Monthly Archives: December 2016


The Drones Will Fly People Around Dubai

Commercial drones just got a big upgrade: A fleet of passenger-carrying quadcopters could be flying around the city of Dubai by this summer, according to news reports.

The city’s new transportation option is an egg-shaped, single-passengerdrone in the traditional quadcopter style seen in many commercial drones, the Associated Press reported. The Chinese-made Ehang 184 can carry one passenger weighing up to 220 lbs. (100 kilograms) and a small suitcase, according to the AP.

Mattar Al Tayer, head of Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority, said during the World Government Summit this week that the city plans to have the drone regularly traversing the city’s skies in July.

“This is not only a model,” Al Tayer told the AP. “We have actually experimented with this vehicle flying in Dubai’s skies.”

The drone was unveiled in a flight over Dubai’s Burj Al Arab, the sail-shaped luxury hotel that is the fourth-tallest hotel in the world, the AP reported.

Once the passenger is buckled in and selects a destination, the drone automatically flies off. A control room will monitor the drones remotely via 4G mobile internet, according to the AP. With a battery that lasts for up to 30 minutes of flight and a range of up to about 30 miles (50 kilometers), the passenger-carrying drone can offer commuters an alternative to Dubai’s notorious traffic. Though the drone can reach up to 100 mph (160 km/h), authorities said the drone’s average operating speed will be about 60 mph (100 km/h), the AP reported.

Passenger-carrying drones are just the latest step in Dubai’s vision for a technologically advanced transportation future. In April, the AP reportedabout United Arab Emirates Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s announcement that 25 percent of Dubai’s commuters will be carried by driverless vehicles in 2030.

Following up on that claim, the city agreed to study the potential implementation of a “Hyperloop,” a transportation system first envisioned by SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk, according to the AP. In theory, the Hyperloop would move levitating pods through low-friction pipes to transport people at speeds as fast as 760 mph (1,220 km/h). For this project, Dubai partnered with Los Angeles-based Hyperloop One, which is not affiliated with Musk or his companies, to assess the possiblity of using a Hyperloop system to connect Dubai with Abu Dhabi.


This 7 Technology Trends That Will Dominate

Personally, I’m amazed at the technology we have available to us. It’s astounding to have the power to retrieve almost any information and communicate in a thousand different ways using a device that fits in your pocket.

There’s always something new on the horizon, and we can’t help but wait and wonder what technological marvels are coming next.

The way I see it, there are seven major tech trends we’re in store for in 2017. If you’re eyeing a sector in which to start a business, any of these is a pretty good bet. If you’re already an entrepreneur, think about how you can leverage these technologies to reach your target audience in new ways.

1. IoT and Smart Home Tech.

We’ve been hearing about the forthcoming revolution of the Internet-of-Things (IoT) and resulting interconnectedness of smart home technology for years. So what’s the holdup? Why aren’t we all living in smart, connected homes by now? Part of the problem is too much competition, with not enough collaboration—there are tons of individual appliances and apps on the market, but few solutions to tie everything together into a single, seamless user experience. Now that bigger companies already well-versed in uniform user experiences (like Google, Amazon, and Apple) are getting involved, I expect we’ll see some major advancements on this front in the coming year.

2. AR and VR.

We’ve already seen some major steps forward for augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology in 2016. Oculus Rift was released, to positive reception, and thousands of VR apps and games followed. We also saw Pokémon Go, an AR game, explode with over 100 million downloads. The market is ready for AR and VR, and we’ve already got some early-stage devices and tech for these applications, but it’s going to be next year before we see things really take off. Once they do, you’ll need to be ready for AR and VR versions of practically everything—and ample marketing opportunities to follow.

3. Machine Learning.

Machine learning has taken some massive strides forward in the past few years, even emerging to assist and enhance Google’s core search engine algorithm. But again, we’ve only seen it in a limited range of applications. Throughout 2017, I expect to see machine learning updates emerge across the board, entering almost any type of consumer application you can think of, from offering better recommended products based on prior purchase history to gradually improving the user experience of an analytics app. It won’t be long before machine learning becomes a kind of “new normal,” with people expecting this type of artificial intelligence as a component of every form of technology.

