High-Tech Regulations

Blink:

A provocative quote from Kara Swisher (technology thought leader, editor Recode): “We are giant digital cities that were built without adequate police, fire, medical or safety personnel, decent street signs or any kind of rules that would make them work smoothly.”

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The above quote resonated for me last week when I read that fifty state attorneys launched an investigation to determine whether Google is violating antitrust regulations. Interesting move, but candidly too little, too late. From my perspective, the tech giants have gone unregulated for too long. Case in point: The Cambridge Analytica, Facebook data scandal in March of 2018. Eventually, the FTC levied a $5 billion fine, a drop-in-the-bucket given Facebook reported $15.08 billion in 1st quarter 2019 sales. Most advocacy groups believe the FTC fine will not force Facebook to rethink their responsibility to protect user data in the future. Despite all the news, misinformation and controversies since the scandal, a study from Pew Research Center indicated that 26% of Americans deleted their Facebook app. Mixpanel, a research firm and The Guardian have tracked a significant decline (20%) in Facebook usage since the scandal was revealed.

I am one of the Americans who canceled my Facebook account. I was deeply concerned Cambridge Analytica was the tip of the iceberg and there were numerous situations Facebook was compromising their user’s data. In addition, I was alarmed that Facebook’s understaffed policy enforcement team was unable to police and establish advertising and publishing standards/policies. Recent case in point: Last month a BBC investigation revealed how Facebook was being used by traffickers to buy and sell antiquities illegally excavated/looted from tombs in Syria and Iraq.

To safeguard the beneficial growth of the web, time to reel in and regulate high-tech!

 

The Human Diet and It’s Influence on Climate Change

Blink:

Back in May I investigated applying biomimicry for a climate change solution. Last week I read the UN released a special report describing how plant-based diets represent a major opportunity for moderating and adjusting to climate change. The current market value of plant-based foods indicate people are slowly adapting.

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The shift away from animal-based foods is good for the Earth’s health as it relates to reducing greenhouse emissions, as well as facilitating the opening to efficiently use water and energy. More importantly, observing a plant-based diet has numerous human health benefits, including reducing the risk of chronic diseases (e.g., heart, certain cancers, diabetes, etc.), plus obesity. Consequently, plant-based foods are achieving mainstream acceptance with more consumers (a.k.a. flexitarians) trying to eat less meat. By the numbers, U.S. retail sales have grown 11 percent in the past year, bringing the total plant-based market value to $4.5 billion (source: GFI & PBFA).

The UN Youth Climate Summit will take place September 21st in New York. It will provide a platform for leaders driving climate action to discuss their solutions, including changes to the human diet. Note: The United Nation’s projects by 2050 the world population will astounding be approximately 9.7 billion. Because I am a food futurist, I hope the young leaders will open dialogue about other potential food resources that could be beneficial to the Earth’s health. Specifically, encouraging consumers to eat more sea vegetables, a topic I will be addressing in detail later this month.

 

 

 

Raiders of the Fridge

Blink:

Delivery sales are fueling restaurant industry growth. One consulting firm projects growth at more than three times the rate of on-premises revenue through 2023. Candidly, I am uneasy about the competitive impact online grocery shopping will have on overall restaurant sales as Amazon and Walmart step up their services levels.

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Beginning this fall, Walmart will be rolling out their “InHome” delivery option. Walmart’s delivery people, utilizing smart technology, will be enabled to pick an online grocery order and deliver the food items directly into their customer’s refrigerators as the homeowner is watching. Sounds like fridge delivery will make it extremely convenient/seductive for consumers to pass on ordering out food or dining away-from-home.

Food for thought: Thanks to smart technology, Porch Pirates will have the opportunity to evolve into Raiders of the Fridge.

Virtual Authenticity?

Blink:

I have been scrutinizing the evolution of influence marketing since the end of 2017. Linqia, a company that specializes in digital marketing reports that 92% of marketers who utilize influence marketing find it to be effective. The latest development? CGI influencers.

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Since its conception, I have been struggling regarding the exact profile of a clear-cut influencer, specifically whether it is better to use a macro or micro influencer. Macro influencers are categorized as celebrities with massive, millions of followers, while micro influencers are everyday consumers who have significant social media followings (1,000 to 100,000) they engage deeply with on a regular basis. This much I do know, it depends on the industry and size of business. In fashion, it is good to have a macro influencer like Meghan Markle, Global Fashion Influencer. If you are a mom-and-pop restaurant in a small city like Raleigh, North Carolina, it would behoove you to find a micro influencer who broadcasts on Instagram.

