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‘Work’: something you do, not somewhere you go

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A recent report has revealed that 25 years from now work will be seen as something workers do instead of a place they commute to each day. Many of them will be working from home according to their own schedule with them making occasional visits to work hubs where they will network with other individuals.

By 2040 knowledge workers will decide where and how they want to work, according to a new report on the workplace of the future by Johnson Controls, a global multi-industrial company. The Smart Workplace 2040 report, produced by Johnson Controls’ Global WorkPlace Solutions (GWS) business, describes how 25 years from now, work will be seen as something workers do, rather than a place they commute to each day. Work patterns will be radically different compared with today, with no fixed place or timetable. Instead, a new generation of workspace consumers will choose their workplace based on an often fluid work schedule. Most workers will frequently work from home, and will choose to visit work hubs or a “trophy workplace,” a highly experiential environment where they meet and network with other individuals.

There will be no set hours and the emphasis will be on getting the work done, while workers’ wellness will take priority over work. Meanwhile technology will bring together networks of skilled individuals who operate in a similar way to today’s entrepreneurs, with collaboration the major driver of business performance and a core competency for every employee.

The report was peer reviewed in a series of three workshops in the US, Europe, and Asia-Pacific involving 26 workplace experts. To illustrate its vision, the report explores the workplace of the future through the eyes of Nina, a knowledge worker living in 2040. It describes how her working environment is split across her home, her eco-campus in the city, and other working hubs to which she has access. She has a “flexwork” contract meaning there is no limit to how little or how much she works as long as the work is done. Her home is a hyper-connected, adaptive environment that responds to her family’s bio-health indicators, while complex software applications suggest what Nina should do to maximise performance.

The report’s author, director of GWS Global WorkPlace Innovation, Dr. Marie Puybaraud said, “Six years ago, we described how technology would transform the way we work by 2030. Since then we have seen a significant acceleration in technological developments with the launch of the iPad, the invasion of the first wearable technologies, and remote working becoming the norm.

“This new report takes our vision a step further. In 2040 we will consume space, not own it, so the report envisions how this will affect the everyday life of an employee and businesses. The findings have implications for leaders and real estate managers around the world as they anticipate the way our society and technology is changing and transforming the way we work.”

The report makes eight recommendations, including dismantling the fixed office hours model in favour of flexible working contracts, focusing workspaces on end users’ needs and enhancing service delivery to embrace a high human touch, while designing working environments that reflect new ways of collaborating across teams. It also suggests organisational transformations to improve the way dispersed teams work together, and the integration of ‘shy’ technologies to track activity, record experiences and respond to user demand.

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Earth 2050: memory chips for kids, telepathy for adults

An astonishing set of predictions for the next 30 years includes a major challenge to the privacy of our thoughts.

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By 2050, most kids may be fitted with the latest memory boosting implants, and adults will have replaced mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought.

These are some of the more dramatic forecasts in Earth 2050, an award-winning, interactive multimedia project that accumulates predictions about social and technological developments for the upcoming 30 years. The aim is to identify global challenges for humanity and possible ways of solving these challenges. The website was launched in 2017 to mark Kaspersky Lab’s 20th birthday. It comprises a rich variety of predictions and future scenarios, covering a wide range of topics.

Recently a number of new contributions have been added to the site. Among them Lord Martin Rees, the UK’s Astronomer Royal, Professor at Cambridge University and former President of the Royal Society; investor and entrepreneur Steven Hoffman, Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner, along withDmitry Galov, security researcher and Alexey Malanov, malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab.

The new visions for 2050 consider, among other things:

  • The replacement of mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought – able to upload skills and knowledge in return – and the impact of this on individual consciousness and privacy of thought.
  • The ability to transform all life at the genetic level through gene editing.
  • The potential impact of mistakes made by advanced machine-learning systems/AI.
  • The demise of current political systems and the rise of ‘citizen governments’, where ordinary people are co-opted to approve legislation.
  • The end of the techno-industrial age as the world runs out of fossil fuels, leading to economic and environmental devastation.
  • The end of industrial-scale meat production, as most people become vegan and meat is cultured from biopsies taken from living, outdoor reared livestock.

The hypothetical prediction for 2050 from Dmitry Galov, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab is as follows: “By 2050, our knowledge of how the brain works, and our ability to enhance or repair it is so advanced that being able to remember everything and learn new things at an outrageous speed has become commonplace. Most kids are fitted with the latest memory boosting implants to support their learning and this makes education easier than it has ever been. 

“Brain damage as a result of head injury is easily repaired; memory loss is no longer a medical condition, and people suffering from mental illnesses, such as depression, are quickly cured.  The technologies that underpin this have existed in some form since the late 2010s. Memory implants are in fact a natural progression from the connected deep brain stimulation implants of 2018.

“But every technology has another side – a dark side. In 2050, the medical, social and economic impact of memory boosting implants are significant, but they are also vulnerable to exploitation and cyber-abuse. New threats that have appeared in the last decade include the mass manipulation of groups through implanted or erased memories of political events or conflicts, and even the creation of ‘human botnets’. 

“These botnets connect people’s brains into a network of agents controlled and operated by cybercriminals, without the knowledge of the victims themselves.  Repurposed cyberthreats from previous decades are targeting the memories of world leaders for cyber-espionage, as well as those of celebrities, ordinary people and businesses with the aim of memory theft, deletion of or ‘locking’ of memories (for example, in return for a ransom).  

“This landscape is only possible because, in the late 2010s when the technologies began to evolve, the potential future security vulnerabilities were not considered a priority, and the various players: healthcare, security, policy makers and more, didn’t come together to understand and address future risks.”

For more information and the full suite of inspirational and thought-provoking predictions, visit Earth 2050.

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How load-shedding is killing our cellphone signals

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Extensive load-shedding, combined with the theft of cell tower backup batteries and copper wire, is placing a massive strain on mobile network providers.

MTN says the majority of MTN’S sites have been equipped with battery backup systems to ensure there is enough power on site to run the system for several hours when local power goes out and the mains go down. 

“With power outages on the rise, these back-up systems become imperative to keeping South Africa connected and MTN has invested heavily in generators and backup batteries to maintain communication for customers, despite the lack of electrical power,” the operator said in a statement today.

However, according to Jacqui O’Sullivan, Executive: Corporate Affairs, at MTN SA, “The high frequency of the cycles of load shedding have meant batteries were unable to fully recharge. They generally have a capacity of six to 12 hours, depending on the site category, and require 12 to 18 hours to recharge.”

An additional challenge is that criminals and criminal syndicates are placing networks across the country at risk. Batteries, which can cost R28 000 per battery and upwards, are sought after on black markets – especially in neighbouring countries. 

“Although MTN has improved security and is making strides in limiting instances of theft and vandalism with the assistance of the police, the increase in power outages has made this issue even more pressing,” says O’Sullivan.

Ernest Paul, General Manager: Network Operations at SA’s leading network provider MTN, says the brazen theft of batteries is an industry-wide problem and will require a broader initiative driven by communities, the private sector, police and prosecutors to bring it to a halt.

“Apart from the cost of replacing the stolen batteries and upgrading the broken infrastructure, communities suffer as the network degrades without the back-up power. This is due to the fact that any coverage gaps need to be filled. The situation is even more dire with the rolling power cuts expected due to Eskom load shedding.”

Loss of services and network quality can range from a 2-5km radius to 15km on some sites and affect 5,000 to 20,000 people. On hub sites, network coverage to entire suburbs and regions can be lost.

Click here to read more about efforts to combat copper theft.

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