All Posts By

Advanced Intelligent Systems

The Importance Of Viral Kindness In 2021

By | Blog Posts | No Comments

CEO at Advanced Intelligent Systems, a practical autonomous robotics company with software and hardware modules. 

There seems to be a lot of discord around the world. One thing that almost everyone agrees about, though, is that 2020 was a stressful year. Has there ever been a more welcome sight than a brand-new calendar with “2021” printed at the top? Is there anything more heartening these days than stories of people demonstrating kindness toward those who struggle with fears of Covid-19 and its fallout?

Unprecedented times call for unprecedented kindnesses. Kindness is good for the soul. What’s more, kindness helps to improve bodily health for both the giver and the receiver.

Sometimes, though, people neglect kind acts — even simple thoughtfulness — when their own survival is at risk. History books and literature tell stories of “man’s inhumanity toward man” amid stressful circumstances that seemed to portend death for those whose will to survive was lacking.

Our Actions Define Us

Stress itself doesn’t kill anyone, but our reactions to stressful situations can sometimes do great harm. One person under stress might perform acts that appear miraculous and benevolent, while the same stresses might compel someone else to commit atrocities. The way that each of us perceives stress and its potential for causing damage becomes a catalyst for their subsequent actions.

As an analogy and an example of different reactions to different perceptions of stressful situations, consider the often conflated emotions of jealousy and envy.

As Aristotle is often quoted as having said, “Jealousy is both reasonable and belongs to reasonable men, while envy is base and belongs to the base, for the one makes himself get good things by jealousy, while the other does not allow his neighbour to have them through envy.”

It isn’t difficult to confuse a self-interested action with a selfish action. One’s self-interest aligns well with the self-interest of others. Being selfish, on the other hand, implies losing rationality and with it a genuine sense of self. A selfish person often becomes obsessed with an unhealthy perception that others don’t do enough to relieve them of their stress.

Animals experiencing stress undergo a fight-flight-freeze response. Whenever someone perceives that they’re facing imminent danger, they might become like a wolverine defending itself from an aggressive bear, a bird taking wing to escape a charging house cat or a deer in the headlights.

Enemy Minuscule

What happens if a perceived threat is so small as to be invisible? Is there an objective, rational response to something that can’t be fought or evaded in a traditional sense? Are people frozen in the headlights of oncoming pathogens, or do they rally together and do what needs to be done?

In recent months, the lockdown reaction to Covid-19 has been damaging livelihoods and health. Loneliness and depression have turned out to be parallel pandemics that remain largely overlooked. An alarming number of people have been taking their own lives, and the people who try to talk them out of potentially dangerous behavior are themselves becoming desperate.

Along with the coronavirus pandemic, 2020 might be remembered as a year of widespread isolation, self-harm and domestic tragedy. Substance abuse is up, as is violent crime — but on the other hand, so is entrepreneurial activity.

Seniors appear to be taking the brunt of Covid-19’s fury, although innovative ideas are encouraging younger people to show that they care. Foremost on many adult minds are two related questions: Will this coronavirus be around forever in one form or another, and when will all the restrictions finally end?

After The Pandemic

Some people have become less social during the first year of Covid-19. Others have come together to produce new miracles.

In truth, it’s too early to know one way or another whether society has transformed as a result of Covid-19 and our early reactions to it. Around the world, our most basic emotional needs remain feeling safe, cared for and loved. Every chance to pursue personal or economic growth stems from such fundamental security.

There exists a saying about the inability to demonstrate love toward anyone without first knowing self-love. What is self-love, though? Is it self-esteem? Is it self-respect? Is it those things and more?

Perhaps genuine self-love, like all love, must be unconditional. Having self-esteem and self-respect might be important for psychological health, but maybe it’s just as important to feel love — and feel loved — when some or all those other things seem to be lacking.

Caring for oneself is being kind to oneself, and kindness is one of love’s pillars. An antidote to self-harm is self-care, so any analysis of Covid-19’s effect on society must start there. Care for yourself. Be kind to yourself, and then your kindness will go viral to help those who continue to suffer. If enough of us do that, acting with sincere self-interest, future generations might look back and thank their 21st-century ancestors for establishing an era of sustained mutual aid and cooperation.

With the effects of Covid-19 and the closure of offices, specifically in the tech sector, caring and being kind to ourselves can boost productivity and motivation. We are social creatures, and now we are caged in our home offices. Tech leaders and executives should ensure they convey a culture of self-care in order to keep their team members in a happy and performing mood. 


