Neural Interfaces – How far should we go?

Digital BrainA report out today from The Royal Society looks at the history, advancements, challenges and risks of neural interface technology.

The report asks for input from the general public via a consultation on what their views in shaping the future of neural interface regulation.

We have visualised the connection of humans and machines in Science Fiction for a long time from books to films. More recently with films such as Johnny Mnemonic and The Matrix, (Yes I just referenced 2 Keanu Reeves films). Are we ready to become Borg and be assimilated?

Medicine is evolving at a fantastic speed with new developments that are helping patients to help treatments for a wide range of conditions using non-invasive and invasive technologies. Should we now use the same techniques for connecting a human brain to a computer to make us more efficient and responsive to information?

“Neural interfaces connect the brain or nervous system to

equipment, typically digital devices or IT systems. Some act to
record physiological activity, such as brain signals or movements,
while others stimulate it. Some technologies, known as ‘closedloop’ systems, record activity and deliver stimulation in response.”

Source: report

 

We are already doing this with devices we use on a daily basis such as a mobile phone, reality glasses and cars with heads up displays. Moving this information closer to the brain is the next technological evolutionary step in this area.

Elon Musk’s Neuralink is looking at how its possible to connect computer chips to the human brain and has already connected a Rats brain to a chip and USB port.

The report represents some of the advancements made and possible ways forward that are helping people today and helps set out some principles and practices. A worthwhile read.

For me there are still a lot of areas to discuss ethically around moving forward – Just because we can doesn’t mean we should.  I think that the quote in the report by Paul Virilio covers this and what we need to think about and accept the outcome possibilities:

“ When you invent the ship, you also invent the shipwreck; when you invent the plane you also invent the plane crash; and when you invent electricity, you invent  electrocution… Every technology carries its own negativity, which is invented at the same time as technical progress.” – Paul Virilio

Source: report

Further Reading

Facial Recognition – here to stay?

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Facial RecognitionLove it or Hate it Facial Recognition technology is here to stay. What is now being recongnised is a need for governance and controls over systems that use it and in line with any current country legislations and data laws.

The ability to recongnise objects and faces is not new, but an evolving technology that is getting better at what it does.

When the use of ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) systems came out similar debates were had and these systems are controlled and governed by a set of strict guidelines. ANPR systems are now widely used across the world from Police Forces to Car Parks checking the time you have stayed against the ticket you have purchased.

Our acceptance of these Facial Recognition systems may take a similar route.

There have been a lot of stories recentrly about Facial Recognition and its use such as the UK Kings Cross Development which is now under investigation by the ICO around the storage and use of the data.

Many Police forces in the US have been using it and in the UK there have been trials of the technology with some trials not going forward due to human rights discussions and also some technology not picking up everyones faces correctly. Advancements are being made in the systems to resolve these issues and increase the ability to capture and recognise the information.

Some states in the US have banned the use of the technology (or are considering banning) and the EU are also starting to consider bans.

The UK Home Office and Border Force are currently looking at a version of Facial Recognition to help cut down on the queues at the border. The e-queues already do facial matching from camera pictures to passports to automate the system.

For me I am okay with the technology as long as its being used to help us police and keep us safe. Also the ability to recognise for financial and security systems. You can build your own system that you can teach it to recognise your face using a Raspberry Pi,

 

 

 

Moving to a world of Interactive Viewer Choices

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tvWhether it be books, visual or audio, we have been kept on the edge of our seats by gripping storylines and turned off by uninteresting ones that don’t grasp our attention.

The ability to choose storylines has been around for sometime now with adventure books. My favorite was “Deathtrap Dungeon” by Ian Livingstone from the Fighting Fantasy range of books.  These were my entry level in to gaming, however there are earlier versions of this type of themed book.

A couple of experimental programs have been broadcast on TV where the viewers choose the next actions are taken. This input can be via an mobile application or smart TV and the shows editors broadcast the next scene as per the votes. We have had this ability for a while though with voting for winners of a program or to send someone home. These types of viewing does bring pressures into the lounge with who has the controller or who asks the voice assistant to vote.

On-line content is easier to collect the choices and stream out the next scene. This allow each viewer to make their own choices and stream choices to individuals.

The BBC Click on-line program has now offered content based on choices and starts with a Fighting Fantasy book as their introduction before allowing you to choose which content you want to view.

