Author - John Koetsier

Futurist Nikolas Badminton on nootropics, the future of food, and climate change: Future39 #1

Welcome to the VERY FIRST EPISODE of future39, the podcast in which we peek at one of our infinite possible futures, every episode.

In this episode, we spend 30 minutes with futurist Nik Badminton on smart drugs, smart food, and the coming “year of resiliency,” in which we start to learn to live with higher temperatures … and all their consequences.

Here’s the full transcript:

John Koetsier: Welcome to future 39, the podcast where every episode we’ll take a shared peak at one of the infinite possible futures that await.

My name is John Koetsier. I write for Forbes, consult with tech companies, and I’m writing Insights From the Future, a book of future news.

We are perhaps the first culture defined by the future of the future. Fear of the future, desire for the future. We can’t stop thinking about the future. It’s exploding into our lives every day in new technology, new wonders and new horrors. Name an area: climate, politics, war, food, culture, art, sports, biology, anything … technology is reinventing our world. This is F-39 number one.

I’m going to introduce our guest today.

Our guest is a futurist and he’s a speaker from Vancouver, Canada. He runs the Exponential Minds podcast. He was programming and hacking computer games at 10, he has a degree in psychology and computer science, a single combined degree. Very interesting. He’s also run conferences like Cyborg Camp, from Now, Future Camp and Dark Futures. He’s written for everything from the BBC to Techcrunch, and he’s spoken to more than 200,000 people at more than 300 events. Nikolas Badminton. Thank you for being our guest.

Nikolas Badminton: Hi John. How are you?

John Koetsier: Doing really, really well. Doing better now that I’m chatting with you! We go back a ways, actually … I mean, we’ve known each other for about a decade.

Nikolas Badminton: Yeah, that’s right. I mean, I was, I was working over at DDB and you are working at a company and you were actually my client and then that company disappeared. And, uh, and then, you know, it was, it was around about eight years ago, I started really leaning into talking about design and futures and human computer interaction and tapping into sort of the subculture of bio hacking and all these things.

Back then, you know, people were kind of thinking we were all a bit strange to be so excited about these areas, and today it’s like a completely viable business.

John Koetsier: It’s wonderful, and you’re doing amazing. And one of the big projects that you have recently, I want to dive into. It’s in and around biohacking and smart drugs, nootropics.

I loved, I don’t know you must’ve seen it as well, the Limitless movie with Bradley Cooper. It’s now on Amazon prime. I think you mentioned iTunes, Google. Talk to me about the project you did and how you got into that.

Nikolas Badminton: [Yeah. So around, about like two years ago, I was approached through some friends. It came at me through two angles. One was through an agent I was working with. Another was through an online tech publication called Betakit. And these documentary producers were looking for a biohacker in Canada that was willing to experiment.

And everyone was saying, go and chat to Nik Badminton. So I ended up chatting to a producer called Anne Shin, and she’s an award winning documentary producer, and she’s a fabulous individual. They said, we’ve got this documentary we’ll want to do on smart drugs. We want to work with someone that knows the area around transhumanism and whatever to help us one shape the documentary too, to take part in the documentary, to host it, to try out the different things that we find.

So that’s what we did. So I sat down and I worked with the producers and directors and we worked out who we’re going to talk to. What was important, what wasn’t important, and then we go on a plane, went to San Francisco and a bunch of other places and met the people doing it. And uh, yeah, I tried a whole bunch of different things to help her.

John Koetsier: Did you have to insert anything under your skin? Anything metallic? Anything with wifi or Bluetooth technology?

Nikolas Badminton: No, I did that on my own a few years before. One of my conferences from now, I actually go to Amaal Graaftra put an RFID chip under my skin.

He runs a company called, and he’s been working in implantables for awhile. Anyway, this was very much about the things that you can ingest or the things you can do to your body. Everything from a nootropics. You know, the supplements that give you more focus and attention and stamina in certain cases, uh, all the way through to like a Wim Hof method therapy, you know, breathing a cold water therapy through to, uh, oxygen sitting in a.

Hyperbolic hyperbaric chambers, oxygenate the blood to do whatever. And I’ve gone even further now. I’ve done really deep breath work and I, I do, uh, a therapy called, uh, psychological kinesiology now, which is about belief systems. And, uh, yeah, it’s been fascinating.

John Koetsier: It’s super interesting.

I have a confession to make. I got contacted by a company in SF that was doing nootropics and they sent me a sample and I had the sample, I agreed to do the sample and I checked it out. I thought, you know, what is in this? I have no clue. This is not FDA approved. This is, who knows what’s in this thing.

So you took a bunch of drugs, talk to us a little bit about what those drugs were and what they did for you.

Nikolas Badminton: Yeah, I mean, FDA approved and all this is, I literally, I was, I was trying, I tried like hooky, hooky Indian, Modafinil off of the black market, you know, you know, I was really willing to like push the boundary.

So Modafinil was one. Obviously, that’s a prescription drug. I was given some that weren’t my prescription. Probably the best for focus. And a lot of entrepreneurs have told me that. It’s amazing for focus in sitting down, writing strategy, you know, doing long stretches of development and whatever.

And then I tried a number of other nootropics. like Piracetam. And Piracetam was actually originally developed in Russia and used on the space program by cosmonauts. And it just gave more focus, attention … sort of oxygenated that brain. And, uh, yeah, that, that was really rock and roll.

I really love that. I, I played around with some nootropics before, like alpha brain, alpha brain or whatever, a few years before, and it just kinda gives you really funky nightmares. Oh, shoot. Yeah. So it’s, it’s not great to take a lot of this, but I really stepped forward and tried out a whole bunch of different things.

I ended up being able to get more done in my days and uh, you know, has it fundamentally changed my life? I don’t think so. But has it shown me that the balance can be achieved by using supplements? Absolutely. It has so I still delve into it once in a while.

John Koetsier: So, so that’s interesting. I mean, like, you know, I want to know when the drug comes out that makes me Bradley Cooper, right. That I can focus and I can, you know, expand my mind … that’d be amazing.

So you don’t use them regularly anymore, but you do do some other things that you learned some, some physical, mental things.

Nikolas Badminton: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. So it was just, it was just really something that, that sort of kickstarted a whole sort of Renaissance with me of, of looking at how things can change. And I, I’d sort of looked at a bunch of it, different areas before and as I stepped into this, this wider world, I started to think, okay.

If there’s some opportunities to use, you know, natural remedies cause all these smart drugs and natural Modafinil is not, it’s a pharmaceutical. But if you can use things like Piracetam or whatever, and you can use a variously CoQ10 and various other sort of over the counter supplements to help really hack how your body works and even using life food as well.

