You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2019.

Generation Z – There Is Hope!
By   Shlomo Maital  
 
   Generation Y is the generation of those born between 1981 and 1995.  They are also known as Millenials. They have been slandered as selfish, egoistic, live-for-the-present, and worse.  Today they are between 23 and 37.
    Generation Z is the generation of those born 1996 and later.  A New York Times column by Dan Levin, “Even young Republicans are drifting left on social issues”,  Jan. 25/2019,  reports on a Pew Research Center survey of American  Gen Z, some 12,000 of them.  Here are the main findings:
• Only 30% approved of Trump’s performance.  This is well below the average (Trump is deeply underwater in his approval ratings).
• 70% said they wanted government to do more to solve the nation’s problems.  [Levin says, those attitudes mirror those of Gen Y, which may mean that these two younger generations can powerfully combine to change the current bleak reality in the US].
• There are more than 68 million Americans who belong to GenZ.  This is 22% of the American population.  So more than one American in every five is GenZ.  This makes this group politically decisive, in the long run.  
• 2/3 of GenZ believe blacks are treated less fairly than whites in the US.
• GenZ believe government should play a more active role.
 

    This is not good news for Republicans; GenZ is more progressive than older generations.  But it is good news for those who seek a less conservative America.

 

T O O   M U C H   S T U F F  !
By   Shlomo Maital 
 
    From a recent article in The Guardian:
   The average ten-year-old child has toys worth almost £7,000 but plays with just £330 worth of them, a study has shown.  A typical child owns 238 toys in total but parents think they play with just 12 ‘favourites’ on a daily basis making up just five per cent of their toys.   The study of 3,000 parents also revealed one in two parents admit ‘wasting hundreds of pounds’ on toys their children never play with.   It also emerged more than half believe their children end up picking the same toys day in and day out because they have too many to choose from.

   Do we buy too much ‘stuff’ for our kids? We do.  But note – we also buy too much stuff for ourselves.  How else can you explain the amazing popularity of Marie Kondo, her book, and Netflix series? 
 
      Kudos to Kondo, for helping us reduce clutter and clean up.  Now, for a much tougher question —  instead of buying stuff and throwing it out,  how can we rewire our brains, defeat the consumer spend-and-borrow ethos and stop buying things that bring neither joy nor satisfaction?
    Kondo’s principle:  Does it bring joy?  If not, throw it out.
    Now, let’s take it one step further.  BEFORE you buy it —  will it REALLY make me happy, after the first 10 minutes?   No?  Forget it. 
     Is there a Marie Kondo out there, who can write the book on The Life Changing Magic of Not Consuming?     

Distraction – Our Greatest Threat
By   Shlomo Maital
 
      It is easy to identify a lot of things that have gone wrong in the world.  Britain is in a deadly stalemate, facing an urgent decision and with no majority for anything.  Right wing governments threaten democracy in Venezuela, Poland, Hungary and even Italy.  America is stuck in a stupid conflict between a stubborn President and stubborn Democrats.   Israel goes to elections on April 9 that according to polls will change absolutely nothing.
        But underlying all this is a little-noted problem. Distraction.  Small children are easy to distract; parents do it all the time.  Apparently world leaders are also easy to distract.
Trump obsesses over a wall, while America’s economy slows, and its infrastructure crumble.  Israel faces threats on its borders, but its Prime Minister obsesses about his impending indictment for bribery.  Europe struggles with migrants, and debt, but is totally distracted by Brexit and will be for months.  China and the US grapple over Huawei and cell phone technology, while their trade war causes the entire world economy to slow.
       
        The world has lost focus.  The 30-second news cycle has led to massive myopia, neglecting longer term problems.  Elections focus on personalities.  Try to find a comprehensive well-designed political platform for any political party anywhere. 
      I think the distraction of non-news and personalities is a major threat – if it continues, we will never even begin to grapple with the real major problems the world faces.
     So, let’s decide – Just because our leaders are distracted, and purposely try to distract all of us with pipsqueak inconsequential matters,  we don’t have to play.  Where possible, let’s find ways to refocus the political system on the things that really matter – saving, education, investment, schools, roads, corruption, equality, and overall creating a better world.
      Make America Make the World Great Again.

