Syniverse Integrates Blockchain to Begin New Phase of Technology Enablement

Of all the new technologies shaping the next wave of digital transformation, it seems none is getting as much attention as blockchain. Syniverse made a major move in this space by announcing our partnership with IBM. Together we created a solution that uses blockchain to instantly validate new processes for clearing and settlement services.

 We  built on this collaboration when Syniverse Chief Technology Officer Chris Rivera and I had the opportunity to participate in an IBM Blockchain Platform Board of Advisors meeting in New York, along with a number of other industry leaders who are also collaborating with IBM as blockchain innovation partners.

 As a member of the board, Syniverse was represented on the business side by Dennis Meurs, Vice President and General Manager of Transaction and Clearing Services & Head of Blockchain Solutions and on the technology side by Chris Rivera and myself.

 Together with our customers and partners, Syniverse is creating an ecosystem where blockchain is one of many technology and service enablers. The meeting gave us the opportunity to discuss topics that are essential to progress on this front, including various issues with implementation and forthcoming technology sets specific to identity, the internet of things, and 5G.

 These topics are at the core of Syniverse’s mission and, in particular, Hyperledger Fabric, the blockchain and smart contracts mechanisms that Syniverse is now working with. This is a blockchain framework for developing applications or solutions with a modular architecture that allows components to be plug-and-play. As part of this, Hyperledger Fabric uses smart contracts called “chaincode” that provide the application logic of the system.

 For Syniverse’s mobile operator customers involved in clearing and settlement, this Hyperledger blockchain represents a single source of truth specific to contract acceptance, usage and invoicing, reconciliation, and dispute-management interactions. Critically, thanks to blockchain technology, these interactions are immutable and transparent (specific to the participants within a permissioned or private group).

 Here’s a deeper look at some of the new developments and innovations that we discussed in this area at the meeting.

 So, what’s new?

It should be stated that identity is a context-driven theme and is fundamental to blockchain, directed acyclic graphs, and, of course, the internet of things (IoT). To this end, at the meeting, there was an opportunity to explore more scaling mechanisms that could be applied to IoT applications. For instance, we discussed the use of directed acyclic graphs (DAGs), a type of graph used to model probabilities, connectivity, and causality, and their application with Hedera Hashgraph.

 Hedera can be best characterized as a “scalable path to permissionless and distributed“ architecture. There is a governing council model, including 39 organizations and enterprises, where members vote on the software direction of the public nodes and the Hedera platform code base. The Hedera performance rate is approximately 250,000 transmissions per second. Moving forward, like IBM, Syniverse, our customers, and our partners will explore the applicability of Hedera to the development of new solutions. 

 What about zero-knowledge proofs? 

Zero-knowledge proof is a method where one party can prove to another party that they know a value without conveying any information apart from the fact that they know that value. In other words, it’s a way of saying, “I cannot tell you my secret, but I can prove to you that I know the secret.” 

Fundamentally, with zero-knowledge proofs (ZKPs), we can implement a safeguard to protect against data leakage.

 Within the Hyperledger, Indy and Aries comprise the parts that are focused on peer-to-peer identity with the use of ZKPs (think privacy by design at a simple level). Hyperledger Fabric also already possesses a ZKP capability.

 Syniverse will continue  collaborating with various customers, business partners, and industry organizations to assess the development of ZKPs for solutions that will best serve our customers in today’s rapidly evolving technology landscape.

Women In Tech In Africa: Progress, Challenges, and What Comes Next

The continent of Africa has 54 countries and 1.26 billion people. It is home to major urban centers, some of the greatest natural wonders of the world, unbelievable cultural history, and devastating poverty. Though it is often depicted through stereotypes, particularly in the Western world, centering largely around these images of natural beauty and poverty with little else, all over the continent, Africa has tech leaders and innovators rising.

Much like the rest of the world, African nations struggle with gender equality, and, again, like the rest of the world, these disparities are particularly stark in the technology space. The question now is: how do we address these issues?


Challenges to Technology Growth In Africa

The first place to look is challenges to technology growth in Africa in general.

The brilliant Raissa Malu, whom I’ve had the great pleasure of working with, cites a few major issues.

