Article | July 20, 2020
The Rackspace Technology Partner Program helps all types of businesses — from advisors, digital agencies, app designers and developers, to MSPs and VARs — empower their customers to embrace technology and deliver the future. In January, we announced that we would be expanding this mission globally in 2020. After several months of scaling and serving our regions with program enhancements, we’re proud to announce an important partnership acceleration.
Article | November 20, 2020
As smart machines, data, and algorithms usher in dramatic technological transformation, its global impact spans from cautious optimism to doomsday scenarios. Widespread transformation, displacement, and disaggregation of world labor markets is speculated in countries like India, with an estimated 600 million workforce by 2022, as well as the global labor market. Even today, we are witnessing the resurgence of 'hybrid' jobs where distinctive human abilities are paired with data and algorithms, and 'super' jobs that involve deep tech. Our historical response to such tectonic shifts and upheavals has been predictable so far - responding with trepidation and uncertainty in the beginning followed by a period of painful transition. Communities and nations that can sense and respond will be able to shape social, economic, and political order decisively. However, with general AI predictably coming of age by 2050-60, governments will need to frame effective policies to respond to their obligations to their citizens. This involves the creation of a new social contract between the individual, enterprise, and state for an inclusive and equitable society.
The present age is marked by automation, augmentation, and amplification of human talent by transformative technologies. A typical career may go through 15-20 transitions. And given the gig economy, the shelf-life of skills is rapidly shrinking. Many agree that for the next 30 years, the nature and the volume of jobs will get significantly redefined. So even as it is nearly impossible to gaze into the crystal ball 100 years later, one can take a shot at what jobs may emerge in the next 20-30 years given the present state. So here is a glimpse into the kind of technological changes the next generation might witness that will change the employment scenario:
RESTORATION OF BIODIVERSITY
Our biodiversity is shrinking frighteningly fast - for both flora and fauna. Extinct species revivalists may be challenged with restoring and reintegrating pertinent elements back into the natural environment. Without biodiversity, humanity will perish.
Medicine is rapidly getting personalized as genome sequencing becomes commonplace. Even today, Elon Musk's Neuralink is working on brain-machine interfaces. So you may soon be able to upload your brain onto a computer where it can be edited, transformed, and re-uploaded back into you. Anti-aging practitioners will be tasked with enhancing human life-spans to ensure we stay productive late into our twilight years. Gene sequencers will help personalize treatments and epigenetic therapists will manipulate gene expression to overcome disease and decay. Brain neurostimulation experts and augmentationists may be commonplace to ensure we are happier, healthier, and disease-free. In fact, happiness itself may get redefined as it shifts from the quality of our relationships to that between man-machine integration.
THE QUANTIFIED SELF
As more of the populace interact and engage with a digitized world, digital rehabilitators will help you detox and regain your sense of self, which may get inseparably intertwined with smart machines and interfaces.
DATA-LED VALUE CREATION
Data is exploding at a torrid pace and becoming a source of value-creation. While today's organizations are scrambling to create data lakes, future data-centers will be entrusted with sourcing high-value data, securing rights to it, and even licensing it to others. Data will increasingly create competitive asymmetries amongst organizations and nations. Data brokers will be the new intermediaries and data detectives, analysts, monitors or watchers, auditors, and frackers will emerge as new-age roles. Since data and privacy issues are entwined together, data regulators, ethicists, and trust professionals will thrive. Many new cyber laws will come into existence.
HEALING THE PLANET
As the world grapples with the specter of climate change, our focus on sustainability and clean energy will intensify. Our landfills are choked with both toxic and non-toxic waste. Plastic alone takes almost 1000 years to degrade, so landfill operators will use earthworm-like robots to help decompose waste and recoup precious recyclable waste. Nuclear fusion will emerge as the new source of clean energy, creating a broad gamut of engineers, designers, integrators, architects, and planners around it. We may even generate power in space. Since our oceans are infested with waste, a lot of initiatives and roles will emerge around cleaning the marine environment to ensure natural habitat and food security.
