The next batch of major tech disruptors are… / Curtin radio

I love catching up with tech guru Jason Jordan  and this week I got to chat with him live on air on Curtin Radio as we reminisced about tech of old and speculated about tomorrow’s tech.

I kicked off with my notion that we are all Homo Cyborgs irrevocably and organically enmeshed with technology, and that the holy grail now is not the technology itself, but rather what it can do for us.

We chatted about the demise and rise of the music industry as a metaphor for business in general.

10 years ago the industry seemed on its knees, people were pirating and nor paying, music abounded but money was difficult to make, today most have succumbed to a subscription model (spotify, itunes and others) music is everywhere, bands are on the road, there have never been more live concerts, the industry is decentralised and discovery is easier and allied industries are profitably rising.

We explored autonomous cars, Elon Musk, Artificial Intelligence, the sharing economy, virtual, augmented and mixed reality and tonnes of other stuff.

This was a really interesting chat charting the past, present and future of tech and humans and well worth a listen (8 mins 25 secs).

Farming 2025 style / ABC Regional Drive Perth

I have to start off by admitting that when I first began speaking and consulting to the Agriculture / Horticulture / Live Stock industries 15+ years ago about the Future of Horticulture and Farming, they were a very reluctant and skeptical audience who were used to traditional long-held labour intensive methods of farming and thought that even a mobile phone on the farm was ridiculous.

I spent many strategy sessions, workshops and keynotes over the ensuing years going on about technology, robotics, analytics, AI, changes in the workforce, self driving equipment and a change in the way city slickers would think about their food, its provenance and its growers.

I advocated hard for branding fruit, veg and live produce; ensuring farmers story made it into the marketing message and encouraging farmers to connect and listen to the consumer to find out what they really wanted, how, where and when.

It took a few years but slowly the message began to make sense.

Consumers indeed began to care more about the provenance of their food, became increasingly interested in its journey and in the farmer and what went into growing it.

Growers began to look more to technology to supplement human activities and we now have a totally different agricultural / horticultural ecosystem and a culture that once again celebrates fresh produce and values the work of the grower.

The Ag industry has become my shining example of seismic industry shift based on an open mind-set and a meeting of humans and technology can achieve to come up with:

  • drones to see their property in ways they’ve never done before and to watch over and muster livestock.
  • driverless tractors and harvesters running independently 24 hour per day
  • satellites to gain real-time information about vines, land and livestock
  • remotely monitoring their farms, whilst they are away
  • using swarm robots to plant, till, weed, irrigate and pick
  • precision / smart farming led by artificial intelligence and acted on by robots
  • remote farming, allowing farmers for the first time to live off the farm and still produce

and this is just the tip of Ag tech.

Ahead we’re seeing the rise of vertical farms, a return to smaller near city farms, and households that are increasingly growing their own as well as concerted efforts targeting waste (consumer and grower), increasing farm productivity and bio engineering.

But the most encouraging change of all, is that we’re seeing a return of smiling humans on farms, undertaking very different roles, using very different cutting edge technologies, but it is now becoming a career of choice rather than a default job or job of last resort.

These are just some of the future farming angles Barry Nichols of ABC WA Regional Drive and I chatted about in this weeks segment, so have a listen, share it round and let me know your thoughts on the Future of Farming (9 mins 12 secs)


What new foods will we be eating in 2030? / ABC Far North

By 2030 global demand for food will have increased by 35%, to feed an additional 1 billion people and by 2050 we will have to have raised the stakes again by another 50% to feed yet another 1 billion people.

This leaves us with a growing (pun intended) conundrum, of having to provide more food, to more people, in more places, with less land, less water and less people to grow it with.

The maths just doesn’t add up, but some how we have to find a way to do it.

In this weeks segment, ABC Far North’s morning host Kier Shorey and I take a look at all things Future of Food and explore how we might grow more with less by looking at foods we might eat that we don’t now and growing foods in ways we don’t currently do, including lab grown meat, eating insects and 3D meal printing.

A vital discussion, so take a listen and then share your thoughts on what might be on tomorrow’s dinner plate (11 minutes 24 secs).

Crystal ball time: iStart talks with a futurist / iStart

Blockchain this, AI that. Things are moving fast, so, in the interests of bringing you the news before it happens, we cornered Melbourne-based business futurist Morris Miselowski to find out what key technologies are going to change the business landscape, how best to prepare for the future shocks they’re bringing with them and what it all means for our day-to-day 20 years from now.

iStart: Hi Morris. Thanks for taking time to talk to us. From your perspective, what’s the technological lay of the land right now? How would you describe the zeitgeist in a technology sense?

