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Nine Things You Should Know to Be Smart About Driverless Cars

Just a few years ago, not many people realized what digitalization of transportation would be. Now, autonomous cars are the talk of the town, and carmakers, tech giants, and start-ups are racing to stay ahead in the mercilessly competitive transformation of the mobility industry.

It could turn out to be the most profound of all digitally driven transformations. Some call it a perfect storm, because of the fast convergence between autonomous driving, electric vehicles, and connected vehicles. The convergence is explosive and will result in so many secondary effects that it’s hard to even imagine them.

Such effects will hit you too, which might get you worried. The good news, however, is that you’ve got great business opportunities ahead if you develop an understanding of these effects and build a strategy on that understanding.

To help you on the way, I will share some insights, built on my experience and focus on future, technology and digital change for individuals, organizations, and society.

Here we go:

  1. Driverless cars will save lives. Over 3,000 people get killed every day on public roads in the world—more than two people every minute (not to mention those injured). Few diseases kill more people. Autonomous cars will be safer. They never get distracted, irritated, emotional, tired or drunk. The funny thing, however, is that even if all cars were autonomous, and maybe 1,000 people were killed every day, we would not be happy. Somehow we excuse people but not machines. Be ready for this debate. Eventually, though, humans will probably not be allowed to drive cars, except for at remote locations, and in an emergency, at low speed.
  2. Jobs will be displaced big time. Autonomous cars will lead to a substantial loss of jobs. Primarily drivers—both of cars, buses, and trucks. Goldman Sachs expects the decline to be 25,000 jobs a month in the US only when vehicle saturation peaks some years ahead. Since most vehicles will be electric (see below), a secondary effect will be the loss of jobs at gas stations, garages (electric vehicles require significantly less maintenance), spare parts providers, the oil industry and more. If you have such a job, let machines do the boring tasks and focus instead on things that machines are not good at. Essentially this regards four areas—creativity, ability to motivate and convince other people, empathy, and fine dexterity. Find out which of your daily tasks are related to one of those areas and develop them further. Bus drivers could e.g. shift towards bus hostesses.
  3. Fossil fuel cars will be displaced big time. According to Stanford University economist Tony Seba, no more petrol or diesel cars, buses, or trucks will be sold anywhere in the world within eight years. A twin ‘death spiral’ will hit those vehicles—since electric vehicles are ten times cheaper to maintain than cars that run on fossil fuels and have a near-zero marginal cost of fuel, people will switch, making it harder to find a petrol station, spares, or anybody to fix an internal combustion engine. Sell your petrol or diesel car before it’s too late. One fundamental issue, however, will be how to charge massive amounts of electric vehicles. Another issue is the environmental impact of battery production. Therefore expect the need for new energy sources to provide electricity on-board—consider for example LENR.
  4. Car-owning will change. As with most digital transformations, autonomous cars will push a shift from owning to accessing. Most people will access mobility as a service, potentially at a fixed cost a month. As for owners, there are four good owning cases: 1. People who want to own a self-driving car, for convenience and status. 2. Taxi or transportation firms such as Uber, Lyft, Otto and others. 3. Car-sharing firms such as Zipcar. 4. Cars will own themselves, doing business, occasionally driving to motor vehicle inspection, repair garage etc. And if they get rich they will buy another car and become two. Or more. Get ready to choose your owning or accessing strategy.
  5. Policymakers will have to regulate. Driverless cars will require fewer parking spaces in cities, but if unregulated, they will lead to more traffic since it will be easier and cheaper to use transportation. People could, for example, choose to let the car circulate when shopping in crowded cities, and soon streets will be congested. The risk for terrorists using autonomous vehicles for attacks is obvious too. This, and more requires wise regulation.
  6. Real estate values will be affected. Locations that are a little too distant for people to commute by car today will be more attractive since you will be able to work when commuting, instead of having to drive the car. Check for such real estate opportunities, before the value increases.
  7. Car ethics will be hot. Autonomous cars will have to make decisions, and such decisions need to be certified. However, don’t expect the decisions to be clearly programmed. Autonomous cars are self-learning and will take decisions in a way similar to humans, although many decisions will be taken together with other nearby cars. The upside is that cars can learn, become better, and immediately share their knowledge with millions of other vehicles. The challenge will be how to certify such self-learning vehicles—maybe with a driving license test? Be sure to understand this as a user.
  8. Privacy to the next level. If privacy on the Internet is already a complex matter, privacy for autonomous car users will be the advanced level. An autonomous car will have AI inside to provide help, service, answers, and entertainment, while also communicating with other vehicles. This will expose your activities more than normal Internet usage does. On top of that, autonomous vehicles will know where you need or like to go, with whom and when. Think well about who can access this data.
  9. Car security will by fundamental. With so much responsibility in the hands of the car itself, cyber security for cars will be of fundamental importance. No details need to be explained. Make sure the car provider is top notch on this point.

