The competition was open to all primary and secondary schools in the UK and this is its 10th year of running.
Judging the entries was a great experience, taking part in three of the panels in the North West. It was interesting to see the unconstrained thinking of the Young People and as the entry levels grew in ages, the more constraints that could be seen and number of entries.
There were some excellent entries looking at innovative solutions to real world problems, but I cant mention any due to the competition rules.
Its great that these types of competitions exist and would encourage schools to get involved with Primary Engineer and their competitions.
In today’s digital age, it’s more important than ever to cultivate the skills and mindset necessary to thrive in a rapidly changing world. Technology is advancing at a rapid rate – The Digital Era is enabling “A Growth Mindset in the Age of Abundance”’ – keeping up can be a challenge.
Being a 21st century human means being adaptable, flexible, and technologically literate.
So what can you do to become a 21st century human?
1. Embrace Lifelong Learning
One of the most important things you can do to become a 21st century human is to embrace lifelong learning. This means being curious and constantly seeking new knowledge and skills, whether it’s through formal education or informal learning opportunities. In the digital age, new technologies and tools are constantly emerging, and staying up-to-date on the latest trends and developments is essential for staying relevant. Online learning is bringing new opportunities to learn new skills rapidly and through the growth of the internet you can find information quickly.
2. Develop Digital Literacy
Another key aspect of being a 21st century human is developing digital literacy. This means having a basic understanding of how digital technologies work, as well as the ability to use them effectively. Some key digital literacy skills include:
Basic computer skills, such as typing, using a mouse, and navigating software programs
Online communication skills, such as email etiquette, video conferencing, and instant messaging
Social media skills, such as creating and managing profiles, sharing content, and engaging with others
Cybersecurity awareness, such as understanding the risks of online behavior and how to protect your personal information
Another Digital Literacy skill you may wish to undertake is to learn a programming language. Not necessarily to become a programmer, but to understand how code works and how to read code. There are plenty of resources online and videos on learning and picking up these skills.
3. Cultivate Soft Skills
While technical skills are important, being a 21st century human also requires cultivating soft skills such as communication, collaboration, and problem-solving. These skills are essential for working effectively in a team, managing conflicts, and adapting to change. Some ways to develop these skills include:
Volunteering or participating in community activities
Joining a club or organization related to your interests
Taking courses or workshops on communication and leadership
To be successful in the 21st century, it’s important to stay current with industry trends and developments. This means keeping up with news and developments in your field, attending conferences and networking events, and staying connected with colleagues and industry experts. Some ways to stay informed include:
Finally, being a 21st century human means being adaptable and resilient in the face of change. This means being willing to learn new skills, take on new challenges, and embrace new technologies and tools. It also means being able to bounce back from setbacks and failures, and to persevere in the face of obstacles.
Becoming a 21st century human isn’t something that happens overnight, it takes time to develop yourself and change your mindset, but through taking regular steps you can change your habits to be a 21st century human.
Whether you’re just starting out in your career or looking to make a change, cultivating these skills and qualities can help you navigate the ever-changing landscape of the 21st century. (2020 – The Age of Ambiguity)
Technology has always brought ethical dilemmas throughout the ages from the rise of machinery in cotton mills to facial recognition today. With the rise of technology in modern society, this has also led to the increase of various ethical dilemmas, challenging us to navigate the intersection of technology and ethics.
Our ability to report and consume information has made a lot of these dilemmas more visible to everyone and allowed society to debate them as these can have significant implications on individuals, society, and the environment. As technology evolves it is important to consider the ethical implications and ensure they align with human values and benefits humanity.
Here are some of the ethical considerations of technology to consider;
Privacy: The collection, storage, and use of personal data are among the most significant ethical concerns in technology. Laws such as GDPR exist to help with this and help guide on what is and is not acceptable/possible.
Bias: The development and use of technology can perpetuate biases, such as gender or racial bias, and lead to discrimination. AI is a good example of this it is essential to ensure that algorithms and technologies are developed and tested to prevent biases and align with ethical principles. Also to ensure fairness in the algorithms decision’s
Impact on Jobs: Will AI take peoples jobs? This is a topic I have blogged about before “I lost my job to a robot“. The increasing use of artificial intelligence and automation raises questions about the impact on jobs and the workforce.
