Category Archives: Education

Updates from Siemens

Digital Enterprise Industry Solutions for Rail Systems
Siemens – Increasing complexity of the rail industry requires systems-driven approaches to product development that combine systems engineering with integrated product definition. Our Digital Enterprise Industry Solutions unify product development with manufacturing to provide functional networking, advanced modeling and simulation, and an intuitive user experience.

Rail transport is a key element in the mobility of communities, moving citizens and goods in comfort and safety while minimizing environmental impact.

Rail transport can be a source of noise, vibration and pollution. It can event present a nuisance or threat to surrounding infrastructure. Whether you are manufacturing train, tram, metro, subway, light rail or monorail systems, our solutions offer a comprehensive, integrated design, simulation and manufacturing environment for developing rail systems.

Managing pass-by-noise of rail transport is a constraint in cities with dense populations. Performance and reliability of rail systems also present operational concerns. Our rail design, simulation and testing solutions optimize noise and vibration comfort.

Our solutions enable you to make smart design decisions so that your rail systems carry people and freight cleanly, efficiently and quietly. more>

Rethinking the Social Network

By Susan Milligan – Is Facebook losing its base? The social media giant is already facing a credibility crisis.

Facebook began in the early 2000s at Harvard, where then-student Mark Zuckerberg started “Facemash” (often described as a Harvard “hot-or-not” site) and turned it into a multibillion-dollar site where “friends” could share news and photos, as well as personal profile information.

The site came to play an important role in campaigns and elections. Barack Obama’s campaign, for example, found that getting endorsed and mentioned in Facebook messages was often more effective than paying for TV campaign ads, since voters were more likely to trust information from someone they knew than from a professionally produced campaign commercial.

Other institutions fared poorly with young people as well, though trust was higher as the entities became more local. Just 22 percent trust the president to do the right thing all or most of the time, with the federal government, at 21 percent, and Congress, at 18 percent, coming in even lower. However, 34 percent say they have faith in their state governments all or most of the time, and 38 percent say the same about their local governments. more>

The Work Ahead

By Edward Alden and Laura Taylor-Kale – The world is in the midst of a profound transformation in the nature of work, as smart machines and other new technologies remake how people do their jobs and pursue their careers. The pace of change will almost certainly accelerate, and the disruptions will grow larger. In the United States, where work is the basis for most of the income and benefits that make a secure life possible for Americans and their families, the transformation has been especially wrenching.

The most important challenge facing the United States— given the seismic forces of innovation, automation, and globalization that are changing the nature of work—is to create better pathways for all Americans to adapt and thrive. The country’s future as a stable, strong nation willing and able to devote the necessary resources and attention to meeting international challenges depends on rebuilding the links among work, opportunity, and economic security.

Failure to do so will increase the pressures for retrenchment that are already causing the United States to back away from global leadership. A United States that cannot provide better job and career options and greater economic security for its citizens will be less competitive and less of an example to the world.

It will have fewer resources available for national security. Domestic struggles over the sharing of economic gains will further distract and divide the country, and make it less willing and less able to act effectively in the world.

As technology disrupts industry after industry, the United States needs better ways to help Americans access the many new opportunities technology is also creating, in particular by strengthening the link between education and employment prospects. The country needs stronger support for job creation, especially for better-paying jobs.

It needs to make the skill demands of jobs much more transparent, so job seekers know the credentials required to move ahead on their own career paths. It needs to ensure that all Americans can gain the skills and knowledge that they—and the economy—depend on for success. And the United States needs to improve the benefits and returns from work for all Americans. more (pdf)>

Transparent Digital Transformations Mitigate Risk, Aid Business Objectivity

NEC – Digital Transformation occurs in two ways. Firstly, organizations implement incremental improvements that help parts of the organization to better perform their fundamental business tasks.

Secondly, the organization completely changes the way it does business—by adjusting its business model or taking advantage of new markets or products—which has the potential to transform the industry and disrupt several others.