By | Blog Posts, News Releases | No Comments

SDTC provides $55.1 million in funding to cleantech companies promoting sustainable agriculture technology and supporting the low carbon economy

At Advanced Intelligent Systems (AIS), we have always developed our custom robotics solutions with sustainability and environmental responsibility at the forefront of our business objectives and focus. 

In our efforts to provide a solution for sustainable agriculture technology, we prioritized achieving the right mix of talent and resources, from R&D, through to commercial development of our flagship patented, autonomous mobile robot.  “BigTop” is designed to provide a green, and affordable automation solution for the nursery and agriculture industries. Our focus on green robotic initiatives has been previously recognized and awarded by the Canadian government on multiple occasions, and we are very excited to share that we were awarded funding from  Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), to further progress innovation in clean technology.

Last week, the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, announced investments of $55.1 million in 20 cleantech companies across Canada through SDTC.  AIS was named to the list of recipients developing innovative solutions to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, lessen the environmental impacts of conventional mining methods and support more sustainable agriculture technology practices.

“We are thrilled to be selected as one of 20 cleantech companies across Canada to receive funding from SDTC contributing to the global fight against climate change. On a local and national level, we are proud to do our part by providing a green robotic technology that can aid the horticultural and agricultural industries with an affordable and environmentally responsible solution,” says Afshin Doust, CEO of AIS.

AIS’ “BigTop” is automating dangerous and difficult tasks in the horticulture and agriculture industries to help solve a labour shortage, and reduce the carbon footprint of agricultural operations. A suite of these autonomous robots is currently being piloted at Van Belle, one of North America’s largest nursery operations. 

Headquartered in Burnaby, British Columbia, the AIS team has superior intellectual property and patents which are currently being applied to develop green robotic solutions for various industries such as horticulture, agriculture, health care, manufacturing and warehousing. AIS’ autonomous robots have the intelligence to perform repetitive or dangerous tasks with exceptional dexterity and precision. Collectively, the AIS team has decades of experience in robotics engineering, management, and operations. Advanced Intelligence Systems Inc. (AIS) is a private company specializing in autonomous mobile robotics to solve real industry problems.

AI and the future of the Pandemic

By | Blog Posts | No Comments


In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and the world grappling with the reality of these uncertain times, there is also some glimmer of hope. With the development of the vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna, comes the yearning of normalcy in the nearest future.

In the battle against the pandemic, there has been the deployment of Artificial Intelligence to lessen the burden faced by healthcare workers and providers. In recent times, we have also seen the speedy acceleration of AI tools. A recent example is the approval of an untested AI algorithm by the United States Food and Drug Administration. This has raised a lot of concern by medical researchers and the medical community as to the porous regulatory environment of Covid-19 AI Algorithms. How accurate are the reports and data provided by these AI Algorithms are some of the questions that come to mind?

In the same light, there have been record breaking advancements such as the largest AI studies in the history of Covid-19.  CURIAL AI, a new AI Covid-19 screening test collected clinical data for over one hundred thousand cases of patients in the UK. (The Lancet Digital Health). This also proved its high efficacy as compared with Polymerase Chain Reaction testing (PCR).

AI has also been harnessed in the management of the disease through tracking, preventing the spread, and forecasting the trend of the disease. Research has also proven the effectiveness of AI in contact tracing, monitoring cases, early diagnosis and curbing the spread of misinformation.

Despite the burning questions like how well AI tools can be developed to improve the Covid-19 situation or even predict the deployment of the vaccines and the need for immunization. The truth remains that this is an aha moment for AI as the world has seen the massive shift by technology averse and agnostic organizations alike. A Bloomberg report highlights tech companies like Amazon web partnering with researchers to help in identifying vulnerable populations. Also, BlueDot was able to filter through large amounts of data with the aid of machine learning to anticipate the spread of the virus in China.

With the help of AI, the manual intensive distribution and tracking of several batches of vaccines will be made easier through rapid processing of millions of data. The inefficiencies attached to the supply chain management of the vaccines can also be effectively managed.

In other words, thanks to Artificial intelligence, there is light at the end of the very dark tunnel that the world is currently entrapped in.

Forbes Article: Tech Startup Valuations And Geography

By | Blog Posts | No Comments

CEO at Advanced Intelligent Systems, a practical autonomous robotics company with software and hardware modules.  

Breakthroughs in communication make the world seem smaller. Each advance in the production and distribution of energy inspires new media and greater technological innovation, bringing people together and leading toward Marshal McLuhan’s Global Village. 

The internet offers almost universal access to humanity’s assortment of knowledge. Virtual reality immerses users in lifelike simulations that blur the line between fact and fantasy. For aspiring entrepreneurs, such existential ambiguity demands answers to a new kind of question — will their young enterprise require a physical presence, or can it thrive within an exclusively online environment? 

