from the world's big
How Will Automation Change Global Business, and the Communities It Serves?
Three current trends hint at the future of global business: the rise of artificial intelligence, the shifting center of economic gravity from west to east, and new existential problems like obesity and climate change.
John Browne (Lord Browne of Madingley) was CEO of BP from 1995–2007, where he built a reputation as a visionary leader, transforming BP into one of the world‘s largest companies. He was president of the Royal Academy of Engineering, is a fellow of the Royal Society, a foreign member of the US Academy of Arts and Sciences, and chairman of the trustees of the Tate Galleries. He holds degrees from Cambridge and Stanford universities, was knighted in 1998, and made a life peer in 2001. He is now the Executive Chairman of L1 Energy, an oil and gas investment company controlled by the Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman, through Alfa Group.
Lord John Browne: When we looked at our book we wrote it with something in mind, which was to defy what the great philosopher Hagel said, which is he said, "That if there's one thing history teaches us is that history doesn't teach us anything. People don't learn from history." So we decided we'd try and learn from history from China a hundred years before the common era. But then when we finished the book we said well there is actually something about the future and we'd like to think about three trends that are really important for corporations to think through, and in particular how their relationship with society is going to work. And they were first, the ever increasing possibility that artificial intelligence will change the way in which labor works: how do we communicate with companies? What actually do they do? Can they do things more perfectly or will they become less human?
We started the discussion by speaking to Tim Berners-Lee. And Tim, rather surprisingly, said to me well, " Well John, the thing about artificial intelligence is that corporations are already robots. They're ready robots so there's nothing new here. They behave robotically and maybe they shouldn't." So I said, "Well I contend that they absolutely shouldn't because they are part of the human fabric of society." So that was the first thing we talked about. The second we worried about was the change in the economic center of gravity in the world. If we go back to the first year after in the common era, 1 A.D., you'd find that the center of economic gravity in the world was somewhere in the Middle East. And over the last couple of thousand years it's moved from there to the middle of the Atlantic and now it's moving back to somewhere in the East. So it moves as countries become more comparatively advantaged, more educated and things move and therefore values, the way in which companies work, move again.
And we wanted to make the point that our book is not about pure moral values, it's about practical attempts to include people into this great endeavor, which is business, which makes the world better. Because it actually makes people more prosperous; brings people out of poverty and so forth. So we wanted to do that. And the third thing we said was that business actually doesn't have a right to be in the world, but it has to solve some of the very big problems that are facing the world: obesity and the ingestion of too much sugar; climate change; diseases, chronic diseases that exist; water shortage; pollution. The list goes on. And we gave a dozen examples of where we thought 30, in order to have the right to be a company, companies should be focused on, at least in some part of their brain, solving some of these problems for the future. And it just maybe that artificial intelligence, the ability to think more broadly, to gain access to more data, to understand more about it might just lead us to a better solution to some of these extraordinary problems that have been around a long time, it's just that we now see them with the greater clarity and indeed they are becoming more and more dangerous, climate change being a prime example of something becoming more dangerous.
The great German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel once said, "The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history." This phrase represented a challenge to Lord John Browne, who has made a career of predicting global business trends. In his book, Connect: How Companies Succeed by Engaging Radically with Society, Browne examines three current trends and how they predict our global economic future.
First is artificial intelligence: will automation increase to the point where companies themselves behave robotically? And what will the impact of automation be on workers and their communities? Browne argues that companies are members of human communities and must therefore not act robotically, and he shares an interesting conversation with Tim Berners Lee, creator of the Internet itself.
Two, the center of economic gravity shifts between continents. At the moment, says Browne, it is shifting from the west to the east. That's a good thing as shifting economies means resources reach areas that are relatively poor. And it provides an opportunity for companies to engage with entirely new communities.
Finally, the world faces existential problems like never before. From obesity to climate change, businesses have more opportunities — and more obligations — than ever before to earn their keep. Ultimately, says Browne, companies must benefit the societies who charter their existence in the first place.
Join us at 2 pm ET tomorrow!
Are we genetically inclined for superstition or just fearful of the truth?
