Artificial Intelligence, Automation & Drones (£)

This is a Senior Management Report, which focuses on executive’s need to understand Cyber security and the opportunities for commercial business.

This Report has been edited to enable reading in a short period of time - in 15 to 20 minutes

Digital Shock - the 4th Industrial Revolution

Cyber Strategy, Security, the IoT (Internet of Things), media change and the use of Drones for Attack and Commercial Delivery are considered as we begin to engage with this new revolution.

We are at the outset of an electronic revolution that like earlier industrial revolutions will substantially alter our society and change the way that most people live.

This transformation will involve the intergration together of digital, physical and biological electronics into the Internet of Things (IoT).

IoT will radically alter our individual, national and global connections and accelerate artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities which will enable automation of many tasks that have long required human labour, including the wide use of drone technology.

This transformation offers many opportunities for individuals, the economy, and society, but they also hold the prospect to disrupt the lives and work of millions of people.

Whether AI leads to unemployment and increases in inequality over the long-run depends not only on the technology but also on the institutions and policies that are in place.

This report examines the expected impact of AI-driven automation on the economy, and describes broad strategies that could increase the benefits of AI and the specific use of Drone Technology.

Current International Threats

In the wake of North Korea’s detonation of a sixth nuclear test and the launch of two new intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) this year, pressure on South Korean President Moon Jae-in to shore up his nation’s defences has increased.

The South Korean army plans to create a combat unit of weaponised drones in 2018 that would be capable of swarming nuclear-armed North Korea in the event of a conflict.

The new defense asset has already been nicknamed the “dronebot”, which is a connection of drones and robots.

Developments in AI mean that drones will increasingly be able to communicate and coordinate their movements as a group, swarming together to defeat conventional weaponry.

Drones, just as planes did in the 20th century, are becoming the 21st new delivery method for the military and for commercial organisations.

For instance, in the Oil Industry more than $38 billion is spent annually monitoring oil and gas pipelines using less efficient means, which often identify problems only long after they’ve occurred. This is where it has become known that inspection by drones can offer a better solution.

A VTOL drone has successfully completed an unmanned data collection flight of 100km (62.3 miles), one of the longest journeys in its class. The flight was conducted by SkyX Systems Corporation, a Canadian aerial data analysis firm.

The SkyOne Unmanned Aerial System, a VTOL drone, conducted the flight in Mexico on an autonomous data mission over more than 100 kilometres of gas pipeline. The robotic flight was programmed and monitored remotely from the company’s mission control, with a support crew of engineers on the ground in Mexico.

Using high-resolution imagery, they identified more than 200 potentially significant anomalies along the remote pipeline, ranging from unauthorised buildings and cultivation, through to a fissure possibly caused by seismic activity, according to dronelife.com. The drone mission successfuly pin-pointed the precise coordinates for rapid investigation and remediation.

Drone Usage Increases

As the usage of drones increases the development of airspace management infrastructure, including systems for sharing flight rules, approved flight areas and flight conditions, is becoming a pressing issue. Providing infrastructure for the safe integration of unmanned air traffic is vital.

Rakuten AirMap has started offering its unmanned traffic management (UTM) platform to drone operators and airspace managers in Japan.

When using the AirMap Airspace Management Dashboard, airspace managers can set and adjust airspace boundaries and flight rules, view and approve drone flight plans, and communicate directly with drone operators, according to japantoday.com.

With the AirMap app, drone operators can search for designated flight areas, view any rules that apply, and fulfil any relevant flight notification requirements, including the submission of flight plans, right from the app.

Economics of AI-Driven Automation

Technological progress is the main driver of growth of GDP per capita, allowing output to increase faster than labor and capital. One of the main ways that technology increases productivity is by decreasing the number of labor hours needed to create a unit of output.

Labor productivity increases generally translate into increases in average wages, giving workers the opportunity to cut back on work hours and to afford more goods and services.

Living standards and leisure hours could both increase, although to the degree that inequality increases, as it has in recent decades, it offsets some of those gains.

AI should be welcomed for its potential economic benefits.

Those economic benefits, however, will not necessarily be evenly distributed across society.

For example, the 19th century was characterised by technological change that raised the productivity of lower-skilled workers relative to that of higher-skilled workers.

Highly-skilled artisans who controlled and executed full production processes saw their livelihoods threatened by the rise of mass production technologies.

Ultimately, many skilled crafts were replaced by the combination of machines and lower-skilled labor. Output per hour rose while inequality declined, driving up average living standards, but the labor of some high-skill workers was no longer as valuable in the market.

In contrast, technological change tended to work in a different direction throughout the late 20th century.