One of them is having the right mentality and resources to foster technological innovation. When I asked what the biggest challenges we needed to tackle, she said: “ We need to believe in our ability to perform in tech.” Raissa, who has been organizing Science and Technology week in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 2014 (the sixth annual event, just last month, was a roaring success), described the event’s impact:

“Today, young and old, men and women, do not see science and technology as foreign or inaccessible. They become familiar to them, and they have more and more confidence that we can also perform in these areas, women and men in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This is absolutely remarkable and so important for our country to take off.”

As progress is made, progress will quicken, not only because technology builds on itself, but because leaders create role models, and role models help guide the next generation to success.

Education is also essential. For the first time, the Democratic Republic of Congo dedicated an entire month to science and technology, and it included an initiative of Science Caravans organized in 6 cities by the Education Project for the Quality and Relevance of Teachings at the Secondary and University Levels which created STEM educational programming specifically designed with the context of the DRC in mind.

Another concern is the lack of digital connectivity and digital infrastructure. However, that might be changing. Nunu Ntshingila, Facebook’s head of Africa, said that “Facebook’s biggest aim in Africa is to bring people online.” With 145 million active users, “Fundamentally, we still have a region that is under-connected,” but extremely high in potential. Viola Llewellyn of Ovamba solutions expressed a similar sentiment: “Africa is frequently undercounted and underestimated.” With women like these actively seeking to help capitalize on the potential across the African continent, the change will come.

Challenges Facing Women in Tech Specifically

From an entrepreneurial perspective, it may surprise many to learn that sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rate of women entrepreneurs in the world at 27%. However, “most female-led enterprises are small businesses with little opportunity for growth… they are, for the most part, one-woman enterprises oriented to consumers...In the technology industry particularly, few women attempt start-ups.”

Part of the reason is cultural. Although each country in Africa has its own cultural values, many have strict notions about the role of women. In the DRC, Raissa Malu says, women are generally considered to be unable to achieve much and relegated exclusively to the home sphere. This perception is so strong that some will go so far as to think that successful women are actually just effeminate-looking men.

Odunayo Eweniyi, a successful co-founder and business leader of Piggybank.ng in Lagos, says, “Many times, women are not allowed to aspire ‘too high.’ As a result, they tend to participate in the least risky ventures.”

This phenomenon explains why women are more likely to lead businesses, but their ventures are lower risk but without expansion opportunities.

Access to capital is a major barrier for women in tech in Africa as well, although that is also inextricably intertwined with these cultural issues. Sahar Nasr, Egypt’s Minister of Investment and International Cooperation said many investors suffer from the “misguided a perception that women are high-risk customers to lend.”

Some of that perception is certainly from bias, conscious or unconscious, but women also have a harder time receiving loans because they do not have collateral to put up. While the need for collateral in and of itself is normal for the finance industry, women don’t have the necessary assets because “African tradition stands in the way of most women to own property.”


How to Support Women in Tech in Africa

The most powerful force for helping budding women in tech in Africa are the women, like those I’ve mentioned in this post, and many, many others, who are already active technology leaders in their communities, cities, or countries. Not only do these women act as role models, to plant the seed of what might be possible, but they can also establish networks and mentor one another, which is especially important to help them break through the barriers caused by the stereotypes and cultural limitations they face.

A lot of incredible organizations are running summits, creating networks, and otherwise supporting women in tech in Africa. Useful & Beautiful and Women in Tech ZA are hosting the “Women in Tech and Digital Conference,” which, while its intent is absolutely to provide role models and mentorship specifically for women, it is not just a “women in tech” conference. It’s a tech conference with an all-female lineup to counterbalance the norm of having all, or mostly, male speakers.

Other organizations include the Women in Tech Africa SummitWomen in Tech AfricaAfrican Women in Technology, and Africa Technology Business Network, which founded the #HerFutureAfrica project.

Developing Technology in the Cloud: An Informed Perspective

Part 2:


In my first post, I mentioned the developer utilizing cloud toolsets and in safe cloud landing zones and sandboxes for testing code and applications. Kubernetes containers can be pushed to legacy systems with cloud-native applications in this varied toolset. The toolset is varied as we are always moving from a previous or current state of our systems to a future state and we are in this “bridge” of technology development. The pace of innovation will continue, and we always be in this bridge technological development and various microservices, libraries are trying to bundle things easier for the developer communities.