Cybersecurity: The more we store and use technology the more we can be vulnerable to cyber-attacks and data breaches, posing risks to individuals’ privacy and security. Good cybersecurity and good end user practices are key to the success of any technology.
Environmental impact: The production and disposal of technology can have significant environmental impacts, including pollution and waste. It’s crucial to prioritize sustainable practices, such as using eco-friendly materials and implementing recycling programs.
Access and Inequality: Technology can perpetuate existing social and economic inequalities by limiting access to technology and excluding marginalised groups. The digital divide between those that can readily access and those that can’t is a big problem for society today.
As technology develops it is important that we look to continually monitor the impacts and make adjustments to ensure that it aligns with ethical principles. Ultimately, technology is best placed to improve the human experience while considering the impact on society, the environment, and future generations.
From prehistoric time painting the number of mammoth killed of food, to the first weather forecast recorded and in present times the number of followers and posts someone has made, humanity is obsessed with data, and its growing exponentially. At the same time we seem to be afraid of pressing delete and put our minds to working out new ways to record, analyse and report on things.
Through data we are able to find new ways of doing things, fixing things and developing new things across multiple fields and disciplines. Datafication is a term that was introduced in 2013 and covers how we are turning data in to useful things today.
Our smartphones, fitness trackers, and even our cars are collecting data about us and the world around us.
In the age of information, data is everywhere. From the time we wake up in the morning to the moment we fall asleep at night, we are surrounded by data.
What is Datafication?
Datafication is a technological trend turning many aspects of our life into data which is subsequently transferred into information realised as a new form of value.
Datafication is the process of turning everything into data. It involves collecting, storing, analysing, and using data to make decisions and predictions. Datafication has become increasingly popular in recent years due to the rapid advancement of technology and the rise of big data. With the advent of the internet and the proliferation of connected devices, we are generating more data than ever before.
The amount of data generated each day varies and is difficult to precisely measure since it depends on multiple factors such as the sources of data and the definition of what constitutes “data.” However, it’s estimated that around 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created each day.
This number is constantly increasing as more devices and systems become connected to the internet and generate data, and as technology advances to enable the creation of more data types, such as videos, images, and sensor data. Additionally, with the rise of machine learning and artificial intelligence, there is an increasing need for vast amounts of data to train these algorithms, further driving the growth of data creation
Why is Datafication Important?
Datafication has become an important aspect of modern society because it has the potential to improve the way we live, work, and play. By analysing data, using tools, methods and AI we can gain insights into everything from consumer behavior to traffic patterns to the spread of diseases. This information can be used to make better decisions, optimise processes, and solve problems.
One area where datafication has had a significant impact is healthcare. With the help of wearable devices and electronic health records, healthcare providers can collect and analyse data to monitor patient health and identify potential health risks. This has the potential to improve patient outcomes and reduce healthcare costs.
Datafication has also had a significant impact on business. By collecting and analysing data on customer behavior, businesses can gain insights into what their customers want and need. This information can be used to improve products and services, optimise pricing strategies, and target marketing efforts.
The Risks of Datafication
While datafication has many benefits, it also comes with risks. One of the biggest risks is the potential for data breaches and privacy violations. As more and more data is collected and stored, the risk of a data breach increases. This can result in the theft of personal information, financial data, and other sensitive information.
Another risk of datafication is the potential for bias. When data is collected and analysed, it is important to ensure that the data is representative and unbiased. If the data is biased, it can lead to inaccurate conclusions and decisions.
The Future of Datafication
Datafication has given the opportunities for new roles in data analysis to become commonplace and help drive businesses through new ways of looking at data.
Datafication is a powerful tool that has the potential to improve the way we live, work, and play. As data continues to play an increasingly important role in our lives, it is important to ensure that we use it responsibly and ethically.
As technology continues to evolve, more and more of our lives are being lived online. We use social media to connect with friends and family, conduct business online, and even store important documents and memories. But what happens to all of this digital content when we die?
Recent experiences for me around this topic are the reason that I decided to write about it.
