Creating Generational Legacies

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Google tests VR as a replacement for dull training videos

A contest between training videos and virtual reality goes to VR.

We've heard about medical professionals using VR to augment their suites for years, but Google is testing its fit in the broader workplace, starting with employment's least fun experience: Training. The company's Daydream Labs hosted an experiment to see if hypothetical new hires learned better by watching training videos or donning a VR headset and walking through simulations -- and it turns out, immersive education does a better job. For this single trial, anyway.

how it works

The experiment pit two groups against each other in the time-honored competition of brewing better coffee. One watched barista training videos on YouTube, while the other went through a course in VR with a simulated espresso machine (think Job Simulator without the jokes). Ultimately, the VR crew took less time and made fewer mistakes -- though Google was quick to point out that neither group made impressive java.

A single trial isn't enough proof to definitively give VR the work training crown, but it's certainly promising for anyone making educational tools in virtual reality. It also pointed out the medium's drawbacks: The VR group might have learned how to twist the right dials on the 3D-modeled espresso machine, but the simulated training didn't teach the pressure-sensitive art of tamping down grounds into the espresso scoop -- something that haptic vibration in controllers doesn't sell. Plus, hot steam nozzles in VR didn't carry the same danger as those in real life, and chaperones had to yank the workers' hands away.

Gloves with better tracking and haptics could make up the difference, but there might just be jobs that can't be simulated well in VR -- at least with our current technology, Google's Daydream team wrote in a blog post. There were other hurdles with training in virtual reality: Namely, people don't follow instructions, rush ahead and ignore hints. They also didn't perform steps in order, so the team had to redesign the training like a video game wherein folks could fulfill tasks in any sequence (steaming the milk before grinding the coffee instead of after, for example).

While this VR session won't be ported into a Starbucks training course tomorrow, it was still a successful experiment, the Daydream team asserted in the post -- and it has promising lessons for learning experiences beyond occupational skill-building.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

“We need to start getting it together to think about the Future of Work."

BBG Mastermind Series  “Beyond the Future of Work”  with Heather Mcgowan and Chris Shipley  

Heather Mcgowan and Chris Shipley launching the "Beyond the Future of Work" Series
“We need to start getting it together to think about the Future of Work."

Heather Mcgowan talking about needing to
"learn throughout the journey of employment".
At school and university, the focus should be to "learn to learn" 

The Comfort Zone, Learning Zone and Panic Zone

The meaning of lifelong employment is now more abstract. It is to pursue a long distance race of learning, to run with the speed of change. To evolve with the value of knowledge and keep up with the currency of time and effort: to surrender to a paradigm of perpetual instability. To expect nothing but the need to become the unexpected as the expected will expectedly be replaced by technology. 
The comfort zone, the learning zone and the panic zone are virtual spaces that differentiate employees not according to their age, but by their competency to engage with an innovative mindset. Currently, the comfort zone of someone fresh to the industry is the panic zone of someone with fifty years experience. The comfort zone is no longer safe. Your job is likely to be replaced with a different job of a different title and skillset. Yet, it need not be replaced with a different person. If one pursues lifelong employment, one pursues a long life in the learning zone. Working to learn makes it possible for changing jobs to be occupied by the same employee.  

The Hunter-Gatherer Era valued efficiency of labor, strength, speed and use of literally cutting-edge technology: a sharp instrument. 

The Agricultural Era called for the augmentation of this labor, survival relied on the knowledge and stamina for farming. 

The Industrial Era saw the replacement of labor with machines for efficiency and optimization of production. 

The Information Era allowed for cognitive reduction as knowledge and skill are easily acquired. In this past period, the predictable timeline began with formal education, transitioned smoothly to career, concluding in retirement. A comfortable happily-ever-after Romantic tale of the workforce. 

Today we welcome the Augmentation Era, where machines and minds are united to enable cognitive augmentation that makes space for creativity, agility and adaptability to the changing economic climate.  There are fewer humans needed to contribute to traditional tasks at hand and there are more humans needed with a bandwidth for the complex and ambiguous.

The vocabulary to sufficiently write about the future of jobs does not exist yet. Here are some abstract buzz words to appease us in the meantime. “unprecedented” and “technological transformation”, “shared economy” and “learning agility”. We will have to unlearn our native language surrounding what it means to have our own steady job, profession and career. We must relearn the way of resilience, adaptability, continuous learning and openness to change. 

How else can the average professional worker of this generation experience 17 different jobs across 5 different industries or survive multiple paradigm shifts? Don’t dismiss this postmodern, multi-narrative pastiche as a psychological thriller. 

