Artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly improving, becoming an embedded feature of almost any type of software platform you can imagine, and serving as the foundation for countless types of digital assistants. It’s used in everything from data analytics and pattern recognition to automation and speech replication.
The potential of this technology has sparked imaginative minds for decades, inspiring science fiction authors, entrepreneurs, and everyone in between to speculate about what an AI-driven future could look like. But as we get nearer and nearer to a hypothetical technological singularity, there are some ethical concerns we need to keep in mind.
Unemployment and Job Availability
Up first is the problem of unemployment. AI certainly has the power to automate tasks that were once capable of completion only with manual human effort.
At one extreme, experts argue that this could one day be devastating for our economy and human wellbeing; AI could become so advanced and so prevalent that it replaces the majority of human jobs. This would lead to record unemployment numbers, which could tank the economy and lead to widespread depression—and, subsequently, other problems like crime rates.
At the other extreme, experts argue that AI will mostly change jobs that already exist; rather than replacing jobs, AI would enhance them, giving people an opportunity to improve their skillsets and advance.
The ethical dilemma here largely rests with employers. If you could leverage AI to replace a human being, it would increase efficiency and reduce costs, while possibly improving safety as well, would you do it? Doing so seems like the logical move, but at scale, lots of businesses making these types of decisions could have dangerous consequences.
Technology Access and Wealth Inequality
We also need to think about the accessibility of AI technology, and its potential effects on wealth inequality in the future. Currently, the entities with the most advanced AI tend to be big tech companies and wealthy individuals. Google, for example, leverages AI for its traditional business operations, including software development as well as experimental novelties—like beating the world’s best Go player.
AI has the power to greatly improve productive capacity, innovation, and even creativity. Whoever has access to the most advanced AI will have an immense and ever-growing advantage over people with inferior access. Given that only the wealthiest people and most powerful companies will have access to the most powerful AI, this will almost certainly make the wealth and power gaps that already exist much stronger.
But what’s the alternative? Should there be an authority to dole out access to AI? If so, who should make these decisions? The answer isn’t so simple.
What It Means to Be Human
Using AI to modify human intelligence or change how humans interact would also require us to consider what it means to be human. If a human being demonstrates an intellectual feat with the help of an implanted AI chip, can we still consider it a human feat? If we heavily rely on AI interactions rather than human interactions for our daily needs, what kind of effect would it have on our mood and wellbeing? Should we change our approach to AI to avoid this?
The Paperclip Maximizer and Other Problems of AI Being “Too Good”
One of the most familiar problems in AI is its potential to be “too good.” Essentially, this means the AI is incredibly powerful and designed to do a specific task, but its performance has unforeseen consequences.
The thought experiment commonly cited to explore this idea is the “paperclip maximizer,” an AI designed to make paperclips as efficiently as possible. This machine’s only purpose is to make paperclips, so if left to its own devices, it may start making paperclips out of finite material resources, eventually exhausting the planet. And if you try to turn it off, it may stop you—since you’re getting in the way of its only function, making paperclips. The machine isn’t malevolent or even conscious, but capable of highly destructive actions.
This dilemma is made even more complicated by the fact that most programmers won’t know the holes in their own programming until its too late. Currently, no regulatory body can dictate how AI must be programmed to avoid such catastrophes because the problem is, by definition, invisible. Should we continue pushing the limits of AI regardless? Or slow our momentum until we can better address this issue?
Bias and Uneven Benefits
As we use rudimentary forms of AI in our daily life, we’re becoming increasingly aware of the biases lurking within their coding. Conversational AI, facial recognition algorithms, and even search engines were largely designed by similar demographics, and therefore ignore the problems faced by other demographics. For example, facial recognition systems may be better at recognizing white faces than the faces of minority populations.
Again, who is going to be responsible for solving this problem? A more diverse workforce of programmers could potentially counteract these effects, but is this a guarantee? And if so, how would you enforce such a policy?
Privacy and Security
Consumers are also growing increasingly concerned about their privacy and security when it comes to AI, and for good reason. Today’s tech consumers are getting used to having devices and software constantly involved in their lives; their smartphones, smart speakers, and other devices are always listening and gathering data on them. Every action you take on the web, from checking a social media app to searching for a product, is logged.