An important decision for tech startups is where to locate the business. Virtual workspaces are becoming more common as professionals embrace work-from-home (WFH) opportunities, and although most venture capital firms remain cautious about investing in remote-only companies, some are warming to the idea. 

The What, The Where And The How Much 

Not all tech startups can forgo a physical presence. Many innovators need laboratories and production facilities and even old-fashioned storefronts. Beyond finding the right balance of real and virtual facilities, there is still the matter of choosing a suitable jurisdiction for incorporating or otherwise establishing a legal entity to represent the startup. 

An entrepreneurial track record might be crucial for opening doors to financing, but it seems apparent that location is still of equal importance to both business owners and investors. Being located in or near a major tech hub is no longer imperative for launching a successful startup. 

Compared with many other regions around the world, tech startup valuations in the United States and Canada appear to be relatively healthy. Innovations aimed toward resolving public health issues are becoming a focus of investment interest, and those investments are driving more entrepreneurial activity. 

During the pandemic, venture capitalists and investment angels began to schedule more virtual pitches. Time will tell how many continue to accept a substitute for face-to-face startup assessment that limits their analytical reach into body language and business plans. In the meantime, bankruptcies are surging, although tech companies seem to be breathing easier than most during the economic downturn. 

Is the United States still the most desirable location for networks of people, offices and servers? In recent decades, many other regions have started attracting larger slices of the tech entrepreneur pie, although the USA still has a significant advantage in absolute numbers. Perhaps tellingly, many companies now seek a presence, at least in terms of servers for virtual offices, within multiple countries around the world. Business owners increasingly choose one area of operation over another because of an overriding consideration: access to financing. 

Throughout most of 2020, the border between Canada and the USA remained closed to all but essential traffic, most of it commercial. Comparisons of startup environments among the two countries remained similar to recent years, with the United States ranking first in the world and Canada coming in at number three. 

The tech sector in North America seems to become more important every year for the overall economy. In Canada, tech companies are leading the way toward post-Covid-19 recovery, while in America tech stocks recently surpassed the value of the entire European stock market. 

Even though the absolute values of the American and Canadian tech sectors vary by a wide margin, there are signs that Canada is gaining on its southern neighbor. Industry professionals are immigrating to Canada at an increased rate, and some companies are pulling up roots from Silicon Valley to relocate in the Great White North. 

Don’t Forget About The Who 

Increasingly, infrastructure, operations and even financing are within reach of virtual offices and remote entrepreneurs. Whether a business is located across the street or across the internet, consumers and investors alike want to know that there are talented and conscientious people ready to deliver quality goods and services. 

The trend is toward remote collaboration. Team members can associate from different time zones without worrying about international borders and work visas. Startup founders can be distributed among various locations and a wider source of potential funding. 

Investors must still assess personalities, though. They are counting on people even more than they count on the technology those people are developing. They need to recognize certain personality traits within business owners and gauge whether those traits are likely to be reflected in the attitudes and contributions of others on the team. 

Creativity is a must-have for any enterprise, yet it is the most difficult element to quantify. This makes in-person assessments even more important for potential investors. The key to a successful relationship between entrepreneurs and their benefactors is to have trust in each other’s strengths. A company without a creative side might measure itself into a corner, while too much focus on aesthetics can kill a startup’s valuation faster than a spreadsheet formula. 


If the proverb is correct about doing what you love, it stands to reason that doing a business right means loving everything about it. The location, the team, the partnerships and the financial backers must share a passion and a drive to achieve the goals that inspire those on the outside to place a high enough value on the startup to encourage its growth into a global leader. 

Communicate and collaborate. The world only looks big until you become a unicorn. 

Link to Forbes Article


Forbes Article: The Social Distancing Student: Education After The Pandemic

By | Blog Posts | No Comments

There is a monumental shift taking place within the education sector. Few seem to agree on what exactly is happening, what the cause is or what the outcome might be. But a common viewpoint is that education will never be the same.

Some institutions may not open for classes during the 2020-21 school year, and those that do will almost certainly look different than they did last September. Students might wear masks, or they might even be isolated from one another. Class sizes will likely be smaller, and not just because of safety measures put in place to offset a contagion.

Well before the outbreak of Covid-19, a new breeze had begun to blow across campuses and schoolyards. Whether it was a result of economic pressures, cultural imperatives or the ceaseless march of innovation and progress, schools have been changing — if not in terms of the methodologies and preferred outcomes of educating children and adults, then at least in the manner by which such institutions engage consumers of educational products.

