Unlock the human potential with LaFutura

Join La Futura task force and contribute to the new paradigms on work models.

The inception of this endeavour started 4 years ago: I was in Saudi Arabia and I sparked a first reflection called, the man and the machine that later evolved to a book chapter.

This is the past.

Let’s look to the future.

The challenges humanity is facing

Working patterns

  • Work productivity tend to increase if interconnected tools are implemented, however, there is still a substantial path of convergence ahead, in terms of a user-centric computing model that is adaptive enough into a preferred user interface considering the work context. We a are still far away of: “I make my user interface”.
  • Driven by cost pressure, companies are disinvesting in office space and encouraging the workforce to work from home, however, there are signals that not all the work can be done virtually with impact on creativity and relationship networks.
  • Reduce cognitive overload by determination of what, when and how information should be presented (format, time, syntax).

Talent skills and inclusion

  • Greater ownership over information can improve assessment formative power for a range of the next generation of digital skills to be achieved via adaptive training.
  • Shifting social norms and affecting the collective mindset can be more effective towards combat bias that solely focusing on diversity and inclusion training.

New societal normal

  • The level on uncertainty related with economic sifts can bring from an irregular adoption of advanced technology and automation to social polarization, populism, government protectionism or the rising of alternative economic models gather interest.
  • Are we going to move towards total information awareness, where privacy is gone in exchange of security and automation emerges or are we be organized by creating new “tribes” that emerge with profoundly different views of the society?

There is nothing new on the “new normal”

Change is multidimensional and interconnected

Solely understanding the technological impact on humans and how soon we might be outcompeted is not enough. As such, this task force aims to expand the analysis spectrum to these areas, which present a more complete and diversified understanding of the challenges to be addressed. We are proposing the creation of these working groups to enhance the vision of the future of human potential.

  • Job creation or workless future & social protection – as economies become increasingly automated, their general ability to create new jobs needs to be redefined, or to pursue a new welfare model which people will not have a job and economic growth is redistributed. On the other hand, organizations & governments need to be aware of where talent is headed and how they can shape the workforce and ensure a just transition.
  • Productivity, and well-being – productivity and satisfaction vary by experience, role, and society context. Not all the work can be done virtually, and there is still a considerable amount of effort to maintain a work-life balance, and the ability for workers to cope with distributed demands for near-immediate availability, out of what had been considered the “working hour period”.
  • Human augmentation – people and technology cooperation to enhance the way work is performed, considering human centered design for human capabilities – cognitive and physical augmentation – and intrinsic limitations.
  • Virtual universe, twin worlds, and physical spaces – recreation of immersive collaborative work environments that convey a sense of real-world presence, the rise of avatars. The impact on office spaces redesign and collaboration in a hybrid environment and the downstream changes on urbanism and cities regeneration with diminishing presence of buildings.

And last and probably as important is the aspect of diversity and inclusion. I lived in South Africa for 4 years and when I studied the country history, I discovered the meaning of the coat of arms. The motto of the coat of arms, written in the Khoisan language of the San people (a tribe), means: “diverse people unite or people who are different join together”.

  • Ethics, privilege, and being inclusive – which is related with influencing the shift in social norms and affecting the collective mindset might be more effective towards combating barriers for people to openly participate in the labor market.

Contribute to what the human potential might become to be

The task force will be organized by these domains. Join the one that you fell you can contribute the most.

Joining the task force will not only expose you to work with a global diversified talent network, but it also helps to be part of a working group that promotes inclusive divergent thinking and ultimately, will address the unique challenge to understand the relationships between the forthcoming societal construct and to explore strategies to enable a future of prosperity.

  • You can contribute to a change in society.
  • You can influence governments and decision makers on public policies design.
  • You can make people to become ready to address the labor shift.
  • You can sponsor the workplace a better place, by creating a symbiosis with technology.

Don’t try to predict the future, be the change and make the future happen.

I look forward to work with all of you.

More information at: LaFutura – Global Trend Network

Realizing Human Potential in the COVID-19 Context

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the incomes of self-employed people have been affected and companies are starting to retrench workers, on the other hand, it is necessary to support workers especially on net new core competencies, is what makes somebody adaptable in the face of changes, as work from home created new job opportunities and at the same time, a considerable threat to existing ones. In some circumstances companies may not see the need to physically locate themselves in the region anymore with remote working becoming more prevalent, and amid rising protectionism. In Brazil and USA there is already a movement on decreasing office space capacity and in Southeast Asia, “near-shore” operations are quickly becoming a reality. The Japanese government is supporting to help its companies shift their production out of China and back to Japan. Supply chains are also going to be redesigned.

