The Internet of Value: What It Means and How It Benefits Everyone

Blockchain has been called the “second significant overlay on the Internet” with the web being the first layer when it appeared back in 1990. That’s how important blockchain is. I know that when I mention blockchain to a lot of people, the first thing that comes into their minds is “Bitcoin.” That’s fair enough, because Bitcoin cryptocurrency has made blockchain famous. You’re probably aware that there is now a whole bunch of cryptocurrencies in addition to Bitcoin and although it remains the coin with the highest value, others like Ethereum are taking hold in the markets. But, there are many more exciting things that can be done with this technology beyond financial transactions using digital currencies and it is called “The Internet of Value’.

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Instant transactions

What is it? It is when Internet technology makes it possible to exchange ‘value’ as quickly as information. The banking system is one place where the Internet of Value can really make a big difference. For example, although information moves around the world instantly, a single payment from one country to another is slow, expensive and unreliable. According to Ripple, a blockchain transaction solution, in the US, a typical international payment takes 3-5 days to settle, has an error rate of at least 5% and an average cost of $42. Worldwide, there are $180 trillion worth of cross-border payments made every year, with a combined cost of more than $1.7 trillion a year.

But, with the technology from the Internet of Value, a value transaction, like a foreign currency payment, can happen instantly.  And it doesn’t have to be limited to money, although currently that is the primary use of this aspect of blockchain – the Internet of Value will enable the exchange of any asset, including stocks, votes, frequent flyer points, securities, intellectual property and more.

Blockchain and Value exchanges

The most common way of exchanging assets is using a bank, credit card or a booking service, but blockchain technology is changing all that. It allows these assets to be transferred directly from me to you without any other entity in the middle. The transfer is validated, permanent, and completed instantly – just like sharing information on the web. It has huge potential to change the world as we know it. It will decentralise every transaction, empower the individual and it will disrupt the financial markets as well as consumer ones.

This is not something that is a futuristic dream. It is already happening. Exchanges like NASDAQ are using blockchain technolog, Estonia, which is becoming the Silicon Valley of Europe, stores its citizens’ health records on blockchain and some airlines are accepting cryptocurrency payments for flights.

Very soon we will see the adoption of industry standards using an Interledger Protocol (ILP) that will set the standards for the settlement of transactions across different networks. ILP can be thought of much like the protocol HTTP used in web address that became the global standard for online information exchange.

With the use of this protocol there will be one, frictionless experience to send money globally using the power of blockchain. It will connect billions of people globally and give rise to new businesses and it will also liberate the millions of people who don’t have access to banking. The Internet of Value is bringing us into a bold, new world where the individual has more power. The Internet revolution is taking another step forward – we must embrace it.

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Canada – a leader in innovative technology

I was fortunate to move to Canada in the 1980s and be educated there. It’s a country of extraordinary beauty and diverse cultures. The Canadian Rockies are breathtaking and Whistler, its prime ski resort, is a match for any in the world. It’s a fantastic place for a family vacation, and you’ll find that Canadians are generally friendly, kind and welcoming to all visitors.

I’m also proud of Canada’s achievements in technology. I studied for my Bachelor’s and MBA at Prince Edward Island University and it gave me the solid foundation I needed to take me into the communications and IT industries, and my particular specialism –mobile communications – is a sector where Canada has a leading edge.

Canada and communications

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The first company I worked for was FCC Ltd. We collaborated with Bell Canada to Fix and Bring mobile traffic origination and termination consolidation.

Out of all Canadian technology innovations, the phone has had the most profound effect on the world. Scottish-born Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922) and Nova Scotia resident, who is credited with inventing the telephone, founded the Bell Telephone Co, which today is called BCE Inc and is Canada’s largest communications company.

And, Canada is the home of Blackberry. It may be facing a lot of competition now from Apple’s iPhone, but its secure BlackBerry Messaging service remains tops in the industry, party due to the fact that BBM’s encrypted data makes it hard to trace the messages back to the owners. Plus, Blackberry has added an even more secure version of the service aimed at users in healthcare, finance and government.