Historically, the sheer lack of Java programmers led Yahoo to create the language Pig, as “pigs eat everything” meaning it was capable of digesting various generic code from a variety of programming languages. Google’s Big Table gave rise to the distributed parallel computing in managing Big Data. Pig and R are quickly be eclipsed by Python due to open source communities and development. The Open Source world is starting to give rise to the need for standardization, trust and transparency where fellow coders can contribute, augment and customize the software code as one sees fit. Cloud enables faster deployment and scale, but it is interesting to look behind the cloud and what people are doing collectively in software with the cloud.


In my conversations with developers, they want to see what is in the code, not black box development and make changes or utilize portions of it. The open source developer community is giving rise to an “un-patent” world where true innovation is a community concern and growth and utilization of software (and hardware as well) through freemiums and value-based pricing is the new frontier of technology innovation and collaboration. This is evidenced through Microsoft buying Github. IBM is also a leader in blockchain with its hyper ledger fabric in an open source fashion where again, easy to experiment and iterate with use cases. 


It’s interesting to note the hardware space is moving to open source, as BMW opened up its patents as well as Toyota with its hybrid technologies as they are well aware this is connected software and hardware play.  The transparency in open source allows helps bolster security by allowing the community to contribute and incrementally getting more secure. You can think of both strengths and weaknesses in a black box environment are guarded, but we simply do not know. The value in an open source version with regards to security is it has more possibilities to be explored, examined and tested


IBM’s fully-certified, managed Kubernetes Service enables you to help your clients rapidly delivery their applications, while having the option of tapping into IBM’s comprehensive and intelligent cloud services, like AI, for added value and can be seen here and try thousands in free cloud credits here.Through an intuitive user interface, the IBM Cloud Kubernetes Service works by creating a cluster of compute hosts and deploys highly available containers. This cluster lets you securely manage the resources that you need to quickly deploy, update and scale applications with complete control.


Developing Technology in the Cloud: An Informed Perspective

Part 1

Cloud technologies were in the past referred to “grid computing” and were distributed parallel environments to deal with complex workloads. The various multi-cloud or hybrid cloud environments emerging for a variety of reasons. Some organizations will want to mitigate risk from a compliance perspective, others geographically and others will be on-premise and partially in the cloud. That is promise of a Federated Cloud construct.

 

This new type of real-world application has created a complicated toolbox for developers. You have legacy systems and older toolboxes; you have newer cloud applications and microservices. Open-source software is assisting in standardizing and speed to market and agility are being vital to keep up with the pace of innovation. 

 

The advantage with the cloud is to play and have a developer sandbox while experimenting with use cases. You can scale your storage and compute needs infinitely, the cloud is distributed and highly available, making the sandbox and rapid iteration, experimentation and deployment key to delivering value. We all understand that our products are becoming more data-rich and customer centric with customized nuances for each individual.

 

As we can scale in the Cloud, the developer can use toolsets with containers, analytics, AI and Kubernetes and you want to standardize and use particular dev toolboxes to make that process more streamlined. While many microservice applications are now de-coupled for design into the future, legacy systems have not been and require things like managed containers. Thus, we are learning to utilize new processes and resources on legacy environments as well as future-designed systems – and that is exactly why Red Hat has been so successful. 

 

While we are so excited by rapid developer experiences and innovation, data privacy and hacks are becoming front page news and part of daily life with our increased big data creation. We have to consider security as part of the innovation process to keep up and not create a bottleneck on deployment or advancement in things like Artificial Intelligence. Open Source Software, code and hardware, smart hybrid developments and sharing best practices will keep the industry moving forward. 

 

There can be privacy laws, like GDPR in Europe; some organizations uncomfortable of having all data in the cloud. The developer has to consider both the security and privacy aspects as a matter of course now. Privacy by design and security scaling with innovation is emerging as very important concepts. GDPR states you cannot hold customer data, thus, with Cloud tools, the developer must be very careful in their design choices. Storage is important with regards to data center locations and what is stored there and how it is stored. In the United States, there is similar issues with regards to health care privacy and HIPAA compliance.

