Digital Jobs

Is Inequality an Unavoidable Consequence of Innovation?

(Image via Shutterstock)

The economics of innovation and its impact on society was the theme of the annual economists' pow-wow in Toronto last weekend, the Institute for New Economic Thinking conference. And there was no presumption that it is, on the whole, a plus. Authoritative speakers at the three-day conference included former U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, Nobel laureates Joseph Stiglitz and James Heckman, former co-CEO of Research In Motion Jim Balsillie, and Bank of England Chief Economist Andy Haldane. But the event's opening keynote featured a panel of experts who explored the duality inherent in innovations that create new inventions, products, sources of demand, and markets while simultaneously imposing job losses and "significant distributional consequences for society."   More

Digital Government

U.S. Intelligence Community Supports Sharper Satellite Images

DigitalGlobe offers a range of high-resolution satellite images.

In the increasingly competitive business of satellite imaging, Colorado-based DigitalGlobe is getting a welcome boost from some powerful friends. U.S. government agencies, particularly those in the intelligence sector, have traditionally worried that allowing private companies such as DigitalGlobe to sell increasingly high-resolution images could undermine one of the government’s key strategic advantages on the geopolitical scene. However, in light of advances made by non-U.S. satellite imaging companies, the intelligence community is now supporting DigitalGlobe’s push to make those higher resolution images publicly available on the open market. Why? Market share and global competitiveness.   More

Digital

Kirkpatrick: Amazon Smartphone Move “Brilliant”

Come September, the hottest phone on the market might not be the iPhone, Galaxy, or Nexus, but a new 3D-capable smartphone developed by none other than Amazon. The Internet behemoth has been considering making a foray into the smartphone market, according to a recent report in The Wall Street Journal, and is likely to publicly announce plans in June and go to market as early as September. Techonomy's David Kirkpatrick spoke on Bloomberg Surveillance on Monday about Amazon's possible push into smartphones, calling the move "brilliant" and noting its potential for connecting customer relations with mobile payments. "If you were trying to keep an ongoing relationship for all kinds of commercial relationships with everybody, you have to have a phone," Kirkpatrick said. And for companies hoping to get a return from consumers, transactions are paramount.   More

Digital

McKinsey’s Michael Chui on How Tech Transforms the Economy

For insight into big emerging tech trends, look beyond Silicon Valley and Alley, said McKinsey's Michael Chui at a recent Techonomy dinner salon in San Francisco. The developing world is about to jump into the innovation economy. "Only half of the people that we can possibly connect in the world are actually connected." Once those people get connected, he believes, the world will see double the innovation it sees today, as potential innovators in now-developing countries get online. This expansion of connectivity will be enabled by the global mobile revolution, or what Chui called "the proliferation of form factors"—ranging from tablets and phablets to appliances and cars. Chui pointed to education, healthcare, and public services as sectors of the economy with the greatest potential to gain efficiency as they are transformed by tech.   More

Security & Privacy

Legislation a Top Priority in Cybersecurity Fight Says RSA’s Coviello

Cybersecurity expert and RSA executive chairman Art Coviello says it's crucial for privacy advocates and industry leaders to come together to create modern laws to protect society from cybercrime. But the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, also known as CISPA and the Rogers-Ruppersberger Bill, was introduced in Congress in 2011. And while the House of Representatives has passed it twice, the bill still languishes in the Senate. In part two of a conversation recorded at Techonomy's recent Data Security Lab, Coviello talks about the responsibilities both of the government and of private companies that have suffered security breaches.   More

Digital Life Science

Can Mobile Apps Heal American Healthcare?

(Image via Shutterstock)

What do smartphones have to do with medical care? Ask any doctor who has called in pharmacy prescriptions from a golf course, reviewed brain-imaging results in a taxi, or video-chatted with emergency room physicians in another city. Or ask PointClear Solutions, an Atlanta-headquartered custom healthcare software development company that recently acquired NYC-based app developer, Worry Free Labs (profiled here last summer). We did, when we spoke with PointClear CEO David Karabinos about the acquisition and the future of mobile apps for patient care.   More

Manufacturing

Programming Trees to Self-Destruct Could Save Energy

(Image via Shutterstock)