Uh, and, and exercise. Then this is something that we need to unlock. And you know, I’ve, I really struggle with a whole bunch of things like good nutrition and good fitness and whatever. Cause I spend so much time on airplanes and in hotels and speaking on stage of whatever by have to, I have to have a, a balance.

So. Yes. I don’t necessarily, yeah, I don’t necessarily, you know, have a raft of tablets I take everywhere. For example, fenal Piracetam is banned in the UK … is actually a banned substance by the Olympics, so I can’t go flying into the UK with it, so, so you have to still be quite careful because there’s a lot of considerations country by country.

But, um, yeah. I lean on a bunch of different things now to help me really manage how life is. It’s sort of, I’m on sort of version 2.0 of everything.

John Koetsier: Let’s jump to the future of food because it’s a related topic and it’s something that you’re working on recently as well, right?

And there’s so many changes coming on with food. We see the impossible burger. We see, we see meat that isn’t meat, right? We see, um, differences in how we’re producing food with vertical farms that. You’ve got one acre and it produces as much as maybe a 10 acre traditional farm or even more, and you see how important that is it as we lose a land arable land.

Right. Talk to me a little bit about what you’re working on there, what you’re seeing there.

Nikolas Badminton: Yeah. So I’ve worked with, so I grew up in a farming community. Uh, so I grew up in a 5,000 person village in the Southwest of England, in Somerset, and we had a slaughterhouse in the center of the village.

And we’re surrounded by dairy farms. When I left school, I didn’t have much in terms of qualifications. Um, I was good at computers, but I didn’t get a chance to sit any of those exams. Um, because the educational system is broken. Uh, yeah. And so I ended up working in dairy farms and whatever.

Then went back to university, um, back into computers, AI and the …

John Koetsier: I never would have picked you for a farmer boy, that is amazing. This is insight.

Nikolas Badminton: I know. Yeah, no, absolutely. But like, yeah, I grew up in a, in a community. I worked in a dairy. I used to deliver milk around the village.

I was a milk man. I was a milkman for a number of years after university, and sorry, after, sorry. After

John Koetsier: school and

Nikolas Badminton: university. Um, but you know, now, over the last four or five years since I’ve been doing way more sort of public speaking. Um, it’s a lot of, it’s been with farmers and it’s been with, uh, people that work in the agriculture industry.

And I’ve worked with everyone from like Dow agricultural or, um, you know, Dow pharmaceuticals all the way through to, um, real agriculture, which an online sort of news platform all the way through to, uh, you know, I worked with Bayer. Yeah. That the event earlier this year. And you know what, if you really want to understand the fundamentals of delivering food, speak to farmers, they are hugely technological.

They’ve always been really advanced. Um, the technology world has been hugely skeptical of that at the beginning. Even people like Bill Gates said, I can’t imagine how any farmer would need a personal computer at home. Meanwhile, we’re now in a world where farmers can utilize artificial intelligence, the internet of things, big data, drones, satellite technology.

And I had a, uh, like a 70 year old couple that still worked on their farm, obviously with their kids. Um, and the woman got out her smartphone, and she was showing me how she opened and closed the lids on her grain bins. Wonderful. And this is it. This is to me as a revolution … farmers actually find a practical application for technology.

They’re not going to say, yeah, we’re going to buy this. We’re going to buy that. We’re going to buy this, and suddenly our world’s going to be better. Like many big companies can just buy software. For farmers. It’s like, if I’m going to spend $200,000 on this particular thing, say it’s a sensor, that’s going to deliver more than $200,000 worth of value in the next two to three years.

Right? Ideally in the first year. So farmers are very practical about this. Food supply, um, is going to be hugely important in, you know, by 2050 there’s going to be more than 9 billion people on the planet, and the UN thinks that we’re gonna need about 60% more food grown. So food yields, new ways of producing food, vertical farming in cities to reduce the amount of distance that food has to travel.

Um. All sorts of areas that are really being invested in. And you know, you do have the funky things like robotics and AI and whatever, but it does also go back to chemicals and also new ways of actually growing food where you don’t need to rely on fungicides and herbicides, pesticides, much water because water is going to be in, in limited supply going forward. Right.

John Koetsier: It’s super, super interesting. I was just in Bermuda and there’s kind of a preview of the future of food there in some sense, from a consumer point of view, because it’s a tiny Island, 65,000 people, tiny Island. You see the farms there and it looks like somebody’s backyard … that small and I did not see any vertical farms there.

Yeah, and I think that’s a huge opportunity for Island nations like that. But I also, uh, when I went to the, I went to the supermarket and a couple of flowers, $5, right? A cucumber a is $3 or something like that. Right? And it’s super expensive. But if we can implement some of these new technologies, some of these ways of growing food smarter, faster, or just more intensive on the same amount of land.

That’s huge for those places, but that also speaks to where cities might need to go in the future.

Nikolas Badminton: Yeah. Absolutely. I mean, I was just in Grand Cayman last year and they pretty much never, they don’t grow their own food. They’ve got some sort of smaller farms, just like you say, like it was backyards.

I’m not sure if Bermuda is the same. You’ve got places like grand Cayman that’s got a huge amount of agricultural potential, but because of the modern world, they fly everything in from Miami. That’s why it’s like $5 for a cucumber. And it’s kind of backwards. I mean, we’ve kind of got it wrong. The modern food supply system of scale, grow food at scale and distribute supply chain is kind of gone wrong because there’s been lots of sort of, you know, shaking hands and deals made to distribute.

You know food. I mean, I was in the supermarket just yesterday and there’s, there’s, there’s garlic from China and those garlic from Ontario. Yes. And it’s like, well, I’m going to buy to go from Ontario even though it’s more expensive. And it’s like, you need, you mean to tell me that garlic is traveled all the way from China to the supermarket.

To me that that fundamentally means that there’s a problem with how we’re growing and sharing food. I mean, who knows how old that garlic is? I mean, the average age of an apple on the shelf in the supermarket is like, what, nine months?

Maybe even more than that.

John Koetsier: Wow.

Nikolas Badminton: Yeah. Wow. So I actually think that there’s a huge potential to sort of bring it closer to home to, to grow the food that we need. And this is why things like cellular meat and plant-based diets and whatever are starting to gain a lot more, um, sort of credence in the conversations happening in the world.

Because, uh, it just reduces that supply chain between the producer and the, the end consumer.

John Koetsier: Well, what’s super interesting to me is that with these new technologies and more intensive agriculture on limited spaces, we can reinvent what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. So, yeah. We see in cities that the architecture is growing towards more of a live work type of scenario.