TAMING THE GENOME
As technologies like CRISPR and Prime-editing mature, we may see a resurgence of biohackers and programmable healthcare. Our health and nutrition may be algorithmically managed. CRISPR-like advancements will need a swathe of engineers, technicians, auditors, and regulators for genetically engineered health that may overcome a wide variety of diseases for longer life-expectancy.
THE RISE OF BOTS
Humanoid and non-humanoid robots will need entire workforce ecosystems around them spanning from suppliers, programmers, operators, and maintenance experts to ethicists and UI-designers. Smart robot psychologists will have to counsel them and ensure they are safe and friendly. Regulators may grant varying levels of autonomy to robots.
DATA LOADS THE GUN, CREATIVITY FIRES THE TRIGGER
Today's deep-learning Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) can create music like Mozart and paintings like Picasso. Such advancements will give birth to a wide array of AI-enhanced professionals, like musicians, painters, authors, quantum programmers, cybersecurity experts, educators, etc.
FROM AUGMENTATION TO AUTONOMY
Autonomous driving is about to mature in the next few years and will extend to air and space travel. Safety will exceed human capabilities and we may soon reach a state of diminishing returns where we will employ fewer humans to prevent mishaps and unforeseen occurrences. This industry will need supportive command center managers, traffic analyzers, fleet managers, and people to ensure onboarding experience.
BLOCKCHAIN BECOMES PERVASIVE
Blockchain will create a lot of jobs for its mainstream and derivative applications. Even though most of its present applications are in Financial Services, Supply Chain, and Asset Management industries, very soon its adoption and integration will be a lot more expansive. Engineers, designers, UI/UX experts, analysts, auditors, and regulators will be required to manage blockchain-related applications. With Crypto being one of its better-known applications, a lot of transaction specialists, miners, insurers, wealth managers, and regulators will be needed. Crypto exchanges will come under the purview of the regulatory framework.
3D PRINTING TURNS GAME-CHANGER
Additive manufacturing, also popularly called 3D printing, will mature in its precision, capabilities, and market potential. Lab-grown, 3D-printed food will be part of our regular diet. Transplantable organs will be generated using stem cell research and 3D printing. Amputees and the disabled will adopt 3D-printed limbs and prosthetics. Its applications for high-precision reconstructive surgery are already commonplace. Pills are being 3D printed as we speak. So again, we are looking at 3D printers, operators, material scientists, pharmacists, construction experts, etc.
THE COLONIZATION OF OUTER SPACE
Amazon's Blue Origin and Elon Musk's SpaceX signal a new horizon. As space tech gets into a new trajectory, a new breed of commercial space pilots, mission planners, launch managers, cargo experts, ground crew, experience designers, etc. will be required. Since we have ravaged the limited resources of our planet already, mankind will need to venture into asteroid mining for rare and precious metals. This will need scouts and surveyors, meteorologists, remote bot operators, remotely managed factories, and whatnot.
THE HYPER-CONNECTED WORLD
By 2020, we already have anywhere between 50-75 billion connected devices. By 2040, this will likely swell to more than 100 trillion sensors that will spew out a dizzying volume of real-time data ready for analytics and AI. A complete IoT system as we know it is aware, autonomous, and actionable, just like a self-driving car. Imagine the number of data modelers, sensor designers and installers, signal architects and engineers that will be needed. Home automation will be pervasive and smart medicines, implants, and wearables will be the norms of the day.
DRONES USHER IN DISRUPTION
Unmanned aerial and underwater drones are already becoming ubiquitous for applications in aerial surveillance, delivery, and security. Countries are awakening to their potential as well as possibilities of misuse. Command centers, just like that for space travel, will manage them as countries rush to put in a regulatory framework around them. An army of designers, programmers, security experts, traffic flow optimizers will harness their true potential.
