I came across this TED talk about Engineers today and I wanted to share it. Basically this speaker, a student at Imperial College, talks about how important it is today for engineers to participate in global debates and to develop the ability to communicate the innovations they produce.
Engineers need to be well rounded, as well as technically proficient in their field of study.
Well, I missed it, but only by 24 hours. Yes, Tuesday, October 11, 2016 was Ada Lovelace Day.
Ada Lovelace, though she lived from 1815 to 1852, is often recognized as the first computer programmer. The second Tuesday in October has been recognized since 2009 as Ada Lovelace Day to celebrate the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
We need to encourage all kids with interest in STEM careers, but particularly we need to encourage women. We missed it this year, but mark your calendars and plan an event for Tuesday October 10, 2017.
I have written quite a bit about AI over the past few months. I came across the article “This AI-written pop song is almost certainly a dire warning for humanity” today and found it interesting. Certainly I am no music expert or even listen to music very often (I put on a local popular radio station when I am driving granddaughters around), but the tune in the video below is not bad.
Now as the article explains, the AI just creates the melodies and a real human composer takes that and turns it into the final music track. The melodies were produced by Sony’s Flow Machines.
The AI pulls data from about 13000 songs in its leadsheet database when a user inputs the selected style for the music to be created. The example above was created in the “Beattles” style.
Is this a sign of another career sector that will be impacted by AI in the years ahead? It is too early to tell, but Sony plans to release a music album of AI created pop music in 2017. If it is successful who knows what the long term impact may be.
I came across the article “These Startup Founders Swear By The ROI Of Reading” this morning. The net of the article is that by spending time each day reading books that address concerns of their business, these entrepreneurs are able to perform better.
This just reinforces the fact that to be successful and be at the top of our professions, we must be life-long learners. Continuing Education, whether it be from books, on-line courses or at a traditional brick-and-mortar university is essential to staying competitive.
There are so many business and self improvement books available now that a reader will be able to find several in their area of interest. A good way to quickly review a book to see if it merits your full attention is the Blinkist App I reviewed a short time ago.
How ever you approach selecting your books, reading can make a huge difference in your life.
Today, July 29, is the 17th internationally recognized day to recognize computer and network System Administrators – SysAdminDay. The last 20 years or so of my career was spent as a Unix/Linux Sys Admin, so I like to promote this day.
Just remember that the Sys Admins are those folks behind the scenes that keep your computer network secure and your servers up and running. Usually all they hear are complaints when a system goes down. Their many long hours, often in the middle of the night and on weekends, is what keeps everything working properly.
Please show your appreciation today for any Sys Admins that you know.
I am a big proponent of Continuing Education. I saw a Tweet recently by a IEEE colleague (@DevonRyan) extolling the virtues of Blinkist. Blinkist provides insightful summaries of non-fiction books (1000+ and growing) that can be read in about 15 minutes each using your web browser. These can also be read use their mobile App (available for both Android and iOS) and you can listen to the audio versions.
These allow the reader to read and absorb a tremendous amount of information without dedicating too much of our increasingly scarce free time. Now this is a service that does not come free (well, it does sort of).
If you check the available plans, there are three:
- Blinkist Free (Free), read one pre-selected book per day, browse the catalog
- Blinkist Plus ($49.99/yr)- any title, read off-line
- Blinkist Premium ($79.99/yr) – All features of Plus as well as ability to listen to audio
I joined a few days ago and have read their summaries of two books. I can see where it is helpful, but clearly condensing a full book into what can be read in just 15 minutes must skip over a lot of material. However I can see where reading the summaries would be useful to point you at which books you might want to devote more time to.
If you are trying to improve yourself or wanting to learn, but have limited time, this may be the perfect service for you.
I have posted a few times before (see ‘robots’ in the tag cloud for other articles) about the potential threat to human jobs due to robots. President Obama’s February economic report to Congress contains a similar warning. This comes from a report by the WhiteHouse’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA).
The CEA study shows that low paid workers (those making less than $20 an hour) are the most threatened. Their study predicts that the jobs of more than 60% of American workers may be at risk.
The sections of the report “Robotics” (pages 231-236) and “Effect of Robotics on Workers” (pages 236-239) are of particular interest. That first section gives a good overview of where robots are being used and how their use is increasing. The second addresses how the growth of robotics will affect jobs.
Some points to consider mentioned in the report:
- “While industrial robots have the potential to drive productivity growth in the United States, it is less clear how this growth will affect workers.“
- “robots will take substantial numbers of jobs away from humans, leaving them technologically unemployed“
- “as machines have been able to increasingly do tasks humans used to do, this leads humans to have higher incomes, consume more, and creates jobs for almost everyone who wants them.“
- “A critical question . . . is the pace at which this [humans moving into new jobs] happens and the labor market institutions facilitate the shifting of people to new jobs.“
- “the percentage of men ages 25-54 employed in the United States slowly but steadily declined since the 1950s, as manufacturing has shifted to services, suggests that challenges may arise.“
- “Inequality could increase; indeed, most economists believe technological change is partially responsible for rising inequality in recent decades.“
The best defense against replacement:
- worker training and education
- pursue high-skill jobs that use problem- solving capabilities, intuition and creativity, or low-skill jobs that require situational adaptability and in-person interactions
- work towards jobs in information technology fields, including software development, network administration, and cybersecurity.
Being involved in the activities of the IEEE Central Texas Section, I want to promote the workshop that we are hosting next Friday, February 26. The “Innovators, Engineers & Entrepreneurs” workshop, a full day at the AT&T Conference Center on the south side of the University of Texas at Austin campus. This will be our capstone event for Engineers Week.
The workshop will feature some well known speakers – Bob Metcalfe, co-inventor of Ethernet; Donna Wilkins, founder of Charity Dynamics; and Devon Ryan, founder, LION Mobile – among others. Please take a look at the program and see if the presentations are of interest.
Workshop topics include:
- Power & Energy, Energy Storage, Photovoltaics, Water
- Internet of Things
- Privacy and Security
- Incorporating Legal Organization, Intellectual Property
- Robotics, 3-D Printing, Manufacturing Automation
If you are thinking of creating a start up, then this will be of great value. Among the presentations are:
- startup funding
- how to start a company
- working with legal teams
- dealing with security
The workshop is open to all interested parties. You can still register on-line or Friday at the door, though the cost jumps up to $125.
Another day and another story (“Where will robots take over the most jobs?“) of how robots and automation may impact jobs. I have covered most of the sources cited in previous posts (check out ‘robots’ in the tag cloud to the bottom right). One new report I have not seen before from Citi/University of Oxford seems to say much as the other studies reported – Robots and automation to increase and jobs will be lost.
While mentioned in a few of the other reports, one of the ideas the Citi study emphasizes is not so much the loss of jobs, but the widening gap in incomes. Lower skilled jobs may disappear and the new jobs that will be created will require much higher levels of education.
What is the best preparation? Investment in education and training. Be prepared to relocate and move up into the newly created, higher skill level positions.
If this is a topic that interest you, read the article cited above.