Reinventing the company

23. October 2015

Date: 22-10-2015
Source: The Economist

Entrepreneurs are redesigning the basic building block of capitalism

NOW that Uber is muscling in on their trade, London’s cabbies have become even surlier than usual. Meanwhile, the world’s hoteliers are grappling with Airbnb, and hardware-makers with cloud computing. Across industries, disrupters are reinventing how the business works. Less obvious, and just as important, they are also reinventing what it is to be a company.

To many managers, corporate life continues to involve dealing with largely anonymous owners, most of them represented by fund managers who buy and sell shares listed on a stock exchange. In insurgent companies, by contrast, the coupling between ownership and responsibility is tight. Founders, staff and backers exert control directly. It is still early days but, if this innovation spreads, it could transform the way companies work.  Read the rest of this entry »

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You’ve Been Misled About What Makes a Good Password

21. October 2015

Date: 21-10-2015
Source: Technology Review

Common advice on how to make a strong password is misleading, according to a new study of password-guessing techniques.

WHY IT MATTERS: Passwords are widely relied on for authentication but are frequently leaked online or implemented poorly.

“Password must include upper and lowercase letters, and at least one numeric character.” A common scold dished out by websites or software when you open an account or change a password—and one that new research suggests is misleading.

A study that tested state-of-the-art password-guessing techniques found that requiring numbers and uppercase characters in passwords doesn’t do much to make them stronger. Making a password longer or including symbols was much more effective.

“Attacks are more sophisticated now, and those best practice countermeasures are a little bit out of sync,” says Matteo Dell’Amico, a researcher at Symantec Research. He worked with Maurizio Filippone at the French research institute Eurecom. The pair presented a paper on their work at the ACM Computer and Communications Security conference last week. Read the rest of this entry »


Once regarded as safe havens, the professions are now in the eye of the storm

17. October 2015

Date: 17-10-2015
Source: The Economist: Schumpeter
Subject: Professor Dr Robot QC

IN 1933, as the Depression ground on, two British sociologists, Alexander Carr-Saunders and Paul Wilson, wrote a book celebrating the professions. They describe them as “stable elements” in a turbulent world, which “inherit, preserve and hand on a tradition.” They act as “centres of resistance to crude forces which threaten steady and peaceful evolution”.

Professions resist these “crude forces” through high barriers to entry. They routinely limit their recruitment to people with degrees. Some, such as medicine or law, require professional licences and sometimes membership in professional bodies. Others demand long periods of apprenticeship: although anybody can call themselves a management consultant, elite firms such as McKinsey and the Boston Consulting Group provide their recruits with extensive training and only promote a minority to partnerships. The oldest professions also emphasise the importance of tradition: professors dress up in medieval gowns on ceremonial occasions and British barristers wear wigs. Read the rest of this entry »


Job-Saving Technologies

15. October 2015

Photo of Michael Spence

Michael Spence

Michael Spence, a Nobel laureate in economics, is Professor of Economics at NYU’s Stern School of Business, Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, Academic Board Chairman of the Fung Global Institute in Hong Kong, and Chair of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on New Growth Models. He was the chairman of the independent Commission on Growth and Development, an international body that from 2006-2010 analyzed opportunities for global economic growth, and is the author of The Next Convergence – The Future of Economic Growth in a Multispeed World.

Photo of James Manyika

James Manyika

James Manyika is the San Francisco-based director of the McKinsey Global Institute.

OCT 15, 2015, Project Syndicate

SAN FRANCISCO – This is an age of anxiety about the job-killing effects of automation, with dire headlines warning that the rise of robots will render entire occupational categories obsolete. But this fatalism assumes that we are powerless to harness what we create to improve our lives – and, indeed, our jobs.