There are extremely serious consequences if digital transformations are not properly managed. Problems generally occur when organizations fixate on specific technologies or attempt to reach the ‘transformed’ state without fully understanding their existing digital landscape. This results in wastefulness, duplication, delays and worse.

The foundation of a successful digital transformation is a comprehensive understanding of your current digital landscape and a self-assessment of how prepared you are to face the challenge.

Like many powerful concepts, successful execution is almost impossible to achieve until enabling technology is invented. So, some twenty years after initial attempts, it is now possible to safely and effectively consume innovation as part of the digital transformation journey, instead of being compelled to become more innovative.

Innovation is best accessed from a vibrant vendor marketplace, yet current procurement practices, involving outsourcing, panels and tendering, have failed to leverage the quantum of technological innovation available whilst simultaneously managing risk.

In this model the ‘governance layer’ is placed on the vendor as opposed to the solution. Tendering processes can stifle innovation through proscription and new approaches are discouraged due to the lack of reference-ability.

Are government organizations better placed to learn how to more effectively consume innovation than become innovative?

Government leaders should identify, mitigate and eliminate blockages and friction through the refinement of the governance model and business processes. There is much that sustaining innovation can achieve in this regard. Importantly, an organization can and should become better at consuming innovation to manage downside risks.

What to do, if you’re a leading player in a radically changing
market?

“Found or acquire a subsidiary company with the right values and processes, equip it with the necessary resources, then let it do its thing.” more (pdf)>

Escape the echo chamber

By C Thi Nguyen – Something has gone wrong with the flow of information. It’s not just that different people are drawing subtly different conclusions from the same evidence. It seems like different intellectual communities no longer share basic foundational beliefs. Maybe nobody cares about the truth anymore, as some have started to worry.

Maybe political allegiance has replaced basic reasoning skills. Maybe we’ve all become trapped in echo chambers of our own making – wrapping ourselves in an intellectually impenetrable layer of likeminded friends and web pages and social media feeds.

But there are two very different phenomena at play here, each of which subvert the flow of information in very distinct ways. Let’s call them echo chambers and epistemic bubbles. Both are social structures that systematically exclude sources of information. Both exaggerate their members’ confidence in their beliefs. But they work in entirely different ways, and they require very different modes of intervention.

An epistemic bubble is when you don’t hear people from the other side.

An echo chamber is what happens when you don’t trust people from the other side.

Luckily, though, epistemic bubbles are easily shattered. We can pop an epistemic bubble simply by exposing its members to the information and arguments that they’ve missed. But echo chambers are a far more pernicious and robust phenomenon. more>

A radical proposal to keep your personal data safe

By Richard Stallman – Broader, meaning extending to all surveillance systems, not just Facebook. Deeper, meaning to advance from regulating the use of data to regulating the accumulation of data. Because surveillance is so pervasive, restoring privacy is necessarily a big change, and requires powerful measures.

The surveillance imposed on us today far exceeds that of the Soviet Union. For freedom and democracy’s sake, we need to eliminate most of it. There are so many ways to use data to hurt people that the only safe database is the one that was never collected. Thus, instead of the EU’s approach of mainly regulating how personal data may be used (in its General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR), I propose a law to stop systems from collecting personal data.

The robust way to do that, the way that can’t be set aside at the whim of a government, is to require systems to be built so as not to collect data about a person. The basic principle is that a system must be designed not to collect certain data, if its basic function can be carried out without that data.

Frills on the system, such as the feature of letting a passenger review the list of past journeys, are not part of the basic function, so they can’t justify incorporating any additional surveillance.

What about security? Such systems in areas where the public are admitted must be designed so they cannot track people.

The EU’s GDPR regulations are well-meaning, but do not go very far. It will not deliver much privacy, because its rules are too lax. They permit collecting any data if it is somehow useful to the system, and it is easy to come up with a way to make any particular data useful for something. more>

Reinventing And Humanizing Management: How Agile And Beyond Budgeting Have Converged

By Steve Denning – “What is required in today’s creative economy,” wrote Gary Hamel recently, “is a radical rethink of our top-down, tradition-encrusted management principles and processes. The challenge: building organizations that are as innovative as they are efficient, as passion-filled as they are pragmatic… This is not merely about implementing a new practice, process or structure. Instead, we have to start with a new set of management principles.”