Mother Earth could benefit from the degradation of, oddly enough, one of her own, as scientists search for ways to deteriorate trees in order to improve industrial processes. New research shows that by weakening the walls of plant cells we can render them more susceptible to deconstruction during industrial processing, making procedures like pulping, paper-making, and biofuel production less wasteful and more energy efficient. To degrade plant structures, researchers redesigned the polymer that fortifies plant cell walls, lignin, using high heat and alkaline treatments to weaken bonds between molecules.   More

Global Tech

We’re One Step Closer to Robots on the Battlefield

(Image via Shutterstock)

Last week, the robotics industry made a huge leap forward, with the Navy announcing that it planned to test a humanoid robot built to fight fires at sea this August. The robot, called the Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot (SAFFiR) and developed by a team of scientists from the Naval Research Laboratory, Virginia Tech, the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Pennsylvania, is one of the most advanced robotic machines ever developed.   More

Cities Global Tech

E-Services Help Tame Manila’s Traffic Mess

(Photo courtesy Tigercub Digital)

Traffic problems are acute in many of Asia’s teeming megacities. Millions in Manila, Bangkok, Jakarta, and elsewhere endure commutes that can last hours each way. In Manila, where many people travel in open-air vehicles called jeepneys, the pollution can be especially evident. It will take years and many billions of pesos to fix Manila’s infrastructure, but in the meantime, new apps and websites are emerging there that can reduce strain on the city’s transit networks. They can even liberate people from the burdens of commuting altogether.   More

Business Learning

Educating Executives to Disrupt, Not Be Disrupted

The Drugs Dilemma: Consequences for Society, Politics and Business: Overview

Much has been written about how technology is transforming education. Still more has been written about how technology is driving disruption in business. Less explored is a question posed by the intersection of those ideas: how can technology help business leaders to educate themselves about potentially disruptive opportunities and threats? The MOOC model is ripe for adaptation to deliver structured courses to business leaders, helping them to think about potentially transformational combinations of ideas at the periphery of their industries. The Forum Academy, launching this month with a course on global technology leadership, is a foray into this space. The World Economic Forum is partnering with edX to use its education delivery platform for expanding access to the kind of conversations that happen at Davos.   More

Security & Privacy

Is There a Hacker Hiding in Your Air Conditioner?

(Image via Shutterstock)

Hackers will try any point of entry they can find to access private data. In a recent interview with Techonomy, RSA Security’s Art Coviello said that the number of vulnerable access points—or what he calls the “attack surface”—is growing rapidly, with the number of digitally controlled devices connected to the Internet expected to reach 200 billion by the end of this decade. The New York Times reports that hackers recently breached the computer networks of a large oil company by implanting malware in the online menu of a Chinese restaurant favored by the company’s employees. With increasingly sophisticated hackers targeting a proliferating volume of corporate data, our pervasive connectivity—through everything from heating and cooling systems to accounting software and even vending machines—presents a constant challenge to security experts.   More

Analytics & Data IoE

The Quantified Farm: How Fields Yield Big Data

photo: The United Soybean Board

U.S. farmers working with a Minnesota company called Farm Intelligence have been harvesting more than corn and soybeans lately. Their fields, comprising about 1 million acres, have yielded close to a petabyte of data that they hope will inform smarter decisions throughout the growing season. Farm Intelligence CTO Steve Kickert tells Gigaom this week that his company "analyzes sensor data, data from other precision agriculture tools, aerial images, government data, and weather data to try and figure out what’s going on in the field." The tools provide early warnings of disease, pests, or other troubling crop conditions that farmers can act quickly on.   More

Digital IoE

BlackBerry’s Chen: “This Is Not Science Fiction”

From advanced automation in the developed world to smart phone adoption in the developing world, global society is getting more information-driven at a mind-boggling rate. As John Chen says, "This is not science fiction. This is real-time stuff." Chen, the CEO of BlackBerry, sat down with Techonomy's David Kirkpatrick at our San Francisco dinner salon to talk about the future of tech and the trends he's seeing in markets around the world. Chen's longtime business leadership and experience both in the U.S. and Asia give him a unique perspective. In the developed world, Chen said, "all the players are talking about machine-to-machine, they're talking about connected cars, they're talking about making your life more automated." But in the developing world, Chen added, people are just starting to get into the consumer space. "More and more people are moving into the middle class, more and more people are knowledgeable, are trained," he said.   More

