AI and sustainability: a new strategic area of activity
In the global debate about the risks to society posed by and the economic potential of artificial intelligence, two complementary lines of argument stand out in striving for specific approaches to a “sustainable” use of AI. Both topics are of relevance to all companies wishing to develop a long-term AI strategy. However, they are usually not differentiated sufficiently in practice. An attempt at clarification by Andreas Neef, Managing Partner of Z_punkt.
Artificial Intelligence as Inventor and Developer
Whilst automation continues its inexorable progress in the sphere of industrialised production, direct human involvement in the very early stages of development is also becoming increasingly rare. Whether in the laboratory of tomorrow or the factory of the future, it is algorithms that will be shouting “eureka!”. Machines not only know how to produce a given item, but also how many, with what, and why it must be done just so.
Digital Cryptocurrency in Barcelona
Barcelona is planning the introduction of a digital payment system or “cryptocurrency”. The new municipal government hopes it will both boost the local economy and increase social equity.
Immersive Exosuits with Textile Muscle Fibres
Exoskeletons are usually bulky and seem strange, and not just to the wearer. But this could change in future with the introduction of textile muscle fibres that can be worn as an under layer of clothing like T-shirts. Merging them with multi-sense technologies and virtual reality will result in a hitherto unattainable degree of physical performance and immersion. Analogue and digital, artificial and alive – it is no longer possible to differentiate between these things.
Agricultural Robotics for Efficient Indoor Farming
The level of automation in agriculture is already high in many advanced economies. Yet, faced with an ever-increasing global population, agricultural enterprises around the world are on the lookout for additional ways to improve efficiency.
Drone-Based Logistics for Remote Regions
The future of logistics without the use of drones is inconceivable. Whilst the obstacles to their deployment in urban areas are currently insurmountable and possibly will be for the foreseeable future, drones are virtually predestined for deliveries to remote regions.
The Blockchain: Infrastructure for China’s Energy Transition
Together with a Chinese partner, IBM is currently introducing a blockchain-based emission trading scheme in China. In the longer term, it could well form the basis of the digital infrastructure for China’s energy transition.
Technology & Engineering
Is Production Reliability Becoming a Service Package?
The production line has ground to a halt: a curse escapes the lips of the Production Manager – to no avail. And it was all supposed to be completely different by 2020 thanks to the concept of predictive maintenance and state-of-the-art algorithms. Back in 2016, some 66% of employees had stated that they had suffered because of mechanical stoppages. The intention had been to help them!
Investing with Controlled Emotions
False hunches can cost stockbrokers a fortune, even when they are convinced that their decision had been carefully considered. Brian Uzzi, Professor at the Kellogg School of Management at the Northwestern University in Evanston in the USA, wants to change all that. Uzzi has developed a system that keeps dealers updated about their current emotional state based on a real-time analysis of their emails and instant messages. It then lets them know the most propitious time to make economic decisions.
Technology & Engineering
A Paradigm Shift in Industrial 3D Printing?
Less than €2500 for a 3D printer that can print various materials and electronic printed circuit board tracks fully automatically? Simply printing one’s next mobile phone at home – sounds too good to be true. Sadly, it is. As of January 2017, the Berlin-based start-up Next Dynamics was still trying to get enough money through crowd sourcing to produce the above-mentioned printer. Following accusations of fraud, Kickstarter, the crowd-funding platform in question, had terminated the campaign.
3D-printing – a disruptive innovation for the logistics industry
Applications for additive manufacturing technologies are being discovered in more and more sectors – in medicine, in the automotive industry, in mining. A new trend report by Deutsche Post DHL examines what 3D-printing will imply for the future of supply chains. The report was produced in collaboration with Z_punkt.
Foresight with an impact
How do Foresight projects create impact? A new article ponders this question, using the project „Future of Work: Jobs and Skills in 2030“, that Z_punkt conducted in 2015 for the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, as an example.
Z_punkt supports Irish department of innovation
The Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (DJEI) of the Irish government has initiated a „Technology Futures Exercise“ to find out which technologies will be critical for Ireland until 2035. The aim is to identify priority areas for R&D funding.
The Internet from outer space is within reach
Various initiatives aim to supply the earth with the Internet from outer space. More than half the world’s population would benefit from this.
Car-Sharing 2.0: blockchain and autonomous driving
New technologies such as autonomous driving and blockchain could completely reshape the platform monopolists’ market for mobility on demand. On-demand offers such as car-sharing, taxis, shuttle busses or ride-hailing à la Uber and Lyft already promise their users the greatest possible flexibility.
Hybrid shops will merge the online and offline worlds
In the ferocious competition between e-commerce and over-the-counter stores, more and more retailers are carrying out experiments to see how they can extend the retail experience enjoyed by customers in their stores online.
Peer-to-peer logistics is gaining momentum
More and more solutions are being launched under the buzzword “collaborative economy” with the help of digital and mobile technologies, which incorporate private, unutilised resources in the economic cycle. Peer-to-peer logistics have also been talked of in this respect for some time.
