Colour coded shopping baskets, that let the sales staff at a store know whether you need help or not. A credit card tip jar that allows you leave one dollar gratuities. Elevators with buttons near the floor, in case your hands are full.
Or, microwave ovens with mute buttons, so you won’t wake anyone when fixing a midnight snack. Or stickers that indicate how ripe an avocado is, according to its colour, as pictured above.
After all, demand is only going to increase as we become more reliant on computing technologies. And it’s not as if coding is work reserved for the likes of hot-shot Silicon Valley startup founders. Even I’ve coded in the past.
In Kentucky, mining veteran Rusty Justice decided that code could replace coal. He cofounded Bit Source, a code shop that builds its workforce by retraining coal miners as programmers. Enthusiasm is sky high: Justice got 950 applications for his first 11 positions. Miners, it turns out, are accustomed to deep focus, team play, and working with complex engineering tech. “Coal miners are really technology workers who get dirty,” Justice says.
In the not to distant future we may find ourselves switching from one virtual reality realm to another. That sounds kind of cool, but have you given any thought to how you will use a keyboard in this domain? Or if that’s even possible in the first place?
When I first heard about the concept of flying cars, way, way, back in the day, I envisaged a pretty much normal car that was somehow capable of flight. Much like the DeLorean from Back to the Future Part II, for instance. That such a vehicle was able to fly, was more important than how it could fly. Aerodynamics be damned, and all.
Blockchain technology could drastically change the way we conduct many financial transactions. If you’re like me, and have heard the word bandied about, but have little idea what it’s all about, this article by Lisa Fedorenko, an analyst at Sydney based Montgomery Investment Management, offers a straightforward explanation.
What blockchain does is create a unique identity for digital assets. When I have a physical pen – it is easy to trace who is holding that particular pen. It is obvious if I am holding the pen, or I pass it to you. This is a bit trickier when I have a digital pen. If I forward you a pen – how can you tell I haven’t also forwarded it to my friend Alex? Blockchain gives pens (or blocks) a history of ownership (a chain) so you can tell where each pen is (there are a finite number of pens). Each pen can only be in one place at a time and has had its own path there – if I gave you my pen, I no longer have one to forward to Alex.
Check the comments following the article as well, for additional insights.
Unless you’ve been holed up in an underground bunker, you’ve probably heard that US entrepreneur Peter Thiel recently purchased land in the South Island of New Zealand, after also becoming a citizen. In anticipation of the apocalypse, we’re told. And it seems he’s not the only tech-billionaire to do something similar either.
The South Pacific nation is deemed the place to be on account of its relative isolation, and stable government. Personally, I think Thiel would have been better off keeping the idea to himself, as he’s probably inspired who knows how many others to head there, at whatever cost, in the event of global calamity. I know I’m going to.
Billionaires live in the same society we do, and are subject to the same cultural influences, and trends the rest of us are. Right now, survival is trendy. Particularly among people who like the idea of doing tough guy stuff, but don’t actually go out and do tough guy things. You get the feeling that doomsday prep is just a fun hobby, or mental puzzle for these dudes – one they’re able to indulge a little more than you or I might be able to. You buy a neon green tomahawk at Walmart just in case the zombies ever rise; Peter Thiel buys a 477-acre farm in New Zealand. Neither one will ever be used for its intended purpose.
This is a topic we’re not going to stop hearing about: the threat to jobs from robots, or artificial intelligence. Robots can be taught to do one thing, and another, and they can perform those tasks well, but they still struggle to work in the same way as a person. A human has a mix of skills, flexibility, and judgement, something that cannot easily be automated.
But the new jobs panic is exaggerated and misplaced. For one thing, political and social caution may block some of the potential uses, such as self-driving cars. For another, many jobs will continue to require a blend of skills, flexibility and judgement that is difficult to automate. David Autor, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, argues that such employment requires “tacit” expertise that cannot readily be codified.
A good job too. I’m (still) writing a book that’s set 400 years in the future. Robots and artificial intelligence feature. They do much of our heavy lifting, but people still have jobs of a sort. It seems to me there’d be no story if robots performed every last function, and people didn’t even need to do trivial things, such as make phone calls.