The Agile movement began in software development, while the Beyond Budgeting (BB) movement started from a re-think of budgeting principles. What’s interesting is to see how far these two movements, which had such radically different origins, have steadily converged.

The purpose of the Beyond Budgeting movement is not necessarily to get rid of budgets. The purpose is to create these organizations that are more adaptive, more human, call it more agile. In order to do that, we need to change traditional management.

At the core of traditional management, you find the budgeting process and the budgeting mindset. So the budget is “the elephant in the room.” An organization can never be truly agile unless you also address that mindset, and that process. It is necessary but not sufficient. more>

Are We Master or Machine?

By Junko Yoshida – The two AI leaders are the US and China. In the US, it’s entirely driven by the private sector… Chinese players collect a lot of data driven by a government. Neither reflects our principles and values, says French President.

Most U.S. consumers, swept into the era of Big Data, in a prosperous nation where Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon have become the definition of Big Business, don’t readily dwell on the constitutional complexities of personal privacy.

Last Thursday, Emmanuel Macron, president of France, laid out a new strategy for artificial intelligence in his country. The French government will spend 1.5 billion euro ($1.85 billion) over five years to support research in the field, encourage startups, and collect data that can be used and shared by engineers.

Macron’s goal is obvious. France is figuring out that they’ve got to start catching up to the U.S. and China. He wants the best and the brightest in the AI field to come to Paris.

To most American observers, Macron’s economic argument is easy to understand. Where things get tricky for most Americans to comprehend is the French argument on “values.”

This is where Macron introduces “digital sovereignty.” more>

Updates from Chicago Booth

Why hasn’t technology sped up productivity?
By Chad Syverson – You can think of all productivity measures as ratios of output to input. The most common one you hear about is labor productivity, or output per worker hour.

This is the one that economists have been following the longest, and we have good confidence that we measure it as well as we can. It’s also where technological progress ought to show up: these new technologies ought to let us make great new things without having to put new resources into the production of those things.

Making better things using the same amount of resources, or making the same things using fewer resources, is, in the end, where economic growth comes from. If this phenomenon is taking place, you should see it in the data reflected as productivity growth. The problem is, if you go look for it in the United States, you don’t find it. Productivity growth hasn’t stopped altogether, but since the mid-2000s, the rate of growth has fallen considerably.

These studies typically produce figures in the neighborhood of $100 billion–$200 billion in the US. That’s not pocket change, but it’s nothing compared to the $3 trillion of output that is missing because productivity growth has slowed.

So how worried should you be? If productivity growth stays where it is, you should be worried. We are going to be considerably poorer than we would be otherwise. We already are. Ten years into the slowdown, we’re each already $9,000 poorer per year. more>

Related>

Will China Really Supplant US Economic Hegemony?

By Kenneth Rogoff – True, it is highly unlikely that President Donald Trump’s huffing and puffing and bluffing will bring about a large-scale return of manufacturing jobs to the US. But the US has the potential to expand the size of its manufacturing base anyway, in terms of output if not jobs.

But China’s rapid growth has been driven mostly by technology catch-up and investment. And while China, unlike the Soviet Union, has shown vastly more competence in homegrown innovation – Chinese companies are already leading the way in the next generation of 5G mobile networks – and its cyber-warfare capacity is fully on par with the US, keeping close to the cutting edge is not the same thing as defining it. China’s gains still come largely from adoption of Western technology, and in some cases, appropriation of intellectual property.

In the economy of the twenty-first century, other factors, including rule of law, as well as access to energy, arable land, and clean water may also become increasingly important. China is following its own path and may yet prove that centralized systems can push development further and faster than anyone had imagined, far beyond simply being a growing middle-income country. But China’s global dominance is hardly the predetermined certainty that so many experts seem to assume.

China might lead the digital future if the US drops the ball, but it won’t become the dominant global power simply because it has a larger population. more>