Morris Miselowski: Right now I feel like we are really moving from what I think of as a Wizard of Oz, black and white type scenario into full technicolor. We’ve spent the last 30 years laying down the pipes and getting to terms with what this new digital space is, doing the ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’, but I don’t think we’ve used technology in a particularly purposefully way yet. It just hasn’t been very human-centric. So I think we’re on the cusp of something huge.

You’ve been in the prediction game for a while now. What’s changed?
‘Im seeing a very different landscape emerging for the first time in about 20 years, a landscape where technology is pushing back into the realm of the human-centric. It’s a fascinating conversation and one more people are willing to have. For the last 20 years all people wanted to talk about was the tech toys. Now the conversation is becoming about humanity and how humanity can use these tools more purposefully.

So this is part of a shift from a focus on tech to more of a focus on outcomes?
Yes. And in the next ten years we’re going to move forward 100 years in technology, but more extraordinarily, in the next 100 years we’re going to move forward a thousand years in terms of human evolution. This is going to be the biggest change we’ve ever seen.

How do you see that evolution playing out in industry?
So the nature of work is the big conversation of late. What’s changing is that we’re finally pushing past the industrial revolution, with the way we look at work is changing to a more human-centric view. There’s that word again.

A lot of the work we’ve done over the past 100 years has been repetitive, insular work; one task turned into a job for one person for life. Now we’re finding that we no longer need to look at things like that because we have technology that can recreate much of that human physical activity, picking up things, moving things, packing things. The big shift is now we’re finding ways of doing the heavy lifting of thinking.

And that brings up the spectre of displacement, right?
Well what have traditionally been called white collar jobs are now starting to disappear and many of the people that have those jobs have not foreseen this new horizon. So we’re now starting to see the work of accountants, bookkeepers and lawyers – all of those venerable jobs which have previously been considered as sacrosanct – being challenged by artificial intelligence.

But we’re also seeing the nature of work itself evolve to no longer requiring a person to be at a job at a particular time and place. Work can instead happen when and where appropriate. We’re moving to a ‘no collar’ situation, where the task dictates how and where it is done and technology is the backdrop that’s allowing that to happen.

Some things will always need the human touch though, right? People still hate chatbots, don’t they?
Many customers do report a dislike or a fear of chatbots, but many of them will have actually used a chatbot recently without even having known it. That fear is similar to how many people felt 15 years ago when we started to talking about online banking: ‘Oh, it will never happen; not in my lifetime; I’m not doing it’. Now close to 90 percent of all retail transactions in Australia and New Zealand are done online and we don’t give two thoughts to it. And the thought of standing in a queue in physical bank makes our stomach turn.

At the moment chatbot technology may be a little immature, a little cumbersome, but they are also the next step in our evolution in this space. We’ve had keyboards, we’ve had the mouse, but where are the other great interaction tools?

What we’re moving to now is more a human interface, that speaks and understands in a way close to our natural language. It guesses, hypotheses, figures out what we want or the meaning behind a question and gives us that answer. We, as humans, want that. We like it when things do things for us.

And we’ve got to touch on Blockchain.
Blockchain is another one of those things that has a bit of a scare factor, with most people not really aware of what it does. They think of it as cryptocurrency, or a new form of the New Zealand or Australian dollar, but it’s so much more than that – it’s the new digital backdrop of business. It will ensure things – money transfers, titles, things of value – are done with more honesty and transparency and truth.

It’s a brand new space that doesn’t have many rules or regulations at this stage and doesn’t have a clear player, so it opens up a horizon of huge possibilities. It’s going to change the face of so many industries.

I’m detecting an ever so slight hint of optimism in the way you think about these things…
I am an optimist about the future, but it’s not Pollyanna stuff. My mindset is this: technology is always benign, it has an off switch and where it doesn’t, get a brick and smash it.

And I don’t think technology is, on its own, the answer. What scares me is humanity’s use of technology. What we’re doing, as we always have, is evolving technologies that can be used for good or evil. AI is a great example of that. It really has that possibility of being used in all sorts of spaces where we would not, as humans, wish it to be, but, on the other hand, it has so many possibilities that I think we need to get welcome it.

So how does industry actually prepare for the challenges we face? Is there a roadmap?
The landscape is changing. Notions around work are changing, what it means to be a human, how we live together as families, all of these things are changing irrevocably, and we are not really ready for that.