These nine insights might help you to prepare for choices you will need to make with regard to driverless vehicles.

But also remember that huge business opportunities will emerge for digital products or services—from finance, law, entertainment or any other field—that can be mixed into the autonomous and electric mobility industry from this perspective. Start investigating today!

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Note: I also do seminars and workshops on digital transformation, and if you want a deeper look at digitalization, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Eight Things Retailers Should Know to Be Digital Winners

The digital transformation of retail has been going on for some years now, and as a retailer, it’s easy to become worried over how to remain competitive in such a fast changing environment.

The bad news is that this change still has a long way to go. The good news, however, is that you shouldn’t worry if you develop an understanding of the change and if you build a strategy on that understanding.

To help you on the way, I will share some advice, built on my experience and my focus on digital change for individuals, organizations, and society.

Here we go:

  1. Investigate your business model. Digital goods can be copied infinitely, and non-digital goods can be shared efficiently on digital platforms. And you reach the world with one click. Generally, this combination is what breaks traditional business models and also creates a push from owning to accessing, as for example in the music industry. Investigate to what extent your offerings are purely digital, or shareable on digital platforms, and play with ideas on business models taking advantage of the digital economy. Maybe you could design new digital services to go with your existing products or mix your digital offerings with digital content from other fields. Don’t stop. Ever.
  2. Be local (or niche). E-commerce is continuously growing, but essentially there are four ways to stay ahead online: Lowest price (hard to compete with Amazon and Aliexpress), Well-known Brand (hard to compete with Adidas and Nike etc), Niche Products (yes, you might sell sheep shears from Sardinia), Local Presence (yes, you might have a local store, which is more common than having niche products).
  3. Become Phygital. Local is good, but in a digital world, you also need online and mobile presence. And once you have both it’s important to integrate your Physical store with your Digital store, seamlessly—into Phygital: One single cash system, one single stock system, one single sales system, one single marketing system etc. Many providers offer these solutions (some call this Omnichannel, but that doesn’t underline integration, which is essential).
  4. Be social locally. The advantage of local presence is that it’s easier to meet people—managing returns and being able to offer additional items at the same time, building a brand experience in your store where people want to hang out, offering customers a pick-up location for goods ordered online, and more. This is why even Amazon is experimenting with local stores.
  5. Be social online. Naturally, you need to take advantage of all the opportunities offered on the Internet to be digitally social. Listen to advice from experts on social networks and always aim at creating an online presence that people might want to share with each other. Here’s where you can build digital momentum.
  6. Be super transparent. Customers visiting your physical or digital store should always know exactly what they can find in each of them, at any moment. Your physical store might be small, and could yet offer digital ways of discovering a large stock of products. Customers should be able to place orders in both stores and get deliveries at home or in the physical store, independently of where the order is placed.
  7. Develop logistics. Logistics is key for retail, and logistic services for phygital commerce is evolving. Investigate what new opportunities are offered, for example integrating delivery with nearby stores or having stock delivered to you in real time.
  8. Be predictive. With big data analysis, it’s possible for large online businesses to know what customers will order before they order it. Today, Predictive Analytics is also available for small businesses. The two top benefits are:
  • Customer Retention—for example predicting when existing customers will come back and buy more of something. Reminding them before they think of it will make them happy.
  • Demand Forecasting—tracking inventory, discovering trends and forecasting demand at different times can significantly help improve the top line.