4. Automation.

Marketers will be (mostly) pleased to learn that automation will become a bigger mainstay in and throughout 2017, with advanced technology enabling the automation of previously human-exclusive tasks. We’ve had robotic journalists in circulation for a couple of years now, and I expect it won’t be long before they make another leap into more practical types of articles. It’s likely that we’ll start seeing productivity skyrocket in a number of white-collar type jobs—and we’ll start seeing some jobs disappear altogether. When automation is combined with machine learning, everything can improve even faster, so 2017 has the potential to be a truly landmark year.

5. Humanized Big Data. (visual, empathetic, qualitative)

Big data has been a big topic for the past five years or so, when it started making headlines as a buzzword. The idea is that mass quantities of gathered data—which we now have access to—can help us in everything from planning better medical treatments to executing better marketing campaigns. But big data’s greatest strength—its quantitative, numerical foundation—is also a weakness. In 2017, I expect we’ll see advancements to humanize big data, seeking more empathetic and qualitative bits of data and projecting it in a more visualized, accessible way.

6. Physical-Digital Integrations.

Mobile devices have been slowly adding technology into our daily lives. It’s rare to see anyone without a smartphone at any given time, giving us access to practically infinite information in the real-world. We already have things like site-to-store purchasing, enabling online customers to buy and pick up products in a physical retail location, but the next level will be even further integrations between physical and digital realities. Online brands like Amazon will start having more physical products, like Dash Buttons, and physical brands like Walmart will start having more digital features, like store maps and product trials.

7. Everything On-Demand.

Thanks to brands like Uber (and the resulting madness of startups built on the premise of being the “Uber of ____”), people are getting used to having everything on demand via phone apps. In 2017, I expect this to see this develop even further. We have thousands of apps available to us to get rides, food deliveries, and even a place to stay for the night, but soon we’ll see this evolve into even stranger territory.

Anyone in the tech industry knows that making predictions about the course of technology’s future, even a year out, is an exercise in futility. Surprises can come from a number of different directions, and announced developments rarely release as they’re intended.

Still, it pays to forecast what’s coming next so you can prepare your marketing strategies (or your budget) accordingly. Whatever the case may be, it’s still fun to think about everything that’s coming next.


The Cybersecurity Be a Human

Having access to the internet is increasingly considered to be an emerging human right. International organizations and national governments have begun to formally recognize its importance to freedom of speech, expression and information exchange. The next step to help ensure some measure of cyber peace online may be for cybersecurity to be recognized as a human right, too.

The United Nations has taken note of the crucial role of internet connectivity in “the struggle for human rights.” United Nations officials have decried the actions of governments cutting off internet access as denying their citizens’ rights to free expression.

But access is not enough. Those of us who have regular internet access often suffer from cyber-fatigue: We’re all simultaneously expecting our data to be hacked at any moment and feeling powerless to prevent it. Late last year, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an online rights advocacy group, called for technology companies to “unite in defense of users,” securing their systems against intrusion by hackers as well as government surveillance.

It’s time to rethink how we understand the cybersecurity of digital communications. One of the U.N.’s leading champions of free expression,international law expert David Kaye, in 2015 called for “the encryption of private communications to be made a standard.” These and other developments in the international and business communities are signaling what could be early phases of declaring cybersecurity to be a human right that governments, companies and individuals should work to protect.

The idea of internet access as a human right is not without controversy. No less an authority than Vinton Cerf, a “father of the internet,” has argued that technology itself is not a right, but a means through which rights can be exercised.

All the same, more and more nations have declared their citizens’ right to internet access. Spain, France, Finland, Costa Rica, Estonia and Greece have codified this right in a variety of ways, including in their constitutions, laws and judicial rulings.

A former head of the U.N.’s global telecommunications governing bodyhas argued that governments must “regard the internet as basic infrastructure – just like roads, waste and water.” Global public opinionseems to overwhelmingly agree.