From the graduate starting out on a career, mid-career worker looking for new job opportunities or trying to stay employed in a new role, there is a new mandate to ensure that people gain accurate and up-to-date information about their options based on available labor market data, individuals’ goals, aptitude, career program and, government and employers.

This requires public sector, educators and the private sector to collaborate on developing and strengthening an educational framework to enable ongoing learning and training opportunities for workers at all stages of their careers.

  • Every individual should gain accurate guidance about their options on personal development, based on data. A promising model is for example, Singapore’s SkillsFuture initiative.
  • The extent to which the existing and future working population acquires the right skills within the workplace, is one of the most critical variables to engage with new opportunities in a constantly shifting labor market.
  • A smart learning environment that is designed towards learning at all stages of life and at the dame time to ensure employability – “get a job”; enables adaptive access to reskilling, upskilling; put individuals at center-stage to take ownership of their own learning paths and accelerate job opportunities with personalized mentorship, will contribute to employability and self-realization.

For educators, priorities for change and business model evolution, should include the following scenarios, coming from a training provider to future of jobs for every individual.

Adaptive Learning

Leveraging on forecasts of future skills requirements for existing workforce, social protection schemes and skills reconversion, integrated with about the degree of fit of candidate, cultural affinity, new operational models, technological evolution, career and performance management, adaptive learning can predict next wave of required training or to update a learning path at the individual level.

Mentoring and Employability

Automated career aspiration path, matching with job market status, person skills and existing learning path. Mentoring support in career progression activities. Accelerate employment by matching candidate profile with personalized recruiter outreach, integrated with employment government agencies.

Digital Credentials

Enables education providers and learners to control and share the credentials that can be trusted and verified. One has the appropriate knowledge, and experience that are necessary and sufficient for being a professional in a certain field or practice, a pre-requisite to perform a role and to be able to practice one’s profession.

Virtual Nomadic Campus

Cross reality environment designed for learning, visualization, social collaboration, knowledge capture, with real-time interaction in physically simulated virtual environment, using immersive technologies.

Smart Cities Operating System

One important element of implementing a smart city is the city become the platform and the platform is able to learn and have an embodied cognitive replica. A platform that apart from:
  • The connectivity provided by the ICT infraestruture;
  • The applications that can be used to request, use or monitor services;
  • The underlying data in the city data lake – enabling understanding about the interactions produced, the patterns and the behaviors, how to optimize traffic flow or waste management.

Have the ability o manage with formal and non-formal forms of human and machines interaction – operational technology and the pervasive communication infrastructure – nevertheless, still requires a number of considerable advancements, in particular, in the domain of understanding human behavior [1] as an important data source of the city planning and service evolution.

 

city os

City OS framework

Cognitive cities may be constituted with [2] many richly interacting adaptive components that include human beings and other entities with sufficient awareness – sensors – reconfigurability, learning, autonomy and cooperation capabilities at materialized in a City operating system. However, the value of the City OS is if it scales across multiple cities in an ecosystem. In this sense, the objective is to create a Smart City operating system, an “universal-platform” for cities. While they acknowledge the competitive nature and that each city has its own character, identity, tax system or unique capabilities (healthcare or education) there are more commonalities than there are differences. Apart of common services like energy or waste management, the approach is how the ecosystem City OS, connected to other cities can evolve, for example in areas like traffic management, mobility as a service, safety, once the algorithms will be trained in larger data sets or sharing a common capability like person digital identity or resilience (cyber-attacks, geopolitical conflicts, diseases, resources shortages).

References:

[1] Cognition Digital Twins for Personalized Information Systems of Smart Cities: Proof of Concept – Jing Du, Qi Zhu2, Yangming Shi, Qi Wang, Yingzi Lin and Daniel Zhao

[2] Cognitive cities and intelligent urban governance – Ali Mostashari, Friedrich Arnold, Mo Mansouri, and Matthias Finger

Ecosystems and Personal Healthcare

To reach a stage where healthcare will be personal, there is a fundamental step: designing a medical treatment considering individual variability. For such purpose it is necessary to combine and curate to existing EMR records with data about the patient’s societal environment, lifestyle, and their genomic data. This can assist the doctors in identifying which approaches, treatments, and preventions will be effective for the patients, what also can be called personalized healthcare, on the prevention side, would also allow identification of genetic variants that increase a patient’s chances of developing diseases. Treatment could begin earlier, helping reduce risk through behavior modification (healthier diet or increased exercise) or leading to placement of patients on drug therapies.