 

IBM’s fully-certified, managed Kubernetes Service enables you to help your clients rapidly delivery their applications, while having the option of tapping into IBM’s comprehensive and intelligent cloud services, like AI, for added value and can be seen here: https://ter.li/4hrepq and try thousands in free cloud credits here: https://ter.li/nbyqh2 Through an intuitive user interface, the IBM Cloud Kubernetes Service works by creating a cluster of compute hosts and deploys highly available containers. This cluster lets you securely manage the resources that you need to quickly deploy, update and scale applications with complete control.

 


Decentralized Autonomous Organizations & Their Social Implications

With our increasingly digital world, new innovations indicate that we are in a time of change. More specifically, we are living in a world where the very systems upon which trust is based are being challenged by new and exciting paradigm shifts. Decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), deriving from organizational decentralization, will be a major driver of these changes and have a variety of social implications.

 

Decentralization may impact companies, governments, or any variety of organizations. No matter the societal sphere, essentially, decentralization involves the delegation of tasks from one branch (usually an authoritative position) to other branches. In business, this could mean a structure where the upper level management delegates responsibilities to others in the company.  Similarly, in government, this could involve the central government transferring some or all authority to other branches or sectors of government. While the idea of decentralized organizations is not new, the technological revolution, spurred by the advent of blockchain, has allowed for a new kind of decentralization, namely decentralized autonomous organizations. A DAO is a “vast system (or a system with the potential to become vast) that adapts to user needs, tracks spending and preferences, and disperses profits without centralized oversight.” Blockchain has given ultimate control to the code, where even those who operate the blockchain have limited power. Decentralized autonomous organizations, therefore, have the ability to “realign the interest of users, reduce friction and remove middlemen.” Put another way, blockchain eliminates hierarchies while retaining the benefits of centralization such as simplicity and convenience. This new flow of value, which decentralized autonomous organizations allow, will transform into social responsibility banks that individuals will manage and share via devices that they will develop. People will tire of “thing happening to them” and will create like-minded tribes using technology to further democratize the world around them.

 

However, before postulating the social implications of DAOs, it is important to ground the hypotheses in the current impacts of organizational decentralization. For example, in business, some advantages include giving employees more freedom and power while simultaneously lightening the load for business leaders, setting up better decision making, and allowing for growth with separate branches in different locations. Meanwhile, the impacts of organizational decentralization for governments can include giving the people more power, and economic impacts include privatization and deregulation. Essentially, as the name suggests, decentralization allows for more collaboration as the idea of one person or entity controlling everything is erased.

 

We have several key factors driving decentralization, such as blockchain, 5G technology and the Internet of Things; These innovations allow for the creation of DAOs, which, in effect, possess their own identities and data; they will be able to communicate with each other without human intervention.

 

At a social level, the development of so-called smart cities will drive the exchange of data across domains that include public-private sectors. Healthcare and tokenizing the asset of your health data such that it brings value to you will become even more pivotal, perhaps challenging the very healthcare insurance entities that we know today. Community activism will overshadow that which we know as a state; these twenty-first century communities will be independent creating and sharing their own forms of energy, developing their own micro-economies in the form of healthcare, transportation, and education among others. DAOs also offer the promise of tokenizing an asset such as the climate, the ocean, or other natural occurrences. Funding for any and all of these initiatives will be a Social Responsibility tax, which will not be a collected fee per se, but transparently executed via action like planting trees, and eradicating status such as under-employment and unemployment.

 

While these changes may not happen in the immediate future, we will eventually see people band together and use technology democratize their world. The question which remains now, is how far away are we from the creation of the like-minded tribes that will usher in this new reality of decentralized autonomous organizations?

Control and Security in an Ever Changing World

Control and Security in an Ever Changing World

In this world of 5G, Internet of Things (IoT). Things, talking to things. We are at risk more than ever before.

With the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), systems learning behaviors and the use of behavioral analytics. We are mostly confused as to where to turn to for advice, support and the right technology to underpin it all.

With Artificial Intelligence and Cybersecurity, attacks are moving with a speed we haven't seen before. Or perhaps we haven't been paying attention!

We must have a human overseeing security protocols and threats.

I recommend posing the question: Should the human be in the loop? The obvious response is “yes!”

Consideration must be given to the ethical use of Artificial Intelligence and

Machine Learning Systems. It is important to declare the intentional use of a technology. Understanding the potential for abuse is foundational to this discussion.