It is possible in some platforms now to assign trustees of the account who can deal with it when you are no longer able to. Other systems don’t and the data just stays there.
The internet is full of “digital ash,” the digital remnants of our lives that we leave behind when we die. This digital content can include everything from social media profiles to email accounts, cloud storage, and more. The amount of content we leave grows on a daily basis as we live our normal lives.
Here are some important things to consider about digital ash:
When we die, our digital assets still exist online. However, the ownership of these assets is often unclear. Depending on the platform, our digital content may be owned by the platform itself, our family members, or the executor of our estate. It’s important to understand who owns these assets and what can be done with them.
Digital content can contain sensitive information that we may not want to be publicly available after we die. For example, email accounts may contain sensitive financial information or private conversations. It’s important to consider privacy when thinking about what will happen to our digital ash after we die. Many systems now implement two factor authentication which protects the data, but if its your wish to have it deleted can someone actually do this with a high level of security in place?
Social media accounts, blogs, and other digital content can serve as a form of legacy after we die. Our online presence can provide comfort to loved ones and allow them to remember us. It’s important to consider what we want our legacy to be and how our digital ash can contribute to that legacy.
Digital Estate Planning
Just like we plan for our physical estate, we can also plan for our digital estate. Digital estate planning involves creating a plan for what will happen to our digital content after we die. This can include instructions for how social media accounts should be managed, how email accounts should be closed, and more. Do you have a plan alongside your will?
In recent years, there has been an increase in the creation of online memorials for loved ones who have passed away. These memorials can take the form of social media pages, blogs, or other digital content. It’s important to consider whether we want an online memorial and how it should be created and managed.
It important to consider the above when you next review your will arrangements.
The concept of a “second brain” has gained popularity in recent years, especially among individuals who want to improve their digital mindset and optimize their productivity.
Having written about having the right digital mindset previously, I am now looking at the next levels of these posts and what you can do in more recent times.
What is a second brain?
A second brain is a system that allows you to store, organise, and retrieve information and ideas that are important to you. This is basically a way of storing those useful bits of knowledge, other than just using an email system as a knowledge system.
A second brain is a personal knowledge management tool that can help you capture and connect your thoughts, ideas, and experiences. It is often used to augment your own memory, to increase your productivity, and to help you make better decisions.
Why is a second brain useful?
There are many reasons why a second brain can be useful. Here are my top three:
Better memory: A second brain can help you remember important information and ideas that you might otherwise forget. By capturing and organizing your thoughts and ideas, you can easily access them later when you need them.
Increased productivity: A second brain can help you stay organized and focused, allowing you to work more efficiently and effectively.
Better decision-making: By organizing and connecting your ideas and experiences, a second brain can help you see patterns and make connections that might not be immediately apparent.
How can you create a second brain using digital mindset tools?
There are many digital mindset tools that can help you create a second brain. Here are my top five, and there are many others such as One Note.
Evernote: Evernote is a note-taking app that allows you to capture and organize your thoughts, ideas, and experiences. It’s a powerful tool for creating a second brain because it allows you to easily tag and categorize your notes, making them easy to find later.
Notion: Notion is a versatile productivity tool that can be used for everything from note-taking to project management. It’s a popular choice for creating a second brain because it allows you to create databases, wikis, and other organizational tools that can help you stay organized and focused.
Roam Research: Roam Research is a note-taking app that’s designed to help you connect your ideas and experiences. It’s a popular choice for creating a second brain because it allows you to easily link and cross-reference your notes, making it easy to see patterns and connections.
Trello: Trello is a project management tool that can be used to create a second brain. You can create boards for different projects, and then use cards to capture and organize your thoughts, ideas, and experiences.
Airtable: Airtable is a spreadsheet-like database that can be used to create a second brain. You can create tables for different topics, and then use fields to capture and organize your thoughts, ideas, and experiences.
The thought of a Metapolice brings to my mind the novel “Halting State” by Charles Stross – a cybercrime has been committed in the massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) Avalon Four. A robbery of several thousand euros worth of “prestige items” occurs in the game’s central bank, led by a band of orcs and a “dragon for fire support. (extract from Wikipedia)”
The Metaverse is an ever-expanding virtual space that will and is becoming integrated with our daily lives. As it grows, there are many concerns about the regulation and policing of this virtual world, so what is needed to make the topic of policing the Metaverse effective and why it is essential to create a safe and secure virtual space.
