By Matt Ralph, Landbay
It seems every week we’re learning about new technologies or advances in existing technology that shaping the way we live. Take drones. Cast your mind back only a few years when the concept of Amazon’s drone parcel delivery service seemed like tech gone mad. Today we’re seeing drones at affordable prices propelling novel uses from scientific data collection to the birth of new competitive sports which see teenagers walking away with $250k prizes (yes, there is a Grand Prix of Drone Racing).
Similarly, technological disruption is already reshaping our economy and the consumption patterns of generations to come. Today’s innovations are radically altering industries such as transportation, travel and hospitality. Recently, fintech developments like peer-to-peer (P2P) lending are shaking up traditional finance sectors and it’s only a matter of time before technology driven disruption spreads to markets like housing, where demand already outstrips supply.
It’s no coincidence that technology is shaking up the finance industry. In the wake of the global financial crash of ‘07/’08 consumers began to dawn to the control unwittingly lost to the large corporations in whom they had placed significant trust for their homes, their income and their finances. As a result of this consumer awakening, digital disrupters like Airbnb and Uber launched tech based business models that hand control back to their customers, with sharing and transparency at the core of their services; values that peer-to-peer lenders in the finance sector, such as Landbay, also share. P2P finance models harness technology to bring investors and borrowers closer together, removing layers of cost and in doing so also remove the opacity that can cover up poor lending practices.
It’s no surprise that consumers are adopting sharing economy practices with such ease, as it fits comfortably within our increasingly fragile financial states. Today, we’re faced with increasing costs of living, slow national salary growth (1) and soaring house prices that will keep many off the property ladder for years to come. A 2015 Bank of England survey revealed that just under half of all families who don’t already own their own home believe they will never get on the housing ladder (2). This represents around 4.5m households and compares with only 32% who said they were confident of buying.
Ultimately we’re left with a generation aptly dubbed ‘generation bail-out’ who are destined to depend on their parents far longer than their predecessors; millennials with an asset-light stance on consumption who value experiences over possessions, obsessed with sharing them through social media for the world to see and critique. Generation bail-out is embracing a sharing economy with open arms and at a startling rate, something that can’t be ignored and neither can they.
So whether it’s opting for an Uber with strangers over buying a car, seeking communal housing rather than buying a homes or even checking into someone else’s home through Airbnb rather than a hotel, disruptive technology has us engaging in behaviours that would have seemed unthinkable as recently as five years ago. We have entered an era of Internet-enabled intimacy and it’s an era that is proving increasingly difficult to predict the future of. “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next 10,” a 1996 quote from Bill Gates , when Apple was still 5 years away from releasing their first iPod.
Based on the current evolution of technology enabled sharing across multiple industries, we’ve compiled our predictions for the next 10 years.
- We’ll see further banking competition from the fintech scene with new apps and online services, along with new competition from beyond financial services sector, with the likes of Amazon moving into the banking space.
- Banks will remain dominant as ‘financial advisors’, building on their historical legacy of being a trustworthy place for finances. However, they will begin to incorporate the innovations from the fintech quarter to improve their functions, either from internal development or acquisition.
- On-demand retail with companies offering new and improved access through delivery of goods i.e. Deliveroo and UberEats, also tapping into 3D printing for instant gratification of certain goods.
- The race to put driverless cars on the road will intensify, seeing Tesla, Google, Apple and Uber, along with many of the traditional car makers, publicly testing and launching the technology. However, the race for global scale launches will be limited by legislation not technology. Driverless technology will also begin to dominate public transport, seeing trains and the London underground shift away from human drivers.
- Networked car technologies will allow cars to communicate and inform amongst each other and road signs, which then will update information on upcoming traffic issues for safer and shorter journey.
- Not since the Concorde launched in 1976 (and retired in 2003) have we seen supersonic air travel be available commercially. We’ll finally see supersonic planes return to the skies, drastically reducing transcontinental travel time, with London to New York reduced to 3 hours, and at a more affordable cost to consumers.
- Virtual reality and immersive 3D experiences will be used to bring accommodation and other holiday services to life to help people make the best choices for the taste and budgets
- Cloud based work environments will shift the emphasis from email communication to real time real-time project collaboration. Time will be spent more productively on the actual project than on lengthy written planning communication.
- The home will become a much more important place for well-being, supported by interconnected technology like smart mirrors that integrate with selected apps and other home appliances to track your daily habits, offering lifestyle recommendations each morning.
- By scanning the barcodes and weights of the items placed within them, fully integrated fridge freezers will be able to notify you when they’re running low on the necessities and will sync with your online shopping basket to replenish them at your command.