In other words—digital is still a great opportunity in retail, and the earlier you investigate its opportunities further and keep track of new trends, the bigger the chance that you will be a digital winner.

Note: I also do seminars and workshops on digital transformation, and if you want a deeper look at digitalization, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Seven Things Lawyers Should Know to Be Digital Winners

Many lawyers and law experts worry about how their professional opportunities are changing with digitalization, observing how some daily tasks are already being taken over by digital automation and artificial intelligence, AI.

And yes, the ongoing change in the legal sector is significant, and moreover, it only just started. The good news, however, is that you shouldn’t worry if you develop an understanding of this change and if you build a personal strategy based on that understanding.

To give you some help on that journey, I will share some important advice, grown from my daily focus on technology and digitalization and its impact on businesses and on society through many years.

Before getting to the advice (jump down if you’re in a hurry), let me just highlight three core pieces of the digitalization puzzle that many people struggle to put together.

First of all, remember that digitalization has become a hyped term, meaning all and everything. And instead of scratching the surface, looking at apps and social networks strategies, try to focus on what really makes digitalization a powerful driving force for change.

These three aspects of digitalization are fundamental:

  1. The cost of a digital copy is basically zero, and you reach the whole world with one click. This means that once you have digitalized content, tools, processes, products, services or methods, you can spread them over the world at a very low cost. This is what makes traditional business models break, pushing a shift from owning to accessing, among other things. Think of how the music industry went from owning discs to accessing music, but also of any kind of digital tool in the legal sector.
  2. People—it is people using, investigating, and taking advantage of the low cost of digital material and the possibilities of reaching the world, that really makes digitalization explode and disrupt many industries. And since the Internet is not hierarchical, people are networking, connecting with individuals all across the world, changing the way we organize, collaborate, build things, provide funding, distribute news, recruit collaborators and much more. And people are already building network inspired legal services, such as Swedish Lawline.
  3. Algorithms and AI. Algorithms are what let Amazon effectively tip you off with ‘Customers who bought this item also bought…’ while AI, which is now evolving rapidly, adds a why-dimension to that kind of advice, making it possible to answer more complex questions. Both can be learning, making them richer, more accurate or individually adapted over time.

In the legal space, the use of algorithms and AI is spreading quickly (remember that they are spreading and evolving because of point 1 and 2 above).

Key areas are:

  • Research tools—such as ROSS, built on IBM’s system Watson that won over humans in Jeopardy in 2011. ROSS answers advanced legal questions in plain language.
  • Contract Review—AI-based tools that assist attorneys in analyzing contracts and other legal documents, pulling out key points of interest. One example is Extract by the UK based company RAVN.
  • Electronic Discovery—tools for technology-assisted review, aka TAR, helping attorneys with the hugely time-consuming work of going through documents, searching for relevant facts, cases, relationships and more.
  • Prediction—AI-based tools that effectively predict the outcome of a case, court decisions and more, based on the currently available information. These tools help to assess whether it’s worth pursuing a case or not.

On top of these, there are other areas, such as tools for assisting courts with certain tasks. Meanwhile, important research is being done to verify that bias is not integrated into such tools—the systems are prone to bias since they learn from data that might be biased.

As you can see, digital technology is starting to transform the legal sector, and yet this is only the beginning. So, as a legal professional, how can you prepare for, and take advantage of this change? Here we go.