On the surface, this may not seem like much of an issue. But if powerful AI is in the wrong hands, it could easily be exploited. A sufficiently motivated individual, company, or rogue hacker could leverage AI to learn about potential targets and attack them—or else use their information for nefarious purposes.
The Evil Genius Problem
Speaking of nefarious purposes, another ethical concern in the AI world is the “evil genius” problem. In other words, what controls can we put in place to prevent powerful AI from getting in the hands of an “evil genius,” and who should be responsible for those controls?
This problem is similar to the problem with nuclear weapons. If even one “evil” person gets access to these technologies, they could do untold damage to the world. The best recommended solution for nuclear weapons has been disarmament, or limiting the number of weapons currently available, on all sides. But AI would be much more difficult to control—plus, we’d be missing out on all the potential benefits of AI by limiting its progression.
Science fiction authors like to imagine a world where AI is so complex that it’s practically indistinguishable from human intelligence. Experts debate whether this is possible, but let’s assume it is. Would it be in our best interests to treat this AI like a “true” form of intelligence? Would that mean it has the same rights as a human being?
This opens the door to a large subset of ethical considerations. For example, it calls back to our question on “what it means to be human,” and forces us to consider whether shutting down a machine could someday qualify as murder.
Of all the ethical considerations on this list, this is one of the most far-off. We’re nowhere near territory that could make AI seem like human-level intelligence.
The Technological Singularity
There’s also the prospect of the technological singularity—the point at which AI becomes so powerful that it surpasses human intelligence in every conceivable way, doing more than simply replacing some functions that have been traditionally very manual. When this happens, AI would conceivably be able to improve itself—and operate without human intervention.
What would this mean for the future? Could we ever be confident that this machine will operate with humanity’s best interests in mind? Would the best course of action be avoiding this level of advancement at all costs?
There isn’t a clear answer for any of these ethical dilemmas, which is why they remain such powerful and important dilemmas to consider. If we’re going to continue advancing technologically while remaining a safe, ethical, and productive culture, we need to take these concerns seriously as we continue making progress.
6 Ways to Prepare Your Business for the Upcoming Holidays
The holiday season can be incredibly disruptive, especially for small businesses and their customers. You could either be in a very slow season looking for things to accomplish or so overwhelmed by business that you feel like you got run over by a reindeer. If you haven’t started making preparations yet, you need to start today.
Simple adjustments can help you gain more business or handle a heavy influx of holiday patrons. Here are several ideas you can consider implementing to end the year on a high note:
1. Decorate With Holiday Spirit
Any customer that enters your business will feel the holiday spirit if you’ve got the right decorations in place. You don’t have to go overboard with inflatable pumpkins or flashing Christmas tree lights, but some well-placed decorative touches can really bring the place together. Plus, this makes the workspace festive for your employees as well.
You can choose to highlight the general themes of the seasons or focus on specific holidays. For example, autumn leaves and fall colors can get you well into November. You could also mix things up by putting up ghosts and jack-o’-lanterns for Halloween and switching them out for turkeys and pilgrims for Thanksgiving.
The same can be done for winter. Snowflakes and snowmen will work for the entire season. If you want to get specific, you have Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year’s decorations to consider.
2. Work Out Employee Vacation Times
Everyone wants to take time off during the holidays, and for good reason. This is one of the best times of year to gather with family and enjoy life together. Unfortunately, some businesses can’t afford to have all of their employees taking time off simultaneously. Your job is to make sure everyone is getting fair time off while still staffing important dates around the holiday season.
How you approach this task is up to you and how you think your team will respond best. You might think it’s fair to let the most tenured employees select their days off first. You could also develop a rotation so that the same people don’t hog the same days off every year. Even a first-come, first-served approach could be considered if you think your team will be OK with it.
Remember that you deserve to take some time off as well. Being an entrepreneur is incredibly demanding and time-consuming. Taking even a couple of days off to enjoy the holidays with family can help you recover mentally and physically.
3. Encourage Calendar Collaboration Among Team Members
To ensure everyone on your team is on the same page with project deadlines, essential meetings and events, and client needs, it’s essential to collaborate on a team calendar. Most calendar software today offers team calendars.
Make sure everyone on your team has access to one another’s calendar so they are aware of when they are available. Then, team members can collaborate to help each other take on things that could otherwise be missed.