Are we ready for interactive programs or will there be a increase of arguments over Eastenders or Love Island. For me this works well with on-line content, until we get to a general population of Smart TV’s with the ability to stream individual outcomes to households.

Our choices will also be a good indication back to content producers as to what works and what doesn’t.

 

 

Having the Right Digital Mindset: Learning

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I have previously written about “Having the Right Digital Mindset” where I covered six topic areas to help shape your Digital Mindset.

In this series of blog posts I will expand on each of these topics.

Having the Right Digital Mindset: Learning

How much learning have you done today? this week? this month? Keeping your skills up to date by regular learning is an important part of developing your mindset and keeping it active. So why bother with learning? This is easy to answer in that if you don’t, others are. The next generations of IT Professionals are already learning from an early age supported by Government Educational Curriculum’s.

Learning is easier with the internet through online courses, videos and podcasts allowing it to be undertaken at anytime. The topics that you choose to learn will be down to your role and there is no magic course on being Digital. Its an amalgamation of different skills and knowledge, both hard and soft skills.

One key factor though is that software is eating the world and the delivery of things as code is becoming common place. having an understanding of what is going on in the coding world helps with today’s advancing technology. Learning to code is a great way of understanding these advancements and everyone should have a knowledge of this.

Re-enforcing your learning through explaining it to someone else or blogging about it is part of  The Nature and Cycle of CPD and a good way of checking you have learnt correctly.

There are two main types of learning that we do:

  • On the Job
  • Focused Learning

Learning that comes as part of our regular day can be classed as “On the Job” where as focused learning is where you take time out to do some research, reading or a course.

Everyone has their own preference for learning and the amount of learning that you do is also down to preference. Looking at other industries where learning is mandated as part of ongoing professional development, such as a Dentist or Doctor who must do a number of hours to maintain their skills and knowledge and also their registration to practice. Why should this be any different for IT Professionals? Some wold argue that they don’t need to keep their skills upto date and others that you should. For me considering that IT Professionals produce, code and maintain systems that the Densists and Doctors use everyday in support of patients, why would it be any different for IT?

You should be looking to do 50 to 60 hours learning a year as a minimum (some professions require higher number of hours). Number of hours that some professions require learning:

CPDTable

The number of hours that you commit to learning is down to personal choice, but if you did at least 1 hour a week, thats 52 Hours of learning you have achieved.

Further Reading

Blog Posts and Articles:

 

 

Having the Right Digital Mindset: Application

brain-2062057_960_720I have previously written about “Having the Right Digital Mindset” where I covered six topic areas to help shape your Digital Mindset.

In this series of blog posts I will expand on each of these topics.

Having the Right Digital Mindset: Application

Application is how you apply your Mindset (not an application running on a mobile or computer device).

We all have habits and norms that define our daily lives and how we apply ourselves. Some people embrace change and others find change not easy to accept, however making changes are needed to ensuring that you are working with a good Digital Mindset.

One of the biggest areas I come across on this subject is training with statements like “I don’t have time”, “I’m busy on projects all day”, “I’m not training in my own time”. Whilst you do need a good work life balance, you need to recognise that others around you are making the time and you may be left behind in growing your skills.

Changing the way that we have programmed ourselves can be done by changing small things in our routines – think Agile. Growing your skills can help you think about and adopt change.

Book in an hour in your diary (every week) to review some reading or undertake some training that will boost your skills and knowledge. Diaries often change, but if you keep to that hour a week to start with, then you can change the habit and benefit from the skills you are learning.

When you make the changes is another important step. There are lots of people who are doing this by changing their morning routines to include things like catching up on the latest social media (related to their areas of interests, jobs). I would recommend looking at a site called “My Morning Routine”. Listing a number of different morning routines from people working in many industries, it may give you some ideas on how you could make changes.

My 5 Tips

  • Make small changes to your routine and over time they will become your new habits
  • Embrace the change. Make it a challenge to stretch your thinking rather than a chore
  • Take the opportunity to learn
  • Don’t ignore the social channels, filter out the noise anD get the good content
  • Think about your time. Could you listen to a podcast while you are travelling?

