The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

The fallacy of the ideal entry level job out of college

 

Sisyphus.pngI was talking with an individual this week that was looking at accepting their first ‘real’ job. They were torn between the job that was offered and the job they really wanted to have. They were also debating about the constraints this job would put on their personal life.

 

Since they have a background in the sciences I advised them to break it down. Will this job:

  1. Give them greater flexibility to do the kind of things they really want to do – than you have right now?
  2. Provide experience that would look good to future employers in the areas where they’d like to work - in the future?
  3. Allow them to develop skills they know will be valuable both now and in the future?
  4. Have a culture that you can survive and even thrive?
  5. Put food on the table – right now?

I think they were having a bit of an issue with a big decision that definitely thrust them into the real word. I told them that everyone changes jobs many times in their lives. This is only the start, not the end. My own philosophy is that after 2 years, I am part of the problem not part of the solution – so I tend to move around organizations quite a bit.

 

I also described to the person that this whole idea of a work-life balance is a ‘first world problem’. Sure it is great to talk about when you have fluid cash and time on your hands, but it gets down to the fact that there is only life. Work, leisure, personal goals - they all drain from the same pool. You can’t spend your entire life looking for greener grass, when you don’t yet even have a yard.

 

After working as long as I have, it can be enlightening to help someone with these kinds of decisions. They are the ones that will need to pick up ‘the next big thing’ and do something with it – and hopefully pay taxes along the way to support people like me once I’m gone.

 

Of course if they really get desperate they can flip a coin that usually makes the decision your subconscious has made for you a bit clearer.

 

Tags: future| Trends| Vision
Labels: Future| Trends| Vision

What should be the goal of cognitive computing?

automated decisions.pngSome organizations think that cognitive computing is about getting better answers more quickly, typically using English to form the questions. There is no doubt that there is tremendous appeal to getting the answer to question in natural language, but is that really enough. In a world of data abundance, it can be difficult to know the right question to ask.

 

Unfortunately, many times it is the questions we never knew to ask, that turn into potential big gains or losses. One of my co-workers from HP labs mentioned that:

“It is interesting to note that change detection is a core competency (and survival property) of the visual cortex; it responds quickly because it constantly compares visual input with memories of what the world should look like. Thus, as we build next-generation systems based on large amounts of rapidly changing data, you want the data to self-organize, recognize similarities, detect changes, and help you assess anomalies so that these may be investigated.”

 

In addition to systems, we need services that enable the decision maker (human or machine) to react, respond and investigate based on the context of the information available, so that the entire ecosystem learns and adapts. It could be that having the future approach focus on better questions than better answers and how to display those questions and their answers more effectively should be the goal.

 

When I talk to leaders about where the future of services is headed, this is where my thoughts tend to go and it is going to take different techniques than organizations have deployed today.

Automating programming in a self-aware enterprise

 

AI.pngThere was an interesting article in NewScientist about a new approach to providing computing capabilities, computers with human-like learning that will program themselves. They talk about new approaches for computers to program themselves.

 

Earlier this year when ‘the machine’ was announced at HP Discover, this scenario was one of the first things that came to mind, since memristors can be used to provide neuron-like behavior. When you have universal memory whole new possibilities open up. When I saw the NewScientist article, it did make me think about a number of applications in the enterprise, since these techniques will be as far beyond today’s cognitive computing as today’s approach is from the mainframe.

 

Always bet on the machine is in a post from 2008, that was contemplating the future of development. What I probably meant was: those who learn to work with the machine will still have a career.

 

I’ve mentioned before that much of today’s management function is ripe for automation. With approaches like this, an enterprise autopilot is conceivable that can optimize a businesses’ response to normal business situations. Questions probably has more to do with ‘when’ than ‘if’.

 

HP announces a blending of the physical and the virtual

 

sprout.pngHopefully, anyone who is interested in 3D printing saw the two announcements by HP yesterday. They focused on having a Blended Reality that will change how we interact with technology and the world around us.

 

The first announcement should clear up the long rumored entry by HP into 3D printing. This multi-jet fusion approach of ‘page-wide’ printing is significantly faster than traditional 3D extrusion based printing. It is also much more finely grained and accurate. I handled some of these prototype parts a while back and I found it very exciting, when compared to any of the 3D printing efforts I’ve done myself. The potential ability to manipulate color, finish and flexibility within the same part was something I found unique. HP has a very strong materials science foundation ever since HPs commercial definition of ink jet printing in the early 80s and this approach really takes advantage of that experience.

 

The other shoe that dropped was Sprout. This link has numerous movies about how others have used this technology in their work. I’ve seen somewhat similar techniques applied in research projects for a number of years now, but not a commercial solution that you can ‘just buy’ that integrates touch, 2 and 3D scanning and multiple displays in such a seamless and functional way. Although I have talked with people about this effort about a year ago, it is great to see it become a reality – and I’m anxious to get my hands into its platform. There are some interesting perspectives that if you do work that involves your hands it may be the computer for you and the view that it is a solution looking for a problem – I can see easily see its use.

 

One of the things I find most exciting about these products that they enable a different kind of creative environment that functions as a springboard for greater creativity. These sort of environmental enabling view will be an ever increasing part of new business value generation in the future.

 

Experience optimization and a new wave of value

 

Waiting-for-the-Great-Leap-Forward.jpgI’ve mentioned before the waves of computing that have taken place over the last 50 years. When I think of it from an impact/value perspective (rather than one based on technology) the waves look a bit different. The first wave was the automation within the enterprise, addressing billing, inventory and even design automation. The second wave was automation and facilitation of personal activities. These included things like personal budgeting, on-line shopping…

 

The next wave is likely to be as different from the previous ones as the second one (focused on personal value) was from the first enterprise wave. This new wave is about automation and optimization of environments.

 

Technologies like IoT will shift both what and how we value. I was talking with another technologists the other day about the impact of automation at the macro level. A simple example is: What if a smart city were self-optimizing? Talking with the autonomous cars (which optimize at the micro level) while optimizing the environment of the city itself. Would that shift what people value and therefore what should be optimized? We can all recognize that all those individuals that make up the city are driven by different motivations --Will this new age of value be able to take these variations into account? I think that is part of what will make this new approach so compelling. We’ll have the abundance of computing capability to tackle it.

 

From a service futures perspective, the shift will likely be profound, since a new ability to derive behavior and goals will shift how value is assessed. Those organizations that can provide a better experience will outshine those that optimize based on someone/something else’s needs. It may not be so much what I own but what I can optimize – it will not be about mine, but about me (and what I’d like to accomplish). Start thinking about your organizations services from this perspective and it will likely change what you expect from your organizations IT.

 

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About the Author(s)
  • Steve Simske is an HP Fellow and Director in the Printing and Content Delivery Lab in Hewlett-Packard Labs, and is the Director and Chief Technologist for the HP Labs Security Printing and Imaging program.
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