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On Passion and Robots

My overall ambition is to help people and organizations to reach their full potential. I believe that technology is an important aspect for that and I am passionate about security and privacy and how they play a crucial role in determining if and how we can take advantage of the seemingly endless potential of technology. But I also ask myself what the consequences of this technology is. It is visible already today that in the close future we will face a massive change in society. Entire job categories will disappear and robots (mostly software based) will take over many of today’s jobs. Take the transportation industry for example. While Tesla’s “autopilot” clearly still has it’s challenges in a couple of years cars, trucks and buses will be able to drive autonomous. What happens then to all the cab and truck drivers that are on our streets on a daily basis? And that is only the beginning. More and more sophisticated tasks will be done by Artificial Intelligence AI.

What does that mean for people that are studying or thinking about what kind of job should be in their future or where they should develop professionally? Is it physics, chemistry, sport or rather social studies or… How does one choose today a field so that chances are good that robots aren’t replacing you shortly out of university? It is an important subject as not everything that technology will bring will be good for everybody. The answer to this question is not easy as our understanding today is very limited what impact AI robots will have on our lives. But some aspects are in my view clearer than others and might be a start.

The first point where we can differentiate us from bots are morals, values and ethics. Our personalities can make a difference and I see that as a clear advantage over machines or for that matter towards other people as we will not just be competing against bots but against a relatively larger workforce for fewer jobs. While we can program behavior rules I don’t believe (or maybe hope) that we will achieve developing a moral artificial intelligence.

Second, what differentiates us are emotions. To be able and willing to show and feel passion and feeling for other people. Think about it as mentally or physically giving somebody a hug. Not everything happens at an intellectual level and looking ahead I believe that compassion will become again more important. Especially as in many places it seemed to have gotten lost.

The third element is creativity. Bots already today write short stories but creativity is something that I believe (or again maybe hope) is beyond programming. Be able to tell a story will be something that stays human still for a long time.

The fourth aspect is to solve new and hard challenges. I don’t believe that robots will be able to solve the really hard questions in the foreseeable future. To systematically and more important intuitively draw conclusions, to listen to a feeling/intuition and follow it up to find the solution to a hard problem. To have a dream and suddenly things fall into place in a way that one has not foreseen. To run through a massive amount of permutations is what computers do best but to see connections that are not clearly visible and be courageous to try out and find new paths is where humans shine.

And the final thought but maybe the most important is passion in what you do and to challenge, enable and inspire others. If you truly want to make a difference then finding out what you do with a passion is the best way to show that you are making a difference. There are the people that are lucky to already know from very early on where their passion is and what they want to do and then there are the majority where it takes longer to find out. Too many though give up in that process and focus on doing what gets them through the day. But will that be enough in the future? I fear not. And with inspiring and enabling others brings the possibility to act as a multiplier for all aspects above and with that truly solve the important problems together.

So if you make a choice in what to do and in what direction to evolve wherever you are in your career stage – take into account the rapidly changing technology and that robots are advancing. Focus on the things that are hard and that not everybody can do, be passionate about it and don’t forget about empathy and caring about people. Then I am convinced that you are successful also in a world where robots are everywhere.

In the spirit of happy holidays

It isn’t quite the holidays yet but browsing through my LinkedIn feed I liked the video from HP Enterprise and while it is an obvious marketing video it is cute and it brings a little bit more of the anticipation for the holidays into my morning. It also has a nice tagline of thanking people that make things happen and gives a glance on how modern cloud and hybrid services can increase the efficiency of processes. While I don’t have an independent verification that Santa’s operations adopted cloud for scale, big data analytics for improving the insight into kids behavior and IoT to track shipments it is not so far off what technology can do. As my passion lays in security I especially appreciate the cyber threat map of course and overall the “bah humbug meter” should be adopted much more widely also in the non-holiday world.

So in the spirit of enabling people and organizations to reach their full potential enjoy this little video!

Productivity Future Vision

 

I believe strongly that today we only see a fraction of the possibilities how we will be working in the future. New technologies are becoming more personal, bring people together, enable us to live smarter and help us expressing our creativity better.

With the productivity future vision Microsoft looks 5-10 years into the future and puts together a fascinating picture on how we learn, work and collaborate all focused around productivity. It might look far fetched but if you see what Hololens and Surface Hub already enable (and they are just around the corner) then it might in fact not be the so distant future.

or a even nicer way to look at it is on the website with additional information. Enjoy the inspiration!

When thunderstorms and airtravel meet

It has been a few weeks since I have flown to Atlanta for work and I was lucky to have had smooth travels. If you know the Atlanta airport however that isn’t necessarely a given. On one hand it is the worlds busiest airport serving close to 30 million passengers every year and then it is in a location that has frequent tunderstorms. When I now stumbled over a video that shows what happens when thunderstorms occur over the area I was amazed by the resulting images. While not as nicely presented as the pictures in my earlier post on the beauty of airtravel it shows the beauty of technology being able to adapt and overcome obstacles.

Enjoy!

 

The Beauty of Airtravel

I travel a lot for work and it brings me in touch with many different people and cultures. Sometimes when I am sitting in a busy airport I look up from my screen and am watching the planes come and go. My thoughts might then trail towards the security discussions that we need to increase with critical infrastructure, the complexity of the logistics behind such an airport or that it is just beautiful to watch a plane take-off.

I found by coincidence a visualization of air traffic over Europe that sheds a new scale on the points above. It emphasizes the need to be able to protect our digital command, control and communication systems involved with managing something as complex as airtravel but at this point I suggest you just click on the movie and enjoy the beauty of it.

 

Europe 24 from NATS on Vimeo.

The video was created from real flight data, using UK radar data from June 21 and European flight plan information from July 28. If you want to know more check out the original blogpost by Paul Beachamp.

Future of Productivity – Or is it Today?

You might have seen one of the Productivity Vision of the Future videos before but they have always been studies. Microsoft asked now Infusion to recreate the demo and video with technologies currently available to showcase what can be done today from what was envisioned five years ago. The environment chosen was “the new banking experience” with “BNP PARISBAS” bank. The video was presented at the Innovation Symposium in Paris and was very well received. It is interesting – and fascinating – what today’s technology enables. Technology studies always seem so far away and then suddenly we see things happening much faster than we thought. My phone today has more computing power in my hand than NASA had in their Apollo rockets to land a man on the moon. So the girl in the movie will probably look at the video a few years from now and ask “was there ever anything else?”. The prerogative of our digital native generation.

 

 

About the Author

Reto is partner at PwC Switzerland. He is leading the Cybersecurity practice and is member of PwC Digital Services leadership Team. He has over 15 years work experience in an information security and risk focused IT environment. Prior to working at PwC he was Microsoft's Chief Security Officer for Western Europe and also has work experience as group CIO, Chief Risk Officer, Technical Director and Program Manager.

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