As a member of the advisory board for a university in British Columbia, I believe there are a few ways the education industry will change as a result of Covid-19.

Education’s goals and fundamentals remain the same.

Over the past century, the fundamental objectives of education and related curriculums have stayed largely the same. Classrooms and lecture halls still dominate the typical student day; practicum work still takes place within laboratories and studios.

Students still receive grades based on the educator’s assessment of assigned work and scheduled examinations. Specific implementations of these evaluation processes might be adjusted, such as standardized testing intended to balance student progress across multiple school districts, but a typical student’s educational experience remains similar to that of their great grandparents.

In recent decades, many people have placed greater value on academic credentials. Among both learners and employers hoping to hire them, the demand for diplomas and degrees is higher than ever.

Education’s costs have spiraled.

Increasingly, parents and independent students are reassessing their valuation of formalized schooling. Whereas the core principles of education endure, there is decidedly less enthusiasm these days about reconciling the costs associated with earning a degree and any anticipations of superior earnings to offset those costs.

Since 1977, the cost of obtaining a college degree in the United States has increased at an average annual rate of 6.25% — almost eight times faster than wages have been increasing. Some estimates put today’s graduation bill at more than 1,000% higher than it was for the generations that could support themselves and their studies with part-time work. Most parents continue trusting the proverbial wisdom that having a degree will lead their children toward greater opportunities to prosper, so enrollment lists stay filled year after year.

Typically, high demand leads to higher prices — but that’s not the only factor affecting the cost of an education. A lack of competition among academic producers, caused primarily by legislated regulations and similar government interventions, tends to keep prices at levels above those that a healthier market would compel competing schools to offer.

In general, education has started experiencing the same issues that affect healthcare — inflated money supplies, a coincidental increase in regulations and a proliferation of administrative staff whose function is related only tangentially to the core product that the institution is trying to deliver.

As a result, student debt levels have become worrisome. No longer can a part-time job pay for classes plus books and room and board. More and more, debt is the only way for young adults to achieve their mortarboard dreams. A typical American student leaves college with loan payments that will haunt them until they are almost middle-aged.

Education’s essence is evolving.

Is it appropriate to keep calling higher education a good investment? Is a degree much more these days than an expensive status symbol? Perhaps with all of the emerging alternatives, degrees are becoming less attractive than they were before the world became so interconnected.

Young adults are finding other means for achieving their education. Instead of taking on major debt so early in life, many are turning toward polytechnical institutions and similar vocational studies where theory takes a back seat to practical application and internships. Learning on the job is also surging in popularity as people rediscover the earning potential of careers for which no college degree is necessary. Apprenticeships and entry-level positions are becoming the new freshman class.

Online programs have also exploded onto the scene. The internet is a virtual gold mine for aspiring entrepreneurs. Even before the Covid-19 outbreak, the academic world found itself at a crossroads. Traditional schools face new kinds of competition, which is reflected in a slowdown of the typical year-over-year increase in tuition costs. In six short months during 2020, social distancing has propelled students past the third age of online education into a new paradigm of virtual studies augmented by real-world experience.

Disruption is the way of the immediate post-Covid-19 world. Traditional education institutions are facing renewed pressure to adapt or become obsolete. The fates of education and technology are increasingly conjoined, with each contributing to the evolution of the other. The impact of online learning on the IT industry is helping people keep pace with rapid advancements and thereby turning current knowledge into future progress.

Forbes Article link.

AIS Robotic Base

Forbes Article: Standardizing Robotics Through Modularity

By | Blog Posts | No Comments

When people want to understand something, they compare their observations to an established standard. Standards give people structure around which they can thrive while aspiring toward even greater accomplishments and upgraded standards.

Productivity depends on standards, even as innovators seek to redefine them. Formalized standards are documents, both print and online, that include specifications, procedures and morphologies that detail assurances for the reliability of products and their composite materials. Standards represent the protocols that producers and consumers alike can trust as they strive to understand the world and its inherently competitive landscape.

Technology standardization

Through the centuries, technologies have gone through cycles of innovation, standardization and occasional ossification. Manufacturers are always seeking to improve productivity, and entrepreneurs will often distinguish themselves from competitors by adopting or developing innovations in technology.

The automobile industry exemplified the Second Industrial Revolution. Standards in manufacturing processes, parts specifications and related products, such as refined petroleum and roadways, paved the way toward expanded human progress. When consumers became confident they could top off their tank at any filling station and hire qualified mechanics wherever they happened to be, entire continents opened up for greater exploration.