The advent of computers and the Internet raised the relative productivity of higher- skilled workers.

Routine-intensive occupations that focused on predictable, easily-programmable tasks, such as switchboard operators, filing clerks, travel agents, and assembly line workers—, were particularly vulnerable to replacement by new technologies.

Some occupations were virtually eliminated and demand for others reduced. Research suggests that technological innovation over this period increased the productivity of those engaged in abstract thinking, creative tasks, and problem-solving.

It was therefore at least partially responsible for the substantial growth in jobs employing such traits. Shifting demand towards more skilled labor raised the relative pay of this group, contributing to rising inequality.

Current Electronic Usage

Think about how much time you spend on the Internet every day. You are part of almost a half of the world’s population that now browses the Web, be it for work, shopping, social media, news or entertainment.

From 2000 to 2015, the number of global Internet users rose from 394 million to 3.4 billion and today there are over one billion Google searches every day, 300m Internet users reading blogs and two billion videos viewed daily on YouTube. The average user spends 15 hours a week online.

The next phase of business innovation is the collection, deep analysis and processing of commercial data and an organisation’s connections. This will enable far deeper understanding of business information and corprate electronic relationships.

This process will change the way in which we work and innovate processes and it will change an organisation’s ability to significantly understand their market position and their capability to commercially operate.

This is the next phase of global change which is already known as the 4th Industrial Revolution, also called the Semantic Cognitive Search or Digital Revolution or more simply, Web 3.0.

Semantic computing automates and makes the cognitive, the IT thinking processes, work. It involves defining, modeling, translating, transforming, and querying the deep meanings of words, phrases, and concepts.

Cognitive computing refers to the ability of automated systems to handle critical, logical and reasoning modes of thought.

Semantic computing is what natural language processing, the heart of cognitive computing, is doing. Data scientists use cognitive-computing tools, natural language processing, pattern recognition, and machine learning, to extract the implicit understanding from unstructured content sources.

The extracted entities, relationships, facts, sentiments, and other artifacts are used to fashion the Semantic Web.

It offers something similar to a sophisticated automatic encyclopedia, which constantly analyses masses of stored Internet data.

The 4th is for the West about The Internet of Things

The 4th will connect different elements of social, home and business life.

Shifts in employment and skills may also increase gender inequality. Unemployment due to automation has in the past concentrated in sectors that mostly employ men, such as manufacturing and construction.

But the ability to use artificial intelligence, drones and other technologies to automate tasks in service industries puts many more job categories at risk in the future.

These include jobs that are the source of livelihood for many younger low skilled workers around the world, many of them female, in call centres, retail and administrative jobs.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution may affect inequality across economies as well as within them. In particular, the increasing flexibility of capital in the form of robots, drones and other advanced manufacturing systems may erode the comparative advantage currently enjoyed by many emerging and developing countries, which are focused on labour-intensive goods and services.

The technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution also offer expanded capabilities for waging war which are increasingly accessible to both state and non-state actors, such as drones, autonomous weapons, nanomaterials, biological and biochemical weapons, wearable devices and distributed energy sources.

Media Effects

Also the media industry is undergoing another paradigm revolution which in the last century has happened a number of times with radio, television and the Internet.

In the last decade the number of internt connections with has increased to over 3.5 billion and this is having a profound effect on established business models for print and braodcsast media across different countries.

The traditional model of a media business, a team of journalists creating content and a commercial team selling to the audience that consumes it, has lasted for some centuries.

Most publishers assumed, with a few tweaks, the model would survive the migration into digital and offset any losses from print.

But spending patterns are proving otherwise. While advertisers are investing more in digital advertising, the money is more widely distributed and, significantly, any growth is being taken by Google and Facebook et al.

Programmatic advertising has eased some pressures on online publishers, but the model favours websites with huge scale rather than brands with smaller, targeted audiences.

Diversification is now a top priority for publishers as they seek new ways to commercialise their businesses.

By inviting readers to experience its brands in a live environment has driven substantial revenue through ticket sales and event sponsorship.

This not only connects publications with audiences in a new way, but marketers are willing to pay sizeable figures to showcase their brands.

Against the Grain

The same challenges publishers face in digital advertising can also be used to their advantage in other areas of their business, such as increasing paid circulations.

Major challenges clearly exist in the publishing industry, but media companies can survive and thrive by looking beyond traditional business models, diversifying their product lines and seeing opportunities in the challenges they face.

There is no doubt that the media industry is facing enormous challenges when it comes to monetising brands that were traditionally structured for only one or two commercial models.

However, the same forces that are causing these long-established models to crumble are enabling new opportunities for brands to evolve. The publishers that grasp this will prosper in the new world of media.