With pervasive threats from Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G, we must understand a secure IoT architecture down to its chip level. Separation of dependencies perhaps is a start here as complexity provides even more vulnerabilities.

Governmental Best Practice and Regulation

We need to have discussions with policymakers to think about creating a certification program. It becoming a requirement for small to medium sized businesses at different levels and in different countries. If a certification program is perceived by those in the industry as complex, then at least it will articulate risk and governance e.g. Where is accountability at all levels of this ecosystem?

Independent testing certification groups are also fundamental perhaps at least in understanding the “known threat vectors.” Education and training needs to be offered to small and medium sized businesses and their suppliers.

Certification programs must also become a requirement for governmental policymakers, because they must be current with their tools and procedures.

Security is EVERYONE’s responsibility and perhaps penalties may be considered by government entities. However, the desired behavior has to be incentivized, encouraged, and even "Regulated" amongst our community.

Safety is Critical in this new World of Smart Homes

With Cyber Security, you're talking about safety, especially with Artificial Intelligence. I think with regard to Internet of Things (IoT) in a “Smart Home.” As an example, your attack surfaces are spread throughout your entire personal life so we need to address caution.

We have to look at understanding what it means to have a particular device that monitors your temperature in the home, and cameras and so on and so forth.

Because hackers will just hack! But then we have to think about state actors, because they've been ordered to hack they'll use all kinds of tools. Some are not as sophisticated as you think. So using Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems and the correct procedures and of course the right technology partners; we can stamp out most threats, if not all threats from attackers.

Some Important Questions when Thinking about Cyber Security

What does the architecture look like at the chip level?

How do you separate all of these services that are spread across everywhere?

How do you make sure there's some hygienic stuff that's very, very basic?

With Artificial Intelligence (AI) you have to break it down specifically to what you exactly want it to do.

Machine Learning (ML) in Cyber Security involves machines learning behaviors. But we have to be consciously cognizant of what is going on. My thesis is that you will always need a human in the loop to interpret the information that's given to you, whether it's valid or not.

Reputation Management and Securing your Critical Infrastructure

Reputation systems are very important within Cyber threat management. Making sure what is being served up to you is “Authentic.”

Because you can try and do something, but when being attacked we only have minutes and seconds, seconds and minutes.

For example with some colleagues, they had some wrong profiling. The last time I heard about it was with a lawyer!

Profiling can happen because you have an accidental record of your name, confused with something else that's negative. Maybe you are associated because of the name clip with a bad actor perhaps, but that ruins your reputation.

So we have to know what attribution looks like and then with Cyber Security because of Artificial Intelligence, and so on.

Then you get into the notion of Cyber Warfare and that is a big concern because you're talking about completely borderless attacks and not just about moving tanks.

You don't know who the people are. But attacks will happen at an economic level, potentially bringing down a critical infrastructure. 

Education is very important to make sure citizens, organizations and the government are cognizant of security and on top of education, partnering with leading organisations is key. Companies that are tried and tested are still always refining their protocols and systems and innovating in a stable environment.

Authored By Monique Morrow and Nathaniel Schooler

Are Our Current Workplaces Working?

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“The right to work is a foundation for the realization of other human rights and for life with dignity” - International Network for Economic, Social & Cultural Rights

Work is an international right and there should not be discrimination of any sort. Three common types of discrimination are discrimination based on age, gender, or because someone is differently abled. But no matter the type, the bottom line is that everyone has not only the right to work but also the right to be treated with respect at their place of work. However, as the #MeToo movement has shown us, this is not always the case. You will sometimes find that it is hard to get a job if you are under the age of twenty-five (looking young and assumed lack of experience) or if you are over fifty (considered old and assumed that older talent doesn’t add as much value to the company). We need to stop with the Generation Z, Millennial, and Baby Boomer distinctions and value all people in the workforce; this means respecting employees for their contributions and not because they fit a certain mold. The question we must confront is how do we build companies that allow everyone to contribute?


The right to work is an international right, and this is not just a saying. There are a body of laws governing the right to work. Three articles from the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights are central foundations employee rights:


Article 6(1): “The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right to work, which includes the right of everyone to the opportunity to gain [her or his] living by work which [she or he] freely chooses or accepts, and will take appropriate steps to safeguard this right.”