Today’s businesses are increasingly digital. Characteristics of the Fourth Industrial Revolution entail a harmony of things physical and virtual, encouraging enterprises to pursue operational advantages that include:

  • Rapid prototyping of research and development (R&D) discoveries.

  • Process agility and ease of redesign.

  • Greater precision.

  • Transparency and accountability within supply chains.

  • Marketing flexibility.

  • Improved customer satisfaction and personalization.

Standards provide a kind of travel guide for modern innovation, navigating for entrepreneurs as they explore their immediate surroundings and peer over the horizon with eternal curiosity. Among emerging industries, the evident trailblazer is robotics, and standards that evolve alongside its myriad discoveries are mapping out new territory to make bleeding-edge research more practical and accessible to tentative consumers.

AIS UV Disinfectant Prototype that has been developed in two months owing to using AIS proprietary modules

Standards and modular robotics

Robotics is intriguing because its products mimic the very human actions that led to the development of robotics. There are robots whose entire purpose is to manufacture goods that we once labored to produce ourselves and to perform chores that took so much valuable time away from us. Robots are even creating other robots, with potential impacts on economies and culture being debated among those whose lives have already adapted to the point that they can afford to engage in more inward-looking pursuits of philosophy and debate.

As we push ourselves to refine the form and function of robotics, we are moving beyond ancient fantasies of perfectible humanity to become caretakers of artificial agents that we hope will refine us in turn. To keep the madness out of the AI scientist, though, standards are essential for helping us plot a course through successive versions of hardware, software and intermediary operating systems that will define our relationship with smart machines.

Formal standards in robotics pertain to manufacturing process guidelines and consumer safety assurances. Organizations and federations have risen to address the rapid pace of innovation for both industrial robots and consumer robots. And entire communities have formed around the mutual interests of motivated members.

In parallel with formalized standards, some informal standards have grown out of innovation itself. For decades, researchers anticipated a robotic transformation from simple programs manipulating electronic appendages into autonomous agents of decision trees and mobility, but only in recent years have developments in homogeneous and heterogeneous robotics turned academic suppositions into practical solutions.

Foremost among this transformation toward robotic autonomy is the recent emergence of modular robots. As within the automobile industry, the design and manufacturing of practical modular robots are consolidating into standardized processes that promise reduced costs and enhanced consumer satisfaction. By the middle of this century, mobile robotic devices will be exploring continents as humans did during the previous century. Affordable robot components will be more interchangeable than ever, and owners will trick out their autonomous rides like they’re the roadsters of bygone days.

Advancements in component modularity and associated robotics interoperability are also helping to minimize difficulties with sustained innovation, thereby lowering barriers of entry into the marketplace and encouraging healthy competition to benefit consumers. Global trade will receive a boost from an expansion of automation, ranging from factory lines to distribution and delivery mechanisms.

AIS Modules for BigTop - UGV

AIS Modules for BigTop (AIS Unmanned Ground Vehicle)

Standards to complement modular robotics

Functional hardware and software are not the only components of modular robots. Manufacturing supply chains need their own standards of dependability, as do complementary technologies like wireless and cellular as well as compatible internet of things (IoT) devices.

Modular robots also benefit from domain-specific complements such as standardized platforms and robots as a service (RaaS). With independent and interchangeable modules, customized robots for industrial and personal use are now offering practical solutions for every task.


Both formal and informal standards are helping to make practical robots more autonomous and affordable. Innovations such as soft robotics, autonomous self-reconfiguration and autonomous self-replication keep raising the bar for tomorrow’s standards, which will fuel the energies of future entrepreneurs.

Startups innovate by necessity. Sometimes their innovations become standards; sometimes their financing runs dry. Fortunately, standards for young industries benefit from startup innovations as well as from the R&D contributions of existing enterprises. The excitement and uncertainty surrounding these early days of modular robotics will settle into a robust environment of pervasive standards and a competitive atmosphere of practical solutions.

Forbes Article link.

Economic impacts of the work from home trend

By | Blog Posts | No Comments

The Covid-19 outbreak has given humanity reason to pause and reflect.  As the economy stumbles, entrepreneurs and job seekers alike are exploring the potential advantages of alternative work arrangements.  Chief among those alternatives is a growing trend of workers telecommuting from home offices.

To many business owners it is now obvious that remote work presents a good opportunity, especially for firms within the tech sector.  Many workers also like the arrangement, and are eager for Work From Home (WFH) options to become permanent.

The future is both local and global

“The new electronic independence re-creates the world in the image of a global village.”

– Marshall McLuhan

When it comes to the tools and workflows of a typical workday, people are more independent than ever.  Technological advances allow professionals to be productive on their own, while entrepreneurs take advantage of online services for human resource management.