Internet Users

From 2000 to 2017, the number of global Internet users rose from 394 million to 3.8 billion and today there are over one billion Google searches every day and two billion videos viewed daily on YouTube.

Never before has a communications medium been adopted as quickly or as widely as social media. It took commercial television 13 years to reach 50 million households and the initial Internet service providers just over three years to sign 50 million subscribers.

However, it took Facebook just a year and Twitter just under 9 months to reach the same milestone.

And these possibilities will be multiplied by emerging technology breakthroughs in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage, and quantum computing.

Already, artificial intelligence is all around us, from self-driving cars and drones to virtual assistants and software that translate or invest. Impressive progress has been made in AI in recent years, driven by exponential increases in computing power and by the availability of vast amounts of data, from software used to discover new drugs to algorithms used to predict our cultural interests.

Digital fabrication technologies, meanwhile, are interacting with the biological world on a daily basis.

Engineers, designers, and architects are combining computational design, additive manufacturing, materials engineering, and synthetic biology to pioneer a symbiosis between microorganisms, our bodies, the products we consume, and even the buildings we inhabit.

The Impact on Business

A key trend is the development of technology-enabled platforms that combine both demand and supply to disrupt existing industry structures, such as those we see within the “sharing” or “on demand” economy.

These technology platforms, rendered easy to use by the smartphone, convene people, assets, and data, thus creating entirely new ways of consuming goods and services in the process.

In addition, they lower the barriers for businesses and individuals to create wealth, altering the personal and professional environments of workers. These new platform businesses are rapidly multiplying into many new services, ranging from laundry to shopping, from chores to parking, from massages to travel.

On the whole, there are four main effects that the Fourth Industrial Revolution has on business, on customer expectations, on product enhancement, on collaborative innovation, and on organisational forms.

Physical products and services, moreover, can now be enhanced with digital capabilities that increase their value. New technologies make assets more durable and resilient, while data and analytics are transforming how they are maintained and robotics are altering jobs and future potential.

Overall, the inexorable shift from simple digitisation (the Third Industrial Revolution) to innovation based on combinations of technologies (the Fourth Industrial Revolution) is forcing companies to re-examine the way they do business.

The bottom line, however, is the same: business leaders and senior executives need to understand their changing environment, challenge the assumptions of their operating teams, and relentlessly and continuously innovate.

The Impact on Government

As the physical, digital, and biological worlds continue to converge, new technologies and platforms will increasingly enable citizens to engage with governments, voice their opinions, coordinate their efforts, and even circumvent the supervision of public authorities.

Simultaneously, governments will gain new technological powers to increase their control over populations, based on pervasive surveillance systems and the ability to control digital infrastructure.

On the whole, however, governments will increasingly face pressure to change their current approach to public engagement and policymaking, as their central role of conducting policy diminishes owing to new sources of competition and the redistribution and decentralisation of power that new technologies make possible.

Drones Will Change Society

Now, in other areas of technology, the potential medium term threats are increasing, as researchers are building tiny drones with sophisticated capacity.

Drones will reshape how we develop and build our cities

These drones are the size of small insects and can be used for reconnaissance, strikes and killing, and although it’s difficult to estimate when this kind of technology will be deployed they are currently being tested.

And so looking to the future, accelerating scientific work in emerging technologies both in the civilian and military space, such as robotics, nanotechnology, unmanned air and sea vehicles will increasingly present new opportunities for improving security and attacking the enemy.

There are serious concerns over ethics, accountability and oversight, as technological developments are already outpacing the ability of governments and regulators to formulate effective policies.

Visions of the sci-fi city seem to be characterised by one particular image: a skyline of towers with an array of flying vehicles threading between them. In the earliest days of film and in the complex drawings that appeared in popular science magazines, there were always biplanes and rocket-ships, blimps and balloons punctuating the gothic towers and sky-bridges connecting the buildings.

It’s an entirely different technology that is now addressing how we might move around the 3D city: drones.

The way we consume has dramatically changed over the past few years. The street outside my window is now animated by a succession of delivery vans fulfilling food orders from supermarkets, parcels from Amazon and packages from odd corners of the internet.

Traffic has increased and cities have so far failed to adapt. And the waste of millions of journeys delivering single small packages seems shockingly inefficient and unsustainable.

Last year Amazon trialled its drone delivery service in Cambridge and Dubai is experimenting with passenger drones. Even though obstacles (especially commercial flights) remain, this is no longer only a hypothetical future. The question is not just how drones might make our lives more convenient but how might they change our cities and our architecture?

