Global Technology Governance

Strawberries. Simple enough for farmers to grow, but can they do better? That is a question that a smart Agriculture Competition in China attempted to answer. Four technology teams competed with farmers over four months to grow strawberries. This Article by Victoria Masterson describes what happened next: data scientists produced 196% more strawberries by weight on average compared with traditional farmers. It is not surprising, given that vertical farming using intelligent sensors and AI have shown the possibilities. As we witness this rapid pace of innovation, we see the potential for human development (in this case food abundance), but also the likely unintended consequences. These Two Paths have historical precedent, as every great period of invention has followed both paths. After all, fire provided light, warmth, and food, but also burned down villages.

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Are Big Cities In Trouble?

The remote work discussion will not go away. There are no shortages of predictions or perspectives regarding the world of work post-pandemic. I continue to believe that prediction is a fools errand, especially in a world dominated by rapid innovation, uncertainty, and a level of Convergence unseen since the end of World War Two. While we may not predict the future, we can continually look for signals – both weak and strong. The future of both work and cities is intertwined. If remote work becomes the standard practice, it has big implications for cities. A recent Article written by Derek Thompson explores this dynamic. This quote from the article represents a signal:

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Guarding Against Future Crises In Business

In the early days of 2021, there is still an uneasy feeling involved in any search for a silver lining to the COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, it may be that this will always remain the case. And yet, without disregarding or minimizing the tragedy that the pandemic has inflicted all across the globe, there are certain potential positives coming to light.

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Companion Robots: An Example Of The Accelerating Power Of COVID-19

Hanson Robotics wants to help those craving company during the COVID-19 pandemic. For those not familiar with Sophia, it is a human-like robot from Hanson Robotics. For those not familiar, check out the video below. Sophia appears between the 2:10 and 5:30 marks of the 8-minute segment. In discussing the roll of companion robots, CEO David Hanson told Reuters that “Sophia and Hanson robots are unique by being so human-like, that can be so useful during these times where people are terribly lonely and socially isolated.” His company, Hanson Robotics, plans to roll out thousands of these robots in 2021. They aim to roll out four models — including Sophia — in the first half of 2021.

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Another Roaring Twenties?

Lost in the focus on life after the pandemic are all the forces that were already shaping our future. I explored many of them in various posts, but none have been as intriguing to me as the forces tied to history. If we look at history and apply it to current day, we can seek out periods that look like ours. This Application of History illuminates possible futures and has the potential to inform our actions. What happened in these similar periods and what can we learn? A recent article posed this question: Will the 2020s Really Become the Next Roaring Twenties? This seemingly simple question is loaded with implications. The article provides several links with great content and I highly recommend it.

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Organizing For Future Readiness

Back in 2013, weak signals clearly pointed to a structural change that was desperately needed. In a Post from that year, I described the type of change I envisioned in a world that looked very different than the world where these structures were born. The pandemic, as it has on so many levels, made something lying beneath the surface very visible. What it should also illuminate for leaders is that the future is uncertain, approaching rapidly, and likely to contain regular extreme events. Those factors make future readiness crucial to viability. To be future-ready, and to operate in a world dominated by uncertainty and pace, structures must change. When I say structure, I mean a broad set of things to consider:

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Post Corona: From Crisis To Opportunity

“I begin with two theses. First, the pandemic’s most enduring impact will be as an accelerant. While it will initiate some changes and alter the direction of some trends, the pandemic’s primary effect has been to accelerate dynamics already present in society.” – Scott Galloway

That is a quote from a book I just finished. Scott Galloway is a professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business, where he teaches brand strategy and digital marketing to second-year MBA students. In his new book, he looks at the world post corona. The book titled “Post Corona: From Crisis to Opportunity” has been added to my Book library. He points to remarkable things that have happened since the virus reared its ugly head, like: It took Apple 42 years to reach $1 trillion in value, and 20 weeks to accelerate from $1 trillion to $2 trillion (March to August 2020), and we registered a decade of ecommerce growth in eight weeks. Additionally, Tesla became not only the most valuable car company in the world, but more valuable than Toyota, Volkswagen, Daimler, and Honda combined.

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Life After Coronavirus

In this brief video, several experts talk about life after the global pandemic. Adil Najam, Dean, Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, and his colleagues set out to answer this question: what will our post-COVID-19 world look like? I tackled that question early in the pandemic by looking at Applying History to our current day. Mr. Najam interviewed leading thinkers on 101 distinct topics and produced a video series which you can find Here.

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The Changing World of Retail

The pandemic has had wide spread impact across multiple domains, and Retail is a space with considerable impact. As I mentioned in a Post last week, we have seen ten years of ecommerce growth in three months. Does the rapid surge of ecommerce represent the future, or does our human desire for social interaction serve as a positive catalyst for physical retail? Will physical retail survive in a post-pandemic world? In a recent Video Clip, Fool.com contributor Matt Frankel and Industry Focus host Jason Moser ask Shark Tank star Kevin O’Leary how the pandemic will change retail, if at all. Here is a summary of his perspective.


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E-Commerce Demonstrates the Accelerating Power Of COVID-19

At the start of 2019, I Articulated three macro-level forces that I believed would set the stage for a very disruptive decade ahead. They were: Acceleration, Convergence, and a Burst of Possibilities. Here we are during a pandemic, and all three are alive and well. The one that stands out is acceleration. There are many examples of acceleration driven by COVID-19 that demonstrate what we can accomplish when driven by a Catalyst. Innovation windows have collapsed considerably, and we are witnessing accelerated adoption of scenarios that although inevitable, were slowed by societal resistance. For example, the embrace of digital learning has accelerated, and while many employers resisted the move to remote work due to fears of productivity loss, those fears have proven unfounded.