More businesses are reaching out to professionals around the world.  Even bootstrapping startups conduct business with a wide distribution of stakeholders.  Political boundaries are becoming less important, as workers and their employers connect across borders and entire oceans.  By their very nature, WFH initiatives encourage workplace inclusion.

Remote work could potentially become the single biggest factor among current trends in economic globalization.  Employers within developed countries are increasingly interested in lowering costs by hiring gig workers who can telecommute from their homes within developing countries.  Even closer to corporate home, a new harmony resonates between cost-cutting enterprises and local workers hoping to manage their lives more efficiently.  For professionals who can be productive online, physical distance is becoming less relevant.

The new suburbanization?

 Professionals are once again migrating toward the suburbs.  This is affecting office space inside central business districts, with an increasing number of companies planning to downsize their square footage footprint.  The downtown office might not be dead yet, but it is certainly suffering from body blows—and even long-term leases might not benefit landlords much if this current recession forces tenants into insolvency.

For those who do embrace telecommuting, there are cultural barriers to overcome.  Few professionals have ever worked from home, and their understanding of it doesn’t extend much farther than dreams of spending each day in pyjamas.


Remote work—the cyber nuts & bolts

Transitioning toward a remote job can be a challenge.  Most business managers and most workers are unaccustomed to engaging colleagues only through text, email, telephone or videoconferencing.

One question that remote management “noobs” often have is how to maximize the productivity of employees working from home.  Prescient employers might provide remote working equipment, or they might encourage a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) work culture enabled through technology stipends.  Managers might implement online tracking systems or resolve to touch base with their reports multiple times per day.  For each of these options, both worker and manager count on secure and reliable technology to support a productive schedule.

Technology is important, but it is no panacea.  Soft skills remain a vital element of effective business management and worker collaboration.  Sometimes remote doesn’t fit; employers must have a backup plan for such occasions, because there will always be a few professionals who can’t or won’t work anywhere but a formalized office setting.

The comfort of home—an appropriate professional setting?

Some people dislike the idea of having no place of employment outside the home.  They want to keep their work life and their personal life separate.  There is also some concern among traditional workers that telecommuting keeps them out of sight and out of mind.  While uncommon, it is possible that employers will consider remote workers as outsourced contractors who are easily replaced.  Some WFH employees respond to such potential job insecurity with communicative overcompensation.

Among telecommuters, feelings of disconnection and isolation are common.  Almost half of surveyed remote workers reported that their mental health is a big concern.

Advantages of working from can be summed up as:

  • Little to no commute

  • Flexible hours

  • Reduced expenses

  • Relaxed dress code

  • Improved work/life balance (for some)

  • Easier pace

  • Opportunity to keep computer skills current

  • Distance from toxic coworkers

Remote work’s disadvantages include:

  • Being (or feeling) out of the loop

  • Adverse work/life balance (for some)

  • Loneliness

  • Distractions

  • Communicating at odd hours with colleagues across the globe

  • Extra meetings

  • Increased micromanagement

  • Connectivity issues

  • Cybersecurity concerns

Businesses enjoy more flexibility with gig workers, as well as increased reliability.  Telecommuters produce goods with 40% fewer defects, are up to 40% more productive, take fewer sick days, and impact employee turnover at a 12% lower rate.  Those offered a WFH option are up to 74% more likely to remain loyal to their employer.

HR departments will never be the same.  From recruitment and onboarding to communicating with remote workers and providing support, remote workers bring challenges of organizational transformation which appear to be well worth the effort.


The future of commute-free careers has arrived.  As of 2020, the jobs best suited for remote work include computers & IT, software development, medical & health, accounting & finance, customer service, sales and project management.

Traditional office-based jobs will remain plentiful during times of economic prosperity.  Expect a hybrid of career options for future generations.  After the commotion of Covid-19 has passed, the economy will recover and will tend toward an optimized balance of remote and in-office employment.

Remote work presents a special opportunity for rural workers and women.  As emerging economies and remote regions become more connected, professionals there will also experience standard of living improvements by telecommuting in to companies halfway around the world.  Wages and salaries will become more equitable as humanity takes strides of measurable cyber progress.

What will robotics and AI be like in 2040?

By | Blog Posts | No Comments

“I am at a rough estimate thirty billion times more intelligent than you.”

– Marvin, from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy


Marvin was a fictional cybernetics prototype with Genuine People Personalities (GPP). As such, he was perfect in every way except for the ways in which he was similar to humans. He was therefore the most depressed individual in the galaxy.