Canada also brought you the IMAX. The concept started in Montreal back at Expo 67 when three artists designed an installation of an immersive movie experience. Three years later the first IMAX film appeared and soon after the IMAX theatres appeared as well.  Now, there are IMAX cinemas and films all around the world.

Investing in Canada

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The election of Donald Trump in the USA prompted an increase in business people thinking of relocating to Canada. Canada’s world profile is also much bigger than in the past, in part due to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s activities. Therefore, more eyes are on Canada than ever before and market analysts suggest that investing in Canadian real estate is a good move. I’d agree and suggest investors look at areas with strong population and employment growth. Brampton in Ontario for example, which has Coca Cola, Air Canada, Canon Canada are just a few of the blue chip employers relocating there or expanding existing facilities. Other cities I’d recommend looking at real estate in are Milton and Richmond Hill, and I’m sure there are many more.

Canada’s strong economy and well-educated labour are also key reasons why global companies want to establish or expand their business in Canada. We have a broad selection of industry sectors that are ripe for investment. These include digital media, wireless communications and software, areas that are of personal interest to me. Did you know that Canadian studios are responsible for developing one in every six top-selling console games? Blockbuster titles from Canada include Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed, EA/BioWare’s Mass Effect, EA Sports’ FIFA Soccer.

And, Canada is leading the growing international demand for wireless technologies with leading infrastructure vendors, application developers and telecom software companies based in Canada. We are also seeing cutting-edge R&D work coming out of Canada from some of the biggest names in the sector: Alcatel-Lucent, AT&T, Avaya Inc., BlinQ, Ciena, Cisco Systems, Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson, JDSU, Nokia Solutions & Networks, Samsung and Sony.

Canada may have been overshadowed for some time by its neighbour to the south, but all the signs are that Canada is poised to maximise its opportunities for investment and to continue playing a leading role in high tech innovation that will secure for it a new status in the world economy. ‘

 

 

 

I Robot? No, I Creative

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In my last blog post I wrote about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and how it is modelled on the human brain’s neural pathways. However, as the post pointed out, whilst AI algorithms can mimic our thinking to a certain extent, as yet it can’t think at the same level of complexity as us. I’m aware that while some people are excited by the potential of AI, there are others who fear that it will replace human activity in the form of robots. The good news is, robots will increasingly help us by performing specific tasks – manufacturing is an example of where robots are useful—but there is one area in which the robots will not take over, and that is in the realm of creative thinking.

Robots free up time for more human creativity

Merrill Lynch published a report a couple of years back suggesting that 47% of jobs are “at risk of replacement by robots over the next 20 years.” These jobs are mostly in manufacturing and service industries. This kind of statistic plays into the hands of those who fear robotics. But, what we should be looking at is this; these robots will take over menial tasks, freeing humans up to use their time in being more creative. The report asked: “A major question is whether this will empower humans to go further than before, or if people will just be pushed out?”

 

The positive view of the advance of robots is that there are still many areas of work where the machines simply can’t replace humans. As I mentioned earlier, they can’t think creatively and there are other skills it is unlikely that will replace, at least for the next several decades. There are certainly some professions where we are unlikely to ever see robots.

Robots can’t teach kids

For example, robots can’t replace teachers, because a robot can’t relate to a child through human experience. As Ian Pearson from the World Academy for Arts and Sciences told Business Insider:

“A human will always be able to identify with another human on an emotional level better than a robot can.”

So, if you are a teacher you can feel confident that your job is safe, at least from robots.

Robots likely to make wrongful arrests

Another workforce that is unlikely to see its members’ replaced by robots is the police. The reason for this is that policing requires the skill of making judgements about situations. A robot can’t be programmed to make a judgement about a scenario. If robots were employed in this role, it is likely that they couldn’t differentiate between action that may look criminal but aren’t and an actual crime. A human can make a judgement call about what they are observing, and approach it based on previous experience and other aspects of our knowledge.