We see some innovations there. What if in the future we looked at cities and we said, Hey, the architecture we’re going to build, we’re going to build spaces for people to live spaces for people to work. You know what? We’re going to build spaces for greenery right into that and the farm is all around us.

And wouldn’t that be amazing for sustainability, for the, for the environment, for how we would feel emotionally about the places that we live in? There’s such huge potential there. Uh, just like in, in energy production, which is going to get decentralized.

Nikolas Badminton: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I, as I look out from my apartment, I’m in Toronto at the moment and I look out over when, when it’s not snowing, you’ve got rooftops and you’ve got roofs that you can literally go through … I’ve got friend Arlene who runs the rooftop farm at Ryerson, and she’s got a doctorate in agriculture and food production. And, uh, so she, she’s looking at how you can use these spaces in new ways. And I completely agree. We, we’ve dehumanized. The city is literally places that it’s easy to get from B to B in a, in a vehicle, rather than actually having a good human experience on the streets. You know, these rooftops are just one step in the right direction of being able to grow food, but it’s still like a very small amount of rooftops in, in Toronto, probably only about in the whole of Toronto. And it’s actually got that kind of a thing going on.

And even though it’s quite sensible and it’s because, you know, we, we saw forgotten the importance of growing our own food and we don’t reward the people that do right.

John Koetsier: Right, right. It’s almost like we planned this. We didn’t actually, but you know, there’s a great segue here because we want to talk a little bit about climate change as well.

And, and climate change is probably one of the bigger, if not the biggest, uh, challenges facing us right now. And yet. A technology which has in in a very large sense, caused this problem, enabled us to grow to a staggering numbers, enabled us to pump huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Technology also promises potentially the ability to slow it down. Maybe even reverse it. Talk a little bit about some of the things you’re seeing.

Nikolas Badminton: I mean, we were actually in this a situation where we’re never going to be able to reverse it. We’re never going to get cooler as a planet and that sort of there are a lot of people are saying, Oh, you know, we can do geo engineering and we can, we can bring CO2 out of the atmosphere and that’d be great.

That’s not going to happen on a scale that’s going to be actually useful for reducing climate is going to be part and parcel of the solution and an overall everything from like planting trees to geoengineering to um, sustainable practices, running businesses and transportation is going to lead to a future that’s a little bit more stable versus getting warmer and warmer and warmer.

And causing all sorts of catastrophes like, um, the Arctic ice melting and never coming back or, you know, tundra fires and whatever. But over the last 250 years, the industrial revolutions that have shaped our modern world, right through communication, energy, and transportation, and all of that was enabled by fossil fuels. Right?

Um, the early days of, of, of driving cars, you know, the early cars, the best early cars are electric. Their battery technology was just terrible. And then you had the, uh, you know, oligarchs coming in and saying, actually, we’ve got an abundance of oil and we’re going to use combustion engines.

And then was like, Oh, no, that’s absolutely fine. Now we’re in today where you’ve got a hundred of the world’s largest companies make their money by, you know, pumping oil, like getting gas out of the ground or whatever, and distributing that, and they’re causing a huge amount of trouble in industry.

Um, and because we’re still burning it for industrial transportation, like shipping and flying, uh, for personal transportation, whatever, and, um, big changes haven’t happened and they’re not happening yet. Not that I can see. Um. I call 2020 the year of resiliency because we need to work out how we’re going to survive a world where we’re going to be warmer, where there is going to be more adverse weather conditions where you know, our children might have higher incidences of, uh, of, of asthma and eczema and all sorts of things that can be caused by lower quality of air. I mean, if you look at the pictures, I think it’s Delhi right now.

John Koetsier: Yeah. It’s just horrific.

Nikolas Badminton: I mean, back in the 1950s, uh, there, there was also London, there was choked by the similar sort of thing, um, for four days. And like 50 plus people died there in India and hundreds, maybe thousands of people are dying because we’ve absolutely choked the earth.

The inconvenient truth is that the earth is becoming an inhospitable place to live, and as things get warmer, you’re going to say goodbye to places like potentially Grand Cayman and Bermuda because the water is going to be rising.

You know, places like Bangladesh just aren’t going to exist in a hundred years time. If we don’t start taking some action today.

John Koetsier: Yes, yes, yes. Well, let’s talk a little bit about what you’re doing. You’re working with some of the largest investment firms in the world, a luxury brands, advertising.

What are you telling these people? What are you giving these people? What are you helping these companies with?

Nikolas Badminton: So over the past few years, I’ve sort of taken, I spent the majority of my career working in technology strategy and then business strategy. So I’ve sort of beefed that up. And now with what I’ve been doing in terms of looking out five, 10, 20 years is I’ve developed a lot of foresight practices and I, I’ve got an associate consultancy.

So I’ve got a bunch of people. I talk to everyone from experts in cyber crime to impact, to, uh, to other futurists as well, that they’re specialized in certain areas. And what we do is, um, typically I get clients coming to me. They’re saying, okay. We realized that our quarterly by quarterly view or our 18-month view isn’t really delivering enough inspiration into our organization to get people to care about what the future is going to be.

And typically it starts with organizations wanting to ignite their own employees, but it typically ends with an idea of creating foresight programs, very much like innovation was touted as something being important in organization. Foresight is being touted as well. Now innovation practices a bit have been established and innovation mindset has been put in place.

The same thing’s happening with foresight. So being able to help people look into the future and forecast, you know, based on a product or based on a consumer change and whatever, what the world would be like in five, 10 20 years. Helps them work out how they can create a resilient business.

John Koetsier: This is amazing. I mean, it’s really amazing because, uh, we’re not far from a time. In fact, we’re still in a time where most companies, uh, are quarterly focused. What’s happening next quarter? Are we meeting the numbers this quarter? Are we set up well for next quarter? And in a climate change world, a rapidly evolving technological world … isn’t one where you can just look at the next quarter.

You’ve got gotta look a few years out, you gotta look at a decade out. You’ve got to see how are we going to be relevant in a world that is fundamentally changing. So that’s super interesting.

Nikolas Badminton: We have to listen to the warnings that are coming. About a month and a half ago, over 130 banks at the United nations in New York city came together. And you know these, these are banks that have got assets under management around about $47 trillion. Trillion with a T.

John Koetsier: So they’re the small banks of the world …

Nikolas Badminton: These are the people that are controlling the flow of what’s happening globally and everything from trade to GDP or whatever.

And, and they’re saying we know that the climate warming is going to be bad for business. And by the way, if you’re in our portfolio, and many of the fossil fuel companies are, it’s like we’re going to divest away from you. They’re taking brave steps towards that.