Thankfully, there are many collaborative calendar integrations available for teams to utilize in order to maximize their time. By utilizing these tools, teams can work more efficiently together. Therefore, they can minimize the chances of missing deadlines, missing meetings, or making clients unhappy.
4. Make Holiday Business Hours Known
Your customers also deserve to know how your business will operate throughout the upcoming holidays. You should communicate in advance the days you plan on being closed. This way, customers and clients won’t be disappointed when they try to visit, and nobody is there to receive them.
This is extremely important for schedule-based businesses. The sooner you block off certain days, the less likely you will have to reschedule a meeting or appointment that was booked in advance. Clients who have their end-of-year scheduled meetings rearranged or moved at the last minute will not be happy.
Consider sending out an email that details your holiday hours to any customers who have provided contact information to you. Additionally, you could also consider adding a note on your email signature that states when your business will be closed. You could implement this early on, especially for the winter holidays. At the very least, put up a notice on your front door and website that makes the revised schedule known and accessible.
5. Plan Marketing and Promotions
The holiday season is for family and friends, of course, but it’s also a commercial opportunity for businesses. (There’s a reason they call the day after Thanksgiving “Black Friday.”) While you shouldn’t lose sight of what’s most important, your business should be thinking about some promotions to run. The right marketing campaign at the right time can dramatically boost your revenue.
Marketing plans practically write themselves this time of year. Black Friday and Christmas sales are common and desirable. A salon could run cut-price haircut specials on Black Friday for those who want to escape the shopping fray. A mani-pedi promotion could capture the attention of those primping for holiday parties. Put your business’s personal twist on the season, and you’re likely to see sales increase.
What’s most important to prepare for is the increase in business during a holiday promotion. Make sure you are appropriately staffed for busy days with numerous consumers cashing in on holiday deals. If you’re not prepared to handle the business you’ve attracted, you’ll have a blue Christmas.
6. Consider Getting Extra Help
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all of the business coming your way over the holidays, consider contracting some extra help. Plenty of businesses hire seasonal workers to lend them a hand for a couple of months. Your business doesn’t have to be an exception.
The great thing about seasonal workers is that there’s no long-term commitment. You can get an extra receptionist, hair stylist, or stockroom organizer for just as long as you need. These workers are looking for some extra holiday cash and simply want the additional hours before life returns to normal.
You may even consider contracting some digital help. A webmaster can help you keep your website up and running even with double the online traffic. Your clever marketing strategy could be implemented by a third party so you can focus more fully on your customers.
Of all the above steps, the most important common denominator is to be sure your clients and customers are aware of when your business will be out, so they can plan ahead as well. This will help your business avoid the inconvenience and disappointment the unavailability may cause. Be sure to encourage in-house collaboration on important dates, in addition to collaborating externally with your clients and customers.
Keep your business on the nice list by being prepared for every upcoming holiday, whether it’s the longer holiday breaks in the winter or the shorter holidays throughout the year. With the above holiday preparation planning tips, your business can plan well ahead for this holiday season so nothing slips through the cracks.
Though it’s an extremely busy time for everyone, the holiday season doesn’t have to get stressful. There are so many ways to avoid all of the stress by planning well. The better you work together to prepare, the jollier the holiday season can be for your business and your customers as we head into the 2023 new year.
You might not feel entirely ready for 2023 just yet, and that’s fine. But by taking steps to prepare for the new year now, you’ll position your business to succeed beyond your expectations.
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Featured Image Credit: Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh; Pexels; Thank you!
Face Supply Chain Disruptions : Work Smarter, Not Harder
Supply chain disruptions are nothing new. However, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain disruptions have become more common. At first, these issues caused major shortages throughout the country. Now, shortages are still occurring along with inefficient shipping processes.
These issues have forced business owners to struggle with ways to stay afloat. Delays, interruptions, and cancellations have made it nearly impossible to keep up with demand while avoiding wasteful spending.
However, some things simply aren’t within your grasp when it comes to supply chain disruptions. On the other hand, you can work smarter to address them. You’re responsible for how your business responds to these disruptions, and with better approaches, things will run more smoothly.
With that in mind, let’s look at how your business can deal with supply chain disruptions. You can create a sense of hope in this digital world as things slowly start to return to normal and the supply chain issues start to balance out.