The Metaverse is a set of multiple platforms/virtual worlds that is made up of other multiple interconnected virtual worlds, where users can interact with each other in a simulated environment. Many tech companies are investing in the Metaverse and envision it as the next stage of the internet, where people can shop, play, and interact with each other in a virtual world.
As with any social platform/system there are concerns about privacy, security, and the potential for criminal activity. Just as in the physical world, there is a need for policing and regulation in the virtual world to maintain order and ensure the safety of its inhabitants.
One of the biggest challenges in policing the Metaverse is jurisdiction. As the Metaverse is not confined to any one country, it can be challenging to define who has the legal authority to regulate it. Interpol have the ability to span these borders and makes it a good move that they are looking into how to police the Metaverse. With many platforms, many standards and governance arise and with these a single set of laws will be hard to put into place. Better agreements internationally are needed on how to govern the Metaverse and establish a set of standards and laws that all users and platforms must adhere to. The speed of the technology adoption though will move faster than any legislation/regulation can.
Another challenge for policing is the sheer volume of data that is created in the Metaverse. Platforms collect vast amounts of personal data from users, including their online activity and location. This data can be used for targeted advertising or sold to third parties. There needs to be regulation to ensure that users are aware of the data being collected and have the ability to control how it is used. Tracking users is one of the norms of using the internet and the Metaverse won’t be any different.
When it comes to criminal activity in the Metaverse, there are concerns about cyberbullying, online harassment, and cybercrime. There have already been instances of fraud, identity theft, and virtual theft in the Metaverse and it is important to have a system in place to identify offenders so law enforcement can deal with them and to deter others from committing similar crimes.
To address these challenges, there needs to be a collaborative effort between tech companies, governments, and law enforcement agencies. Tech companies need to take responsibility for the data they collect and ensure that they have robust security measures in place to protect their users. Governments need to work together to establish a set of international standards and laws that can be enforced across different jurisdictions. Law enforcement agencies need to be trained to operate in the Metaverse and have the necessary tools to investigate and prosecute criminal activity.
All that aside, though, the Metaverse is becoming an increasingly interesting place to do business.
Visiting new worlds used to be a topic of Science Fiction. Nowadays it is as easy as putting on a headset and being transported to a different setting, real or virtual. You can find yourself stood on top of a high mountain or at the bottom of the sea (using real photos) or in a completely different place or world (a virtual environment or metaverse).
Virtual world are not new. The gaming community has been using virtual worlds for a long time now, however Metaverses are now developing into useful spaces in which to work, rest and play.
Where did the term Metaverse come from? Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash (1992). The term metaverse was coined in Neal Stephenson’s 1992 science fiction novel Snow Crash, where humans, as programmable avatars, interact with each other and software agents, in a three-dimensional virtual space that uses the metaphor of the real world.
Today there are multiple Metaverses being developed at a fast rate and all playing to be the chosen place to go. But which is the best, which wins? I don’t have the answer to that because at the moment there are so many and lots of these platforms aiming to be the one go to place.
In the future though I do think that there will be one or two main platforms for business/consumers and multiple for entertainment.
Metaverses are usually available through a number of access methods, from Mobile, to PC/Laptop to Headset. Not everyone can afford the few hundred pounds or dollars for a headset without a good justification (other than gaming in a lot of cases) and for a business equipping all its staff with a headset might be a big hit on the books, without a reasonable return. Headsets are developing at a fast rate and hopefully will develop into a cheaper form of headset to be more affordable by the masses.
This is where a Metaverse that has an option/client for access on a normal mobile, PC/Laptop/Tablet are gaining ground as there are more accessible to users and they can still experience the Metaverse, just without the wow factor of the immersive experience.
The challenge for these Metaverses is to make themselves more appealing to business and consumers other than looking like a game – “Where is that crate drop or quest giver!”.