Why Do People Swallow Whole Fake News?
By   Shlomo Maital

 
   Why do so many people swallow whole fake news?  Why do we believe things that are patently false (like the 2016 rumor that Hillary Clinton was somehow molesting or kidnapping children in a fast food restaurant?)
     Today’s Global New York Times has an Op-Ed that has some strong answers. It is written by Prof. Gordon Pennycook, from my hometown Regina, Saskatchewan,  and co-author David Rand, MIT.*
      The bottom line:  Education is not the answer.  More educated people fall for fake news, too, especially fake news that agrees with their views.
       We fall for fake news, because we are unable or unwilling to engage in critical thinking – to challenge everythng we read critically, and subject it to the laws of reason and logic.
        Critical thinking is a key skill that is taught far too little in schools and universities.  At Queen’s University, long ago, I took a compulsory course in Philosophy, in the days when all university students were required to know some literature, philosophy and history.  It was the best course I ever took.  I learned about logic, about ethics, and about metaphysics.  And I learned about critical thinking.
       A critical thinker asks,  is this true?  Is it based on strong facts?  What are the facts?  Is it logical? Does the conclusion follow from the premises? What are the sources? 
        The enemy of critical thinking is the Internet news mania.  Internet news has a news cycle of seconds.  Everything is instant.  There is no time for reflection or challenging thought.  So – let’s slow it down.

     Build yourself a news microscope.  Focus it.  Zero it in on news.  Think critically.  Reserve judgment as you do so.  Just because Buzzfeed is in a big hurry does not mean that we all have to be.

•  “Why do people fall for fake news?”    Gordon Pennycook and David Rand.  New York Times, Tuesday January 22 2019.

What Is Your Mantra?
By   Shlomo Maital

In Sanskrit, the word ‘mantra’ means “a sacred utterance, a numinous sound, a syllable, word or phonemes, or group of words believed by practitioners to have psychological and spiritual powers”.

     I teach my entrepreneurship students to work hard on a ‘mantra’ for their startup idea – three words that capture the essence of their value creation.  Great mantras do have power.

       For Nike, for instance: authentic athletic performance.  For Wendy’s (fast food chain): healthy fast food.  (Nike’s Just Do It! is a marketing mantra, not a ‘this is what we stand for’ mantra).

       A new documentary on Brexit (Britain’s exit from the EU) focuses on the person who lead the pro-Leave campaign in 2016, Dominic Cummings. He chose a three-word mantra for the campaign:   Take Back Control. It was brilliant. It captured what the British people wanted – control of their borders. Problem was — taking back control of the borders also involved a hornets’ nest of other intractable problems, including the Ireland-Northern Ireland border. But – the three-word mantra was crucial in the 52% majority for leaving the EU.

       I think each of us needs a mantra – a way to focus what we seek, why we are alive. A mantra is always an over-simplification, like the Brexit Leave mantra. But the advantage is, sharp focus. Einstein said, simplify as much as possible – but not more so. Can you simplify your own focus, down to three words, without distorting, or misleading?

       My mantra for the past few years, since I became a pensioner, is: Help Other People. The underlying logic: Pensioners become instantly transparent, the moment they retire. By creating value for others, you remain relevant and engaged. Believe me, it is not easy!  

       What is your mantra?   Do you need one? Has your mantra changed and evolved?  

 