Article 7: “The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of just and favourable conditions of work.”


Article 8: “The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to ensure: (a) The right to everyone to form trade unions and join the trade union of [her or his] choice…(d) the right to strike…”


Besides these articles that lay out the rights, the UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights has agreed on three “As,” availability, accessibility, and acceptability and quality, to be interrelated features of creating the best workplace possible for all.


It would seem that since there is a governing body over worker’s rights that there would be limited issues. However, there are multiple areas that need improvement. One such area is the ability of companies and workplaces to account for the differently abled. In some countries the issues stem from lack of educational policies for those that struggle in school because of their disability. For example, in India, oftentimes an improper learning environment for those with disabilities leads to students dropping out of school. This in turn limits their choices in the workplace. Countries such as Israel, are currently attempting to create more inclusive communities for the differently abled. Daniel is a community being built with the intention of creating an environment conducive to the success of those with disabilities. Meanwhile, The Finance Ministry, Israel Innovation Authority and Foundation for the Development of Services for the Disabled at the National Insurance Institute recently gave companies money to develop products to help those with disabilities. One company created “Open Sesame,” a smartphone app that allows those who cannot use their hands to use a smartphone. A technology such as “Open Sesame,” is pertinent to the success of those with disabilities in the workplace, as oftentimes not being able to type or use one’s hands will prevent them from obtaining a job, as these are skills that many contemporary jobs require. It is encouraging to see Israel making these strides for more inclusivity for the differently abled, and other countries and companies should follow in its footsteps.


In addition to the differently abled, those of certain ages also experience discrimination in the workplace. “Two out of three workers between ages 45 and 74 say they have seen or experienced age discrimination at work.” And the United States Supreme Court may have upped this statistic when it ruled in 2009 that one must meet a “higher burden of proof” for age discrimination as opposed to other types of discrimination. And Americans are not happy about it, as eight in ten Americans desire for Congress to create stronger laws to prevent age discrimination. The Centre for Ageing Better conducted a survey and found that half of those surveyed over 50 years old believe that they would be at a disadvantage if they applied for a new job. Part of the problem surrounding age discrimination stems from recruitment policies, which often ask for birth year or graduation date, thereby aging a person. Companies can create policies to prohibit age discrimination in the workplace, and there are venues for those who have experienced age discrimination to take action. Some companies which are making the strides to do things differently include Barclays, Boots, Aviva, and the Co-Op, which are all trying to increase their number of employees over fifty years old by 2022. Companies also need to find ways to integrate Baby Boomers into workplace along with Gen Z. It is a simple fact that people are retiring later. Older generations have skills that millennials do not like understanding human side of business, and vice versa. On the employee end of the spectrum, if employees have experienced age discrimination at work they can sue their company or file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. However, companies should implement policies so that it does not come to this step.


The third major type of discrimination in the workplace is one that has been highly publicized as of late: gender discrimination. The following statistics from the Pew Research Foundation highlight the dire nature of this issue: 42% of American working women say that they have experienced gender discrimination at job; 25% report earning less than men; and 23% say they have been treated as less competent because of their gender. These numbers in and of themselves point to a need to address gender discrimination. Gender discrimination also subsists as an issue for transgender and gender non-conforming people. In a survey of transgender and gender non-conforming New Yorkers, of the 77% of those that reported being employed, 36% said that they saw offensive graffiti and pictures, and 33% experienced unwanted sexual comments at work. The most common experience was misgendered, where an individual was referred to by their birth name or the wrong pronouns. It should be noted that New York City Law requires employers use an individual’s “preferred name, pronouns, and title but also protects transgender and TGNC people against discrimination.”


Large companies have recently gotten in trouble for discrimination against both women and men. In terms of discrimination against women, Microsoft has been sued for gender discrimination as well as sexual harassment, as has Computer Sciences Corporation. Walmart and Quest Diagnostics and AmeriPath were also brought to court for gender discrimination. In terms of discrimination against men, Entura Capital, a beauty company, was sued for refusing to hire men as Sales Reps, and Lawry’s, a corporation operating restaurants, was sued for only hiring female servers. In addition, Yahoo was sued and the Jimmy Fallon Show, for preference toward women. As these issues come to light so has a mission to stop it. The #MeToo movement has highlighted major public figures for sexual harassment, including Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, and James Levine. While stemming from a terrible source, hopefully the #MeToo movement is helping to bring some of these gender discrimination issues to light.


