Digital Convergence and a Truly Augmented Environment – Part 1

New emerging technologies have the potential to crate profound change to the world on a social and environmental level. We explore a couple of these in order to understand the benefits and potential pitfalls that is prevalent with all things new.

We’ve approached this in three parts:

  1. Facilitators – Corner stone technologies that will be leveraged to facilitate other incremental technologies,
  2. Applied Technologies – These are essential real world applications where technology interacts with people’s day-to-day life.
  3. Social and Environmental consequences – Conjecture on some of the outcomes for the spread of these technologies.


The Internet of things (e.g cheap internet connected sensors)

Cisco have speculated that by 2020 that 50 billion devices will be connected to the Internet. These devices consist of small very low power sensors that measure fundamental properties (temperature,pressure, acceleration, light etc) or more complex devices that measure and calculate conditions (environmental, mechanical, medical etc).

Cisco indicate 99% of the world is unobserved. I tend to think they have underestimated both the number and scale of applications. If we were to proved real time observation of a persons biometric attributes (activity tracking, heart condition, nutrition, illness) we could have dozens of personal sensors. When applied to buildings and automobiles thousands of sensors would be required and when looking at environmental factors millions could be required just to measure the performance of a farms or the impact of a factories. Multiplied by the number of people and applications in the world the 50 Billion number starts to sound conservative.

Cognitive Computing / big data

With billions of sensors collecting data we run into the issue of big data which ironical is more about data processing that data collection. To make sense of the data and provide a meaningful context the field of cognitive computing has been developed.

IBM currently leads the way in this field with Watson a computer that can not only process these enormous databases but collect information from unstructured sources and make guesses or estimates when required. A trait that proves valuable in the the real world where there is typically multiple possible solutions of a problem.

Computers like Watson stand to revolutionise a world minor data processing tasks undertaken by workers everyday could be replaced by cognitive processing. This will be both a opportunity and a threat to many.

The Internet / cloud

Although not new cloud computing is essentially the glue that pulls this all together. This allows for infrastructure to be centralised and the technical and environmental risks can be managed.

The cloud allows us to both collect data from our sensors and preform cognitive computing functions with highly portable hardware. Without this data, the processing and the solutions generated would be confined to your house, office or university.

Part 2 – Applied Technologies


New York “Stratospherians” Pay Dearly for the High-Rise Life

Map: Vernacular across America

Mojca P., Jason H., Larry H., and Cindy S. sent us a link to a story about a Saudi Arabian version of an IKEA catalog in which all of the women were erased. Here is a single page of the American and Saudi Arabian magazines side-by-side:

After the outcry in response to this revelation began, IKEA responded by called the removal of women a “mistake” “in conflict with the IKEA Group values.” IKEA seems to have agreed with its critics: erasing women capitulates to a sexist society and that is wrong.

But, there is a competing progressive value at play: cultural sensitivity. Isn’t removing the women from the catalog the respectful and non-ethnocentric thing to do?

Susan Moller Okin wrote a paper that famously asked, “Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women?” The question led to two decades of debate and an interrogating of the relationship between culture and power. Who gets to decide what’s cultural? Whose interests does cultural sensitivity serve?

The IKEA catalog suggests that (privileged) men get to decide what Saudi Arabian culture looks like (though many women likely endorse the cultural mandate to keep women out of view as well). So, respecting culture entails endorsing sexism because men are in charge of the culture?

Well, it depends. It certainly can go that way, and often does. But there’s a feminist (and anti-colonialist) way to do this too. Respecting culture entails endorsing sexism only if we demonize certain cultures as irredeemably sexist and unable to change. In fact, most cultures have sexist traditions. Since all of those cultures are internally-contested and changing, no culture is hopelessly sexist. Ultimately, one can bridge their inclinations to be both culturally sensitive and feminist by seeking out the feminist strains in every culture and hoping to see those manifested as it evolves.

None of this is going to solve IKEA’s problem today, but it does illustrate one of difficult-to-solve paradoxes in contemporary progressive politics.


Lisa Wade has published extensively on the relationship between feminism and multiculturalism, using female genital cutting as a case. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook (where she keeps discussion of “mutilation” to a minimum).

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from Sociological Images

This ingenious bike sharing system, designed specifically for the city of Seoul, focuses on the problem of parking capacity in the urban environment where limited space is available. The minimal T-Bikes are contained in vending machine-like, compact modular stations that can be easily relocated to popular areas or even transported as a permanent installation on a truck for mobile delivery. Simply locate and check out bikes directly from a smartphone!

Designer: Jung Tak

Yanko Design
Timeless Designs – Explore wonderful concepts from around the world!
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(Super Smart Bike Sharing was originally posted on Yanko Design)

Related posts:

  1. Super Green, Super Dangerous, Super Bike
  2. Sharing Water
  3. Super Cool And Super Cute!


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from Yanko Design

Harare (AFP) Sept 22, 2012
kariba-dam-zambia-zimbabwe-bg.jpg Zimbabwe’s second city Bulawayo has ordered its residents to flush toilets at the same time once a week to prevent blockages during frequent periods of water rationing, the mayor said Saturday. “We are going to have a big flush every Monday to push all the waste that would have accumulated during the water rationing,” Thaba Moyo, mayor of Bulawayo, told AFP. “It means everybody has to fl

from Earth News, Earth Science, Energy Technology, Environment News

It’s a common misperception that responsible or sustainable investments are all in the hug yourself, warm feeling, good intention category, the inevitable consequence of which is diminished investment return.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

In the past decade, investor demand has increased transparency and communication, creating a large and growing pool of data on corporate sustainability. With this, objective decision-making can happen. Analysis of the data shows two important relationships:

Resource efficient companies — those that use less energy and water and create less waste in generating a unit of revenue — tend to produce higher investment returns than their less resource-efficient rivals.


Resource-efficient companies also display high levels of innovation and entrepreneurship, pushing core value metrics above the average large cap global business.


What these findings suggest is that an investment strategy based on resource efficiency not only produces returns in excess of global benchmarks, it also identifies management teams that are forward thinking, aware of the economic imperatives brought about by resource constraint. Just the kinds of companies a responsible investment manager would put clients’ money into.

And while a global portfolio constructed around a resource efficiency metric will certainly include less well-known global firms like Lundin Petroleum and Shire Ltd, it will mostly be comprised of household names. The data on sustainability shows that companies like Boeing, BMW, UPS, and L’Oreal are highly resource efficient in their respective industries.

Resource efficiency, therefore, is not just some nice-to-have quality. It is a leading indicator of economic performance and one that every investment manager should be tracking. It’s about time that the financial community woke up to this fact and started to take advantage of the data.

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