Thanks to ongoing advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI), real robots are getting smarter without as yet having any distracting emotions. They might not be sentient; they might not ever be sentient; but every year they are becoming more capable at analyzing data and making decisions which simulate human reason. What they do, they do fast and accurately.


Humans still have many advantages over robots and AI. Our artificial counterparts will continue to improve, though, and will likely surpass us in many of the areas we currently dominate. At best, we can make educated guesses regarding what robotics and AI will be like in the future. To be as authentic as possible, forecasters shouldn’t look too far ahead, so here are some queries and predictions about what a world with smart robots might be like in the year 2040.

At home

Dust and dirt will still exist in 2040, so chores will still demand human attention.  Humans, in response, will continue to demand labor-saving devices that make their lives easier.


By the middle of this century, Roomba descendants will do more than roam and vacuum. They could be more like Rosie, interacting with humans and sharing detailed information about the state of the domicile.  Rosie’s standard tools were housekeeping gadgets that emerged from her metallic torso, but her true talent was sassing the Jetsons—largely because the show’s writers were able to project their creative license onto scripts and characters.


In reality, creativity remains an obstacle for AI, making them better suited for home entertainment systems than home entertainment producers. The best that any current AI can deliver seems to be patched together from existing human achievements, although perhaps by 2040 a script or two will demonstrate originality instead of flighty mimicry.


In any case, personal robots might be as commonplace in 2040 as smartphones are today.  Acting as a communications hub and all-around assistant, these smart devices will coordinate with humans and machines alike to facilitate both efficient productivity and timely leisure.  As kitchen robots prepare family meals, assistants will help professionals squeeze more work into a typical evening while their children’s will help them master school subjects in less time.


In addition to performing chores and providing personal assistance, robots will also help human owners monitor their health, identify concerns, and then either administer treatments or make necessary appointments.  Some AI already demonstrates diagnostic equivalency, even superiority, though they could improve their bedside manner.  As Marvin would say with clinical detachment, “I could calculate your chance of survival, but you won’t like it.”

On the job

During the first two decades of this century, the workplace changed dramatically.  Billions of people headed online, and remote jobs became more accessible.  Factories and farms became more automated as the Fourth Industrial Revolution gained momentum.


As robots and AI have become ordinary elements of the economy, some people have started to fear for their jobs.  Such concerns, though, seem to be based on the same shortsightedness by which loom-destroying Luddites gained anti-technology notoriety.  The truth will likely be more advantageous for all of humanity as new careers, including robot maintenance and even robot counseling, inspire opportunities for training, entrepreneurship and entire industries.


By 2040, HR departments will themselves be more hybrid, integrating the best of people and machines to support employees as they work to improve themselves.  Humans and AI will team up to expand business automation and preserve hiring opportunities even during uncertain times.

Eventually, efficiencies of production and economies of scale will make autonomous machines affordable for every firm from blue chip to startup.  Robots will be able to build their own replacements, and AI will design next-gen versions of themselves.  Human oversight will remain important for preventing any kind of HAL 9000 misstep.

Between home and work

Workers might sometimes forget, but between home and work lies the rest of the world.  As augmented careers bring opportunities to produce more of the goods and services that consumers demand, prices for most things will tend to decrease.


Many present luxuries become future necessities.  By 2040 there could be an abundance of not only self-driving cars and motorcycles, but also a complete transportation system with affordable commuting options for road, rail and flight.  Commuting might offer opportunities to catch up on work or socializing or sleep.


What about stops during the commute?  Is anyone in the future going to shop at brick & mortar stores?  What will customer service be like in 2040, when the convenience of online shopping meets the practicality of just-in-time manufacturing and drone delivery?  Will humans praise or curse a cocoon-like routine from home to work and back again?  Will aspiring butterflies book flights on autonomous jetliners serviced by robotic pilots, only to spread their metaphorical wings on a beach serviced by robotic cabana boys?  Will remote, off the grid locations become this century’s most popular luxury retreats?


When discussing the future of robotics and AI, references to Marvin or Rosie or HAL 9000 are helpful because speculation is a type of fiction.  Could robots in 2040 have the ennui of Marvin, the sarcasm of Rosie or the psychopathy of HAL 9000, or will they always lack that metaphysical spark separating prosaic from spiritual?


Practical innovations are nevertheless propelling AI toward a future that will likely realize at least some of the current speculations.  Machine minds experience deep learning with unforeseeable results.  Memristors promise a sea change in neural networks.  Quantum computing is, by definition, a perplexing consideration.  Predictions don’t guarantee results, but without them there would be little to no human innovation.

