Victoria MacLennan. 24 August 2022, 10:13 pm
Technology has the potential to solve complex, wide reaching challenges we (locally and globally) face today and in the future. There are thousands of articles out there telling us that blockchain and AI are awesome and will revolutionise the world, what I am interested in is how. Here are a couple of examples.
Central Bank Digital Currency
Digital currencies aren’t new as we know, some nations have started investing in developing Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) vs the privately commissioned digital currencies of today, potentially as a replacement for cash or to compliment it in the near future.
In simple terms “When underpinned with blockchain technology, a CBDC has the potential to revolutionize the financial system and pave the way to increasing financial inclusion and improving the lives of billions of people globally, by providing access to cheap and affordable financial services.”
Our own Reserve Bank commenced consultation on the future of money earlier in 2022. With my DECA (Digital Equity Coalition Aotearoa) hat on, I have been impressed with their approach to community engagement, understanding the complex challenges facing communities who are on the other side of the digital divide and considering the role of hard cash in terms of budgeting and financial controls for many groups. From their consultation page:
“We believe that a CBDC can be designed in such a way that privacy can exist alongside design features that make it hard for central bank money to be used for nefarious or illegal purposes. The emphasis we place on privacy reflects the fact that the CBDC design will be driven by broad community, rather than specific commercial, interests.”
Global Food Supply
According to the UN “Current estimates show that nearly 690 million people are hungry, or 8.9 percent of the world population“ leading to Goal 2: Zero Hunger in the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Solving the worlds hunger and food security challenges is critical “The moment the value chain becomes more equitable, fair, and distributes fair work, and fair pay for the ecosystem role that management farmers play, you will see a big change,”
Built on blockchain, programmes like the IBM Food Trust are designed to resolve supply chain efficiency, brand trust, food safety, sustainability, food freshness, food fraud and food waste.
AI will also hold a role in tackling this challenge, “By 2027, major food, beverage, and consumer packaged goods manufacturers will use AI-driven supply chain technology to see future disruption and act before weather, labour issues, and other incidents can harm the global food supply.”
This article from University of Birmingham also introduces nanotechnology as part of the solution in four key ways:
- Improving production rates and crop yields;
- Boosting soil health and plant resilience;
- Improving the efficiency of resources, such as fertiliser, and reducing pollution; and
- Developing smart sensor plants that can alert farmers to environmental stresses.
I read recently that between 2020 and 2050, the number of people without any formal education will decline from 10% to 5% of the global population – that is interesting and worthy exploring in another blog post.
We’ve all seen predictions that AR and VR will become the norm in the classroom and how the use of cloud computing and access to software will starkly change access to a broader range of learning materials for low to no cost.
What about beyond the classroom, what will technology really bring for education in the future? There are plenty of debates out there on whether AI can replace teachers, lets assume no and embrace the ways AI will augment teachers. First up there are the basic chores such as marking, student progression tracking and personalising syllabus.
Where use of AI could get interesting is – “The observation, tracking, and feedback shared with the help of AI during class would help improve concentration and lead to more productive student performance. Assessment tools backed by AI can better monitor a student’s learning objectives.”
That same article goes on to talk about using AI to analyse voice and behaviour patterns for signs of anxiety and stress in a classroom context. Where the use of technology can go in the context of education is kinda frightening if you think about it enough.
What else can we expect from Technology in the future?
I love reading articles like this one from the BBC’s Science Focus. It tells us about possibilities like:
- Sand Batteries – combined with wind and solar energy to store energy for long periods of time
- Underwater Gloves – using micro sensors to emulate octopus suckers that can tighten and loosen grip underwater
- Brain Reading Robots – for tetraplegic patients a brain interface can instruct a robot arm
- 3D Printed Bones
- Clothes that can Hear – fabric that can hear a heartbeat, claps and faint sounds today, imagine what next
- Sweat powered Smart Watch – now that’s something I can use!
We genuinely work in a great industry, full of amazing possibilities. Pō mārie (good night), Vic