Thanks to CGI influencers, the latest icons of digital stars, the world of influence marketing is experiencing major transformation. As their name implies, CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) influencers are created by computers, thus not human. Example: Meet Miquela Sousa, Instagram handle @lilmiquela, L.A. model of Brazilian decent, an Instagram “fashionista” with 1.5 million followers.  She posts daily about designer outfits partnering with brands like Prada and Diesel, as well as social and political issues (e.g., Black Lives Matter, DACA, etc.). Followers like her candor, authentic content, in comparison to most real fashion influencers they perceive as scam artists.

Consumers are constantly trying to cut through the social media clutter to identify trustworthy sources of product/brand information. Consequently, influence marketing was conceived and is still relatively a new concept. Currently the rise of CGI influencers is beginning to blur the line between reality and the virtual world. They are selling a glorious lifestyle reflective of our current hip culture that evoke massive consumer followings, as a result, big brands are beginning to cash in on their potential.

My query: Will CGI influencers, the new breed of digital/virtual avatars, dilute brand authenticity?

Biomimicry

Blink:

Last month I indicated companies no longer innovate, they implement disruptive innovation. Has the use of the term disruptive innovation become over employed? Presently, the best innovation I am witnessing has been conceived by individuals applying biomimicry.

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“Biomimicry is an approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies.” – Biomimicry Institute

Bottomline: Mother Nature is the consummate engineer/designer. Animals, plants and microbes have continually adapted to new ways of living throughout earth’s changing history. Consequently, leaders in the field of innovation benchmark Mother Nature to develop new products, processes and policies. Recently, engineers at the University of California Irvine derived inspiration from the skin of stealthy sea creatures – various species of squids, octopuses and cuttlefish. Their skin cells (chromatophores) respond instantly to the different temperatures of aquatic environments. When it is cold the cells close up to retain heat; when it is warm the cells open up to release heat. Currently, the only application has been applied to space blankets utilized by marathon runners, but UC Irvine predicts the bio-inspired material will be applicable to various sports apparel. Coincidentally, Under Armour is in a long-term partnership (10 years) with another major California university, UC Berkeley.

 

“I think the biggest innovations of the 21st century will be at the intersection of biology and technology. A new era is beginning” – Steve Jobs

 

 

Playground 2.0

Blink:

When was the last time you visited a playground and watched children cavort: discover the playground’s equipment, engage with their peers and utilize their imaginations to create games? Real-world fun! Heads-up: Thanks to technology, get ready for Playground 2.0.

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Recognizing parents are concerned children are spending too much time fixed on their digital screens and not enough time outdoors being active, Biba, a Vancouver company, has created digital gameplay for playgrounds. Parents can download on their smartphones Biba’s suite of augmented reality, imagination-driven, mobile playground games to play with their children (ages three to nine). All they have to do is swipe Biba’s app on playground tags that do not require electricity or Wi-Fi, located in more than 3,600 playgrounds globally. Biba’s futurist concept placed number 9 on Fast Company Magazine’s Most Innovative Companies category.

My apologies, unless I am missing something, it still sounds like parents are going to have a difficult time controlling their children’s digital habits.

Franklin D. Roosevelt once advocated: “We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.” 

Hào jiŭ (Fine Wine)

Blink:

“There is nothing permanent except change.” – Heraclitus (Greek Philosopher)

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I am a big fan of Create TV, public television’s lifestyle programs. I especially enjoy their travel shows. Recently I viewed several features on France’s most fabled wine region, Bordeaux. Besides its physical beauty (terroir and chateaus) and yields of fine wine, I am fascinated by the history/tradition of its famous vineyards. Generation, after generation of winemakers. Unfortunately, that is all about to change thanks to a recent influx of Chinese capital.

For the record, Bordeaux has endured foreign invasions over the years; beginning with the English (12th and 13th centuries), then the Dutch (17th century) and the Germans during World War II. Now, because of high French inheritance taxes, owners are opting for retirement, thus taking advantage of Chinese liquidity. Currently the Chinese own approximately 3 percent of roughly 6,000 estates, shipping an estimated 80 percent of the wine they produce back to China. How are the French reacting? The money is good, but they are in uproar with the new owners changing the names of the famous vineyards. To make a stronger link to Chinese consumers they are utilizing names of animals – “Golden Rabbits,” “Tibetan Antelopes,” “Grand Antelopes,” etc.

The Bordeaux wine region is morphing. Heraclitus was a smart philosopher, but so was my grandmother who once told me: “Jimmy, nothing is forever.”