Use Data Analytics to Survive Supply Chain Disruptions
Collecting clean data and putting it to use can improve everything from customer service to your marketing endeavors. It can also be used to mitigate the effects of a supply chain crisis. Developing innovative data solutions can keep your business afloat and even help it grow during uncertain conditions.
Different Data Methods for Supply Chain Disruptions
To start using data to your advantage during supply chain disruptions, consider these methods:
- Take a look at demand trends. You can look at customer orders and purchasing trends over the last year. This will give you a better idea of how much to order and how often to counteract supply chain disruptions.
- Organize your data. This also makes it easy to look at your current inventory and open order allocations. You can compare your inventory and orders with data provided by production teams or vendors to create a realistic timeline of when things will arrive or when they can be shipped out to customers.
- Pay attention to demand volatility. People aren’t necessarily hoarding items as they did at the beginning of the pandemic. However, there are still some things consumers are regularly purchasing to prepare themselves for the future. As you look at data relating to the current supply of popular products, as well as data from the manufacturers, it will be easier to keep a steady flow of those products in stock.
While looking at data might not sound like an immediate plan of action during turbulent times, it’s easier to make positive changes and work smarter in the face of supply chain disruptions when you have the right information.
Build Your Brand to Withstand Supply Chain Disruptions
It’s difficult to focus on anything but the supply chain issues affecting so many businesses right now. However, retting over those issues isn’t going to get you anywhere. By shifting your focus and putting your energy into supply chain disruptions, your business can move forward.
Building a brand isn’t easy, which is why it requires a lot of time, attention, and focus. Taking this time to hone in on your marketing is a great way to make your business more of a household name. That kind of brand recognition is exactly what companies need right now to stay afloat when supply chain disruptions occur. You can build your brand awareness and identity (stickeryou dot com), in a variety of ways, including:
- Defining your company values
- Understanding your audience
- Determining what sets your business apart
- Creating brand guidelines
Once you have a strategy in place to grow your brand, utilize things like logo creation, social media, and special events to grow your name and help your customers understand who you are.
Build Consumer Relationships Despite Supply Chain Disruptions
Even if you’re facing supply chain issues, you can build relationships and establish trust with consumers. Today’s consumers desire relationships with businesses more than ever before, so it’s okay to show the “human” side of your brand as often as possible. That can make it easier to provide positive customer service experiences when you’re facing product shortages and delays.
Communication with your customers is one of the best ways to deal with frustrations over delays and supply chain issues, so be transparent. Make it a part of your identity. When you make sure your audience knows about the issues you’re facing and keep them updated about shipping information (including delays), they’re more likely to be understanding and patient.
Prepare to Handle Disruptions to Your Supply Chain
Supply chain disruptions are all but inevitable. Make sure your business has a backup plan and is prepared to deal with them when they arise.
If you don’t have one already, consider establishing an emergency management center within your business. Once you have a team in place, you can offer them previously collected supply chain data and create a plan of action. This will make it easier for them to create an effective strategy while reducing the risk of miscommunication that’s often associated with supply chain disruptions.
You should also create a backup plan that incorporates the existing suppliers that can adapt with you when disruptions happen. It should also include technology exploration. Tech, such as AI, can make a big difference in the future of your business – even if it forces you to change some of your existing supply chain processes.
Be Patient During Supply Chain Disruptions
Additionally, try to be patient when disruptions occur. This isn’t the first time the world has seen supply chain issues, but they’re more unsettling now since there’s no end in sight. As someone involved in business, take heart in knowing these delays and disruptions won’t last forever.
In the meantime, focus on working smarter, not harder — to navigate supply chain disruptions. By mitigating some of the issues, being smart with data collection, and focusing on boosting the strength of other areas of your business, you’ll be able to get through these disruptions more comfortably. You may even come out on the other side with more resiliency and knowledge.
Featured Image Credit: Provided by the Author; Mika Baumeister; Unsplash; Thank you!
Holiday Gift List Ideas; Keep ’em Coming
Here are a few Holiday Gift List Ideas. It is always fantastic to hear from people who are excited about their gift-giving lists and who have some unique ideas to share. I have a few of these items — but I’d love to hear what other gifts you have loved, either for yourself or items you have gifted. This list has something for mom, dad, brother, sister, neighbor, and the kiddos. Enjoy!
