Jobs, AI and business models

I just read a really interesting article on the McKinsey’s website ‘Artificial Intelligence meets the C-suite’, where some leading business academics discuss the implications of rapidly advancing artificial intelligence on conventional organisational structures run by senior executives. http://www.mckinsey.com/Insights/Strategy/Artificial_intelligence_meets_the_C-suite?cid=mckq50-eml-alt-mkq-mck-oth-1409

Rather than review the article, instead, here are some follow-on points to consider.

  1. In a future World influenced, if not dominated by AI and hyper-competition, will the strategic goal of capturing  ‘sustainable competitive advantage’ instead become ‘maintain competitive advantage’, with advantage mostly gained by using data and cutting-edge analytical techniques?
  2. Will most future companies become more like MI5/MI6 – gathering and analysing data comprising most of the work and then acting in very specific ways, once insight is gained?
  3. With the rise of AI, will a growth job for human managers be to spend increasingly more time making judgements about whether to develop & deploy staff, versus commission AI to create/deliver products & services?
  4. Will next-generation, business process reengineering (BPR) instead become AI BPR?
  5. With the rise of AI, will ‘efficiency in limited-scope environments’ dominate over ‘inefficiency in wide-scope environments’, causing entrepreneurs to move their business models into that space? Some examples:
  • to base their business model on data expertise (and rapidly go where the data takes them), not (staff) domain expertise,
  • to simplify (value chain) negotiations,
  • to simplify the challenge of motivating & leading staff,
  • to simplify the need to gain political consensus,
  • to balance internal data analysis (on costs, internal resources & activities) with external data analysis (on markets).

Social Transitions 3

What will happen to Middle East peace when the World’s oil dependency runs out? Doesn’t that region of the World need to focus all their energy on building a highly skilled workforce, supported by state of the art infrastructure?

If the Sun gives us free solar energy and the ocean gives us free wave energy, why are we still paying energy companies for energy?

For a multi-national energy company, the grass is always greener over the fence, when you keep choosing to harvest old investments in fossil fuel production. As the innovation vehicle speeds up, organisational complacency and myopia become the first victims of road kill. Share price the second.

Protecting free goods like the air we breathe is one battle worth fighting. Another is converting free solar energy into free energy for society.

Market cabals are the dying breath of an obsolete club – real competition isn’t market equilibrium. It’s market revolution.

Why in the UK do we encourage begging in the streets (by giving money to beggars)? We give enough in welfare benefits, foreign aid, food bank contributions, disaster relief and charity donations already. If the beggars aren’t UK citizens, who lets them come here and effectively tax us, on top of the EU taxes we already pay?

Do parental suicidal attitudes translate into their teenagers’ suicidal actions?

When it comes to national innovation, thinking outside the box means not drowning in the treacle of tradition inside the box.

Career Planning

Education and self improvement are the silent couriers delivering self-confidence and pride through your post box. How else will you make any sense of the World?

Teachers are like route guides not tour guides. When you graduate school, the route ahead will need plenty of skills to navigate a journey of safety, but with its own adventure…

Career plans start with looking outside yourself. Before you choose an apprenticeship or university course, think about future trends. Will electric engines take over anytime soon? Will inexpensive machines cut, style and weave our hair in five year’s time? If everyone’s going the same career way, be a creative maverick, but upskill early…

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The golden age of innovation

Automation isn’t labour-saving, it’s creative time-releasing.

With the rise of the machines, doing clever design keeps our skin in the game.

As desktop engineering lands on our worktops, our design expertise, not our production time, will (hopefully) pay for the lifestyle we want.

Being a designer and an innovator isn’t a special talent. It’s a fundamental part of what makes us human.

How do we turn Council Estates/Projects into Cottage Industries and Intellectual Properties?

Invest money in Design houses not Designer houses.

Start Ups & labour-intensive processes – land of the free ideas and home of the brave investors.

Work-life balance becomes a balance of bank-balance probabilities.

Are Droids really taking our jobs?

Today I listened to an interesting interview on TED hour by Andrew McAfee titled ‘Are Droids taking our jobs?’ -see the following weblink.


Personally, I think this debate will run and run as parents & policy-makers start to think about children’s/the voting population’s future employment prospects.

Here are four points to add to the debate:

1) Are Droids really taking ‘our jobs’, or just taking over tasks that to date, humans have undertaken because automation wasn’t reliable and effective?

2) As consumers, each of us wanting to be treated special. Will we turn to 24/7 robot-type providers over 9 to 5 (sometimes surly or less knowledgeable) human service-providers, once we have that choice? And are told both choices will cost us the same?

3) If we get some consumer services faster from the 24/7 robot-type providers, will we use the time saved to capture greater meaning in our lives e.g. high quality human interactions?

4) If paid work really does save us from boredom, vice and need (apparently a Voltaire quote), then with growing automation causing the government payroll tax-take to go down, how should robotic service-provider profits best be taxed, to make up the fiscal shortfall and handle the social results of growing boredom, vice and need in our societies?

Idea Entrepreneurship & Robotics

With future advances in intelligent networks and their peripherals (robotics), will the people most valued economically in a society cease being energy-field owners/entertainment celebs/hedge fund managers? And instead be the entrepreneurs – those who can generate and sell brilliant ideas (to the intelligent networks and between each other), in return for goods and services?

If so, smart governments would be wise to plan ahead. They can introduce policies that actively encourage the creation of a nation of designers and inventors – challenge everyone to relentlessly practice their design and inventive skills to benefit themselves & the nation (idea entrepreneurship). Then eventually, with the rise of intelligent networks (self-organising), people will have something of value to trade –  the more brilliant the human idea, the greater the resulting payment from the intelligent system.

It’s reasonable to assume that Intelligent networks & their peripherals will eventually do the engineering/commercialisation (simulation, translation, prototype fabrication, scale production and marketing work), leaving people to add value through imaginative design.

Universities, R&D Institutes, Corporate skunkworks & garage inventors (including the maker movement) – they all deserve accolades far in excess of their current image in society. Smart governments will find ways to foster innovation, not just in the ivory towers & skunkworks, but in the channels that link ivory tower innovation with garage invention too (who says university academics are the only ones with good ideas and why can’t the gov funding incentives change to reward research cultures to innovate themselves?).

Design solves inflexibility problems, environmental pollution problems, over-crowding problems, awareness & perception problems and security problems. It both creates opportunities and exploits them. Even politics at its heart is about clever design. Although sadly, too many politicians aren’t clever designers – leading by example and keeping their policy-makers on their toes.

Of course design is hard, taking energy, commitment and persistence. However, as everything else gets automated, hard design is our future as a species. Food for thought?

Job Creation and Entrepreneurship

Every federal and local government wants sustainable economic growth (SEG) and zero unemployment (ZU). The question is, do enough of us want those things for ourselves and our families? And are enough of us prepared to sacrifice more to upskill?

To elaborate, in my view, providing an effective safety net in a society is noble and desirable to help those people who cannot work, often through no fault of their own. However, others in society shouldn’t make deliberate life choices, then look to Governments to create jobs and services to support risky life choices. That said, holding governments accountable for creating positive environments for business growth is exactly where voters should give governments.their attention.

On a related note, how do we get celebrities endorsing business growth in their home towns and home countries -making it hip & sexy?  Nelson Mandela aside, celebs continue to hold people’s attention and respect, in ways that politicians don’t. To get a faster change in social attitude, we therefore could do with a critical mass of celebrities (who care deeply about their country and its future) to promote some retro values – thrift, saving for a rainy day, teamwork, respect for inventiveness, a strong work ethic and philanthropy where it matters. And pride from the contribution you make. Not the bling you buy with that contribution, to perhaps flaunt in the faces of those less well off.

While TV still retains a sizable audience, can reality TV shows start weaving some of this ‘retro values’ discussion into the celebrity challenges, chat shows & celebrity conversations? Can celebs tweet or post new discussions in online chat-rooms to fuel the debate?

Returning to SEG & ZU, in my view, each adult needs to adopt a mindset of lending their personal support to achieving SEG and ZU, if those things are ever going to happen.  And view their elected governments more like sports referees, stadium support staff and team cheerleaders. Not additional players entering the field, while fellow players on the team choose to sit quietly on the bench.

Unfortunately too many people don’t embrace their own destinies and act together to build a great nation. They then wonder why the standard of living in their country keeps declining! Symbols of such decline might include any mix of the following indicators (not an exhaustive list): long run costs rising faster than long run wages, the interest bill on the national debt not reducing, core infrastructure in the country declining at a rate faster than its investment, record levels of youth unemployment, persistent or rising crime levels, rising numbers of foodbank centres and increasing numbers of people sleeping rough on the streets.

So what’s a solution? Build your marketable skills for your own reasons. Not because a government or a large company tells you to. Start a micro-business, a charity, a school, a software-as-a-service company. Become an amateur inventor in the maker movement or a 3D printer programme designer. Aim to serve the ‘long tail’ of the market (global niches) e.g. making disaster-relief products. Adapt teaching content for non mainstream styles of learning. Learn games design. Provide advisory services that turn the complex into the simple for people. Worst case, if future job creation comes from entrepreneurship and future entrepreneurs rely heavily on online systems and automated processes, then if your country doesn’t create a critical mass of such entrepreneurs, then the jobs that do get created will accrue to help another nation’s sustainability, not yours.

Entrepreneurship’s purpose is to save the day, grab the glory and create jobs for itself.