Water from nothing for the world’s poorest
In 2008, Goldman Sachs prophesised that water would become the new crude oil. Given the trend in the oil price, a new form of oil would also be urgently needed. The irony of fate for the investment bank: even before water can be turned into oil and consequently bring substantial riches, renewable energies could convert this anticipated source of largesse into a dried-out puddle.
Samsung’s “battery-gate” and the circular economy
“Attention, attention, important information concerning your flight: please note that owners of a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 are banned from bringing the device on board.” You may have heard this warning or something similar in recent months and shaken your head. However, it is worth looking behind the scenes at the damage done to Samsung’s image.
Transactions in real time with Instant Payment
What has been largely standard on capital and equity markets is now to be possible for credit transfers by private individuals as well: transactions in real time.
Understanding the future of the Smart Home market
The smart home model developed by Z_punkt enables a deeper understanding of this attractive, yet complex market of the future.
Flexible Delivery gains momentum in logistics
Online shopping makes shopping more relaxed – it can be done from the com-fort of your sofa and without the stress of going into town. It only becomes more complicated when the goods are delivered and this is often the case. If you are not at home, will your “favourite neighbour” accept the delivery? Or will you have to make your way to the local branch of the delivery service?
Are stable prices soon to be a thing of the past?
Anybody who buys online – whether at home or on the move – is familiar with the phenomenon: prices in online shops change frequently, in some cases drastically. Online retailers use this technique as specifically as possible, i.e. ideally on a personalised basis, to exploit their customers’ willingness to buy.
Metabolic Engineering enables new design chemicals
Without modern biotechnology, clothes that come out clean when washed at only 40 degrees Celsius would be inconceivable. Today, chemical substances are also being replaced by biotechnology in many other industrial areas, such as agriculture or cosmetics, but they still play a subordinate role compared with petrochemicals.
IT and finance
Ethereum fulfils the promise of Bitcoin
Ethereum, a crypto-currency developed by 21-year old Vitalik Buterin and approved for software applications since March, could fulfil the promises of Bitcoin and exploit the full potential of the blockchain. The value of an ether has risen from one dollar to 13 dollars since January and with its 6,630 nodes-strong network, Ethereum overtook the Bitcoin network of 5,604 nodes already in May.
Telefonica enters the retail banking market
number26, transferwise, iZettle – a large number of fintech firms have been giving traditional retail banks cause to sweat for some time. So far, none of the new providers has landed a blow comparable to that of PayPal. However, this could change soon as a result of the attempt by Telefónica.
Between April and June, you can meet several Z_punkt speakers at various different events, giving lectures about disruptions, the future of mobility, and big data.
Exoskeletons support logistics workers of the future
Logistics workers of the future will have superpowers. In years to come, augmented reality glasses and exoskeletons are likely to be just as much part of an employee’s equipment as his or her uniform. Augmented reality and exoskeleton modules allow heavier loads to be transported more quickly and precisely.
Chemical Markers protect against product piracy
Chemical markers clearly identify the origin of industrial products and are a proven means against pirated goods. They are turning out to be a key invisible technology.
Is limestone the energy storage option of the future?
Powerful, cheap energy stores are vital for the energy shift to succeed. Now, a new energy storage option seems to be emerging in the form of slaked lime that displays many promising properties.
The future of supply chain management
The business environment for companies in the engineering and manufacturing sector is changing: Product lifecycles are becoming shorter, demand is growing in new markets, customers are increasingly asking for tailored solutions and new technologies are becoming more and more important for the success of a company. Production and supply chain concepts need to adapt to these developments. A new report produced by DHL and Z_punkt analyses the most important trends and their impact on the E&M sector.
Scenarios for a resource-friendly society
What will save our planet? Voluntary simplicity or obligatory moderation? Together with its project partners, Z_punkt is currently developing a set of positive and attractive scenarios for a resource-conserving lifestyle. The preliminary results were recently presented at two high-calibre international sustainability events.
Mind the Cross Innovation Gap
Cross-industry innovation is a vital issue for the future – yet very few companies still apply it in a systematic fashion, according to the results of an expert survey by Z_punkt involving sixty innovation managers at some of the world’s most important blue-chips and medium-sized enterprises in Germany.
Corporate Security 2030
What developments are in store for key security issues in the future as a result of megatrends? A study by Z_punkt and the EBS Business School sheds some light on the situation.
World Conference of Futures Research
Why do we need quality criteria in future research? And what do we learn from the bleak scenarios offered by science fiction? Two lectures by Karlheinz Steinmüller at the International Future Conference in Turku provided suggestions.
Future of Work
Robot instead of Robert? At the “Strategic Moves Lab” Eckhard Störmer from Z_punkt spoke about the key trends for the future of work. Academics also have to worry about their job – at least in one of the scenarios, that Störmer presented.