Instead of associating our identity with our job, our company or our education, we should begin to think of ourselves in a whole new way. 

To conceptualize a job as the skills it requires, rather then the title at hand, is the mindset with which one can strive. Employees are empowered to view themselves as a partner, to realize the profound value in a portable skillset and an ability to learn from the tools and technology as well as with them.

While our species is getting smarter and more ‘efficient’ at completing tasks, the individual has the same cognitive capacity and bandwidth. However, the individual will need to shift toward utilizing the emotional and imaginative faculty of creativity, critical thinking and problem solving as machines will replace every possible aspect. To access our cognitive bandwidth is to employ automated technology that will replace non-creative tasks. 

The domain of the elite is making ones passion productive, which can be done by being open to every industry, as we carve the line between ‘what is human work’ and ‘what is machine work’.  Human work involves innovative entrepreneurial problem solving. Soft skills. The ability to help others. There is a misconception that high level jobs are safe from automation and low level jobs are at risk. 

As degrees don’t guarantee jobs, we enter a renaissance period of learning, which values learning agility and mindset as what is needed are highly skilled people who can solve ambiguous and complex problems with creativity and collaboration, while anything task related will be replaced by Artificial Intelligence and Machines.   
Heather Mcgowan - People are living longer,  and the skillsets needed are for the younger generation. How are we going to close the gap? 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Emotional Intelligence and the Future of Work

Emotional Intelligence has helped businesses explain why some of their best performing staff and leaders don’t necessarily have the best academic qualification or professional skills.
But many leaders are still confused by emotional intelligence and its importance to the workplace. They are asking:
“How do I know if I am emotionally intelligent?”
“How can I measure it in myself and what do I look for in others?”
In order to answer these questions, it helps to first understand the main traits of emotional intelligence. Once you know these, you can start looking for them in yourself and others and assess how you measure up. You can then take steps to improve those that you are weakest on, if you want to raise your EQ.

Below, Ush Dhanak identifies 15 initial questions you can ask yourself to self-assess your level of emotional intelligence:

  1. Do you have the ability to listen to others?
Blindly ploughing your own course with no regard for others is no sign of EQ! Instead, emotionally intelligent people are able to listen and take in the thoughts, feelings, and opinions of others. They actively seek these out and are able to process them without judgement.
  1. Can you identify and express emotions?
We all experience a multitude of emotions – but people with EQ recognise what these emotions are and are able to label them and express what they are. Labelling emotions has the effect of diminishing their intensity and creating clarity – which can lead to better decision-making in the workplace.
  1. Are you curious about others?
Because you have the ability to empathise with others, you are also curious about them, if you have high emotional intelligence. This connects with the first above: you listen and care about the responses of others – which makes you curious about what they’re going through.
  1. How self-aware are you?
People with EQ are comfortable in their skin. They know what they’re good at and what they’re not so good at. They certainly don’t think or act like they are the best at everything. They are also better able to handle situations when their weaknesses may be exposed – because they are prepared for them.
  1. Do you display confidence?
Because of high self-awareness, emotionally intelligent people have a confidence about them – but not excessive or misplaced confidence. It comes across as an air of authority and balance. 
  1. Do you view change as threat or opportunity?
Emotionally intelligent people don’t feel threatened by change; because they are comfortable, aware, prepared, and confident in their abilities, they are flexible enough to approach change as an opportunity. They can help others to see it positively too: partly for this reason, high EQ points to strong leadership qualities.
  1. Are you easily upset – or unruffable?
People with EQ are thick-skinned and can take a joke; that of course doesn’t mean that they are immune to emotion – they are just not offended easily or over-sensitive to criticism and can control their emotions. The balance and confidence that they exhibit makes them seem more ‘unruffable’ than most.
  1. Do you build strong relationships?
Another trait is the ability to build strong, lasting relationships. Emotionally intelligent people don’t waste time with partnerships that won’t bear fruit; instead, they focus on working on the relationships that do matter.
  1. Are you good at finding compromises?
Every social situation has people we don’t get along with. The difference with emotionally intelligent people is that they don’t get angry, irritated, or frustrated by them. Instead, they are able to recognise emotions brewing up and to then rise above them. This makes them better able to see the other person’s point of view and more likely to find a compromise.
  1. Are you a good judge of character?
Being aware of your own traits and emotions also helps you see qualities in others. This can make you a better judge of character. You are able to scratch the surface and to see what really lies beneath with other people: a very useful skill when you’re a leader hiring employees, for instance.
  1. Do you find the positives in all situations?
Emotionally intelligent people are able to get over mistakes, negative experiences, and setbacks more easily than others. They see things positively and realise that most events in life are learning experiences; so they pick themselves up and get on with it. This also makes them more likely to take calculated risks – because they are less fearful of making mistakes.
  1. Can you say NO?
People with EQ know where to draw the line and realise that saying ‘yes’ to things actually means saying ‘no’ to other things (which may be more important). They are clear about priorities and so are not scared to say ‘no’ when necessary. This avoids the stress associated with agreeing to things just to please others.
  1. Do you know when to disconnect?
Emotionally intelligent people may often be hard-working leaders – but they also know when to switch off and disconnect from the working world. They know that family time, rest, and ME time is important to their wellbeing and they will make time for it. They have work-life balance.
  1. Are you usually in a good mood?
You’ll usually find emotionally intelligent people in a good mood and pleasant to be around; they don’t get too stressed and seem generally content with life. This is because deep-down they are in a ‘good place’ and the day-to-day stresses don’t get to them too much.
  1. Do you trash talk?
Finally, you won’t find people with a high EQ talking people down; they avoid negative conversations about others and don’t indulge in gossip. They implicitly know that focusing on the negative actions of other also brings your own energy down – so they prefer to focus on the positives.
Hopefully the above questions help you get clearer on the attributes of emotional intelligence. Apart from these observational measurements, there are validated tests you can take that will provide an indication of your level of emotional intelligence.
Want to assess emotional intelligence in your workplace? Or measure your own EQ?