New York city investment funds are taking steps, uh, away from that as well. So that was one warning.

Another warning that came in was Mark Carney, the governor of the bank of England turned around and said if you work in a business and you do not take sustainability seriously, you do not take, um, the, the effects of climate change seriously … and you do not change.

You risk become obsolete and ultimately bankrupt as a business. So when you start to hear these players coming in and giving these warnings, you’ve got CEOs starting to pay a lot of attention. And every single one of my keynotes, I start with this. Um. I was in Halifax last week to a small group of private companies and doing it with a, with a, with a consultancy partner of mine.

And I’ve been to, you know, 300, 400 conferences and, and I start with we have to take this seriously. And four years ago, people were literally laughing at me. And even at the beginning of this year, I did a private group. I can’t, can’t say too much about it because it’s under Chatham house rules, but it was a private group.

And I was talking about seriously, about, you know, electricity supply and sustainability, the fact that we have to remove a move to renewables and how the, the end is knife for fossil fuels. And there were, there was a table of people. They were from a certain part of North America that will remain unnamed.

John Koetsier: It’s a large part …

Nikolas Badminton: They were just literally talking in the background and it’s like there are some people that literally have got their heads in the sand and think it isn’t a problem. And fundamentally, you know, these are the people that will be out of jobs. And I don’t know why people deny information and science and you know, perpetuating ideas.

I spoke at a conference full of oil and gas workers just two months ago. And, uh, there were a large union or oil and gas workers, and the deputy secretary stood up and said, um, yeah, we want to get out of fossil fuels. We want, we want to see these companies step up and be part of, you know, a solution towards resiliency.

We want them to step into renewables and we want them to hire us. And I gave my presentation and I was quite worried because it’s like these people rely on oil and gas for their salary. And they stood up and gave me a round of applause.

And I was like, this is wild. And it’s because it’s all making sense to all people today except for the people in absolute denial.

John Koetsier: Absolutely. Absolutely. And that’s a wonderful thing. And I mean, those of us in the world of technology and who keep up with the news and all that know, for instance, there’s more people employed in the solar industry than in the coal industry in the US and I know that’s the unnamed nation.

I’m thinking that’s the unnamed nation. You’d do not need to confirm or deny that.

Nikolas Badminton: Look at China for where the big changes are happening. Yeah, yeah. Typically they were generating electricity from coal, then are shutting down tons of, excuse me. pardon the pun … tons of coal factories are slowing down and they’re opening huge amounts of, of, of solar generation, uh, ability through wind and through solar in both China and Mongolia.

And they’re starting to look at initiatives like the Asian super grid to connect up like Russia and Korea, Japan, Taiwan to unlimited cheap electricity generated by wind and solar, and they’re now deploying the full infrastructure in their cities. They’re deploying about 6,000 electric buses every, every five or six weeks in their cities to replace all of the internal combustion engine vehicles that are there.

John Koetsier: It’s amazing.

Nikolas Badminton: It is amazing. They can do it because there’s one guy in charge of the country that says, do it and everyone does it right. And fundamentally, they’re, they’re the people that are gonna really own the new world infrastructure. Um, North America is actually in a risk position where they could be potentially annexed out of a global energy, a renewable energies grid.

But yeah, that’s a few years away. But yes, I’m very much an advocate for stepping up and thinking about renewable energy. I talk about it again in every presentation to farmers, to big banks, to consumer product companies. And we all have to have a responsibility to do the best for the planet as we go forward.

John Koetsier: Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, Nick, I just want to thank you for spending a half an hour with us. I want to thank you for sharing what you’ve learned and what you’re seeing and also what you’re hearing from your clients and sharing that with us. I really appreciate your time.

Nikolas Badminton: I appreciate the conversation, John. Always a pleasure.

John Koetsier: Thank you so much for spending some time with Future 39. If you enjoyed this podcast, please do take a moment to go to iTunes, go to Podcasts, go to Spotify, wherever you pick this podcast up, and give it a like, give it a rating, and give it a review. Give it a thumbs up. Thank you so much and have a wonderful day.

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So you have a mobile attribution provider. So your attribution provider tells you where your installs come from. So your attribution provider has a fraud prevention solution.

How is this going to help you out-grow your competition?

Your competition is marketing scientifically. Your competition saves six figures monthly thanks to deterministic fraud prevention. Your competition uses custom dimensions to automatically personalize attribution — and all their marketing analytics — directly to their business model and KPIs. Your competition knows which marketing creatives get the highest CTR and the best CVR across all their ad partners simultaneously.

So yes, it’s great to know where your Android and iOS app installs come from. Tracking helps.

But in 2020, mobile marketers are demanding much, much more from their attribution tools.

Get the full story in my post on Singular’s blog …

Privacy-Safe Ads That Pay You? Something’s Happening At Brave (Including 7X Higher Click-Through Rates)


Your attention is valuable.

That’s the reason Facebook and Google are two of the biggest, wealthiest, and most powerful corporations on the planet. But you spend only a small portion of the total value of your attention to get those services – social connection and search – and the world’s largest advertising duopoly keeps the rest for itself. 

Brave has a different plan.

Get the full story in my post at Forbes …

Ode to engineers: The end of work, and the next big job

engineering bridge

This is adapted from a speech I gave to robotics and automation engineers at Schunk Expert Days in Odense, Denmark, in early 2019.

I’m going to start by asking you a question.

You could be anything you wanted to be. You could have been a farmer, a doctor, an artist … you could have worked in retail, or many other things. The question I have for you is: Why did you choose to do what you do today?

Why did you choose to become who you are?

I don’t know you, but I assume many of you are like my oldest son. Ethan is currently a third year engineering student at the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver, Canada. He’s studying mechatronix and doing lots of projects … a solar powered boat, a mechanical clock with a stepper motor he ripped out of a scanner my dad used to own, a drone project for a competition in Shanghai, and other things. Since he was just a few years old, he’s always been the kind of kid that wanted to know how things work and how they’re built. What are the components? What are the pieces? How are they put together? How can I fix it? Or more likely, especially when he was young: How can I break it?

I kind of have a feeling that many of you are not too dissimilar from that. And that’s one of the reasons why you chose this particular area that you’re working in right.

I have a second question for you.

Do you have any clue at all — whatsoever — how critically important you are for the future of humanity and the future of this planet?

Do you have any clue how important you are?

One thing that’s really obvious is that things are changing at a faster and faster rate. You don’t have to believe in the concept of the singularity to see it and to feel it.

Imagine a simple chart. Then plot the rate of change on the vertical axis and time on the horizontal axis. For much of human history, it’s been a very uninteresting graph, just continuing on straight and level for thousands of years. Some hundreds of years ago that line started go up. And now it’s going up faster and faster.

The concept of the singularity is that at some point, the rate of change becomes so immense, that curve almost becomes a straight line up. This is fueled by artificial intelligence, robotics, and automation. Well, you don’t have to believe in that concept — that we will actually come to a singularity — to see that the rate of change we have right now, just over about the past decade, is immense.

Mobile blew up from almost nothing to the single most ground-breaking communications channel or media that we’ve ever seen in the course of about a decade. Over a similar time frame, we’ve seen IoT — the Internet of Things — go from not much more than a concept to about seven and a half billion connected smart devices last year, and still exploding to 25 billion by 2025.

In 2012, we had one social platform that connected a billion people. Today, we have six. In a couple years, that will likely be eight or nine.

All of this has contributed to an avalanche of additional change.

One is “smart matter.”

Smart matter is what I call the addition of sensors, motors, chips, and radios to every thing, every piece of matter, every atom around us. Think of an Amazon Echo, for instance, it’s got sensors: it’s listening. It’s got motors: it has a speaker functionality, which moves air to speak, to play music. It’s got radios to communicate via WiFi. And it’s got chips to manage and control all its capabilities.

Another example: you can buy a smart toilet today that has Alexa built in.

So you can walk up and the toilet will open, you can leave and the toilet will close and flush. And, if you are so inclined, you can have music playing while you are sitting on the device, thanks to Amazon Music.

We also have smart glasses as well. For instance, HoloLens 2 was just released a few days ago. And of course, nobody in his or her right mind is going to walk down the street wearing it even though it’s slightly smaller, slightly better than the HoloLens 1, but in five to seven years, we’ll start to see consumer adoption of smart glasses that do basically what this does, but also paint default reality with augmented information and do many other things as well.

Of course, there’s other things that are changed as a result of all those things that I talked about.

We’ve also seen the rise of surveillance capitalism, right? The Facebook business model … if you don’t know what the product is, you are the product. You’re trading data for access.

Free global communications?

Think about it: you come to somebody in 1975, and you say, you know, there’s this concept of a global communications platform, and you can be connected to anybody anywhere on the world in full audio and video at any time for free. They’d have no concept of that because the only concept of communication they have is something that they pay for, and they pay more for long distance.

Anybody remember long distance here? Yeah, exactly.

Some are old enough to remember. But many of us are young enough that we will never use a communication medium that differentiates between short and long distance.

But that’s one of the consequences of some of the change that we’re seeing. We’re also seeing cultural changes: renewed clashes between globalism and nationalism. As we’ve had these billion-person social platforms, we’ve come to grow more and more into our own reality bubbles.

We see more of what we engage with, and therefore believe more intensely the things that we already believed in the first place. Somebody once said that smart people have strong opinions loosely held.

Strong opinions, you really believe what you believe. Loosely: I can change my opinion, based on evidence.

We’re coming more and more to the point where for many people have strong opinions, tightly gripped, and almost impossible to change … even as we have macro level changes that are occurring that have significant urgency, such as environment versus growth.

Question: Is all growth bad?

Can we have growth without environmental damage? What does growth even mean in an enclosed system? How do we grow economically in a financial paradigm that cannot continue to grow forever? And, can we find ways to grow while also making the world a healthier place?

So these are major changes that we’re experiencing and that we face.

But I’m going to argue that they’re not the most significant change that you and I are going to face over the course of our lifetimes. There’s a much more significant change coming: the end of work.

I’m talking about the application of automation, robotics, and artificial intelligence to the things that we currently do to create value … to make things that we need, and to make a living.

According to a study that came out of Oxford University about a year ago, 20-70% of the jobs that currently exist on the planet are at risk of being automated via some combination of technologies. Only 5% of the jobs are actually “safe.”

Well, let’s examine that. And let’s be a little critical about that. We know, for instance, some jobs will never be automated. For example, Elon Musk was very open about the ramp to production of the Tesla Model 3. He said, we are going to build the machine that makes the machine. And it was very, very obvious that Tesla wanted to build extreme amounts of automation in the process.

But that turned into production hell: the Tesla Model 3 had very low production numbers for a very long time. And what Elon Musk had to do eventually is re-admit people into the equation. And he was actually surprised by the result. People are actually really good at this stuff, he said.

That was interesting.

Should everything be automated?

If we look at what we eat, perhaps food that a high end gourmet chef creates … do we really want that automated? Do we really want the art of cooking to be something that is done by a smart system? What about counseling and psychiatric help? Is that something that you want to do: talk to a robot about your problems and your challenges? And one of the things we love about athletics is the amazing abilities that some of us possess that transcend the limits that most of us have. Do we really want to watch robots play sports? What about parenting — is that something we can replace with an automated system or robot?

Well, let’s look closer.

Actually, yes, Tesla did have production hell. They did have to reintroduce people back into the equation. But is there anybody here who would be willing to say if we look at Tesla 20 years from now it’s not going to be more automated then it is right now?

Of course it will be.

Sure, it’s challenging to get there. It’s not easy. It’s hard to do. But it’s going to happen.

Everything that can be automated, will be automated.

Look at McDonald’s. Most of what we eat every day is not amazing. We had a great dinner here, by the way, and thank you so much for that. But most of the food we eat every day is not super high end. I haven’t been here in Denmark before, but you have a lot of McDonalds restaurants here. I think I’ve seen about 500 already in the short period of time I’ve been here.

Automation is going to hit the food industry hard. In North America, you often see order screens in McDonald’s, which of course is potentially taking the job of somebody who would take an order from you. I’m sure everybody is aware there are burger-making robots. You can go to a restaurant in San Francisco and eat a burger that a robot has made for you. Do we really think that in 10 years or 15 years … maybe even five years … McDonald’s is not going to adopt that kind of technology?

Our Big Macs will certainly be made by robots.

What about mental health?

Some of the first iterations of what we currently call chatbots were made in the 70s and 80s. They were essentially psychological systems which somewhat cleverly parroted back to you what you had said … which of course is a psychiatric technique. Today you can get an app called The Robot on iPhone right now and it’ll help you with your challenges and problems. I do not recommend it, nor have I personally tried it.

Or sports?

You see the robotic World Cup of what we call soccer in North America but you call football here. I don’t think most people would pay money to watch them — except to see the spectacle. But where’s that going to be in five years?

In fact, there’s been serious discussion in the United States about the NFL thanks to the concussion crisis. They’ve had to pay billions of dollars in compensation to players. And there’s been serious discussion that at some point, that game will be played by robots. I don’t know if that’ll happen. I tend to like the human component of these things.

But that’s interesting, right?

And there’s concussion issues in ice hockey, my favorite game, of course. (I’m Canadian, how could it not be … it’s basically required). But there’s also issues in soccer/football since players have to head the ball repeatedly.

And of course, we’re not even talking about eSports. People are making millions of dollars as eSports champions right now, and many are watching and following them on Twitch and other live streaming platforms. That’s not exactly robotic. But it’s interesting and new.

Automated health care is a big opportunity.

Perhaps we’re not going to automate our mental health care to robots. But there’s huge opportunity in physical health care. In Japan, for instance, elder care is a big, big deal. There’s a lot of different needs that the elderly have in Japan as a rapidly aging society, and they’re looking to robots to help with it, from companionship to movement, lifting, carrying.

This is probably a picture of where many of the rich modern industrial nations are going to be soon, as the birth rate continues to decline. And there are not enough young people to take care of the old people.

So you’ll need robots that help our elders. Some of them are, are just mobility robots helping you get around move, some of them are companionship robots. So there is actually a lot of growth that’s happening there.

And, of course, industry is a major growth area for robotics.

This is one of those areas where you are experts: in the recent five year period from 2012 to 2017, the worldwide supply of industrial robots doubled. That’s something you know a lot more about than I. But as somebody who watches change, I look for doubling affects over short periods of time, because they end up being super powerful.

Exponential change …

And somehow our human brain doesn’t actually compute those very well. Everybody has heard the story of the lily pads that doubled every day for 30 days, right?

So you walk by the pond every single day, and most days you don’t really notice anything at all … there’s a couple of lily pads. So what? And then another day, the lily pads cover half of the pond. When did that happen? The day before day 29, right?

To human perception, it was nothing and all sudden, this doubling effect changes everything. That kind of change is disruptive, that change doesn’t compute easily in our brains.

It’s not just about industrial robots. It’s a lot of things.

Look at law. There are expert systems, AI-delivered systems for contract compliance assessment. There was a test done about six months ago on contract compliance that pitted human lawyers against the AI. The result: the very best of the human lawyers perform better than the AI. The AI performed at about the 87% range. That’s above most of human lawyers … but the AI did it in about three minutes.

And the best of the human lawyers took over an hour.

That’s just one area. Accounting, obviously, is following rules for what you need to do with your money and account for your assets and things like that. Lots of smart systems are also being built for more creative verticals, like marketing. Marketing has traditionally been a very, very artsy thing. But there are nowsystems that you can give instructions right now about what you’re selling, what assets you have, and what you want to achieve, and it will go out and spend according to your goals. The system will determine where it’s going to allocate money, where it’s going to market, where it’s going to advertise, what it’s going to do.

You can watch over it and you can set some parameters for what not to do.

What about health care?

Health care is a global disaster. Ideally, we need much more automation even in rich industrialized nations. There are still many people who are underserved medically … especially true in the United States are many people can’t afford it, since it’s a for-profit system. But the needs are incredible in a place like India where nearly a billion people don’t have adequate access to medical care. Half of Chinese people cannot access healthcare. Many nations in Africa, for instance, do not have sufficient healthcare.

So we need automation and we need intelligence in health care.

In fact, there’s a smart system that iFlyTek, one of the top 15 Chinese companies, has developed. And it has passed the Chinese medical exam. There’s a ton of room to grow here, of course. But we need more AI and more automation if we want to have a hope of delivering essential services to everyone.

There will, of course, be an impact on jobs. In fact, perhaps 20 to 70% of our jobs are at risk over the next few decades.

Of course, many economists, futurists, technologists look at that and point to the past. Every time we’ve had technological disruption in the past, we’ve created new types of jobs that we didn’t even know existed … that didn’t exist or couldn’t have existed at a previous level of technological innovation.

Absolutely, we always have.

But just maybe, the past is not a perfect predictor of the future. If it was, I think we could avoid a lot of problems. However, I think that today’s changes are qualitatively different than many of the technological changes that have happened in the past.

Autonomous machines, thinking robots, and smart systems that operate on their own within certain defined spheres (which are rapidly expanding) is a qualitative difference from what we’ve seen in the past. If that’s true, that’s a problem because we don’t need 70% of jobs disappear for us to have a big problem as a society. I wonder if anybody here knows the percentage of jobs were lost in the Great Depression.

In the United States, for instance, one in four jobs were lost in the 1930s during the Great Depression. And that caused massive cultural, political, and economic change with lasting consequences.

So losing 70% of our jobs would be catastrophic.

Also, people have a need to be needed, people have a need to contribute. People need a living wage, and people need a place in society. So this is a real challenge. This is a real problem.

On the other hand, let’s be honest, many jobs — maybe even most jobs — really suck.

They’re not jobs that demand your full creativity, they are not jobs that use your full human potential. They’re not jobs that require you to be fully engaged in what you’re doing. These types of jobs might be 30% of the jobs in a rich industrialized nation. It might be something like 70% in a poor nation.

But maybe there’s a solution. And maybe it’s not just for jobs. And maybe it’s not just for some of the major problems we talked about, especially the environmental problems that we face.

Maybe it’s for both because right now we face serious and massive global changes. I’m talking about planet-scale problems like plastic in the oceans, like transitioning to 100% renewable energy, like carbon sequestration (removing carbon out of the atmosphere), like building clean, liveable safe homes for 10 billion people with less environmental impact. And we currently have reclamation projects on a global scale: healing our lakes and rivers. In the US alone, the Environmental Protection Agency has over 30 sites right now that are not being fixed the way that they should be: toxic sludge, nuclear waste, and nasty things like that.

Ultimately, these are engineering problems.

And I believe they have engineering solutions.

I wonder if you agree with me.

Remember, I asked you earlier at the start of this presentation why you became what you are. Why you do what you do. And I asked if you knew how critically important you are.

Globally, there’s a very small number of people who can meet this challenge, who can fix this mess. And the only possible solutions involve much more technology that we have right now. A ton of innovation. Much more automation. Much more work on human-robot cooperation. Much more robot-robot cooperation.

Solving some of these massive challenges will require multiple different types of robots working together. Each coming in at the right time, the right place to make sure the entire job gets done, much like humans with different skill sets work today. And we’ll need human to robot cooperation: working together not just in immediate space and real time, but also working together in cooperation over time and distance … and getting multiple robots in major projects working in semi-autonomous to autonomous ways.

We need more robots, more AI

Ultimately, what we need as a world is more robots and more automation. We desperately need more robots and more automation to tackle our huge problems and huge challenges … ones that we can’t actually fix at our current level of capability.

We saw today in many of the talks that robots are mostly focused on jobs that humans can already do. Tomorrow, we need many more robots that can do jobs that humans can’t do.

Think about Fukushima, which has been leaking radioactive seawater for years.

Just this past week, Japan finally managed to get a robot into one of the most radioactive areas and pick up one of the pieces of the original core of the reactor. But Japan has “killed” dozens of robots with increasingly higher levels of shielding that have been trying to go in there safely, and extract some of the material so they can continue the cleanup.

Other work that we need robots to do that humans can’t do is ocean cleanup. For instance, the collection of all the plastic in our ocean. That’s exactly the kind of thing that I’m talking about: planet-scale challenges, and solving them via automation and robotics.

In the US there’s very little recycling and all the garbage goes to the landfill undifferentiated. Only a few states have some level of recycling like we have in place in Canada. We have quite a bit of sorting, different pickup for recyclable material, etc. I assume you have that in Germany, and many other places as well. Denmark, and other EU nations, Switzerland and others like that. But still, it’s a real challenge. And there’s people involved in that process right now. We can’t scale it the way we need to scale it.

We need automation and robotics to sort and recycle.

We even need it in space.

It’s getting harder to send a satellite out to space now. Our modern economy depends on satellite communications and technology. We’ve set up so many satellites that they’re fillin gup orbital spots. And then there’s space junk: we using explosive bolts for releasing payloads, sometimes destroying satellites. We’ve abandoned satellites, which have the risk of colliding with others and forming massive debris fields.

And perhaps you remember a few years ago that China destroyed a satellite with a missile? It was a massive international incident, and now there are thousands of tiny pieces whizzing around at 20,000 kilometers an hour or more. Sounds like we need space garbage collection, and it’s a great job for a smart robot.

One of the things we’ll have to do is to reinvent the definition of work.

If our definition of work was us doing things manually, that’s going to change when we have more robots working with us, right?

We also need a new definition of tools.

What does a tool do? Is it something as simple as a thing I can use with my body in person, or is it something as complex as something I can use at a distance, maybe in VR, and maybe with multiple other automated systems.

We also need to redefine and re-understand the economics of value. All this work will need to be funded. Today, robots do what humans could do because there’s value created in those processes, and they are creating products or providing services that other humans will pay for. So there’s economic value there.

But now, we need to build economic value in areas that are currently underserved, that need to be solved and fixed. And many of these areas that don’t currently have an economic value. There’s no price tag on cleaning up the plastic in the ocean. There’s no market where someone earns money because she or he cleaned up a gigaton of ocean debris. But we need that kind of market.

These are engineering problems

These are hard problems. But they’re also engineering problems. And that’s what’s interesting.

The other thing that’s notable here is that time is short. We’re gaining new robotics capabilities and technologies quickly … in fact, not a moment too soon. Really we could use much right now, because this climate change crisis is urgent. In fact, some scientists are getting more and more concerned that we’ve already past the tipping point. And we’re at a level at which we’re going to see significant ocean level increases within the next few decades.

So there’s a lot of fear of the future right now. That’s not always been the case, certainly in America, the “land of progress” in the 40s and 50s and 60s. Americans used to have a feeling that progress was inevitable, that we were moving upwards as a people and as a species. And I think some of that was felt in Europe as well, probably with a little darker tinge. But there’s now a lot of fear globally about the future: what does it look like?

Change is scaring us now.

I think engineers are by definition hopeful as well as skeptical. But as someone hopeful, my challenge for you is that as you build the technology, don’t forget the sociology. As you build the tools, remember the humans who are going to use them. And as you build the engines, remember that world that has to sustain them.

Your job is to create the future.

You’re building things that don’t exist. You’re making things that haven’t been built before. That’s your job.

But a job isn’t necessarily a mission, right? “Mission” is bigger than “job.” A mission goes deeper. A mission matters more … you work harder for a missio then you work for a job.

I’m thinking maybe that mission could be using what you’re building and using what you’re able to create to invent a future in which everyone on the planet can have clean air. Can have fresh water. Can actually have a meaningful role in society and be paid for the value they deliver. In which everyone, even if they’re working with automated systems, with artificial intelligence, with robots … has the ability to feel some hope even in a world of constant change and challenge.

The amazing part of that is that if you choose to make this your mission, you get to accomplish that through what you love most: building things, solving problems, making robots, making automated systems, designing self-learning systems, and all the other things you do.

And that is why I asked you a question when I started this presentation.

Do you have any clue how critical the tiny segment of humanity that is engineers is? Do you have any clue how important you actually are? I trust you do now.

Thank you very much.

Hell Freezes Over: Apple Is Now On Amazon Fire TV

There could hardly be a clearer signal that Apple is now a media company. The company’s Apple TV app is now available on competitor Amazon’s Fire TV.

“Starting today, Fire TV … customers all around the world can download and begin using the all-new Apple TV app,” Amazon’s Delaney Simmons posted today to the Amazon Fire TV blog. “Inside the Apple TV app, you’ll have access to your entire iTunes library, including all of TV shows and movies that you’ve already purchased or rented from Apple, and soon Apple TV+.”

Get the full story in my post at Forbes …

IBM: Google’s ‘Quantum Supremacy’ Claim Is Wrong – 150 Million Percent Wrong (Seriously)

quantum computer

Today Google said that “computing takes a quantum leap forward” as a result of its efforts to build a computer that can do what no traditional computer can: a 10,000-year-long calculation in just 200 seconds.

IBM’s response? 

Google is off by a factor of almost 1.5 million. That’s 150 million percent, and no, it’s not a typo.

Get the full story in my post at Forbes …

Bermuda Premier David Burt On Stablecoins, Crypto, Blockchain ID, Libra, Big Tech, And Privacy

David Burt and John Koetsier

Look at news on blockchain, crypto, and distributed ledger news for just a few days, and a couple of countries begin to stand out. Bermuda and Malta, among others, have been leaders in building regulatory environments that encourage blockchain innovation and investment.

The U.S., by contrast, has been lagging badly.

This week Tech Beach Retreat has been holding “Fintech Innovation Island” at the Hamilton Princess Hotel in Bermuda. It’s a part of Bermuda Tech Week, focusing on fintech, crypto, and blockchain-based technologies. 

There, I had the pleasure of doing a fireside chat with the Premier of Bermuda, the Honorable E. David Burt.

Get the full story in my post at Forbes …

Apple Arcade: The ‘Boutique’ Of Mobile Games, But Ongoing Innovation Is An Issue

Apple Arcade games

Apple unveiled Arcade, a $5/month subscription for mobile games, just over a month ago. We’ve now had some time to evaluate what it looks like, how it operates, and what impact it may have on mobile, mobile gaming, and innovation in the casual games space.

And we’ve seen how Google has jumped in with a similar model.

There’s a lot to like about this kind of service, as anyone who has ever been nickeled and dimed to death playing a “free” mobile game knows. Or whoever’s bought a game that eventually turned out to be awful.

Get the full story in my post at Forbes …

Google’s New Pixel 4 Phones Come With Radar (In Fact, Two Radars)


So much for “talk to the hand.” Now, it’s talk with the hand.

Google released its new Pixel 4 phones today, and yes: they come with upgraded cameras, new colors, new designs, and smoother-scrolling 90Hz screen refresh rates. 

But all of that is evolution, not revolution.

Talking with your hand, on the other hand (sorry!), that’s fairly new for mainstream smartphones (Samsung has released some gesture-based technology as well). Google calls it ‘Motion Sense’ and it originates in the company’s Project Soli. Motion Sense is enabled by a tiny radar chip that senses nearby movement and allows you to control your phone with gestures.

Get the full story in my post at Forbes …

Apple’s China Risk: $43 Billion

china cash

Doing the right thing can be expensive.

And not only for the NBA.

Last quarter Apple sold $9 billion dollars worth of iPhones, accessories, and services in China, down from $10.2 billion in Q2 and $13.2 billion in Q1. For the whole year, assuming it sells about $10 billion in the current quarter, Apple will pull in a Delta Airlines or American Express worth of revenue from greater China: almost $43 billion.

Get the full story in my post at Forbes …

Fireside chat with Bermuda Premier David Burt on crypto, blockchain, and big tech

This week Tech Beach Retreat has been holding “Fintech Innovation Island” at the Hamilton Princess Hotel in Bermuda. It’s a part of Bermuda Tech Week, focusing on fintech, crypto, and blockchain-based technologies.

There, I had the pleasure of doing a fireside chat with the Premier of Bermuda, the Honorable E. David Burt.

More details here in my Forbes story …

Mobile ad monetization: Analyzing true ROI by tying in ad revenue

Can accounting for ad monetization revenue in your user acquisition ROI analysis help your app business grow smarter and faster? According to Singular Product Manager Lisi Gardiner … yes, it can!

It’s not shocking to most in mobile that ad monetization is growing fast. In fact, App Annie says that 60% more apps will build ad monetization into their overall mobile revenue strategies this year. So it’s clear that in-app advertising is a major — and growing — contributor to mobile publishers’ revenue.

For hyper-casual gaming publishers, it could get to 100% of their revenue.

Get the full story in my post on Singular’s blog …

Internet advertising growth is slowing. Here’s what’s changing … and why

Read this sentence slowly: pre-movie ads at the theater will grow faster than internet advertising next year.

You got that right.

Ads shown for 10-20 minutes to a paying audience waiting for the real show to start will grow faster than the fastest, most modern, most digital advertising ecosystem ever created. The most annoying part of going to a theater is now also the fastest-growing sector in paid marketing.

But this shouldn’t be a shock, at least on one hand.

Get the full story in my post on Singular’s blog …

A modern marketers’ survival guide to the data explosion

CMO’s biggest priority in 2019 is getting actionable insights from data. We know this because they’ve told us.

“With the exponential growth of data over the past decade and into the new year, it’s becoming harder daily to turn information into action,” says SurveyMonkey CMO Leela Srinivasan. “While more data has the potential to deliver more meaningful insights, prioritizing an action plan to address it is critical.”

The question, of course, is how.

Get the full story in my post on Singular’s blog …

Apple’s China Risk: $43 Billion

china money

Doing the right thing can be expensive.

And not only for the NBA.

Last quarter Apple sold $9 billion dollars worth of iPhones, accessories, and services in China, down from $10.2 billion in Q2 and $13.2 billion in Q1. For the whole year, assuming it sells about $10 billion in the current quarter, Apple will pull in a Delta Airlines or American Express worth of revenue from greater China: almost $43 billion.

Get the full story in my post at Forbes …

Box CEO Aaron Levie On AI, Robotics, The Future Of Work, Digital Transformation And #YangGang

Aaron Levi interview

What will work look like when everything is digitally transformed, artificial intelligence is optimally deployed and robots are embedded in every aspect of our economy? That’s hard to know, but one company that’s focused on making work work better, and helping businesses digitally transform, is Box.

Box, which went public in 2015, still acts very much like a Silicon Valley startup. Except, of course, grown up, with partnerships with Google and IBM and just about any other important company you can think of.

And 95,000 customers, including 69% of the Fortune 500.

I had a chance to interview Box CEO Aaron Levie at BoxWorks, the company’s annual conference where it unveils new products, new relationships and new ways of transforming the business of work.

Get the full interview in my post at Forbes …

10B Downloads Later, This Simple Mobile Game Is A Multi-Platform Cash Cow

talking tom outfit7

Talking Tom is an icon in the mobile world. Literally, of course, with the app’s icon on billions of phones globally. But also figuratively, thanks to the game’s ridiculous level of success.

Talking Tom and related games will have been downloaded more than ten billion times by the end 2019, according to the game’s publisher, Outfit7. Players have poked Tom more than 530 billion times. And the game’s fans have watched over 200,000 years of Talking Tom video content across a variety of platforms.

Get the full story in my post at Forbes …

Amazon’s Echo Loop Smart Ring Gives A Whole New Meaning To ‘Talk To The Hand’

amazon echo loop

Amazon’s new smart ring is big, fat, and ugly. And it doesn’t do much that a smart ring should.

I’ve been wearing a Motiv smart ring for the better part of a year now, and while I primarily use my Apple Watch for fitness tracking, the Motiv is a super-small and unobtrusive way to track my sleep patterns as well as monitor activity and health.

Get the full story in my post at Forbes …

Apple Finally Gets Face Unlock Right: iPhone 11 And iOS 13

people faces

It finally just works.

Apple’s had facial recognition technologyMORE ON THIS TOPIC FROM FORBESGoogle’s New Nest Hub Max Raises Questions About How Much We Still Value Our PrivacyAmerica’s Views On Face Recognition And Surveillance Cameras5 Best Gaming Laptops Under $1,000 for unlocking its phones for two years now, since iPhone X. But as a two-year owner on several iPhone X’s (I named the most recent one “Unbroken” for a reason), the company’s Face ID technology wasn’t great.

It was slow.

And it required just the right angle to work.

Get the full story in my post at Forbes …