Such an outcome relies of connecting and sharing data within a particular ecosystem. The ecosystem of me (ties back to the earlier concept of the internet of me). On one hand phone, wearables, health sensors, connected clothing—and combining that with clinical tests, scans, and check-ups—will allow much-improved analysis and monitoring and focus on health optimization. On the other hand, sharing such data in medical doctor community, academia, healthcare think tanks will improve healthcare foresight and shape healthcare public policy design, but most importantly will support via the existence of such dataset to create models of detecting effectively symptoms, understating treatment impact, find new ways of treatment and assist medical doctors with assisted reasoning.

 

Personalized healthcare is about shifting from volume to value. Revealing the unknown and creating a healthcare ecosystem continuum. The purpose of the transformation journey is to shift from normalized healthcare to personalized healthcare.

 

1

Personal Healthcare Ecosystem

 

With this type of engagement, patients are likely to be more cooperative, and comply with procedures and treatment plans. There are of course other kind of benefits, like ease to schedule an appointment and track medication time, decrease healthcare costs, however, the biggest benefit and value of such an approach allows patients and citizens to look after themselves better and have better quality of life, because healthcare become, personal, anchored on a personal health record, which data sharing consent is managed by the individual.

Technology and healthcare always had an uneasy relationship, and the latest announcements that Apple and Google did entering into healthcare may bring the argument of massive surveillance, however, countries like Singapore, are aggressively progressing towards the creation of a shared nationwide healthcare data lake, by law. It should give us some thoughts about how healthcare is fast becoming personal.

The Man and the Machine and the impact on the Future of Work

Many people wonder the reasoning of Microsoft’s [1] mission which is: “Empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more” . It can sound a cliché, but I could never be more important to reinforce the message, once we are coming out of repetitive work and normalization of processes, which are step by step being totally automated – by the use of technologies like robotic process automation – shifting to the knowledge work space.
I’ve seen based on my experience working with Oil & Gas companies, that the idea of an industry that monolithically crystalized is not a reality anymore. This type of industry sector is being enabled by a set of technologies that took time to mature, combined with challenges related with network infrastructure availability and latency (oil production occur in remote areas of in the middle of the ocean where connectivity is a scarce resource), but today are becoming mainstream. For example using drones to make inspections, mixed reality for executing field inspections, collaboration remotely with engineers in the control center or using cameras for detecting safety (lack of protection equipment) or security (facility intrusion) with image pattern recognition. These new technologies  are also creating a job and career change  widened by the adoption of new technologies and talent scarcity. Two reports from World Economic Forum, named, Towards a Reskilling Revolution and Future of Jobs, highlight:
Companies, “expect to hire wholly new permanent staff already possessing skills relevant to new technologies; seek to automate the work tasks concerned completely; and retrain existing employees. The likelihood of hiring new permanent staff with relevant skills is nearly twice the likelihood of strategic redundancies of staff lagging behind in new skills adoption. However, nearly a quarter of companies are undecided or unlikely to pursue the retraining of existing employees, and two-thirds expect workers to adapt and pick up skills in the course of their changing jobs. Between one-half and two-thirds are likely to turn to external contractors, temporary staff and freelancers to address their skills gaps.”

I was invited as a speaker to the Halliburton Life conference in Abu Dhabi. One of the trends I noticed – as part of the reinforcement on how intrusive artificial intelligence is enabling a new set of possibilities, like for example, improving decision making in terms of financial impact while making seismic data interpretation in terms of addressing exploration and production viability – is how hard is for individuals with strong domain expertise to work. I heard during sessions people expressing frustration on manipulation data sets, being not able to work of the same updated version of a data set, becoming unproductive waiting weeks for results and deal with uncertainty.