Security & Privacy

RSA’s Coviello: Opportunities for Cyberattack Multiplying

On top of the more than 2.4 billion people using smartphones, tablets, and PCs, another 1 billion devices—including sensors, card readers, and vending machines—currently access the Internet. But by the end of this decade some 200 billion items will be connected to the Internet and digitally controlled, predicts Art Coviello, executive chairman of RSA, the security division of EMC. The attack "surface," as Coviello calls it—meaning the range of potential points of entry for cyber criminals—will grow vast. At our recent Data Security Lab Techonomy's David Kirkpatrick talked to security veteran Coviello about changes in the industry, emerging risks, and what kind of leadership and governance we need to address them.   More

Life Science

FDA Approves Medical Device for Reversing Opioid Overdose

Evzio

When mobster wife Mrs. Mia Wallace overdoses on heroin, hit man Vincent Vega brings her screaming out of a comatose state by jabbing an adrenaline-filled syringe into her heart. Had the talking medical device that the FDA gave fast-track approval to last week existed 20 years ago, that Pulp Fiction scene between Uma Thurman and John Travolta might not have been so dramatic. The new pocket-sized naloxone hydrochloride auto-injector, called Evzio, coaches a user through the procedure of administering the opioid-O.D.-reversing drug into a victim's muscle.   More

Business Security & Privacy

BlackBerry CEO Chen: Security Is Key to Comeback

BlackBerry CEO John Chen, who's been at the helm for just four months, has a looming task ahead of him—bring the once-booming brand back to its glory days. At Techonomy's recent San Francisco dinner salon, Chen talked with us about the future of BlackBerry, citing its security systems as one key way the company can turn itself around. "It's the most secure mobile environment," Chen said. "Today in this world of security complexity, people are not only stealing the data but they're modifying the data. It's an enormous opportunity."   More

Digital Partner Insights

Making Sense of the Mainframe, 50 Years Later

ibm_360_color

Computing has changed a lot in the last 50 years, but one 50-year-old technology remains significant. The durability of the mainframe illustrates the maxim that new technologies don't usually replace old ones, but rather coexist alongside them. When the IBM System 360 debuted on April 7, 1964, it was, in effect, the first general-purpose computer of any type. We don't call today's app-laden smartphones mainframes as we use them for everything from texting to watching Netflix movies, but they are the descendants of the 360. Meanwhile, real mainframes that use the basic architecture of the 360 are still essential in business. IBM's current-generation zEnterprise systems have extraordinary capabilities, and can manage 1.1 million transactions per second.   More

Government Jobs Life Science

Techonomic Top 5: Federal Inefficiency, Chromosome Breakthrough, Virtual Employers, and More

Andrew Hessel (l) with Stewart Brand and Eri Gentry at Techonomy 2013 in Tucson, Ariz.

Every week we spotlight techonomic happenings on the Web and beyond, picking people, companies, and trends that exemplify tech’s ever-growing role in business and society. Here’s what’s got our attention.   More

Digital

A Website That Attempts the Impossible

Impossible.com is showing us that doing kind acts for others—even perfect strangers—is in fact very much possible. The new online community, already established in the U.K. and currently launching in the U.S., aims to advance the gift economy by serving as a platform for transactionless giving and receiving—that is, people doing nice things for other people without expecting anything in return. Created by British model, actress, and brand ambassador Lily Cole, Impossible is meant to explore the social value of connecting through giving. Cole traveled to New York last month to promote Impossible, appearing on Charlie Rose alongside Techonomy’s David Kirkpatrick and Jonathan Zittrain, a professor at Harvard Law School and the co-founder of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society.   More

Global Tech

Do-Gooder Drones to the Rescue

matternet_city_day (1)

When Andreas Raptopoulos, CEO of Matternet, asked a TED audience last year to "imagine if the next big network we built in the world was a network for the transportation of matter," he wasn't talking about delivering pizzas and your Amazon orders. Raptopoulos is among the growing ranks of social entrepreneurs who want to put advanced technologies to use for causes more noble than enabling more consumption. His Palo Alto startup seeks to employ drones to deliver humanitarian aid to the billion people in the world's most remote areas.   More