 

Further Reading

Blog Posts and Articles:

 

Websites:

 

Books

 

Videos

 

 

Technology Couch Podcast – Episode 6

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Technology Couch Podcast Logo

In this episode I chat to Sukhi Gill about “Distruptive technologies and their impact on consumers and the enterprise”

The podcast is also available in iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/technology-couch-podcast

Podcast References:

To confirm, I am not getting any funding/promotions from any products discussed in this podcast.

Having the Right Digital Mindset: Personal

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BalanceI have previously written about “Having the Right Digital Mindset” where I covered six topic areas to help shape your Digital Mindset.

In this series of blog posts I will expand on each of these topics.

Having the Right Digital Mindset: Personal

Having the Right Digital Mindset requires a mindset change and part of this is to keep the mind fresh and positive. Ensuring that your health is good and you are living life to the full or best you can helps. Eating well and keeping fit help keep the mind fresh and positive.

We are inundated with advice on what to eat, how to live and be positive via many sources and channels that it can be hard to understand what is right or wrong. I believe that there is no full right or wrong answer to this as we are all different in many ways and one model does not fit all. Due to this you will need to find what is right for you, however there are three key areas that you should consider whilst looking at the personal side of having the Right Digital Mindset:

  • Looking after yourself and well being
  • Striking the right work/life balance
  • Learn to deal with change and ambiguity

Again, there are lots of advice, quotes, books, videos and studies on how to be more mindful and change that it would be a long list, however here are some of my top ones:

Further Reading

Blog Posts and Articles:

Websites:

Apps:

Books:

Videos:

 

Having the Right Digital Mindset: Social

SocialI have previously written about “Having the Right Digital Mindset” where I covered six topic areas to help shape your Digital Mindset.

In this series of blog posts I will expand on each of these topics.

Having the Right Digital Mindset: Social

The social area covers how you interact with the rest of the world, including your work and family life. Being social is not just around how you use the tools and what you communicate, but also what you don’t say and being Social Media Savvy on your communications.

There are many different social channels available today. The latest We Are Social 2019 figures reports 3.48 Billion social media users. That’s a lot of posts, selfies, tweets and a lot of data.  With all of this going on searching through Social Media is literally “drinking from the fire hose”. There is no right or wrong mix of channels to use, however when deciding which channel to use, you should consider who and where your audience is.

The graph below illustrates the number of users (in millions) in the top used social channels. Source: Statista2019 No Social Users Per Channel

Choosing and focusing on the social channels that are right for you and your business, then refining your following and search results can bring a wealth of knowledge on what is happening around your area of interest.

Building a Personal Knowledge Management System is one way of keeping in touch with what is happening and trending on topics that you are interested in on Social Media.

Personal Knowledge Management System

One of the most important things to remember is that when you post its online and visible to the world even if its a private group. That might sound scary and put you off using social media, but it shouldn’t. It means think about what you say on Social Media because once its online anyone could re-post your comments from what you think is a private group to an open group.

Setting yourself a series of Social Media Rules will help define when and what you should put in the public domain and when not to.

For this reason, I keep my social channels separate from work and family/friends as different channels appreciate different topics. This also means you can set different security settings on family/friends channels to that of being open.

The news is often reporting on bad things said on a social channel or trawling up something that someone posted many years ago.

Here are my top 5 Social Media Rules

  • Choose your Social Channels
  • Listen, Research, Listen Again
  • Be Authentic And True
  • Keep It Regular and Relevant
  • Think Security

 

Further Reading

Blog Posts and Articles:

Having the Right Digital Mindset: Technology

digital technologyI have previously written about “Having the Right Digital Mindset” where I covered six topic areas to help shape your Digital Mindset.

In this series of blog posts I will expand on each of these topics.

Having the Right Digital Mindset: Technology

Technology plays a part in any Digital Transformation, however its not the full answer, building your Digital Mindset is key. That said, it is important to keep up to date with the latest innovations, road maps and trends for the industry/sector you work in.

Technology should be seen as an enabler to help a business meeting its Business Outcomes and Goals rather than a dictator on the direction you should mould your business around. It is important to invest in  the right digital technology capabilities to drive this.

The abundance of services that provide “Cloud” and “As a Service” capabilities are allowing businesses to adpot new ways of working and look at meeting business outcomes using a different approach in an agile manner to the traditional types of technologies and waterfall implementations. Building a partner eco system from many different suppliers provides the best of breed solutions without the need to rely on a single partner.

Further Reading

Blog Posts and Articles: