The Digital Workplace in the Cognitive Era by Forbes

The Digital Workplace in the Cognitive Era by Forbes

The Digital Workplace in the Cognitive Era by Forbes. Positioning for the future: Intelligent IT for the Anytime, Anywhere Workforce


There is a tectonic shift in the way we work. We expect the same kind of intuitive, tactile experience with our workplace technology that we now take for granted with our smartphones, tablets and gaming systems. We expect our devices to talk to each other and update automatically. Virtual meetings should be as easy to set up as a video chat, and whatever we need to do our jobs should be as easy to tailor as a streaming music or video application.
“In the workplace, there is a shift from ‘one size fits all’ to a more personalized experience in IT support and service,” says Richard Esposito, general manager of IBM’s GTS Mobility Services. “Users want to choose their own devices, and they expect the kind of experience they have with consumer devices. At the same time, the idea of renting versus buying has transformed the way most organizations pay for new IT infrastructure. The infrastructure-as-a-service model has revolutionized the way IT resources can be deployed for many of our clients.”
Perhaps the most dramatic change to the digital workplace comes from the potential for cognitive support to combine intelligence and sentiment for a true sense-and-respond experience. Cognitive systems will change the workplace in ways we haven’t yet imagined.
There is no question that technology gives us more choices and better tools. Yet what most of us want is less complexity and, if we are paying for it, lower costs. Planning for the workplace of the future means striking the right balance between finding the right tools for each user today and accessing an infrastructure that can expand with the intelligence and the power of the technology of the future.
We will explore some of these shifts in the workplace through a series of publications beginning with “The Digital Workplace in the Cognitive Era.

Want to solve global crises? $5 million prize seeks fresh ideas

Laurie Goering


LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – As the world grapples with potentially catastrophic global problems, including climate change, it needs to find solutions by overcoming short-term thinking, risk analysts say.

To drive that, a Swedish risk specialist and philanthropist is offering a $5 million prize for the best idea to create a new international decision-making system capable of tackling the world’s intractable issues, from extreme poverty to the spread of nuclear weapons and growing environmental damage.

“Today’s risks are so dangerous and so global in their nature that they’ve outrun the international system’s ability to deal with them,” said László Szombatfalvy, who fled from Hungary to Sweden in 1956 as a refugee, and later made a fortune in the stock market.

“We’re trying to solve today’s problems with yesterday’s tools,” said the 89-year-old, who launched the Global Challenges Foundation in 2012. “We believe a new shape of collaboration is needed to address the most critical challenges in our globalized world.”

The New Shape Prize – which will be awarded next November, after entries close in May – aims to spur fresh thinking about innovative means to solve problems that cross borders and are hard to tackle when most political terms of office are short and many businesses and markets remain focused on near-term gains.

“The public and even the private sector are underestimating the risks because we are too short-sighted in our decision-making,” said Mats Andersson, a former CEO of Sweden’s largest pension fund and now head of Szombatfalvy’s foundation.


He points to continued government spending on fossil fuel subsidies, for instance, while many leaders resist efforts to put in place a carbon price and trading system that would drive richer countries to pay for their climate-changing emissions while giving poorer ones funds to develop cleanly.

Such a shift could help drive action against global warming. Instead, “we’re sending the bill to our kids and grandkids, and I think that’s deeply immoral”, said Andersson, who has worked on de-carbonizing pension funds.

A U.N.-brokered deal to tackle climate change, agreed by more than 190 countries in Paris last year, aims to limit global temperature rise to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius, by getting countries to deliver voluntary emissions reductions and financial contributions that could be ratcheted up over time.

But their pledges for the accord still leave the world on a path to at least 2.9 degrees Celsius of warming above pre-industrial times – enough to swamp many low-lying island states, kill most coral reefs, drive food shortages and far more extreme weather, and potentially trigger melting of the biggest ice sheets, scientists say.

When it comes to solving global problems, “we have the United Nations, but the United Nations was founded in 1946, with the challenges we had at that time. We’re now some years down the road. We need to remodel and find new ways,” Andersson said.

The prize, he said, is not aimed at finding whole solutions to global threats such as climate change, wars and poverty, but rather “a model or mechanism that could provide the solutions”.

“We don’t have any preconceived views,” Andersson said. “We need to look in every corner, turn every stone.”


Rob Bailey, who directs energy, environment and resources research at London-based think tank Chatham House, said it is likely too late to craft an innovative new framework to limit climate change.

“Even if the politics for grand plans was possible, which we know is not the case at the moment, there isn’t enough time for grand plans anyway,” he said. Within two years, existing power plants will lock the world into more than 2 degrees of global warming if used over their full lifetime, he added.

But fresh approaches could help police and make more effective the Paris climate agreement’s voluntary goals, and verify what is being done by businesses, cities and other major players to curb climate-changing emissions, he said.

They could also offer new ways of dealing with the global problems climate change is set to worsen, from food shortages to migration, he said.

“What kind of global and international institutions will we need to have for a stable and resilient international order?” Bailey asked. “It raises questions for our food system, our humanitarian system, for international laws on refugees and asylum, (and) for social protection mechanisms.”

“These are the things we can be thinking about grand designs for, before things get really hairy from 2030 onward,” he said.

Entries for the New Shape Prize close on May 24, 2017, and the winning idea will be chosen by a panel of academic experts and a high-level international jury.

The Global Challenges Foundation will then back efforts to put that idea into practice, Andersson said.

(Reporting by Laurie Goering editing by Megan Rowling)


The largest internet company in 2030? This prediction will probably surprise you


This article is published in collaboration with Business Insider.
Honda's latest version of the Asimo humanoid robot runs during a presentation in Zaventem near Brussels July 16, 2014. Honda introduced in Belgium an improved version of its Asimo humanoid robot that it says has enhanced intelligence and hand dexterity, and is able to run at a speed of some 9 kilometres per hour (5.6 miles per hour).  REUTERS/Francois Lenoir (BELGIUM - Tags: SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY BUSINESS SOCIETY) - RTR3YVQI

Online learning taught by robots could be widespread by 2030.
Image: REUTERS/Francois Lenoir
Written by
Chris WellerIdeas Reporter, Business Insider
Wednesday 4 January 2017

Thirty years ago, it was a big deal when schools got their first computers. Today, it’s a big deal when students get their own laptops.

According to futurist Thomas Frey, in 14 years it’ll be a big deal when students learn from robot teachers over the internet.

It’s not just because the technology will be that sophisticated, Frey says, but because the company responsible for it will be the largest of its kind.

“I’ve been predicting that by 2030 the largest company on the internet is going to be an education-based company that we haven’t heard of yet,” Frey, the senior futurist at the DaVinci Institute think tank, tells Business Insider.

Frey’s prediction comes amid a boom in artificial intelligence research. Google is developing DeepMind, a complex piece of machine-learning software. IBM is developing Watson-powered robots. Amazon is developing drone delivery.

 Growth of MOOCs

Image: Class Central

“Nobody has quite cracked the code for the future of education,” Frey contends.

His vision for 2030 includes a massively enhanced version of today’s open online courses — the kind of instruction you may find with Khan Academy, Coursera, or MIT OpenCourseWare. Only, the instructors won’t be humans beamed through videos. They’ll be bots, and they’ll be smart enough to personalize each lesson plan to the child sitting in front of the screen.

Frey suspects that kind of efficiency will allow students to learn at much faster rates than if they had to compete with 19 other students for the teacher’s attention. Students will breeze through their material at four or 10 times the speed, perhaps completing an undergraduate education in less than half a year.

“It learns what your proclivities are, it learns what your idiosyncrasies are,” he explains. “It learns what your interests are, your reference points. And it figures out how to teach you in a faster and faster way over time.”

He uses the example of Google’s DeepMind learning to play the Atari video game “Breakout.” Not only did it quickly pick up on the rules, but within a half hour it figured out a way to achieve incredibly high scores — all with little human input.

Machine learning will accelerate in a similar fashion in the education space, Frey says. Online bots will pick up on a student’s strengths and weaknesses and use a series of algorithms to tailor the lessons accordingly. Research suggests this personalized method is among the most effective at raising kids’ overall achievement.

Frey doesn’t go so far as to argue education bots will replace traditional schooling outright. He sees them more as a supplement, perhaps as a kind of tutor. If a child struggles with algebra, a bot may be able to offer some help during homework time or over the weekend.

It’s up for debate whether AI can master the subtleties of language, thought, and reason all within the next 14 years. One of the greatest hurdles for machine learning is grasping social interactions. Many AI systems today are still less capable (cognitively speaking) than a 6-year-old.