- From secret societies to faked moon landings, one thing that humanity seems to have an endless supply of is conspiracy theories. In this compilation, physicist Michio Kaku, science communicator Bill Nye, psychologist Sarah Rose Cavanagh, skeptic Michael Shermer, and actor and playwright John Cameron Mitchell consider the nature of truth and why some groups believe the things they do.
- "I think there's a gene for superstition, a gene for hearsay, a gene for magic, a gene for magical thinking," argues Kaku. The theoretical physicist says that science goes against "natural thinking," and that the superstition gene persists because, one out of ten times, it actually worked and saved us.
- Other theories shared include the idea of cognitive dissonance, the dangerous power of fear to inhibit critical thinking, and Hollywood's romanticization of conspiracies. Because conspiracy theories are so diverse and multifaceted, combating them has not been an easy task for science.
A growing body of research suggests COVID-19 can cause serious neurological problems.
- The new study seeks to track the health of 50,000 people who have tested positive for COVID-19.
- The study aims to explore whether the disease causes cognitive impairment and other conditions.
- Recent research suggests that COVID-19 can, directly or indirectly, cause brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage and other neurological problems.
Brain images of a patient with acute demyelinating encephalomyelitis.
COVID-19 and the brain<p>A growing body of research reveals alarming neurological complications among COVID-19 patients. On Wednesday, for example, researchers from University College London published a <a href="https://academic.oup.com/brain/article/doi/10.1093/brain/awaa240/5868408" target="_blank">study</a> in the journal Brain that describes how some patients have suffered temporary brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage, and other neurological problems concurrent with COVID-19.</p><p>Some patients suffered brain inflammation as a result of a rare disease called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, which can cause numbness, seizures, and confusion. One patient in the study even hallucinated monkeys and lions in her home.</p>
Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images<p>A separate study published in the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7198407/" target="_blank">Journal of Clinical Neuroscience</a> notes that some COVID-19 patients have also suffered neurological complications like impaired consciousness and acute cerebrovascular disease. The study notes that past viruses like MERS and SARS also seemed to cause neurological problems.</p><p>A troubling finding among this growing body of research is that some patients seem to suffer neurological damage even when respiratory symptoms aren't obvious. Additionally, scientists aren't sure whether damage from the disease will be permanent.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Given that the disease has only been around for a matter of months, we might not yet know what long-term damage COVID-19 can cause," Dr. Ross Paterson, joint first author of the University College London study, said in a <a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-07/ucl-iid070620.php" target="_blank">press release</a>. "Doctors needs to be aware of possible neurological effects, as early diagnosis can improve patient outcomes."</p><p>If you've been diagnosed with COVID-19 and want to enroll in the study, visit <a href="https://www.cambridgebrainsciences.com/studies/covid-brain-study" target="_blank">cambridgebrainsciences.com/studies/covid-brain-study</a>.</p>
Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
Saudi Arabia Plans Futuristic City, "Neom" (Full Promotional Video)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c646d528d230c1bf66c75422bc4ccf6f"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N53DzL3_BHA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Coronavirus layoffs are a glimpse into our automated future. We need to build better education opportunities now so Americans can find work in the economy of tomorrow.
- Outplacement is an underperforming $5 billion dollar industry. A new non-profit coalition by SkillUp intends to disrupt it.
- More and more Americans will be laid off in years to come due to automation. Those people need to reorient their career paths and reskill in a way that protects their long-term livelihood.
- SkillUp brings together technology and service providers, education and training providers, hiring employers, worker outreach, and philanthropies to help people land in-demand jobs in high-growth industries.
Source: McKinsey Global Institute analysis [PDF]<p>Work in understanding the skills at the heart of the new digital economy is leading to novel assessments that allow individuals to prove mastery to faithfully represent their abilities—but also to give weight and stackability to the emerging ecosystem of micro-credentials that make education more seamless across time and education providers. And we are seeing the beginnings of a renewal in the liberal arts, focused on building human skills in affordable ways that are accessible to many more individuals and far more effective.</p><p>Amidst these dark times, there is much opportunity to refresh the nation's education and training solutions to support the success of individuals and society writ large.</p>