So it has to come back to leadership, and here I’m talking to CEOs, CIOs, anyone from the C-suite. Leadership is of vital importance. We need to redefine what leadership is, because the workforce of tomorrow, and what that might look like, is a huge question.

What’s important in this space is to get to the core of who we are as a business and many businesses are not really able to define that. It’s not something you can answer with a product or a service or a mission statement.

But once you do have an idea, you can begin to evolve, and you can start looking for the technologies ahead that are going to be important to you.

Published on the 17/08/2017 | Written by Jonathan Cotton

Are you mad talking to a chatbot / ABC WA Drive

Last week the tech world went berserk when it was believed that Facebook chatbots (a computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users) appeared to make up their own language and start plotting to take over the world – as usual the hype was great, the truth far less interesting, the bots were actually never programmed to speak or converse in any particular language so they were just sending random message to each other, but it was enough to get ABC Perth’s Barry Nichols to want to chat about all things Bot in our weekly catch up.

We began by exploring what a Bot is and our most common ones at this stage are still the hotel or airline web page that pops up with a box at the bottom so you can talk to an agent (who often is not human). We looked at some really interesting uses of Bots in mental health, a story of a programmer who upon learning of his fathers imminent death set about building a Dad Bot containing his fathers conversations (recorded) and words of wisdom that he now regularly talks to.

For me it’s not so much about what a Bot is today, but rather that it points to a near world in which we use natural language and gestures to engage with technology and where it not only listens to our express wishes but also tries to determine our implied wishes communicating both back to us using a human persona.

So for all things bot, have a listen now to two humans having a chat about what might be chatting to us in the near future



Future of Work / Channel 7 Sunrise

We are transitioning from Homo Sapiens to technologically tethered Homo Cyborg’s that will live to 120 and work to 100.

In this evolving world of tomorrow how we work, where, when, for whom and how will all change, as will the notion of work itself.

Beyond this is the reality that we will have 7 careers and 40 jobs, not in the traditional 9-5 manner of the last 150 years, but most likely a number of them undertaken simultaneously, some for income, some for career and self enhancement, some for philanthropy, some just for fun, but what we do know is that nothing will be as it was, but at its core it will still be Human-centric and still tied to the need of self fulfillment and purpose.

In this morning’s return to Channel 7’s Sunrise, I explore the future work landscape and answer what today’s kids need to do, to ready themselves for the world that will create, live in and grow.

The future of death & making contact from beyond the grave / ABC WA Drive

On the eve of ‘Dying to Know Day’- a day when we’re supposed to talk about planning for our deaths, ABC Perth’s Drive presenter Andrew and I used the opportunity to chat about the Future of Death, Dying, Cemeteries and Immortality.

Now I know this is a yuck topic for many, but its a fascinating insight into how our society has evolved over the last two decades in its approach to death, dying, burials and immortality.

As recently as 15 years ago most burials had a religious overtone and structure and we rarely questioned what they or the religious authorities deemed as proper this was an era of respect through ritual.

Over the last decade burials have become more about celebrating a person life, remembering their past and honouring their legacy. Ritual has given way to individuality. Each ceremony is often bespoke, built to meet the bereaved needs and increasingly incorporating less religion ritual and practice.

The notion of shopping around for undertakers and price comparing has also become ordinary and the industry is being forced to evolve to meet the demands of a changing culture.

As part of this new landscape is also the conversation of how do we continue to remember and respect the deceased. Where once we had portraits painted or pictures taken, passed on heirlooms and keepsakes, we are now experimenting with passing on our digital souls and digitally living forever.

Increasingly our past social media can speak for us into the future. Artificial intelligence may soon learn all about us and be able to continue to speak like us and for us long after we’re gone and holograms may show ghost like images of us long after we lived and in an early attempt to achieve this we have the recent example of the DadBot created by James Vlahos, containing 12 hours of recorded conversations with his father and many hours of programming to include his fathers phrases, thoughts and nuances that allows him to now speak to and hear from his father from beyond the grave, take a look:.

A fascinating and unusual chat about the Future of death and memorialisation and well worth a listen (5 mins 16 secs)…


What jobs will look like in 2050 / New Adelaide

Future Vision

When Neil Armstrong became the first person to step on the moon in 1969, we knew humanity was headed to places, and ideas, few had yet contemplated. Global leaders in space exploration have set their sights on Mars and commercial space flights could be on the cards for paying customers of Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic by the end of 2018.

