Wednesday, November 09, 2016

The technology storm that threatens to blow Trump's promises away

Image via NYTimes.com
President Elect Donald J Trump (which is something I never imagined having to type) faces the Brexit problem. How to deliver on all the Make America Great, on-the-hoof, populist claims he made to secure the votes of a majority.

He has promised. Now he must deliver.

His problem is that he has made promises to the 'forgotten' those manually skilled, rarely college-educated, family and God loving folk who jobs have come under significant pressure from vast global economic forces which, frankly, are beyond his control.

Even if they were, he would be facing up to an even bigger challenge right now,

Consider for a moment some of the biggest technology trends reshaping our world ;

Next Generation Batteries; Most of the batteries you use apply the same principles as were discovered for making electricity hundreds (if not thousands) of years ago. New power sources will make intelligent devices more self sufficient, give commercial and long-distance reality to electric cars and transform how we consume power (with all that entails for the supply chain of fossil fuels).

They deliver high enough capacity to serve whole factories, or towns. Based on sodium, aluminium or zinc. They avoid the heavy metals and caustic chemicals used in older lead-acid designs, are cheaper, more scalable, and safer than the lithium batteries currently used.

Critically for the energy workers in the traditional industries Donald is setting out to unforget, the new batteries are much better suited to transmissions from solar or wind power. (Hint, Donald, focus here and you don't have to pollute the planet, either)

Which takes us to Autonomous Vehicles; What are all the truck drivers, taxi drivers, bus drivers, white van drivers, Donald's driver... what are they all going to do?

An Autonomous Vehicle is really just an extension of the Internet of Things. My guess is Google will do a better job of organising the information required to get us all from A to B swiftly and safely than we can individually. Choose surge pricing and perhaps you get their faster. Emergency services would get right of way and ignorant drivers failing to move to one side would no longer be an issue. Accidents down (ambulance and fire and rescue drivers) less need to police the roads (police drivers); less time stuck in traffic. More time doing what you were going somewhere to do. Less stress. What's not to like?

Unless you work as a driver.(Pilots, you should worry, too).

Then we have robotics - ready to do all those manual labour jobs the lowest paid, hardest workers have to do. If you have a house robot why do you need a Mexican maid?

And if the boss has a dozen 24/7 robots to work your warehouse, why does he need you on your forklift?

Apply AI and the threat to humans in jobs spreads quickly into blue collar jobs. Even many parts of white collar roles will be threatened - there are many parts of a lawyers work or a doctors work (such as sifting case law, or looking for patterns in patient treatments and responses) which AI can happily handle - delivering results faster.

Put these parts together and why would you ever need to go to a shop (your IoT devices would tell you when they needed upgrading, identify the best price source, place the order, a robot would make it, AI and autonomous vehicles would handle the logistics and the product would be in your home both produced and delivered as efficiently as possible with real-time processes applying machine learning to both make decisions and continuously improve.

All of that was once done by humans.

Trump's challenge, if he is to make good on his promises, is to ensure those forgotten people feel part of this revolution of the abundant. That requires a rethink of value and a restructing of what schooling is.

If he really wants to Make America Great Again he should start with the greatest skills retraining programme in history and follow up with defining what national education for a world of permanent innovation looks like.



FasterFuture.blogspot.com

The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?