I am having a series of meetings with HR function and I’ve been told that the way people work is becoming frustrating and unproductive, despite all ubiquity of cloud, social, bring your own software / device or putting into a different perspective, it is not achieving the expected results. There was definitively productivity improvements, mostly in terms of mobility, meaning individuals can work anywhere at their pace, have access to information they commonly use on every day. However, mirroring self-expression, self-development (be digital ready), achieving a true networked work environment – far from being reached, companies with workforce size higher than 5.000 individuals find how difficult it is to reach out experts, knowing what is happening across domain of expertise which people operate, be part of working groups to construct new identities to replace old ones, avoiding to become redundant as a way of personal fulfilment – and ultimately, how technology ubiquity is bringing lack of integration, distraction shifting our attention on meaningful activities. As an example, people envision a future which individuals participate in a meeting, don’t need to search for meeting content in “teams workspace”, don’t need to connect to a projector, don’t need to write meeting notes, spark and track action items.

Studies carried in an Oil & Gas major using Microsoft’s workplace analytics reveal that in an investment venture appraisal that took 1 year to complete, more than 2.000 individuals were involved with a strong presence of financial departments. As a result, this contributes to:
  • Slow decision making and limited agility;
  • Employees being over-managed;
  • It was possible to gain more than 300 FTEs worth of time by rethinking how work and management is distributed;
  • Cross-functional processes becoming bloated and expensive.
People aspire a future which individuals participate in a meeting, don’t need to search for meeting content in “teams workspace”, don’t need to connect to a projector, don’t need to write meeting notes, spark and track action items. This is not a futurist idea. This a desirable outcome.

 

3 pillars of Human Led Design
To address this, it is necessary to rethink how technology should pursue a human led design strategy:

  • Help people achieve what is important to them. This something that during all the years companies have worked in operational improvement did not fully deliver. For example, can’t we let people organize and define their own User Interface in a way they will focus on what is really most important to them?
  • Building relationships. There is an intense debate on methods to discover how to get to know individuals and understand their real needs and wants based on trust, re-quoting Elizabeth Tunstall that provides an interesting perspective, as our universal individuality is cannot separated by the sacred, profane and spirituality, instead of creating personas framed on a stereotypes which we must be forced to fit.
  • Design technology that seamlessly integrates into the human world. Design for the capabilities and limitations of the human body. Adjust to the human needs dictated by the physical conditions of an environment or device. For example, designing an application to be operated in an explosive and noisy environment is different for designing the same solution to be operated in a control center.
Future of Work scenarios
The future of work is deeply related with employee upskilling and retainment. Being able to make the change in terms of employee experience will contribute to retain talent for next generation of workers.
Below is a spectrum of possible scenarios to explore in terms of what the future of work can be.
Some are more easy to productize, other’s, like augmented knowledge reasoning aren’t, but it is still worth trying – I remember previous engagements related with public policy enactment as an example – i.e. government agency wants to increase taxes and wants to recommend a scenario that is going to maximize tax collection and minimize negative population sentiment, using A.I. for that purpose.

Annotation

Collection of Future of Work Scenarios

In summary, guiding principle is focusing less on jobs descriptions and more on the nature of the work produced and then determining how to help employees accomplish those tasks enabled by scenarios like these:
  • Digital assistants may include a digital shadow that will observe behaviors, build and maintain work preference rules, search information, predict and remind you about important actions to accomplish based on the nature of the work you are working on.
  • Unified interactions allows employees to take actions on tasks, gain access to the data feeds they follow, collaborate with other individuals, all without ever leaving a single customized interface according his needs and wants, instead of jump from application to application.
  • Digital upskilling is about training the workforce, with content hyper-personalization based on a role definition execution requisites and performance review feedback. In a world that is becoming digital, the workforce is must be digital ready instead of digital impaired.
  • Collaboration (at large) as a digital extension of individuals senses, contextual knowledge support it serves as an interface for humans to the physical world. Enhance the user’s surroundings with relevant, and/or actionable information, using as an example, mixed reality to augment our ability to perform.
  • Reasoning leveraged on recommendation agents based on past interactions and other sources of information to jump-start and kick-off knowledge-oriented activities. Incorporate specialized Artificial Intelligence technologies processing functions tuned specifically to answer questions, create models, to support decision making.

You can’t optimize for everyone, but it is worth making a profound change happen in our working habits this will help organizations that they cannot digitally transform unless people do.

[1] I am Microsoft employee when this post was written.