Friday, July 14, 2017

Why AI will be a $60b a year business

From the desk of Bob Pritchard 

What is AI? Why is it so hot all of a sudden?  What will AI mean to you?  Why should you take notice?  For a start, it’s the technology powering Siri, Alexa and Cortana, smart home devices, driverless cars, news generation, purchase projections, fraud protection and the Facebook feature that automatically tags your friends when you upload photos.
SunTrust recently released a report that breaks down how AI works and reported in Business Intelligence.
AI is what people call computer programs that try to replicate how the human brain operates. For now, they only can replicate very specific tasks. One system can beat humans at the complicated and ancient board game called Go, for example. Lots of these AI systems are being developed, each excellent at a specific task.
AI systems all operate in basically the same way. AI systems are unique because they are set up like human brains. AI is even talked about in terms of neurons and synapses, just like the human brain. AI systems have to be trained, which is a process of adjusting these checkpoints to achieve better results. This training process takes a huge amount of computer process to fine tune. The better a system is trained, the better results you can get from it. The huge amount of processing power required to run and train AI systems is what has kept AI research relatively quiet until recently, which explains why it is now such a hot topic of conversation..
There is a famous AI contest where researchers pit computers against humans in a challenge to correctly identify photos. Humans usually are able to identify photos with about 95% accuracy in this content, and in 2012, computers were able to identify about 74% of photos correctly, according to SunTrust’s report. In 2015, computers reached 96% accuracy, officially beating humans for the first time. This was called the “big bang” of AI, according to SunTrust.
The big bang of AI was made possible by some fancy new algorithms, three specifically. These new algorithms were better ways of training AI systems, making them faster and cheaper to run.  AI systems require lots of real-world examples to be trained well, like lots of cat photos for example. These cat photos also had to be labelled as cat photos so the system knew when it got the right answer from its algorithms and checkpoints. The new algorithms that led to the big bang allowed AI systems to be trained with fewer examples that didn’t have to be labelled as well as before. Collecting enough examples to train an AI system used to be really expensive, but was much cheaper after the big bang. Advances in processing power and cheap storage also helped move things along.
Since the big bang, there have been a number of huge strides in AI technology. Tesla, Google, Apple and many of the traditional car companies are training AI systems for autonomous driving. Google, Apple and Amazon are pioneering the first smart personal assistants. Some companies are even working on AI driven healthcare solutions that could personalize treatment plans based on a patient’s history.
AI technology could be as simple as making your email smarter, but it could also extend your lifespan, take away your job, or end human soldiers fighting the world’s wars.  SunTrust says AI has the capability to change nearly every industry. The moves we are seeing now are just the beginnings, the low hanging fruits. Cities can become smarter, TSA might be scanning your face as you pass through security and doctors could give most of their consultations via your phone thanks to increased AI advancements.
One is for sure. AI is exciting, sometimes scary, but ultimately, here to stay. We are just starting to see the implications of the technology.
Maybe the only significant difference between a really smart simulation and a human being was the noise they made when you punched them
Don't forget to listen into my radio show on VoiceAmerica Business at 5pm PST every Tuesday. Listen to any of my previous shows on VoiceAmerica archives at any time you choose. I interview some of the top people in business every week     
Bob Pritchard
Have a successful, healthy and profitable day