‘Spooky’ AI tool brings dead relatives’ photos to life
By Umberto Bacchi
(Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Like the animated paintings that adorn the walls of Harry Potter’s school, a new online tool promises to bring portraits of dead relatives to life, stirring debate about the use of technology to impersonate people.
Genealogy company MyHeritage launched its “Deep Nostalgia” feature earlier this week, allowing users to turn stills into short videos showing the person in the photograph smiling, winking and nodding.
“Seeing our beloved ancestors’ faces come to life … lets us imagine how they might have been in reality, and provides a profound new way of connecting to our family history,” MyHeritage founder Gilad Japhet said in a statement.
Developed with Israeli computer vision firm D-ID, Deep Nostalgia uses deep learning algorithms to animate images with facial expressions that were based on those of MyHeritage employees.
Some of the company’s users took to Twitter on Friday to share the animated images of their deceased relatives, as well as moving depictions of historical figures, including Albert Einstein and Ancient Egypt’s lost Queen Nefertiti.
“Takes my breath away. This is my grandfather who died when I was eight. @MyHeritage brought him back to life. Absolutely crazy,” wrote Twitter user Jenny Hawran.
While most expressed amazement, others described the feature as “spooky” and said it raised ethical questions. “The photos are enough. The dead have no say in this,” tweeted user Erica Cervini.
From chatbots to virtual reality, the tool is the latest innovation seeking to bring the dead to life through technology.
Last year U.S. rapper Kanye West famously gifted his wife Kim Kardashian a hologram of her late father congratulating her on her birthday and on marrying “the most, most, most, most, most genius man in the whole world”.
‘ANIMATING THE PAST’
The trend has opened up all sorts of ethical and legal questions, particularly around consent and the opportunity to blur reality by recreating a virtual doppelganger of the living.
Elaine Kasket a psychology professor at the University of Wolverhampton in Britain who authored a book on the “digital afterlife”, said that while Deep Nostalgia was not necessarily “problematic”, it sat “at the top of a slippery slope”.
“When people start overwriting history or sort of animating the past … You wonder where that ends up,” she said.
MyHeritage acknowledges on its website that the technology can be “a bit uncanny” and its use “controversial”, but said steps have been taken to prevent abuses.
“The Deep Nostalgia feature includes hard-coded animations that are intentionally without any speech and therefore cannot be used to fake any content or deliver any message,” MyHeritage public relations director Rafi Mendelsohn said in a statement.
Yet, images alone can convey meaning, said Faheem Hussain, a clinical assistant professor at Arizona State University’s School for the Future of Innovation in Society.
“Imagine somebody took a picture of the Last Supper and Judas is now winking at Mary Magdalene – what kind of implications that can have,” Hussain told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.
Similarly, Artificial Intelligence (AI) animations could be use to make someone appear as though they were doing things they might not be happy about, such as rolling their eyes or smiling at a funeral, he added.
Mendelsohn of MyHeritage said using photos of a living person without their consent was a breach of the company’s terms and conditions, adding that videos were clearly marked with AI symbols to differentiate them from authentic recordings.
“It is our ethical responsibility to mark such synthetic videos clearly and differentiate them from real videos,” he said.
(Reporting by Umberto Bacchi @UmbertoBacchi in Milan; Editing by Helen Popper. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)
Does your institution have operational resilience? Testing cyber resilience may be a good way to find out
By Callum Roxan, Head of Threat Intelligence, F-Secure
If ever 2020 had a lesson, it was that no organization can possibly prepare for every conceivable outcome. Yet building one particular skill will make any crisis easier to handle: operational resilience.
Many financial institutions have already devoted resources to building operational resilience. Unfortunately, this often takes what Miles Celic, Chief Executive Officer of TheCityUK, calls a “near death” experience for this conversion to occur. “Recent years have seen a number of cases of loss of reputation, reduced enterprise value and senior executive casualties from operational incidents that have been badly handled,” he wrote.
But it need not take a disaster to learn this vital lesson.
“Operational resilience means not only planning around specific, identified risks,” Charlotte Gerken, the executive director of the Bank of England, said in a 2017 speech on operational resilience. “We want firms to plan on the assumption that any part of their infrastructure could be impacted, whatever the reason.” Gerken noted that firms that had successfully achieved a level of resilience that survives a crisis had established the necessary mechanisms to bring the business together to respond where and when risks materialised, no matter why or how.
We’ll talk about the bit we know best here; by testing for cyber resilience, a company can do more than prepare for the worst sort of attacks it may face. This process can help any business get a clearer view of how it operates, and how well it is prepared for all kinds of surprises.
