space shuttle program, giving NASA and space enthusiasts hope for an exciting future. Remember pad 39A brought men to the moon and numerous shuttle takeoff’s, up until retirement of the program in 2011.

SpaceX is looking to revolutionize the commercial space industry by creating a fleet of rockets that can be reused versus being destroyed with each mission. This would radically change the costs and frequency of shipping all sorts of things into space. Buying test will come in March when the first reusable rocket will be tested. Be sure to follow @elonmusk for great updates about his innovation