Any type of workplace discrimination needs to stop. While it is up to the companies to implement changes, as employees we are the foundation for change and can be brainstorming ways to create a more inclusive workplace. Perhaps mentorship, advisory, or philanthropy programs for reconciling different generations in the workplace, more apps like “Open Sesame” for the differently abled, and constant fighting back against gender discrimination, can be the impetus for change. I once wrote: let’s start the future of work now. Let’s allow the last generation and the newest generations to work and learn together. Let’s create industries of age inclusivity where everyone can continue to find their purpose and find dignity within their working lives. As we start a New Year, we need to do this now more than ever. The world will only move forward if we have everyone working toward a shared goal, and this one seems pretty simple: since everyone has the right to work, let’s make all workplaces the most inclusive they can be. It’s an old rule, but a cardinal one, especially for the workplace: treat others the way you want to be treated. And businesses will only thrive from this inclusivity. In the words of the Harvard Business Review, “diversity is the key to unlocking innovation in a business.”

The Future: Defined By Me

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When looking forward to a new year, many people look toward the goals they set (and probably won’t meet) and what’s literally to come, whether that’s a new iPhone, car, or digital technology. For example, In 2019, we will most likely see additional applications of blockchain to other industries, new breakthroughs with AI, and the 3D printing of metals, which will have a large impact on the manufacturing industries. These technologies will revolutionize our immediate future, but their current applications also allow us to hypothesize about what they will enable us, as human beings to do, not just in 2019, but beyond.  

Technology will certainly be a part of redefining what humans are in the future. We already know that blockchain will impact humanity, as we have seen through its work with refugees. In the future, blockchain will certify identities. This will blur the lines of nations and turn individuals into their own states. We will become autonomous creatures, certifying ourselves. Using this idea of the state dissolving, the thesis is that people will tire of “things happening to them” and will create like-minded tribes using technology to further democratize the world around them. For example, there will be Social Responsibility tax for funding, which will support the climate. And just forget about the stress of the holiday travel. Artificial Intelligence will enable teleportation.

Not only will technology essentially erase governments, but it will become one with humans. What does this mean? Our brains will become our devices, as we “read’ other people. Creeped out by this? Never fear! There will be a “do not share capability.” And, since our brains are now technology, we will be able to absorb knowledge in seconds. But, what if you are tired of being forced-fed content? Individuals will be able to co-create scenes at any time and be paid for the co-creation. Lack of privacy and the elimination of randomness from the human experience will be the downside, leading to cries for a “serendipity on or off button.” Individuals will have to be cognizant of their privacy being abused, and might want to demand payment for the use of their identities as product.

Maybe a great tradeoff for the elimination of privacy and randomness, is the possibility that we may never have to say goodbye to those individuals who have graduated to a newer dimension that we define as death. Whether we will have the ability to keep our consciousness alive via software or create an avatar of ourselves or loved ones, there is a very real possibility we will see people’s representation after what we define as death. Moreover, we will be able to protect ourselves to a greater extent with human enhancing tools at our disposal, including personalized home robots.

In my future, the technology of today will enable me to “see” or “hear” people whom I’ve met before. I may activate my “invisibility” option as to declare that I do not wish to be disturbed. My memory catalogue will be a service to me and potentially to others. In the words of Nikola Tesla “the present is theirs; the future, for which I really worked is mine.” The present is all these technologies, but this is the future for which I am working. As you look toward 2019 and beyond, what are you working for?


Data driven recruiting is here, but is it really up to the job?

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Advanced tech like AI is solving problems in almost every area in business, but are some of the newest solutions brought to human led departments like HR actually bringing us farther from a diverse and innovative workplace?

New companies like HireVue  offer an AI element of recruiting that we haven’t seen before. As interviewees answer questions into a video recording the software is picking up subtle cues based off of psychological science that points to the kind of person they are and what kind of talent you will be receiving. The system allows the interviewer to watch back the session, but also to see the data that the AI picked up that the interviewer might’ve missed had it have just been them in the room. AI has also been introduced to the beginning steps of hiring, by using its software to screen possible candidates and find the best matches available, saving recruiters almost 30% of their time.  