Assumptions and the mechanisms they should produce are the best way to prepare for the unknown. But, as the boxer Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” The aim of cyber resilience is to build an effective security posture that survives that first punch, and the several that are likely to follow. So how can an institution be confident that they’ve achieved genuine operational resilience?
This requires an organization to honestly assess itself through the motto inscribed at the front of the Temple of Delphi: “Know thyself.” And when it comes to cyber security, there is a way for an organization to test just how thoroughly it comprehends its own strengths and weaknesses.
The Bank of England was the first central bank to help develop the framework for institutions to test the integrity of their systems. CBEST is made up of controlled, bespoke, intelligence-led cyber security tests that replicate behaviours of those threat actors, and often have unforeseen or secondary benefits. Gerken notes that the “firms that did best in the testing tended to be those that really understood their organisations. They understood their own needs, strengths and weaknesses, and reflected this in the way they built resilience.”
In short, testing cyber resilience can provide clear insight into an institution’s operational resilience in general.
Gaining that specific knowledge without a “near-death” experience is obviously a significant win for any establishment. And testing for operational resilience throughout the industry can provide some reminders of the steps every organization should take so that testing provides unique insists about their institution, and not just a checklist of cyber defence basics.
The IIF/McKinsey Cyber Resilience Survey of the financial services industry released in March lasy year provided six sets of immediate actions that institutions could take to improve their cyber security posture. The toplines of these recommendations were:
- Do the basics, patch your vulnerabilities.
- Review your cloud architecture and security capabilities.
- Reduce your supply chain risk.
- Practice your incident response and recovery capabilities.
- Set aside a specific cyber security budget and prioritise it
- Build a skilled talent pool and optimize resources through automation.
But let’s be honest: If simply reading a solid list of recommendations created cyber resilience, cyber criminals would be out of business. Unfortunately, cyber crime as a business is booming and threat actors targeting essential financial institutions through cyber attacks are likely earning billions in the trillion dollar industry of financial crime.A list can’t reveal an institution’s unique weaknesses, those security failings and chokepoints that could shudder operations, not just during a successful cyber attack but during various other crises that challenge their operations. And the failings that lead to flaws in an institution’s cyber defence likely reverberate throughout the organization as liabilities that other crises would likely expose.
The best way to get a sense of operational resilience will always be to simulate the worst that attackers can summon. That’s why the time to test yourself is now, before someone else does.
Thomson Reuters to stress AI, machine learning in a post-pandemic world
By Kenneth Li and Nick Zieminski
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Thomson Reuters Corp will streamline technology, close offices and rely more on machines to prepare for a post-pandemic world, the news and information group said on Tuesday, as it reported higher sales and operating profit.
The Toronto-headquartered company will spend $500 million to $600 million over two years to burnish its technology credentials, investing in AI and machine learning to get data faster to professional customers increasingly working from home during the coronavirus crisis.
It will transition from a content provider to a content-driven technology company, and from a holding company to an operational structure.
Thomson Reuters’ New York- and Toronto-listed shares each gained more than 8%.
It aims to cut annual operating expenses by $600 million through eliminating duplicate functions, modernizing and consolidating technology, as well as through attrition and shrinking its real estate footprint. Layoffs are not a focus of the cost cuts and there are no current plans to divest assets as part of this plan, the company said.
“We look at the changing behaviors as a result of COVID … on professionals working from home working remotely being much more reliant on 24-7, digital always-on, sort of real-time always available information, served through software and powered by AI and ML (machine learning),” Chief Executive Steve Hasker said in an interview.
Sales growth is forecast to accelerate in each of the next three years compared with 1.3% reported sales growth for 2020, the company said in its earnings release.
Thomson Reuters, which owns Reuters News, said revenues rose 2% to $1.62 billion, while its operating profit jumped more than 300% to $956 million, reflecting the sale of an investment and other items.
Its three main divisions, Legal Professionals, Tax & Accounting Professionals, and Corporates, all showed higher organic quarterly sales and adjusted profit. As part of the two-year change program, the corporate, legal and tax side will operate more as one customer-facing entity.
Adjusted earnings per share of 54 cents were ahead of the 46 cents expected, based on data from Refinitiv.
The company raised its annual dividend by 10 cents to $1.62 per share.
The Reuters News business showed lower revenue in the fourth quarter. In January, Stephen J. Adler, Reuters’ editor-in-chief for the past decade, said he would retire in April from the world’s largest international news provider.
Thomson Reuters also said its stake in The London Stock Exchange is now worth about $11.2 billion.
The LSE last month completed its $27-billion takeover of data and analytics business Refinitiv, 45%-owned by Thomson Reuters.
(Reporting by Ken Li, writing by Nick Zieminski in New York, editing by Louise Heavens and Jane Merriman)
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