Ask futurist Morris Miselowski and he will tell you, by 2050, there will be new jobs for space exploration, space mining, space travel and even space hotels. “By 2050, we will definitely be in orbit,” he says.

Society has always evolved, often thanks to new inventions. First came the wheel, then the Gutenberg press, the light bulb, the telephone … the list goes on. Now, however, we see more than one technology emerging at a time and the pace of change becoming ever more rapid. Ten years ago, social media was a concept in its infancy and web designers were still “in vogue”. Today, Miselowski says, people depend on technology, whether it’s in the shape of mobile phones or pacemakers. “I believe already that we are homo cyborgs, not Homo sapiens, because we are so closely attached to technology,” he says.

The way we work and our skills are changing, too. Blue-collar jobs are being automated and white-collar, including bank clerks, accountants, lawyers and even engineers seem next in line for conversion as technology increasingly becomes capable of fulfilling repetitive tasks more accurately. Mathematicians use computers to figure out numbers, biologists solve problems through computer simulation, engineers use design programs for their creations and training is increasingly conducted in a virtual world.

By 2050, the 9-to-5 office job will be a thing of the past. Jobs will be flexible and task-driven and people will have multiple income streams, with the Australian Bureau of Statistics predicting the next generation will have, on average, about six careers in their working life.

Tonsley Innovation District precinct director Philipp Dautel says businesses of the future will be small and agile, rather than the “large mass employers of the past”. The Tonsley innovation hub, in Adelaide’s southern suburbs is living proof of the shift away from heavy manufacturing.

The 61ha precinct was the site of Mitsubishi’s car manufacturing plant until the last car rolled off the production line in 2008. Today, it is shaping to be something more like Australia’s first Silicon Valley. Under the original factory roof, start-up programs mix with cutting-edge research, large tech companies and educational institutions. A residential precinct is being developed nearby. “At Tonsley, we are providing the workspace of the future — a place where you can work, live and play,” Dautel says. “We are providing a supportive and flexible environment and plenty of collision spaces to foster collaboration and innovation.”

Collaboration could also affect our future leadership models. UniSA’s Dr Chad Chiu says the future will move away from a masculine, hierarchical and power-differentiated model to a shared leadership model.

“More and more studies have indicated that communal or power-equalising styles are indeed more effective,” he says. “If we agree that future leaders should adopt a different management approach, our job design should correspond to the change to assist managers to better supervise employees, such as using a flatter organisational design, installing flexible working hours, better allowing working-at-home, or sharing the jobs.”

Economics is a main driver behind the constant change, according to Flinders University Professor David Powers. The head of the Centre for Knowledge and Interaction Technology at the university says automation is not “a good or bad thing”, but it is necessary to compete in a global market. It is helping the West to compete with the Third World and “sweatshops in Asia” until those countries seek to advance.

The other force driving the change is the entertainment industry. “The biggest force for development of computer power, new hardware, algorithm and technology is actually the entertainment industry,” Powers says. “The changes in technology have largely been based on the aesthetics of the experience rather than promoting new capabilities.”

On the northern edge of Adelaide’s CBD sits one of its most futuristic-looking buildings. Often described as the cheesegrater (because of its diamond-shaped facade elements), the SA Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) has become the core of what will soon be the largest biomedical precinct in the southern hemisphere. Here, researchers are already using a strategy that, according to the institute’s deputy director Stephen Nicholls, will become common practice by 2050 in a bid to advance the health of the community. They work in teams to combine a broad range of expertise, from medicine to commerce, to ensure new research can be commercialised effectively and quickly. “We need big solutions to big problems and we need to do that by bringing people together,” says Professor Nicholls. “And that’s certainly something we’re trying to evolve with our research at SAHMRI.”

Health will be one of the most critical topics when it comes to the future. The ABS projects the country’s population could more than double from 24 million to 48.3 million by 2061, with the country’s age structure expected to change dramatically. About one in four Australians is expected to be aged over 65, and one in 14 will be over 85, by 2061. Growth in this age group has massive implications for health, housing and retirement income planning, with many Australians expected to work to a much older age than they do today.

Despite getting older, the population is also expected to be healthier. “What we considered elderly 20 years ago isn’t even elderly today. And what’s elderly in 2050 will be considerably older,” says Nicholls.