Seven digital tips to lawyers:

  1. Start discussing digitalization in you organization, in particular with the top management, which has to understand its importance and be ready to take action. If the top management doesn’t show this understanding, consider searching for a new job. Your company or organization will be in trouble.
  2. Start investigating digital and AI based legal tools on the market, and learn about them. Remember that such tools will help legal professionals to work faster and more efficiently through automation, and those who are learning ahead of others will be winners.
  3. Collaborate with machines. No, machines won’t steal your job, at least not for a good while. In contrast, collaboration with machines is a winning formula. The best chess teams are humans together with computers, and that will be true in most other areas. So investigate how you can collaborate and build a team with legal AI-based systems.
  4. Get rid of boring work. Ask yourself which of your daily tasks you wouldn’t mind at all if a machine would do for you. Most repetitive work is boring, and the good thing is that machines are particularly good at repetitive tasks. Let them do it and free your time for work you find more interesting.
  5. Remain better than machines. Four main areas will be the most difficult for machines to master: Creativity, ability to convince and motivate other people, empathy, and fine dexterity. Find out which of your work tasks are related to any of those areas and try to develop them further.
  6. Get more social. Remember that the Internet helps people connect, peer-to-peer, across the world. Use and develop this opportunity in your work, and reinforce your informal networks, not only in the legal sector.
  7. Beware of digital strategies. Don’t contribute to building digital strategies that risk remaining a separate component of an organization’s operations. Essentially, digital technology is just a new tool and as any other technology it changes the conditions for what you’re doing. What’s particular with digital technology is that it’s a hugely powerful driver for change and it requires an adaptation to the new conditions—of everything from organization and sales to the main business model. Any digital strategy including less is not enough.

In other words—digital is an opportunity in the legal space, and the earlier you investigate its opportunities, the bigger the chance that you will be a digital winner.

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Note: I also do seminars and workshops on digital transformation, and if you want a deeper look at digitalization, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Also, feel free to register for the legal innovation event VQ Forum, on October 19, 2017, where I will give a keynote on ‘digitalization—a threat or an opportunity.’

Been a bit busy—will soon be back

For various reasons—mostly positive—I have been a bit busy the last year and not so active on this blog.

In particular, I have dedicated a lot of my time to following the ever increasing flow of interesting news on technology and its implications on society, organisations and individuals, continuously sharing much of this on my Twitter feed, on my Facebook page and on LinkedIn.

However, I plan to be back soon with some fresh posts here on the blog, so please stay tuned.

Thanks for visiting.

Announcing the New Energy World Symposium

News-blue-text-date 2018Note: The New Energy World Symposium has been re-scheduled to June 18-19, 2018. Read more here. 

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Today I’m announcing the New Energy World Symposium that will hold its first session on June 21, 2016, in Stockholm Sweden.

The conference will focus on the disruptive consequences of a new cheap, clean, carbon-free and abundant energy source—LENR or Cold Fusion—that may literally change the world, promising Planet Earth clean water, zero-emission vehicles with unlimited mileage, a solution to the climate crisis and much more.

I’m particularly proud to announce a few of the renowned speakers who together with me believe that it’s high time to draw global attention to this subject.

Read more in this blog post at the symposium’s main website new-symposium.org, where you will also find further information.

Give your organisation an injection of inspiration on digitisation

The AI based cognitive system Amelia by IP Soft is a digital assistant that communicates and learns through natural language—an example of technology that already is far more than just a tool, pushing the change that technology brings to our world.

The AI based cognitive system Amelia by IP Soft is a digital assistant that communicates and learns through natural language—an example of technology that already is far more than just a tool, pushing the change that technology brings to our world.

As I give talks on future and technology—or rather before I give my talks—I often meet people saying they feel that we’re entering a time of big changes, and yet they seem to have difficulties in defining exactly what this change is. They might refer to the fast uptake of smartphones, tablets and social media, but they probably realise that this is not the most important aspect.