SHIELDING YOUR DATA
With data come cyber threats, data breaches, cyber warfare, cyber espionage, and a host of other issues. The more data-dependent and connected the world is, the bigger the problem of cybersecurity will be. The severity of the problem will increase manifold from the current issues like phishing, spyware, malware, viruses and worms, ransomware, DoS/ DDoS attacks, hacktivism, and cybersecurity will indeed be big business. The problem is that threats are increasing 10X faster than investments in this space and the interesting thing is that it is a lot more about audits, governance, policies, and compliance than technology alone.
FOOD-TECH COMES OF AGE
As the world population grows to 9.7 billion people in 2050, cultured food and lab-grown meat will hit our tables to ensure food security. Entire food chains and value delivery networks will see an unprecedented change. Agriculture will be transformed with robotics, IoT, drones, and the food-tech sector will take off in a big way.
QUANTUM COMPUTING SOLVES INTRACTABLE PROBLEMS
Finally, while the list is very long, let’s touch upon the advent of qubits, or Quantum computing. With its ability to break the best encryption on the planet, the traditional asymmetric encryption, public key infrastructure, digital envelopes, and digital certificates in use today will be rendered useless. Bring in the quantum programmers, analysts, privacy and trust managers, health monitors, etc.
As we brace for the world that looms large ahead of us, the biggest enabler that will be transformed itself will be Education 4.0. Education will cease to be a phase in your life. Life-long interventions will be needed to adapt, impart, and shape the skills of individuals that are ready for the future of work. More power to the people!
Article | June 29, 2021
Depicted as a natural predisposition to form groups of work, teamwork has been popularized through history as a central feature of organizational change programs that advocates empowerment and disruptiveness. The suasive force of discourse regarding the ineluctable essence of teamwork as a tradition and custom founded on some inclination for humans to work cooperatively, create a set of “rituals”, conventions and practices which invite to innovation, flexibility and creativity.
Teamwork as “human nature” was a common thread all through history and management literature. The team-based nature of early human activities can be traced to hunter-gathering in societies where orality was the prime source of communication. The locus communis was the collective memory (facts, rules, code of conduct, religious beliefs and practical knowledge). The pneumonic function of the verse will fulfil a didactic function as a way of memorizing any content in order to systematize a conceptual theoretical primitive language. In preliteracy times, doctrines and their conservation were highly dependent of the spoken word and memory (Havelock, 1957, 1992). Thus, in an oral culture experience is “intellectualized” mnemonically (Ong, 1982). In a sociobiological perspective, aspects of teamwork behaviour allude to a biologically determined “natural history of species”.
According to Katzenbach and Smith (1993) “teams- real teams and not just groups that management call “teams” should be the basic form of performance for most organizations, regardless the size”. This statement clearly sets the basis for the team as a natural building block of any organizational design. Buford (1972) in a comprehensive study of Ancient Greek and Roman craftmanship interpreted teamwork in a very familiar approach we understand it today: collaborative work, multiskilling, mutually interdependent tasks. There were technical divisions of labour based on skills, the relationship between mentor and apprentice and so on. The greatest craftsmen were expected to be versatile in different skills, but the coordination of work efforts was left to the so-called professional cadre of engineers, architects and masters.
With the advent of Capitalism, the massive growth of the economic activity claimed for reorganization. A new form of discourse emerged, our prehuman origins and modes of communication becoming codified and formalized as the scientific disciplines of evolutionary biology, economics and linguistics respectively (Foucault, 1972). Within the economic discourse, there was a creation of a distinct managerial object, which opened new domains of knowledge and professional practice.
The mythical traditions of teamwork replicated in today’s contexts and the “tribal” notion of team popularized by Codin (2008) paves the way to concrete changes in the form we perceived our working environment. The analogy of team as “family” so common in the corporate world which in its essence represents our first experiences as a community is not a happy term anymore, since in a manner it could go against the interests of today’s organizations. Therefore, in building a healthy sustainable workplace culture teams cannot be perceived as family. Teams have a commitment to a common goal, clear expectations and performance.