But are these programs always the perfect solution, and can AI really be ethically neutral? The algorithms that you find in these programs use small facial cues to deduce reasoning, but are we to expect that it can truly capture all complexities? This notion that everything that we present through our emotions and reactions can be simplified down to a science may be naive. The process also puts a lot of weight on emotion, but doesn’t allow for the ability behind the interviewee to shine through, which could lead to passing up possible candidates that don’t perform well in an interview setting. It is that bit of human intuition that allows recruiters to see past small ticks in an interview that this software just can’t replicate.

These programs were also proposed to reduce bias, but could end up inviting a different kind of bias to the table. As people begin to be hired based on the way they act it could force new recruits into a homogenized behavior that they know will get them the job. This may force out-of-the-box recruits that are often some of our greatest thinkers to the bottom of the pile. Even though companies are saving time, and sifting through more talent, it may come at the cost of a different type of diversity.

We also have to remember the many different people looking for work. The needs of everyone may not be met with just a video representation of their skills. Think of a prospective employee with autism, or a similar type of ailment that doesn’t allow them to interact in a way that fits the social norms built in to these programs. We may be able to save time with new tech, but completely removing a human element may poorly serve the fringe communities or minority groups.  

Technology will, and should, continue to push every industry forward, but it is up to us to question its validity and its shortcomings. Machine learning may fix these issues at some point, but until that is obvious it is paramount that we pad our technology additions with the humanized part of hiring.

Blockchain for Healthcare

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By the end of 2020, it’s predicted that there will be over 50 billion connected devices, all of which set the stage for millions of data transactions. As we move forward in this connected, digital first world, data is becoming a new kind of currency, or more so, we’re moving into a data economy. But in this new economy, privacy, which is a fundamental human right, becomes harder to maintain. Following several leak instances (think: Equifax), it has become apparent that consumers’ security and privacy is constantly at stake. Particularly in the realm of healthcare (where security-privacy is critical), it’s time for blockchain to step up to the plate.

So what’s the promise of blockchain for healthcare? The idea is simple. Centralized systems are not secure and are easily corruptible, as well as vulnerable to cyberattacks. Blockchain systems on the other hand, are decentralized and not prone to attack, because no one control system has the key to the data. This is where blockchain and health care intersect. Blockchain networks have the potential to keep data private and secure, even among billions of connected devices.

As Dr. Frances Hughes, healthcare activist and professional, states, “patients and consumers lack transparency, as well as health literacy, when it comes to some of the biggest decisions regarding their own lives and bodies.” Blockchain’s implications for reshaping health care are its abilities to provide “real time research data” when it comes to pharmaceutical safety and trials, audit and accreditation agencies, compliance processes, etc. With blockchain, the patient and consumer becomes fully in control of his/her own data, challenging the power structures of health providers and funders/insurers. No longer having healthcare services captured under others’ licenses, insurers, hospital administrators, etc. means transparency like never before, as well as security and trust.

As Entrepreneur examines, blockchain harnesses the power of encryption to assert its own immutability, and become a safer option than any physical database. Blockchain, unlike anything else, places the patient at the center of the healthcare ecosystem.

But blockchain’s value across healthcare extends to more than just security-privacy. A common database of health information for doctors, providers, and patients to access at all times can also result in more time spent on patient care, better sharing of research results for new treatments, enhanced drug development through result accessibility, and even minimization of claim and billing fraud.

Most radically, blockchain can transform medical innovation—and perhaps even the prediction and prevention of cancer. As Nasdaq reports, a person’s genomica data holds high market value, and a startup called Shivom (which utilizes blockchain technology) is partnering with leading molecular diagnostics company Genetic Technologies (GTG) to accelerate the prediction of cancer for millions of individuals.

“The low-cost management of data that it enables allows us to revolutionize how genomics is presented to the world, co-founder and COO of Shivom, Gourish Singla, says of blockchain. Shivom’s blockchain-centric healthcare platform puts ownership of data right into the hands of individuals, and integration of such a database enables GTG to better identify, and thus prevent, cancer risks. THAT’s just one example of why blockchain could be the future of healthcare.

Like other industries, blockchain has the potential to radically disrupt the industry—and healthcare is an industry long due for disruption.