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Artificial Intelligence And The Pursuit Of Global Power

A Sputnik moment: events that cause nations to suddenly realize they must work urgently to bridge or surpass a gap that’s arisen between them and a competitor. A book I recently finished titled “T-Minus AI”, reflects on the moment in history when that phrase was born. On October 4th, 1957, the United States was taken by surprise. The Soviet Union, under the leadership of Nikita Khrushchev, had just launched the first artificial satellite into space. As the book describes, Sputnik, a beachball-sized, silver metal sphere that weighed 184 pounds, was in orbit 495 miles above Earth. Speeding through space at 18,000 miles per hour, Sputnik crossed directly over the US mainland with each new orbit.

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Ten Lessons For A Post-Pandemic World

“There are decades when nothing happens and weeks when decades happen.” – Vladimir Lenin

That quote is highlighted in a new book by best-selling author Fareed Zakaria. In “Ten Lessons for a Post- Pandemic World”, Mr. Zakaria helps readers to understand the nature of a world that emerges after the pandemic: the political, social, technological, and economic consequences that may take years to unfold. He does this by focusing on ten lessons:

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Transformers Prioritize AI Investment

There are many examples of COVID-19 serving as an Accelerant. History and necessity tell us that automation is one of those examples. According to a Business Insider survey of 53 leaders featured in the Transforming Business series, AI and Cloud are at the top of the list of transformation that companies will invest in during 2021. It’s on the agenda of 47% of those surveyed. The connection to the pandemic can be seen in examples of where automation is applied. This recent Article describes a scenario where social distancing requirements are met through automation. Author Joe Mullich points to the kitchen of a burger joint, where a hard-working fry cook named “Flippy” is paving the way for greater use of artificial intelligence and cloud technology in the restaurant industry. 

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Watch A Robot Perform Surgery On A Banana

As we march relentlessly towards an Automated Society, scenarios emerge to provide signals. How far will we take this automation scenario? My post last week focused on sports and a robot that Shoots Baskets with stunning accuracy. My post for today looks into robotic surgery, which is traditionally defined as any surgery done with a complete robotic surgical system. It was originally developed for the military so that surgeons could remotely do open surgery on wounded soldiers in the field. This Article on the topic describes it this way:

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Nanobots To Improve Our Health and Someday Connect Our Minds

Nanotechnology is defined as the manipulation of matter with at least one dimension sized from 1 to 100 nanometers. Wikipedia had this to say about the field:


Nanotechnology may be able to create many new materials and devices with a vast range of applications, such as in nanomedicinenanoelectronicsbiomaterials energy production, and consumer products. On the other hand, nanotechnology raises many of the same issues as any new technology, including concerns about the toxicity and environmental impact of nanomaterials, and their potential effects on global economics, as well as speculation about various doomsday scenarios. These concerns have led to a debate among advocacy groups and governments on whether special regulation of nanotechnology is warranted.


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COVID-19 Accelerates Innovation In Healthcare

We owe so much to the frontline heroes that serve society in critical times. The pandemic has shown us just how important and under-appreciated these individuals are. We owe them a debt of gratitude. Healthcare is one of those areas where we see both heroics and exposure. The lack of digital progress has been exposed across sectors by the virus. That is the bad news. The good news is that extreme events like this can serve as accelerants. This recent Article describes the turning point that COVID-19 likely represents for healthcare. Rethinking healthcare for the digital age should be a top priority (as it should across all industries).

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COVID-19 Impacts University Enrollment

A recent Study found that the number of students enrolling in college immediately after high school plunged nearly 22% this past fall over last year. The future of education is a big discussion topic, as the pandemic is threatening the viability of education organizations and models. Key findings include:

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Envisioning The Future Of Sports

Last week, I participated in the Mass Participation World Conference 2020. The theme of the event was “Changing the Narrative: Solutions to help us move from Surviving to Thriving”. We shared the results of a recent survey of runners. The TCS This Run Tech Survey  reveals that technology is powering runners through the pandemic. The survey was geared towards uncovering running technology trends  amid COVID-19  and  helping  shape how TCS can best support runners and races in the future. TCS sponsors marathons around the world, including the NYC Marathon.

As a follow up to my presentation on the Future of Sports, this Article envisions the future of athletics and society. Reimagine the future of sports along with us – I’d be interested in your thoughts.

Eight Trends Amplified By COVID-19

I just finished another book and added it to my Library. Pandemic, Inc. explores eight trends that are amplified by the current pandemic. Author Patrick Schwerdtfeger believes we will see more change in the next 12 months then we saw in the last 12 years. He views the current crisis through an optimistic lens, seeing a time of incredible change, but also opportunity.

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Reversing The Aging Process

Advances in life sciences have scientist believing that the first person to Live to 200 has already been born. This Healthy Life Extension scenario has major societal implications. In this scenario, we are not just enabling people to live longer, but we will also be healthier. This healthy longevity challenges traditional views of retirement, wealth, savings, our social contract, and the phases of our lives, among other things. Now, you may ask, how is it possible to extend our lives in a healthy manner? In a Post from 2018, I shared a perspective from Johnty Andersen, Biotechnology, Nanotechnology and Anti-Aging Medicine researcher:

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