Frey trusts 14 years isn’t too generous a timeline for the technology to ramp up, given how quickly technology innovation builds on itself. The internet was just beginning to enter a lot of people’s homes 14 years ago, in 2002. But by 2007 people were already surfing the Web on their iPhones, and today the internet is almost omnipresent in daily life.

Frey predicts that artificial intelligence will have the same trajectory in the education space. By 2030, DeepMind’s ability to master “Breakout” could seem as quaint as dial-up modems do today, and what seemed like a massive library of online content in 2016 could look to future students like a skimpy collection that hardly does anything.

Barack Obama: America will take the giant leap to Mars

(CNN)One of my earliest memories is sitting on my grandfather’s shoulders, waving a flag as our astronauts returned to Hawaii. This was years before we’d set foot on the moon. Decades before we’d land a rover on Mars. A generation before photos from the International Space Station would show up in our social media feeds.

I still have the same sense of wonder about our space program that I did as a child. It represents an essential part of our character — curiosity and exploration, innovation and ingenuity, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible and doing it before anybody else. The space race we won not only contributed immeasurably important technological and medical advances, but it also inspired a new generation of scientists and engineers with the right stuff to keep America on the cutting edge.
President Barack Obama

That’s one of the reasons why, in my first address as President to the American people, I vowed to return science to its rightful place. In our first few months, my administration made the largest single investment in basic research in our history, and I went to the Kennedy Space Center to call for reimagining and reinvigorating our space program to explore more of our solar system and look deeper into the universe than ever.
In the years since, we’ve revitalized technology innovation at NASA, extended the life of the International Space Station, and helped American companies create private-sector jobs by capitalizing on the untapped potential of the space industry.
Last year alone, NASA discovered flowing water on Mars and evidence of ice on one of Jupiter’s moons, and we mapped Pluto — more than 3 billion miles away — in high-resolution. Our space telescopes revealed additional Earth-like planets orbiting distant stars, and we’re pursuing new missions to interact with asteroids, which will help us learn how to protect the Earth from the threat of colliding with one while also teaching us about the origins of life on Earth. We’ve flown by every planet in the solar system — something no other nation can say. And we continue to drive down the cost of space exploration for taxpayers.
This week, we’ll convene some of America’s leading scientists, engineers, innovators and students in Pittsburgh to dream up ways to build on our progress and find the next frontiers. Just five years ago, US companies were shut out of the global commercial launch market. Today, thanks to groundwork laid by the men and women of NASA, they own more than a third of it. More than 1,000 companies across nearly all 50 states are working on private space initiatives.
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We have set a clear goal vital to the next chapter of America’s story in space: sending humans to Mars by the 2030s and returning them safely to Earth, with the ultimate ambition to one day remain there for an extended time. Getting to Mars will require continued cooperation between government and private innovators, and we’re already well on our way. Within the next two years, private companies will for the first time send astronauts to the International Space Station.
The next step is to reach beyond the bounds of Earth’s orbit. I’m excited to announce that we are working with our commercial partners to build new habitats that can sustain and transport astronauts on long-duration missions in deep space. These missions will teach us how humans can live far from Earth — something we’ll need for the long journey to Mars.
The reporter who covered the moon landing for The New York Times, John Noble Wilford, later wrote that Mars tugs at our imagination “with a force mightier than gravity.” Getting there will take a giant leap. But the first, small steps happen when our students — the Mars generation — walk into their classrooms each day. Scientific discovery doesn’t happen with the flip of a switch; it takes years of testing, patience and a national commitment to education.
President Eisenhower knew this: In 1958, he devoted great resources to science and math education around the same time he created NASA. And it’s why I’m proud that we’ve passed important milestones in STEM education. For the first time, more than 100,000 engineers are graduating from American schools every year, and we’re on track to accomplish my goal of training 100,000 excellent new STEM teachers in a decade.
When our Apollo astronauts looked back from space, they realized that while their mission was to explore the moon, they had “in fact discovered the Earth.” If we make our leadership in space even stronger in this century than it was in the last, we won’t just benefit from related advances in energy, medicine, agriculture and artificial intelligence, we’ll benefit from a better understanding of our environment and ourselves.
Someday, I hope to hoist my own grandchildren onto my shoulders. We’ll still look to the stars in wonder, as humans have since the beginning of time. But instead of eagerly awaiting the return of our intrepid explorers, we’ll know that because of the choices we make now, they’ve gone to space not just to visit, but to stay — and in doing so, to make our lives better here on Earth.