First, there is a price for convenience. We might well find that the sheer ease and speed of drone delivery makes us less inclined to go to the shops. If the supermarkets are worried about Amazon’s takeover of Whole Foods, corner shops need to get nervous about drone deliveries.

Once the labour costs of drivers, expense of vehicles and unpredictability of traffic are stripped out, it suddenly becomes feasible to have your milk, bread or bottle of wine dropped in by air.

It could be devastating for small businesses and, equally important, for the mix of our urban fabric. Small shops might disappear, making drearier streets and concentrating the retail market in yet fewer hands. You might get a bigger choice of goods but you get them from fewer places.

Architectural Change

How might architecture react to a system in which things could arrive at any minute in the 24-hour cycle? How can it help deal with absentee customers? It could go two ways.

The first is the arrival of local depots, a new building type and a kind of reverse post office.

The other is the addition of delivery platforms on our dwellings. High-rise architecture has already begun to granulate, buildings like Herzog & De Meuron’s 56 Leonard in New York and Ole Scheeren’s MahaNakhon in Bangkok see a kind of pixelated, fragmented design and this could become the urban architecture of the future.

Apartments will require sheltered landing pads for aerial drones. At street level we will require secure storage for deliveries, perhaps accessed by codes. Basically, high-tech bin stores.

Milk on the doorstep never required this treatment. A new iPhone probably does. And how about people? Could they not also be deposited at their doorstep, even if they live on the 20th floor? Front doors may appear at balcony level.

There is one piece of dedicated drone architecture so far, but that one work seems significant. The Norman Foster Foundation’s drone-port, proposed for Rwanda, presents a taste of a low-tech architecture designed for a high-tech revolution.

The structure, a prototype of which was built in Venice last year, is based on a Catalan vault, a traditional and extremely robust structure which is designed to be easy to build using locally made but standardised bricks.

It looks, in many ways, like a piece of vernacular, but there is also something very modern about its complex curves, an echo of something like Eero Saarinen’s TWA terminal at JFK airport.

The vaulted shelters are designed to be linked together to create a larger structure which could itself be used not only as a drone-port but also as a market, a distribution centre or a public space. Is it possible that remote villages could leapfrog technologies in the same way they have done with mobile phones, bypassing traditional infrastructure?

Drones will certainly have an impact on the physical form of cities of the global north but in the global south the technology which enables the north’s laziness might be transformative, delivering medicines, components, aid and trade.

Amazon’s drone delivery program stopped being a joke a while ago, but the company still has to overcome serious challenges to make the technology actually work. One of these is getting drones near enough to large populations so they’re more efficient than regular road delivery. Amazon has an idea for that though: Huge. Drone. Beehives.

In a patent application published recently, Amazon described how “multi-level fulfilment centres for unmanned aerial vehicles” could help put drones where they’re needed.

The application notes that due to “their large footprint,” current warehouses are located “on the outskirts of cities where space is available.” But multi-story drone centres could be built vertically, rather than horizontally, allowing them to be placed within “downtown districts and/or other densely populated urban areas.”

And, of course, making them high-rises would let the drones fly in and out without getting dangerously close to pedestrians at street level.

Amazon’s application includes sketches of a number of differently shaped buildings and interior views, showing how human employees would load-up the drones with packages:
But flying large numbers of drones in cities invites other problems too. Who’s going to want to live near a drone delivery tower if it makes so much noise? And what if drones start falling out the sky, making impromptu, and possibly fatal, deliveries?

Amazon is obviously thinking hard about these problems, and in the same round of patent applications as the delivery beehive, suggests a few solutions.

For drone noise, the company is suggesting custom rotor designs that would chop through the air more quietly. These include adding “trailing edge fringes,” “leading edge serrations,” “sound dampening treatments,” and “blade indentations for sound control” to rotors, but all focus on the same principle: breaking up the airflow around propellers to try and alter or reduce the sound they make.

Imagine a weather report so precise it provides wind-gust forecasts for individual city blocks. Such micro-weather data may soon become a reality, and a necessity for future fleets of delivery drones.

As Amazon.com Inc., United Parcel Service Inc., Domino’s Pizza Inc., and others gear up to launch autonomous drone deliveries of books, pills, and pizza, companies are realizing it’s the quality of hyperlocal weather data more than anything else that will steer their packages around storm clouds and through wind-buffeted urban canyons.

“The weather issue is a very significant one,” said Sean Cassidy, director of safety and regulatory affairs for Amazon’s drone unit. “We don’t have anything at the level of granularity that you would need to operate.”