The MetaQuant: From siloed work to interdisciplinary collaboration
With the paradigm shift to automation, organizations are taking actions that promote scale in AI through the creation of a virtuous circle.
The central overarching question is: Are traditional ML teams good enough to develop models able to achieve long lasting competitive advantage?
“In a world spinning around AI, competition among institutions seems to be fierce while mayor obstacles appear on the way: recruiting top talents is not only time-consuming but also high-priced, or just trying to find a balanced approach to talent, meaning "reshaping" the old-school computer scientists into quants, is critical in terms of AI implementations. The big winners: those firms that integrate AI with human talent” (Litterio, 2020: 167).
Successful machine learning (ML) projects require professionals beyond engineering expertise. AI has the biggest impact when it is developed by dynamic creative cross-functional teams. The move from functional to interdisciplinary teams initially brings together the diverse skills and perspectives to build effective tools.
In order to bring theory into practice, and in the need of a novel conceptual framework design, I have coined the term MetaQuant.
The MetaQuant is a new breed of market players, who “translates human language into signals” and "reads" the data from a holistic perspective identifying patterns within the linguistic and symbolic constructs. The MetaQuant is the linguist, the semiologist, the sociologist, the cognitive psychologist and the philosopher or rather a combination of these intertwined profiles which will fuel the potential for information advantage providing a unique core differentiator transforming data into knowledge. In this sense, the MetaQuant has emerged as a crucial component of any AI model paving the way for a novel insight where hybridization is critical. The formula for a successful organization in a discovery-driven environment is the MetaQuant + The ML team. And eventually the Quantum Computing Expert. Finding the needle in the haystack can be a competitive difference maker.
Creative thinking, actionable insights, collaboration, proficiency, flexibility, shared vision and training are the ingredients for an elite team.
It is vital for organizations to establish workflows that empower everyone to play a role in order to move projects from test to deployed AI/ML. Yet, knowing how to do ML is not the same as being proficient with it and knowing how to implement a ML model end-to-end is not the same as using ML creatively to build solutions to real-world problems, to explore and assess potential applications specific in competitive contexts.
Ideally, when selecting members for your elite team, it is advisable to make a first distinction between those who wish to do research in ML from the ones who wish to apply ML to your business problems. Both are of major importance alike. The instreaming of new talent brings in novel ideas which can positively impact the work culture.
Demonstrating flexibility is a significant asset. Since ML projects may encounter all kinds of roadblocks, being able to easily change tactics to overcome obstacles without getting frustrated or losing sight of the end goal is key to deliver projects.
Mentoring and inspirational leaders is greatly valued when designing a ML team. An exceptional team leader is the one who shares a unique perspective and knowledge. Experience in the field is a substantial source of wisdom within the organization. Having a passion for diversity of input and fostering a healthy culture of support distinguishes average from excellent ML teamwork.
Educating everyone is the dictum to become an AI-first institution.
To ensure the adoption of AI, organizations need to educate everyone, from top leaders down. To this end most are launching in-house programs which typically incorporate workshops, on-the-job training to build in capabilities. Some others, and which reflects a common trend today, opt for partnerships with renowned academies or prefer the outsourced modality “training as a service” program or a bootcamp.
For an A-team, it is critical to make a mark in the ecosystem through journal publications, book chapters, white papers or lecturing in conferences. Disseminating their work and findings through meetups, workshops, and seminars is a must for building a thriving culture that promotes exchange and cross-fertilization of new ideas and technologies in a substantial way. Systematicity and coding belong to the ritualistic change of conscience.
Article | March 5, 2020
Concurnas is a new general purpose open source JVM programming language designed for building concurrent, distributed and parallel systems. Concurnas is easy to learn; it offers incredible performance as well as many features for building modern, enterprise scale computer software. What distinguishes Concurnas from existing programming languages is that it presents a unique, simplified means of performing concurrent, distributed and parallel computation. These forms of computation are some of the most challenging in modern software engineering, but with Concurnas they are made easy.