Cerf’s argument may, in fact, strengthen the case for cybersecurity as a human right – ensuring that technology enables people to exercise their rights to privacy and free communication.

Current international human rights law includes many principles that apply to cybersecurity. For example, Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights includes protections of freedom of speech, communication and access to information. Similarly, Article 3 states “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” Butenforcing these rights is difficult under international law. As a result, many countries ignore the rules.

There is cause for hope, though. As far back as 2011, the U.N.’s High Commission for Human Rights said that human rights are equally valid online as offline. Protecting people’s privacy is no less important when handling paper documents, for instance, than when dealing with digital correspondence. The U.N.’s Human Rights Council reinforced that stancein 2012, 2014 and 2016.

In 2013, the U.N. General Assembly itself – the organization’s overall governing body, comprising representatives from all member nations – voted to confirm people’s “right to privacy in the digital age.” Passed in the wake of revelations about U.S. electronic spying around the globe, the document further endorsed the importance of protecting privacy and freedom of expression online. And in November 2015, the G-20, a group of nations with some of the world’s largest economies, similarly endorsed privacy, “including in the context of digital communications.”

Simply put, the obligation to protect these rights involves developing new cybersecurity policies, such as encrypting all communications and discarding old and unneeded data, rather than keeping it around indefinitely. More firms are using the U.N.’s Guiding Principles to help inform their business decision-making to promote human rights due diligence. They are also using U.S. government recommendations, in the form of the National Institute for Standards and Technology Cybersecurity Framework, to help determine how best to protect their data and that of their customers.

In time, the tide will likely strengthen. Internet access will become more widely recognized as a human right – and following in its wake may well be cybersecurity. As people use online services more in their daily lives, their expectations of digital privacy and freedom of expression will lead them to demand better protections.

Governments will respond by building on the foundations of existing international law, formally extending into cyberspace the human rights to privacy, freedom of expression and improved economic well-being. Now is the time for businesses, governments and individuals to prepare for this development by incorporating cybersecurity as a fundamental ethical consideration in telecommunications, data storage, corporate social responsibility and enterprise risk management.


Cyborg In Future

How can humans stay relevant in an age of artificial intelligence? Elon Musk thinks cyborgs are the answer.

The Tesla and SpaceX CEO discussed the need for a “merger of biological intelligence and digital intelligence” during a talk today (Feb. 13) at the World Government Summit in Dubai, CNBC reported.

One of the main advantages computers have over humans is the speed at which they can send out information, Musk said. While humans are limited by the the speed of theirtyping, a computer can send out information at “a trillion bits per second,” Musk said. As artificial intelligence (AI) becomes more advanced, humans will also need to evolve to remain relevant, he added.

“Some high-bandwidth interface to the brain will be something that helps achieve a symbiosis between human and machine intelligence, and maybe solves the control problem and the usefulness problem,” Musk said of the need for humans to merge their minds with computers, according to CNBC.

Musk has previously discussed a system that could link human brains to a computer interface. This so-called “neural lace” concept, which would add a digital layer of intelligence to the human brain, was first mentioned at Recode’s Code Conference last year. Since introducing the idea, Musk has hinted at the interface’s progress and has further discussed his views on an artificially intelligent future.

Musk has also expressed his fear of “deep AI,” explaining that an artificial general intelligence would be “smarter than the smartest human on Earth.” Though this technology is not an immediate threat, Musk said the combination of human brains with machine intelligence will ensure humanity’s continued relevance.

However, one aspect of AI that is an immediate threat is the displacement of jobs, Musk said. During the World Government Summit talk, Musk specifically noted that with autonomous cars, an industry in which Tesla is a leader, AI will displace people in driving-focused positions such as truck drivers, delivery drivers and taxi drivers.

“The most near-term impact from a technology standpoint is autonomous cars,” Musk said at the Summit, according to CNBC. “But there are many people whose jobs are to drive. In fact, I think it might be the single largest employer of people … driving in various forms.”

Musk estimated that 12 to 15 percent of the global workforce will be out of a job once autonomous vehicles AI take over driving duties, CNBC reported.