5G: What It Means for You
By   Shlomo Maital
 
     Cell phone users are mainly uninterested in the technologies that drive their smartphones.  Today’s technology is 4G (4th generation), and it began as LTE Long Term Evolution, which was the term used to describe how 3G (3rd generation technology) would evolve into 4th generation.   When your cell phone shows 4G, mostly, it is not really using 4G yet.    However, 5G is already on the way.
    But what is 5G (5th Generation)?  What will it do for us?
    “We think that 5G will have an impact far beyond 3G,” said Ben Timmons, Senior Director, Business Development of Qualcomm Europe. “It’s not going to be about personal communication anymore. It’s much more of a transformational technology that will have a huge impact on an enormous range of industries.”   Qualcomm of course is a major developer of 5G.   But – is this all commercial hype?
       Analysts at HIS Markit note, “Qualcomm is one of the main players in the development and deployment of the technology.  …. the American semiconductor giant has already successfully completed pre-commercial 5G  trials.”  Recently US regulators turned down an attempt by Broadcom to acquire Qualcomm.
      5G is really REALLY fast.  How fast is 5G?   “Samsung says it’s managed to achieve 7.5Gbps, while Nokia claims a more impressive 10Gbps. There’s also Huawei, which has managed 3.6Gbps.” In contrast:  4G at present runs between 5 and 12 Mbps (Megabits per second).  So 5G may be up to a thousand times faster. 
      What will this speed mean?   First – downloading / streaming will be really fast and easy, boosting this content immensely.  Second,  latency.  Latency is the ‘lag’ between, say, requesting a search and getting the answer.  It is now very short,  several hundred milliseconds.  But this is significant, especially when 5G is being used to transmit traffic information to self-driven vehicles.     5G will reduce latency lag to a few milliseconds.  And that difference is huge!
     The transition to autonomous vehicles will take years. Meanwhile, 5G can help cities significantly improve traffic management and traffic flow for self-driven vehicles.  Once 5G is in place,  machine learning and deep learning can use data from individual vehicles to alert drivers, first responders, redesign accident-prone road stretches, and in general make city driving safer and smoother.  However, the lethal mixture of autonomous and self-driven cars during the transition to autonomy will need careful management.   
     You will need a new smartphone that enables you to use 5G.  But don’t buy one just yet.   5G will be implemented during 2019 by AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and others.  But you won’t benefit from the full lightning 5G speed until the American mobile carries upgrade all their key central switching equipment,  perhaps late in 2019 or early 2020. 
       According to Don Clark, who writes the Personal Tech column in the New York Times,* most Americans have never heard of 5G and are unaware of what it does.  This is absolutely fine.  The best technology is the kind that, like sci fi writer Arthur Clark once said, seems like invisible magic.
      Note that China is a major player in 5G.  The Economist worries that carriers who buy 5G network technology from China’s Huawei  may leave the network vulnerable to prying eyes (spying).   This is just another instance of the growing technology war between the US and China. 
• “What 5G will mean when it arrives this year’.  NYT  Wed. Jan 2, 2019.

Estonia:  Government Services Online On-Demand!
By   Shlomo Maital
  
    Hey, has anybody noticed little Estonia lately?  Time the world took notice.
As the whole world talks about the ‘digital revolution’ and ‘online government services’, Estonia has raced ahead and actually done it, quietly.
 Now they are offering to share what they did with the world.  “We have built a digital society”, Estonia says,  “and so can you.”
   What exactly have they done?
   Well – 21 years ago, it began with e-governance;  then paying taxes online in 
2000;  digital ID’s in 2001; voting online in 2005; public safety in 2007; blockchain in 2007; e-health in 2008; and e-Residency in 2014. 

     Basically – all the services you need from the Estonian government, you can get online.  You can pay your annual taxes, or file your annual return, online, in 20 minutes.  Now you can establish residency.
     I visited Estonia some years ago, on a benchmarking trip with Israeli managers.  I found the visit startling.  It all began with the Soviet Union.  Estonia once belonged to it.  The Russians feared computer science, and so banished computer science to the fringes, to Estonia.   Estonia now leverages that huge advantage.   Some 15 years ago,  a group of Estonians helped create Skype, along with a Swede. 
     Estonia offers to freely share what it knows and what it has done with the world.  I wish my country Israel, called Startup Nation, would visit Estonia and learn seriously what they’ve done.   Instead, my Prime Minister visits Brazil, praises the far right new President Bolsinaro, and plays soccer on the Copacabana 
 Beach. 

    Alas.

Blog entries written by Prof. Shlomo Maital

Shlomo Maital
January 2019
M T W T F S S
« Dec   Feb »
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031  

Pages

Archives