The Future of… (January 2012)

Here’s a small sample of the stories and developments we are paying attention to these days. Given the recent holiday season, it’s entirely possible that you missed some of these important ideas and events that offer clues about how the future of work is unfolding.

Click on any headline to go to the original source.

The IBM 5 in 5: Our Forecast of Five Innovations That Will Change the Tech landscape Within Five Years (SmarterPlanet Blog)

My colleague and business partner Paul Carder caught this one. It’s a very provocative look into the future of technology from Steve Hamm of the SmarterPlanet blog. For 2012 IBM focuses on projected developments in people power, passwords (you may never need another one), mindreading (no longer science fiction), the end of the digital divide, and junk mail (which may become Priority Mail – ?).

A Hidden toll as states shift to contract workers (The New York Times)

We’ve written before about the rapid growth in reliance on contract, or temporary, workers as companies seek to minimize costs and increase their agility by relying less on long-term permanent workforce.

Now state and local governments are also moving to increase the use of contract workers. However, as The New York Times reports, there are some hidden, and often recognized, costs that can offset much of the savings. While a state may save millions of dollars on wages, its lower-paid workers often need more state assistance like Medicaid and other public assistance programs.

IBM training computer chip to learn like a human (The San Francisco Chronicle)

Computers were originally designed to do complex mathematical calculations, Clearly, we’ve come a long from the 1940’s, when the first computers were used to aim large cannons on World War II battleships.

But now it’s not just music, videos, slide presentations, and voice recognition (all of which are really just more mathematical formulas). Today computers are learning to learn, as this story from the San Francisco Chronicle reported; now a chip has learned to play Pong, largely by processing its experience and reducing its mistakes over time. And that’s only one example of what is becoming a whole new field of computer science.

Bars Beat Boardrooms as Idea Generators (The Future of Work blog)

This note is already posted on our blog, but I think it’s worth citing here too. It’s actually the  end point of a rather convoluted and ultimately circular set of posts that began with a 2006 article by Jim Ware that we reprinted and updated in this newsletter in June 2011 (“Musings on Knowledge Work and Place”).

That article was then picked up and reprinted again (with our permission) on the Worksnug blog in November and December. And then Janice Stillman of GigaOm read the Worksnug version and added her own thoughts. Our most recent blog post (linked to above) includes links to all of those online pieces; the whole thread makes for an interesting conversation about the effect that place has on the quality and innovation of thought work.

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  1. […] in the worlds of technology, organization design, management, and workplace design. Think of "The Future of" as a quick summary of what I've been reading and paying attention to […]

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