Earlier in the week I was watching a program on NHK TV about the utilization of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to plan the disaster preparedness associated with urban flooding. Reminded me of an old post I wrote back in 2018, Save the Planet. More importantly, it made me think about the potential of AI assisting global disaster preparedness in our new world of coronavirus pandemics.
AI (Artificial Intelligence) is rapidly becoming mainstream. The World Economic Forum at their recent annual meeting in Davos detailed innovative technological opportunities that would solve our planet’s threating environmental challenges. What will save the planet, AI or community?
Answer: Both, interconnected.
Detailed below is a short list of identifiable areas AI will impact according to the World Economic Forum’s report Harnessing Artificial Intelligence for the Earth:
– Management of future utilities, water and energy (e.g., renewables).
– Monitoring systems that will identify the illegal depletion of valuable resources (e.g., oceans, forests).
– Improved modeling/forecasting of weather and climate change that will eventually lead to better decision-making pre/post natural disasters.
It is clear, AI is poised to support a more energy efficient world, improve ecological conservation and confront climate change in real time. However, after all the data is crunched, I firmly believe the human factor, as in community will also be essential to save our planet. Back in 2017 I stated in two posts, Community and A Community Tale – “To build a better world, start in your community.”
Start participating in saving our vulnerable planet!
“We may not be able to prepare the future for our children, but we can at least prepare our children for the future.” – FDR
Interesting Zoom meeting last week. Reconnected with a group of guys I grew up with over 50 years ago in the Bronx. Outside of two individuals, I lost contact with all of them when I moved out of NYC in 1985. Diverse journeys: one became an Executive Producer on “Everybody Loves Raymond,” two dabbled in the film industry, several are self-employed, one went on to become a professional gambler. To my knowledge most are or were married with kids. I have no clue whether any have grandchildren.
Fun Zoom call! Guy talk out of the gate – the good old days, sports, etc. Then we discussed the COVID-19 pandemic. Most indicated they were optimistic about economic recovery in the U.S.; silent when I mentioned the dire straits of the global economy. A lot of Trump bashing. Minimal concern they might experience a banana republic election and the potential of history repeating itself (Bush vs. Gore). All of them too dependent on improved coronavirus testing and a vaccine so they can get on with the New Normal – travel, eating in restaurants, attending sporting events, etc. New Normal? I suggested we have entered a new era and it will take at least a decade to sort things out. More silence.
One thing that struck me about the virtual reunion, nobody talked about their children or grandchildren’s future. I never married, no children, yet extremely concerned about the future for children. My thoughts:
- What impact will all the trauma associated with the pandemic have on little people? Living with stressed out parents. Surrounded by media overkill, death, “social distancing,” disrupted schooling. We could use the resurrection of Mr. Rogers right now.
- What impact will remote learning have on the educational development for all age groups? More and more articles are surfacing addressing the pluses and minuses of the different telecommunication tools. Personally, I believe it will take several years of online teaching, before educators figure out the best way for a generation to develop.
- I remember all the things I experienced which contributed to my overall social development. Will children now experience a different form of social connectivity due to “social distancing” as we enter an era with the potential for more coronavirus pandemics? Will there be sleepovers, playdates, celebrations (e.g., birthdays, graduation parties, etc.), organized sports, after school activities, school trips, summer camp? What impact will virtual substitutions for these activities have on children?
In closing, I will continue to be a pragmatic optimist who is uncertain about the future. I have posted my views about community being one silver lining resulting from the pandemic crisis. There will be others. However, while we are busy innovating transformation, we need to take time out to focus on preparing our children for the future.
U.S. video game sales thanks to COVID-19 pandemic social distancing reached new heights in the second quarter, April through June. A record $11.6 billion, a 30% increase vs. YAG (NPD Group). No surprise! What I find interesting is housebound executives are utilizing popular games to meet and bond (a.k.a. networking).
Tired of being cooped up in your home office? Suffering from Zoom fatigue? Go rob a bank with a potential client in Grand Theft Auto.
In person lunches, dinners and 18 holes of golf have been on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to an article I read in the International NY Times Tech section, numerous executives disclosed virtual gaming outings represent a chance to form memories with new connections. Imagine, instead of bragging about shooting 90 followed by cocktails in the club house, you can boast about the number of cars you carjacked and pedestrians you ran over eluding police. Virtual gaming meetings are also great for people not located within geographic proximity.
Are you ready to bond? Want to explore the galaxy with Super Mario or do you still prefer LinkedIn?
Monday I was online reading/analyzing the latest worldwide COVID-19 pandemic news and statistics. I caught myself “doom scrolling.” I switched reels to research futuristic environmental projects I follow. Positive content! Specifically, seaweed, my favorite antidote against “doom scrolling.”