The push is on to develop traffic-management systems that will forecast weather conditions down to a single city block, and at elevations as low as 400 feet. That promises to clear the way for the holy grail of drone service: automatic flights that make their rounds without pilots controlling them from the ground as they do now.

And it’s becoming clear that delivery drones themselves will play an increasingly important role in collecting weather conditions on their journeys through the sky, relaying that information to computer weather models and perhaps back to fleets of drones following behind.

Aviation weather reports are currently designed to cover mostly areas around airports, as well as the high altitudes where airplanes tend to fly. That’s why existing systems are so ill-equipped to help guide the thousands of small drone craft that are envisioned taking off and landing from diverse locales.

Weather reports for drones will rely on multi-layered systems of ground-based weather gauges, sensors on the drones themselves, and data from national weather services, all feeding computer models, said Marcus Johnson, a research aerospace engineer at the NASA Ames Research Centre at Moffett Field, California. “It’s not an easy solution,” he said.

Nor will such technology come cheap. An instrument that records six variables such as wind speed, wind direction, and humidity costs about $2,500, according to sensor manufacturers. That doesn’t include installation, maintenance, and sending the data the sensors collect over the internet.

Meteorologists dream of having sensors cover every square mile drones fly over, but doing so could be prohibitively expensive, said Jon Tarleton, chief of weather marketing in the Americas for Finland’s Vaisala, which manufactures most of the sensors used by the Federal Aviation Administration at airports.

“The problem is solvable in almost all cases. It just comes down to cost,” said Tarleton, whose company makes the weather balloons the National Weather Service sets loose each day to compile the national forecast.

Urban areas present some of the greatest challenges. Tall buildings create channels of wind that can clash and swirl into tight eddies, said Matthias Steiner, deputy director for the National Centre for Atmospheric Research’s Aviation Applications Program. Sun-baked sidewalks opposite shaded ones just across a street can produce uneven heat waves, causing unpredictable downdrafts and updrafts. Weather patterns in cities on coastlines or at the foot of mountains can also wreak havoc.

Autonomous drones, moreover, will have to expend more of their precious power to stay aloft in extreme temperatures, and to stay on course when buffeted by winds. That can prevent a drone from making it back to its home base, Steiner said.

“More and more people are starting to realise that weather is an important element that you need to factor in, because these smaller craft are so much more sensitive to weather than the larger aircraft,” said Steiner, who organized the first meeting with weather experts and drone participants at a Dallas conference last month, creating a buzz in the industry.

NSF Railway Co. is the only company in the US currently flying drones for long distances, a project it’s undertaken as part of an FAA study, has called back flights or kept them grounded because of the elements, said Todd Graetz, director of BNSF’s drone program.

The railroad has a big advantage over other companies looking to begin operating drones: Sensors placed along its tracks provide trains with information on high winds and heavy rain that BNSF drone operators can tap into.

Halfway around the world in Rwanda, a company called Zipline has been using fixed-wing drones to deliver blood supplies to rural hospitals since October.

The Impact on People

The Fourth Industrial Revolution, finally, will change not only what we do but also who we are. It will affect our identity and all the issues associated with it: our sense of privacy, our notions of ownership, our consumption patterns, the time we devote to work and leisure, and how we develop our careers, cultivate our skills, meet people, and nurture relationships.

Similarly, the revolutions occurring in biotechnology and AI, which are redefining what it means to be human by pushing back the current thresholds of life span, health, cognition, and capabilities, will compel us to redefine our moral and ethical boundaries.

Shaping the Future

Neither technology nor the disruption that comes with it is an exogenous force over which humans have no control. All of us are responsible for guiding its evolution, in the decisions we make on a daily basis as citizens, consumers, and investors.

We should thus grasp the opportunity and power we have to shape the Fourth Industrial Revolution and direct it toward a future that reflects our common objectives and values.

To do this, however, governments must develop a comprehensive and globally shared view of how technology is affecting our lives and reshaping our economic, social, cultural, and human environments.

Today’s decision-makers, however, are too often trapped in traditional, linear thinking, or too absorbed by the multiple crises demanding their attention, to think strategically about the forces of disruption and innovation shaping our future.

Technologies are emerging and affecting our lives in ways that indicate we are at the beginning of a Fourth Industrial Revolution, a new era that builds and extends the impact of digitisation in new and unanticipated ways.

It is therefore worthwhile taking some time to consider exactly what kind of shifts we are experiencing and how we might, collectively and individually, ensure that it creates benefits for the many, rather than the few.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is the first where the tools of technology can become literally embedded within us and even purposefully change who we are at the level of our genetic makeup.

It is completely conceivable that forms of radical human improvement will be available within a generation, innovations that risk creating entirely new forms of inequality and class conflict.

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