The Infinity X1 products include flashlights, headlamps, lanterns, auto lights, work lights, and many other items that you will want to add to your lighting needs. This is sustainable power management. These flashlights are very bright, and they last a long time. You will want to keep one in your car, home, and toolbag.
2. Miko AI
- Miko AI
The Miko.ai is the perfect blend of logic and magic. It can see, hear, and remember, and it senses a child’s moods. I got this for the kiddos for the holidays. I will report what I learn. Miko AI keeps giving you new content and capabilities each month with ever-evolving experiences.
3. Pit Command
- Pit Command
The Pit Command tool is built for medium fires. It is made of carbon steel construction, so it is strong and lightweight at the same time. This is really a three-in-one tool. It has an axe-like chopper and a serrated hook, but the most fun is the poker that everyone loves. Guaranteed quality, free shipping, and free returns.
4. Get The Fort
- Get The Fort
We have the Get The Fort at home. The quality is incredible, and everyone loves it. You can use these fort blocks in adult exercises while the kids are playing with them too. We have the gray — but I’m getting the turquoise next.
5. NOCO Boost Pro
- NOCO Boost Pro
NOCO Boost Pro feels like I’ve purchased the most safety that one person can give another. Leave this wonderful power bank in your car so that you can start your own car or help out someone in distress. It has up to 40 jump start on a single charge. Rugged and water resistant. GB150 3000 Amp 12-Volt UltraSafe Lithium Jump Starter Box, Car Battery Booster Pack, Portable Power Bank Charger, and Jumper Cables for up to 9-Liter Gasoline and 7-Liter Diesel Engines
6. Narwal Robot Mop
- Narwal Robot Mop System
The Narwal Robot Mop System intelligently detects how dirty the mops are and sanitizes them in a high-speed spinning using the exact amount of water needed. It also senses how dirty your room is and sends the unit around again if needed.
7. SureCall Boost Cell Signal
- SureCall Boost Cell Signal
There is nothing like the SureCall Boost Cell Signal System. If you have ever experienced delays in your cell service — especially in the mountains or out on the beach area — you will want this system. There is nothing like reliable service, especially if you work from home and your teammates depend on your work being turned in on time. When you have others depend on communication from you — you’ll want SureCall Boost Cell Signal.
The AquaSonic is backed by the American Dental Association seal of approval. This means that you are using the gold standard for oral care. This electric, ultrasonic toothbrush is fun to use. My dentist told me to get this toothbrush and leave it in the shower and use it there. It even comes in black for a nice modern touch.
9. Iottie 4 in one device
If you have a Tesla 3 or Model Y vehicle — you have going to want this electric charger. You can charge up to four devices at the same time. It has seamless installation and doesn’t take up storage space. This charger has a classy design as you would expect. Here are the specs:
2 USB-A ports for charging devices
2 USB-C ports for fast charging & data transfer where available
Wide device compatibility
Made exclusively for Tesla Models 3 & Y manufactured in 2021 and later
10. BC Wireless Lite
- BC Wireless Lite
Unlike traditional headphones, BC Wireless lite uses bone conduction technology to transmit sound via the cheekbones. This technology leaves ears open to the surrounding sounds. Audio is set to an appropriate volume, ensuring safe levels of listening to the child.
11. myFirst Camera Insta Wi
- myFirst Camera Insta Wi
myFirst Camera Insta Wi is a dual-lens digital camera with a front and rear selfie lens that is capable of inkless thermal instant printing in 10 seconds. Also able to transfer photos wirelessly and has a dedicated mobile application for label editing/creation, and lastly, the cradle is provided to rest your little cute device.
12. BuddyPhones Play
- BuddyPhones Play
BuddyPhones Play+, Wireless Bluetooth Volume-Limiting Kids Headphones, 20-Hours Battery Life, 3 Volume Settings, Voice Enhancing StudyMode, Answer/Playback Button, BuddyLink Cable, Cool Blue. Kids will love the easy-to-use, on-ear headphones while being driven from home to school and on family trips. Hop on Amazon and see additional items like these for your kids. For girls and boys ages 2 to 10 years old to enjoy flexible connectivity
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Nicole Michalou; Pexels; Thank you!
All Inner Image Credits: Taken from the Product WebSites; Thank you!