Some Metaverses are offering land for sale using NFT and Blockchain technologies – a quick search on one of these sites and someone has purchased the virtual land that Buckingham Palace is on for $305.9 consisting of 133 lots (chunks of virtual land). This is one of many platforms out there. Could investing in the right platform pay off?
Across all these platforms though Security is still a big thing that needs to be considered, with risks such as identify and avatar theft, fraud, virtual land theft being some of these. One of the factors as to if a platform succeeds and becomes mainstream will be how secure it is.
So how many Metaverses are there….. Lots!
Here is a list of some of them, but there are a lot more out there:
The creation and use of avatars isn’t a new concept, however with the growth and development in the MetaVerse and technology, they are getting better. Back in May 2020 I wrote a post about “Avatars – My Digital Selfie“, covering several avatar options and showed examples of different avatars across them. Two things came to my news feed recently that have made me re look at this topic. Firstly the news that Microsoft is closing down AltSpaceVR on the 10th March and users can now download their data before the platform closes. and secondly an email telling me of the new experiences being developed using Ready Player Me.
The explosion of MetaVerse and SocialVerse platforms is seeing lots of new platforms and older ones being shutdown, replaced or upgraded for new user experiences as well as supporting developments in technologies. Loosing AltSpaceVR is loosing a bit of nostalgia for me, but on with newer things as Microsoft are concentrating on Mesh and on October last year introduced Microsoft Mesh Avatars in Teams in preview.
I’m not going to republish all of my avatars again (see my previous post for that), however the image in this post is my Ready Player Me avatar. This can be used across a wide range of platforms, some of which I haven’t come across yet and probably won’t use, but its good to understand they are there.
Being able to use the same avatar across multiple platforms does have advantages and allows a single identity to be maintained. The amount of platforms that can or will adopt an avatar will be down to standards, cost and compatibility. Not every platform may operate at the same resolution or speed.
Whilst avatars are good fun and allow you to be represented in the virtual world by a set of pixels that look like you, there are a few draw backs (things not yet developed) that still need addressing.
Security – How easy is it to create an avatar? it’s not hard. How easy is it to create and avatar of somebody else? again its not hard. So whats stopping someone else mimicking you on a platform – nothing. This is an area that is in need of development and thinking. Although this is not a massive market at the moment, there are some questions that need considering. Here is my point of view on these.
Should there be a form of authentication that accompanies an avatar? – Yes, 2FA and an ID key embedded into the avatar. An avatar ID watermark to confirm its the actual person who is using it.
Should there be legislation covering false or identity theft using avatars? – Most probably, look at what is happening with deepfakes at the moment.
Should there be any specific legislation on avatar creation and detail? Maybe – This is an interesting one as avatars are getting better and becoming more lifelike. Yes there are virtual people systems today that can replicate a human without much error, but in this instance I am talking about standard avatars for everyone. Look at all the press around facial recognition. Would a system identifying a lifelike avatar be classed in a similar vane?
Avatars is an area to watch as they develop further. Do you have a view on these questions?
This evening I am sat watching the stream of the Virgin Orbit launching from the UK, which is launching from Cornwall. The payloads are small satellites and the launch is from a two stage rocket under the wing of “Cosmic Girl” the Virgin Orbit 747. This isn’t the first launch from Virgin Orbit (launched from the US), however it is a first for the UK and Europe and a pivotal moment in this countries space history.
I can remember sat in a school hall back on the 12th April 1981 watching the first NASA shuttle launch (Columbia) on a large tube TV, sat in awe as the shuttle took off for the first time. Forward in time to now where I am sat on my sofa (not in shorts sat on the wooden floor as I was back in 1981) watching on a mobile and laptop with a hot coffee.
A launch of this type (Air Launch) is not new as there have been many different types, but the ability to launch into space is more recent. The Air Launch method provides a more cost effective and easier method of launch. It does limit the size of items that can be can sent into space by this method at the moment, however it opens up the space economy to a bigger audience.
A good launch but, unfortunately ending with the satellites being lost as they could not be released from the rocket.
It will be an interesting follow to see where this takes the UK in its space capabilities and future Space Ports for both air and vertical launches.
The market in future jobs in this area has become more accessible and will hopefully inspire the younger generations to study STEM subjects and become part of this industry.