I believe that there are two reasons for the difficulty to see the real power in the change technology brings—a change that will eventually affect every industry and every business, and every individual too.

One reason is that most people still consider technology as a tool, that does
things we want it to do, be it a wrench or a computer. They don’t realise that technology today is so penetrating and fast developing that it has become a driving force for change in itself, more than ever before—and also more irresistible than other technologies that brought earlier fundamental changes to society such as the industrialisation, since today’s technology is so ubiquitous and easily available.

The other reason is that people tend to be amazed at what technology can do today, without taking into account further development, which is also accelerating. This brings an illusion that things will be as they are for some time. But change will never be as slow again. 

This is also why it’s so challenging for most companies and organisations to start adapting to digitisation. Often such projects become action plans involving new strategies for some apps or for social media, but in the long run this is just scratching the surface of the digital revolution.

Until everyone in the organisation, employees and top management, has understood the explosive and unstoppable power of digital technology, it’s unlikely that that strategies and action plans will be profound enough to keep up with the accelerating pace of change.

That’s why it’s so satisfying bringing up the fundamental aspects of digitisation in seminars, describing not just what technology is, but what it does and what it means. It gives everyone an injection of inspiration on digitisation—how it works, what it means—and on all revolutionary new opportunities that will affect—and benefit—them. That is the real starting point for a valid action plan, the first steps towards new ideas and new business opportunities—faster, more efficient and more profitable.

I note that people are amazed when I describe the power of the accelerating pace of technology development, with Moore’s law describing the doubling of power of information technology every second year, being live and kicking still after 50 years—not to mention that a similar ‘law’ has been valid for billions of years. Only that the real explosion is starting right now, with strong artificial intelligence—machine intelligence at the level of humans—being realised within only 15 or 20 years.

I see that it’s useful for people to understand the seven mechanisms that make digitisation so disruptive—from zero cost of a copy changing fundamental economic models, to the little explored potential in mixing digital content between industries and businesses to create completely new products and services.

And it’s effective to get an insight in the different ways that digitisation is about to transform a series of industries, just like the music industry was disrupted—from education and healthcare to finance, law and transportation. Not to mention Industry 4.0—the new data based industry phase, following disruption from steam, electricity and electronics.

In the end however, it’s easy to get trapped and almost spellbound by all the new opportunities technology offers, and therefore also easy to forget who we are—humans, with dreams, visions, passions and values.

This might be the most important part to realise when starting to adapt to digitisation and accelerating technologies. Because these are aspects of us that we have developed over millions of years, aspects that can help us make the best out of technology driven change—something that moves in harmony and not in conflict with us, both as individuals and as a society.

In the end, this will also be hugely important when we in the coming two decades will have to adapt to a world where jobs are disappearing, being automated and performed by intelligent systems and robots. Our ideas about work and about what to do with our lives will then have to change fundamentally—a change that might bring amazing opportunities if society adapts in time, and if we as individuals are ready to grasp and understand these opportunities, remembering who we are as human beings. •••

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This post was originally posted on Linkedin.

One step closer to long distance private drones

plane3-in-flight

PhD student Andrew Barry from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab has developed a detect-and-avoid system that lets drones fly autonomously through a tree-filled field at a speed close to 30 mph.

The system operates at 120 frames per second and is running 20 times faster than existing software.

In Sweden, flying out of sight with drones is not permitted with ordinary drones, even though many people do, using what is called First Person View, FPV, which means that the pilot looks through video glasses showing the image from a camera on the drone. With a good radio link it’s possible to fly tens of miles away.

What’s required for out-of-sight flight, according to Swedish rules, is an on-board detect-and-avoid system, and the system developed by Barry could be one step towards cheap and commercially available such systems.

Flying much farther away would then also be possible. It has been shown that drones can be controlled using signals through commercial cell phone networks, which means that you could basically fly a private drone on the other side of the world.

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