I first discovered seaweed as a potential food resource back at a conference I attended in 2017. I began to further research its product benefits, as well as connect with people in the category offline when I briefly resided in Maine; online via Twitter. In September 2019 I published an article on LinkedIn Sea Vegetables: The Untold Story. Needless to say, I am still bullish about sea vegetables, thus have continued my research. Detailed below are two new product applications I discovered upon scrolling Monday:
- Sustainable Packaging – Notpla, a London-based startup has developed innovative packaging materials they believe will compete directly with plastics in the future. One notable success story is Notpla’s strategic partnership with Just Eat to launch a seaweed-lined box for takeout food in lieu of plastic boxes. Another company, Evo & Co. located in Indonesia, has introduced Evoware, a line of disposable/edible cups and sachets made from seaweed. High in fiber too!
- Biofuel – MacroFuels is developing a third-generation biofuel made from seaweed sugars to power cars. The economies of scaling up production will be key to their success. Given 70% of our planet is covered by sea and seaweed only requires water, sunlight and a nutrient presence, their management is confident they will help meet the planet’s 2050 sustainability goals.
Do you have an antidote against “doom scrolling?”
I fervently advocate: “To build a better world, start in your community.” Recently I became aware of a futurist community currently being built in the Netherlands, opening its doors to its first residents in 2021 – a smart community!
The Brainport Smart District Foundation is leading an initiative to develop in the city of Helmond, southeast of Amsterdam, a contained, self-sufficient/self-organized district on 380 acres to support the needs of 4,500 residents. Via public-private financing, the developers envision a community which will deliver an enhanced quality of life – health, energy, safety, emission free mobility, etc. Architects plan to design different types of residences on a grid mixed with businesses, green leisure spaces and agricultural landscape. The utilization of data sharing and smart technology (e.g., sensors) will be vital to the community’s success.
This innovative Dutch experiment may well be an early model for a smart community prototype. Stay tuned and remember: “To build a better world, start in your community.”
Every day I read business analysts/academics forecasts for the “New Normal” in their respective industry of expertise. Insightful! However, I anticipate most experts fail to acknowledge how interconnectivity will impact the future of our planet. They need to step outside their industry box and further analyze the “Interconnectivity Impact.”
A great quote regarding our planet’s interconnectivity:
“So, a virus-laden bat bites another mammal in China, that mammal is sold in a Wuhan wildlife market, it infects a Chinese diner with a new coronavirus and in a few weeks all my public schools are closed and I’m edging six feet away from everyone in Bethesda.” – Thomas Friedman (American political commentator/author)
My industry of expertise? The US food-away-from-home channel. When will business bounce back? Great question. I know some restaurant industry optimists believe 2022. When I engage with my peers to better understand the foundation of their predictions, I realize a majority are not factoring in the interconnectivity impact for other areas of economic recovery that will require more time. To name a few:
- Business Travel – COVID-19 Domino Collapse – Miles & Points.
- Hospitality – Delivering safety will be a priority as the hospitality industry reinvents itself. Thanks to social distancing protocol, absolute occupancy numbers will be down. Less guests/travelers equates to reduced foodservice restaurant dollars offsite. On site, the revenue foodservice generated by selling the hospitality industry food & beverage for free breakfast buffets, coffee in the lobby, happy hour, etc. will evaporate.
- Big Cities – As more people continue to work from home and productivity remains sustainable, there might be a shift away from densely populated metropolitan areas (e.g., New York, San Francisco, etc.) to smaller cities. In concurrence, the skilled labor pool might be reconfigured. Consequently, the foodservice ecosystem will be impacted.
- Multigenerational Households – The Pew Research Center reported that in 2018, 64 million Americans were living in multigenerational households, the highest number on record. That number most probably will increase as Millennials and Gen Zers struggling with gainful employment, day care, cost of living, etc. move back in with their parents. Add to the mix seniors not wanting to opt for senior living given a large percentage died from COVID-19 in senior residences. Numerous pandemic research studies indicate consumers plan to partake in more home cooked meals. An increase in multigenerational households will equate to more cooks living under one roof diminishing the need and expense of eating out.
Back in a May post titled The World Ahead? I projected a new world where one size does not fit all. Everything in business, education, entertainment, etc. will be taken apart and put back together in fresh variations. Adapt to the new world. Nevertheless, acknowledge how interconnectivity will continue to impact the future of our planet.
Airline analysts are forecasting a slow revival for business travel. Business travelers comprise 10 percent of all passengers, but account for 55 to 75 percent of major airlines’ profits worldwide. Other travel business lost revenue – lodging, car rentals, food & beverage, etc. What about the impact on family vacations?