Forbes Article: Order In Chaos: A Business Approach

By | Blog Posts | No Comments

To be disruptive, business managers must embrace a certain amount of strategic chaos, even as external factors pull them forever toward an ordered condition of consumer satisfaction. A business is an ecosystem, and it is also part of a larger encompassing ecosystem called the market economy. The complex dynamics of market activity make it possible for individual enterprises and products to come and go without causing long-term damage to the underlying economy or to participants on either side of supply and demand.

In general, a specific market within an overarching economy accommodates an optimum number of competitors serving consumers. Interaction among consumers and producers becomes at once a measure of efficiency and a catalyst for change. When there aren’t enough competitors in a particular market sector, the potential for profits tends to be higher, and shrewd entrepreneurs tend to start thinking, “I want some of that.” When a market is saturated with excessive consumer options, insolvency encourages companies operating on the margin to shut down.

Change is key to a healthy economy. Today’s market for photographic film is tiny compared with its predigital heyday, but photography itself is more popular than ever. If one business collapses, or even if all businesses within one sector collapse, it is because consumers discovered something better to do with their income.


Complexity Theory

Each business represents a complex adaptive system (CAS), as does each market sector in which businesses compete for consumer loyalty. Within a CAS, the system and its agent components continuously adapt to each other, evolving as a symbiotic relationship where the system’s current state constrains agency and those with agency alter the system to suit their needs.

Amid Industry 4.0, businesses face different kinds of organizational challenges. Those that compete well often embrace a flatter structure than the hierarchical corporations of previous centuries. Where veterans see chaos, upstarts see collaborative opportunity. More and more, economic equilibrium resembles a balance between chaos and order, an endless waltz involving infrastructure and innovation.

Such a dance is never linear, never the same from one moment to the next. A successful business manager will simultaneously resist temptations to control the creative process while ensuring that those who innovate stay within the bounds of established goals and ethics. The idea is to keep pushing limits without ever losing perspective.


All As It Should Be

For both the natural world and societal abstractions like economies, it is healthiest to exist along the event horizon separating symmetry and jumble. An organizational state of snafu is perhaps nothing to be feared, so long as the situation does not careen from normal to hopeless.

Unless suppressed by overenthusiastic control mechanisms of dubious efficacy, all enterprises function on this knife edge. Five-year plans are no more practicable for businesses than they are for governments. As boxer Mike Tyson once said, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.”

New regulations might undermine otherwise feasible goals. Competitors might introduce superior products. Employees might decide to pursue a different dream, and consumers might become indifferent or antagonistic at any time. There is no way to predict what a strictly enforced production regimen might do for a business. Flexibility and agility are indispensable qualities for entrepreneurial survival.

The question becomes how to innovate without losing cohesion and purpose. Planning is still important, as is strategy. In the thick of it all, though, tactical advantage comes to those whose primary strategy is a commitment to changing tack when the wind blows different.


Technology As Copilot?

A recent example of an agile response to an unforeseen circumstance is the widespread adoption of remote working in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak. Central to this transformation has been technology for networking, file sharing and collaborative communication.

One takeaway from the early days of mass online employment is an apparent ability for technology to form the boundaries of team goal consistency, an operational limit up to which innovators can be allowed creative license. Remote workers are productive for up to 1.4 days more per month than office-bound colleagues, while the right combination of technology and organizational support can help them to be more innovative.

The machine learning core of intelligent adaptive technology represents a foundation for many new business models. But will machines ever become smart and autonomous, or will they always be repositories of human-derived information that are merely programmed to appear as intelligent workplace assistants?


Making Headway In A Storm

At the end of the day, there is no complexity theory magic bullet to slay all organizational challenges. Entrepreneurs hoping to evaluate its applications for future production and employment arrangements can take advantage of numerous tips that early adopters have recommended, including:

  • Simplify: Identify major performance bottlenecks and the contextual dynamics that cause them, and implement operational changes to facilitate improved communication and cooperative behavior.

  • Choose the right team for each initiative: Make sure projects have teams that can offer appropriate skills for the tasks at hand and that these professionals are critical thinkers who won’t shy away from sharing their wildest ideas in meetings or through enterprise collaboration software.

  • Focus on consumers: Most often, business problems don’t stem from competitor acrimony or vendor inadequacy, but rather from the business’s own failure to help consumers navigate an ever-changing marketplace.

Perhaps the biggest hurdle to overcome is the typical manager’s insistence that their control over production represents a singular approach to taming complexity. Complexity, however, needs no taming. Prepare for the next Industrial Revolution by planning to embrace the complexity of the individual’s creative process even as you minimize internal complications with help from next-gen technologies.

Link to the Forbes Article.