Evidence of technology’s potential to help resolve our job concerns can be found in online talent platforms. Digital platforms already have transformed many parts of the economy. The online marketplaces built by Amazon and Alibaba, for example, have reshaped the retail landscape, partly by changing the local nature of retail markets. Read the rest of this entry »


The algorithmic CEO

11. October 2015

Date: 11-10-2015
Source: Fortune january 2015, Ram CharanCharan

Get ready for the most sweeping business change since the Industrial Revolution.

Algorithmic CEOThe single greatest instrument of change in today’s business world, and the one that is creating major uncertainties for an ever-growing universe of companies, is the advancement of mathematical algorithms and their related sophisticated software. Never before has so much artificial mental power been available to so many—power to deconstruct and predict patterns and changes in everything from consumer behavior to the maintenance requirements and operating lifetimes of industrial machinery. In combination with other technological factors—including broadband mobility, sensors, and vastly increased data-crunching capacity—algorithms are dramatically changing both the structure of the global economy and the nature of business.

Though still in its infancy, the use of algorithms has already become an engine of creative destruction in the business world, fracturing time-tested business models and implementing dazzling new ones. The effects are most visible so far in retailing, creating new and highly interactive relationships between businesses and their customers, and making it possible for giant corporations to deal with customers as individuals. At Macy’s, for instance, algorithmic technology is helping fuse the online and the in-store experience, enabling a shopper to compare clothes online, try something on at the store, order it online, and return it in person. Algorithms help determine whether to pull inventory from a fulfillment center or a nearby store, while location-based technologies let companies target offers to specific consumers while they are shopping in stores. Read the rest of this entry »


IBM CEO Says Automation Won’t Decimate Job Market

7. October 2015

Date: 07-10-2015
Source: The Wall Street Journal

IBM has formed a new business unit to advise companies on using its Watson artificial-intelligence software

Rometty CCIBM CEO Virginia Rometty

ORLANDO, Fla.—The rise of cognitive technology, or machines that can approximate the way people think, will lead to big changes in how people work and in the economy itself, International Business Machines Corp. CEO Virginia Rometty said Tuesday.

“This is not about replacing people. It is about augmenting what man does…this helps us do things we couldn’t do,” Ms. Rometty said Tuesday at the Gartner Symposium, a gathering of CIOs and business technology professionals.

IBM made news today with the announcement of a new 2,000-person consulting unit, the Cognitive Business Solutions Group, that will help businesses make use of Watson , a decision-support platform the company hopes to apply to a range of industries such as health care. The thesis is that there’s too much information for even a well-educated professional in health or law or just about any area to master, and the artificial intelligence and other algorithms at the heart of Watson can provide answers far more quickly than can the human mind. Read the rest of this entry »


Can We Shape the Robot Revolution?

7. October 2015

Date: 07-10-2015
Source: Technology Review

A robotics pioneer warns that technologists must consider how advances in machine intelligence will eradicate jobs.

BrooksRodney Brooks

New technologies are poised to have a profound impact on employment and society, robotics pioneer Rodney Brooks warned on Monday at Solve, a conference being held this week at MIT.

Brooks, a professor emeritus at MIT and one of the cofounders of the robotics company iRobot, said rapid advances threaten to upset many areas of work in the coming decades. “We see a common theme right now,” Brooks said, “which is digital technology changing the nature of work.”

Robotics is already playing a role in a major employment shift in manufacturing, in fact. Safer, cheaper, and smarter robots could foster a shift in employment in countries such as China in the coming years, as rising wages enable people to move from manufacturing to other kinds of employment. Brooks founded a company called Rethink Robotics that is making a robot designed to take over tasks currently done by hand on manufacturing lines.

During Solve, high-profile scientists and business leaders will consider trends that could affect the ability of millions of people to find meaningful employment. Sessions aimed at addressing the issue will include academics such as Erik Brynjolfsson, who has researched the issue of digital innovations and employment, and Eric Schmidt, chairman of Alphabet (the company previously known as Google).

Brooks compared the broader coming technological shift to the invention of the cotton gin—a device for automating the process of separating cotton fibers from seeds. Read the rest of this entry »