And yet, the way healthcare is being administered will have to change dramatically. “It’s going to become much more mobile, less centralised and less dependent on big hospitals for chronic disease management and so we’ll have to work out ways how we deliver healthcare where people are.” The fact that SA already has one of the oldest populations in the country could give this jurisdiction an advantage. “The state is already starting to understand that it needs to focus resources and attention on how we live in SA moving forward with a large proportion of elderly individuals,” Nicholls says. He believes several aspects of health will improve significantly by 2050, with new jobs being created as a result:

IMPROVED imaging will enable us to visualise the human body in greater detail.

THE ability to collect “big data” will enable us to predict epidemics.

GENETIC testing will become more affordable.

THE way a person is diagnosed and treated will be increasingly personalised.

Professor Nicholls says disease prevention and finding effective treatments will be the focus of the future. “We need to find effective ways to treat our patients but we need to do it without breaking the bank,” he says.

Miselowski predicts much of the job creation will be in the health sector in 2050. He deduces that nanomedics will be able to manipulate, change and cure the human body from the inside and surgeons will increasingly use robots to operate. People will carry an internal device that allows authorities to constantly monitor their wellbeing, and diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and cancer, will be better understood.

But it’s also in the aged care and nursing sector that humans, not machines, will play a lasting role. “We’re herd animals. We’re community oriented. We like to interact with other people, it’s hardwired into our DNA,” Miselowski says. “There are a lot of human interaction jobs that will continue to be part of our landscape but the tools they use and the way that they do it will not in any way, shape or form be how they’re doing it today.”

click here to read original article

The future of communication & the end of mobile phones / ABC It’s Just Not Cricket

Old Phone New Phone – It was just the anniversary of the passing of Alexander Graham Bell, and we wanted to return to the fascinating subject of phones. Futurist Morris Miselowski will tell us what’s going to happen to our phones in 2017 and beyond (I remember doing an interview a few years ago on the subject and we were promised phones would be part of our everyday clothes, it’ll be good to check out how that’s coming along! )and check out Glynn Greensmith of ABC’s It’s Just Not Cricket did in our semi-regular on-air catch up.

The notion of communication will of course continue, but mobile phones, will not be our device of choice for very much longer, in fact it hasn’t been for quite a while already.

The phone part of most of our mobile phones is often the least used function. Instead we receive / send IM and text messages, connect through apps, communicate through our devices using Siri / Cortina / Echo, swipe left and right and do all kinds of things to avoid picking up the phone and saying “hello”.

So in the future our single mobile will fracture into a myriad of embedded and carried devices, I predict we will all carry about 9 of these at any time in, on and around us , each device doing its own thing, measuring your needs and inputs and turning it into just in time / just for me outputs (directions, body temperature, things around you) and collectively acting like your own Digital Concierge (DC)overseeing your life and your needs.

In this world communication will be largely preemptive and triggered by our tech on our behalf, we will talk and gesture in response and never be quite sure what we are talking to, but having confidence that we have been heard, by our needs and wants being met.

Another great Glynn Greensmith conversation about a new era in tech that we will soon be all around us, so have a listen now (11 mins 07 sec) …

Our education system isn’t future ready / ABC Nightlife

The current education system, as great as it once might have been (and that’s debatable), is no longer up to the heavy lifting of tomorrow’s employment and life landscapes.

It was custom-built for on an industrial revolution model of work and prepared students for a known world, where work and careers were set and teaching systematically towards known outcomes made perfect sense.

It was a world where we taught just in case, where the learner had to be self-sufficient and filled to the brim with lots of information, just in case they ever needed it.

In this world, rote learning, remembering and recalling were all important, but today and tomorrow we have to know the basics, what to look for and how to look for it and then trust that technology will fill us with just in time, just enough, just for me skills and knowledge top ups we need to carry out new tasks and daily life.

In this space children have to be given more than just the 3 R’s, we owe it to them to teach them the far more practical skills of being human – the 4 C’s Collaboration, Community, Creativity and Communication.

Many of todays blue and white-collar workers have already been made redundant by technology as we see the jobs that rely solely on the completion of repetitive tasks (bookkeepers, law clerks, drivers, shop assistants, cashiers etc) disappear.

When technology replaces all the mundane and the ordinary in the workplace all that is left is for us to say HI! (Human Interaction). In this new landscape humans will need to create, interpret, make sense of, imagine and do humans things that are not easily replicated by machines.

And this is where I picked up the conversation with ABC Nightlife’s Phil Clark in our semi regular catch up, exploring all things education and careers.

A really stimulating and thought-provoking discussion and one that we need far more of and thankfully  tonnes of callers agreed, so have a listen now and then continue the Future of Education debate here and elsewhere.

ABC Nightlife, Phil Clark (49 mins 29 secs)