Artificial intelligence boom

It’s been almost a year since my last post. Typical.

During the past year I have become very excited about artificial intelligence. I have both read a ton of articles about it and had the opportunity to meet and interview the best minds in Finland on the topic. It has been a ride.

It took me a while to understand the magnitude of the change AI is going to make in all of our lives. I had heard the big predictions before, but when someone is telling all jobs will be forfeit, you very soon lose interest if there is nothing concrete behind these accusations. It takes time and effort to understand what is going on.

The key to understanding AI and its implications  is in fact time. If we look far enough to the past, we can see the big changes in human history. A hundred years ago 70% of the population was farming and nobody went to the gym. Now about 2 % of workforce gets their bread from agriculture (pun intended) and 70 % of people go to the gym (I have no evidence of the gym-going percentages, but it sounds cool and the point is more important  than exact figures). Yet the 68 % of people are not unemployed. The industrial revolution happened gradually and everyone found new occupations. In time.

We are approaching similar kind of disruptive age (now I’m preaching doom). This time the change will happen much faster, which will cause more trouble to people, but eventually everything will get better. Following the industrial revolution, there is one important thing to understand, however. The machines are not stealing our jobs. They are merely helping us with routine jobs that machines are better at. We, the people, will have to learn new skills to work with the AI-operated systems and at the same time find new things to do. Starting a gym for example.

So, instead of being afraid of super-intelligence, self-driving cars or robots, be curious and think of all the dull things in your own job. Those are the first ones to be thrown to the AI-lions and we need to help that happen sooner rather than later.

New solutions to logistics, please!

I recently bought a Moov Now activity tracking bracelet from their US-website. I will come back to that in later posts. Shipping costs were free and the device was promised to be delivered in 7-14 days from their UK-based warehouse. I received a tracking url and everything was great. Until the time for delivery came. I went home yesterday and found a slip of paper from Postnord indicating a failed delivery attempt. It advised to go to their website and suggest a new delivery time. Unfortunately the url in the slip did not work at all and after googling the company I found out that the web service did not function. I had to call to the customer service number in which a machine told me that queuing costs for me. In the end I waited for 20 minutes and agreed to pick up the packet myself the next morning. As I complained about the service on Facebook, quite a few of my friends shared similar experiences with courier companies.

The rant ends here, because this blog is about positive things and not for complaining.

I see here a great opportunity. Online buying increases very fast and in my opinion the last thing holding it back is the delivery. As the prices are cheaper in online stores than in regular ones for obvious reasons, I would be willing to pay a little for the delivery if it would be fast and trustworthy. In many online stores abroad the delivery is free, but the service one gets is random. If I would only have a mobile app that accurately would tell me when my valuable parcel comes within 50 kilometer radius of me and I could define the best suited delivery address, world would be perfect. Please, real hackers. Create the app, contact me and we’ll make millions with it together :).

Streaming businesses have been accepted

According to a recent post by Sarah Perez in Techcrunch, Nielsen’s data indicates that music streaming has been in rapid growth in 2015. Due to new players in the industry, improvement of connectivity and increased user acceptance, the on-demand streaming services grew from 164,5 billion songs in 2014 to 317 billion streams in 2016. This has resulted in digital music and album sales decrease on all fronts except vinyl, which has been increasing for ten years now. Retro sells. Another interesting fact from the article was also that new music is predominantly discovered from radio and its importance is increasing. In a way, we are going back in time with this too.

Music business has been the first content industry that faced the challenges free content distribution in the internet has made possible. They did all the possible mistakes in the early days, but have also been first to be able to create radical changes that have created the base for new business.

Looking at the big picture it is easy to declare that companies need to find ways to take advantage of disruptive technologies at the exact right moment. First movers are often in trouble, but if you are late, your business will not recover. Increasing popularity of streaming can be seen in other industries as well. movie and television business is a no-brainer, but the big trend of renting rather than buying is the same phenomena. The popularity of “streaming” a car, house or book is rising – and not only downloading, but uploading as well. Or how would you call Über, Airbnb or Campusbookrentals?

Big industry disruptions take ten years, give or take, to go through. Winners of these changes are active in trying to understand the changes as early as possible and first in experimenting with new ways of doing business. The time of long lasting competitive advantage is gone and all companies must build ways to adjust their business with the changes in the industry.