What is the correlation between business travel and family vacations? Accumulated frequent flier miles and lodging loyalty program points. Most business travelers revealed they have enjoyed being off the road and spending more time with their family. But, until business travel regains traction again, business people will not recoup the benefits they otherwise would have received for frequent travel during the pandemic. Under normal circumstances, most of these benefits are put against their family vacations. Consequently, another COVID-19 Domino Collapse will diminish family vacations – lodging, meals, rental cars, recreation revenue, etc.
One more COVID-19 Domino Collapse – Disneyland visits!
Kudos to Chipotle Mexican Grill. Known for being a technology innovator, they are leveraging their digital expertise to launch Chipotle Virtual Farmers’ Market. The eCommerce platform will create a new revenue stream for their supply chain partners by facilitating direct sales to consumers. Great move Chipotle. A Cut Above!
I have been closely monitoring consumer behavior throughout the COVID-19 health crisis via numerous sources. For starters, according to the International Food Information Council’s (IFIC), 85% Americans made changes to how they eat. Specifically, IFIC’s survey revealed consumers will no longer rely solely on restaurants for good food – 60% plan to partake in more home cooked meals. Another major shift was a spike in online sales primarily driven by two demographic groups: Millennials and higher-income consumers. They will continue to adapt to the convenience of digital technologies. eMarketer projects 7.4 million new digital buyers in 2020. Bottomline, this is a great time for Chipotle’s suppliers to sell consumers directly via an eCommerce platform.
One closing thought. The COVID-19 pandemic has made our planet look like a shaken snow globe. Everybody is re-evaluating everything searching for the silver linings. Back in late April I wrote about one silver lining, community, community, community – “To build a better world, start in your community.” Innovative community initiative by Chipotle. They will provide the technology resources and cover their suppliers hosting fees for two years. By doing so, they will help their supply chain partners generate new revenue paths, thus stay the course of sustainable farming practices to better navigate the uncharted road ahead through the new coronavirus world.
Chipotle, A Cut Above!
Over the weekend, I was reading an article about the numerous bankruptcies large and small companies are experiencing. Reminded me of an old post (7/2/18) referencing a quote by Donald Rumsfeld as we transform in the New World.
As I gear up for the second half of 2018, this morning I reflected on what has happened YTD – family, business, world turbulence (a.k.a. geopolitics), technology, etc. Candidly, I am trying to make sense of everything, thus reread a quote by Donald Rumsfeld to guide me on the road ahead.
“There are known knowns.
There are things we know that we know.
There are known, unknowns.
That is to say, there are things we know we don’t know.
But there are also unknown unknowns.
There are things we don’t know we don’t know.”
Conclusion: The second half of 2018 will be an unresolved mystery.
So will the unknown challenges of the “New World” where one size does not fit all.
I usually toss the luxury watch supplement I sometimes receive when I purchase the New York Times International. I use my smartphone to keep time. Makes we wonder, who buys and more importantly, why buy a luxury watch. Status? A recent article piqued my interest – Small Brands at Risk.
The COVID-19 pandemic crisis has shaken the fault lines, thus the economic future of almost all commercial sectors. Add the Swiss watch industry to the list. By the numbers: After a decade of growth, analysts are projecting a 25 percent decline in 2020 exports. From January to April, exports were down 26.3 percent by value versus the same period in 2019. The top two markets, Hong Kong and the United States collapsed 83.2 and 86.4 percent respectively. China accounted for one-third of Swiss exports in April for a 16.1 percent decline versus YAG. Detailed below are the key reasons for the COVID-19 domino collapse of Swiss luxury watches:
- Retail store closures.
- Lost sales to top-end brands like Rolex, Patek Phillipe, etc. These brands benefit from solid financing and distribution where they eliminated wholesalers (vertical integration). Top-end brands also have been growing their sales via e-commerce.
- Strong competition from smartwatches.
- The top-brands have resumed their manufacturing returning to normal leaving the smaller brands desperately trying to catch-up to replenish their supply pipeline by summer’s end.
- Reduced travel! Two examples: A.) Analysts project the Chinese will travel less. Consequently, there will be a shift from their spending excessively during foreign travel, to spending their money on domestic purchases with weighty import duties; and B.) The shortfall in Europe’s tourism will result in reduced sales. Note: Think about the COVID-19 domino collapse across the board as a result of reduced global travel.
- Cancellation and the uncertain future of the Baselworld fair, the oldest (103-year-old) and largest global watch show.
How much time will the Swiss watch industry need to rebound?