Robots can’t motivate

Motivational leaders and management positions are similarly safe from robots. Pearson even points out that people who are leading industry or service sectors will gain advantages from the employment of robots for menial tasks: “You will spend more time with colleagues, more time in meetings, more time in emotional analysis and trying to sway people. All of these other human skills become more important as the information skills become less important.”

Robots create more jobs

And finally, if you are still worried about being replaced by a robot, here is the good news from the Merrill Lynch report: countries like Germany and South Korea that have a high level of robots in manufacturing show a less decline in human employment than those countries with fewer robots employed, plus, “even as robots replace jobs, another 3.5 million jobs will be created because of robots.”

Our creative thinking is unique to us – it will be some time before robots and AI can replace that.

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Digital Innovation Trends in 2017

Digital Innovation Trends in 2017

Technology has a habit of moving at a very fast pace and I have noticed over the last year that the speed of change appears to have picked up even more pace, making it challenging to see where the next innovation is coming from and what the next trend is going to be. However, having said that, I also believe we have reached a point where those of us who are working in digital technology are shaping the future more than we were able to in the past, and we are creating technology that fits our specific needs. I’m also seeing technology used for ‘disruption’, a business and marketing trend that seems to have strong traction.

I recently read a report by Accenture on “Technology for People” and it made many excellent points that chime with my own view of what is going on in digital trends. In particular, there are five trends that will undoubtedly dominate 2017 and beyond.

  1. Technology becomes more human

In the earlier phases of technological innovation, it might have felt to some as if the “robots’ were taking over. Now, humans are back in control of the technology, and we are not adapting to it, we are designing technology that fits human needs. As Accenture says: “We’re putting technology to work to disrupt ourselves.” So, human empowerment is a leading trend in today’s innovations.

  1. Shaping the world for us

AI innovations have enabled us to do our jobs better. We also use advanced communications to collaborate with colleagues around the globe, plus the Internet of Things and big data analytics have the potential to have positive impacts on society. Robots work with marine biologists on conservation strategies for example. We’re going to working alongside AI and robots in every discipline, but we’re doing it in a way that reshapes the world and our function in it. We’re “embedding humanity into the technology itself,” as the Accenture report says.

  1. More intelligent technology

Technology has become increasingly interactive. Touch screens and natural language processing gives users the impression that the technology is just like us. The latest technology is capable of image recognition and “deep learning algorithms that make it seem to think more like us.” We’ll also see technology emerge that knows how to align itself with the user’s wants and needs. This will have a positive impact on businesses that thrive on receiving customer feedback and will enable them to adapt products to client tastes.

  1. Transformed provider – customer relationships

Partnerships are going to be a feature of the more human digital world that empowers the end user. Providers will be transformed into partners and by helping people achieve their goals, “these new partnerships will cement a place in the next evolution of society.” The provider-partners who will do best are those who “amplify people on a global and individual level.” Healthcare is one area where this new relationship will enjoy great success and we’re already seeing firms like Philips and CVS Health deliver connected and comprehensive services to people through digital technology. They are partners with the people using them.

  1. Putting people first

Technology in whatever form, whether it is an app or a smart gadget, will increasingly interact with people and learn from those exchanges, then it will adapt its functions for future interactions, thus making the experience of using them all the more human. Aligning with people’s goals is another trend and businesses will need to adopt people’s goals as their own. The old business model of maximising the opportunity for profit will change its shape and be replaced by one where a business helps its customer achieve their goals and that creates a more enduring customer loyalty.

As you can see, the trends for 2017 are all focused on technology being shaped by humans to correspond more closely with the human thought process and on technology adapting to us, not the other way round. This will lead to a greater trust between people and technology and in my view, this is essential for both those of us who work in the field and for a better world.

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