The digital economy

Interesting article in The Economist about how innovation and technological progress transform the job demand, “Coming to an office near you“. It argues that innovation and progress lead to a deep transformation of the job market. People should move on and adapt themselves to the new world (which is not always so easy)

INNOVATION, the elixir of progress, has always cost people their jobs. In the Industrial Revolution artisan weavers were swept aside by the mechanical loom. Over the past 30 years the digital revolution has displaced many of the mid-skill jobs that underpinned 20th-century middle-class life. Typists, ticket agents, bank tellers and many production-line jobs have been dispensed with, just as the weavers were.

Even worse, this transformations bring inequalities that governments should fix and transform the education system seems to be the right thing to do (Of course, this a long term strategy).

Anger about rising inequality is bound to grow, but politicians will find it hard to address the problem. Shunning progress would be as futile now as the Luddites’ protests against mechanised looms were in the 1810s, because any country that tried to stop would be left behind by competitors eager to embrace new technolog. […] The main way in which governments can help their people through this dislocation is through education systems. One of the reasons for the improvement in workers’ fortunes in the latter part of the Industrial Revolution was because schools were built to educate them—a dramatic change at the time. Now those schools themselves need to be changed, to foster the creativity that humans will need to set them apart from computers. There should be less rote-learning and more critical thinking. Technology itself will help, whether through MOOCs (massive open online courses) or even video games that simulate the skills needed for work. […] Yet however well people are taught, their abilities will remain unequal, and in a world which is increasingly polarised economically, many will find their job prospects dimmed and wages squeezed. The best way of helping them is not, as many on the left seem to think, to push up minimum wages. Jacking up the floor too far would accelerate the shift from human workers to computers. Better to top up low wages with public money so that anyone who works has a reasonable income, through a bold expansion of the tax credits that countries such as America and Britain use.

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Reverse innovation in mHealth. Innovating in emerging countries to impact in the global market.

Recently, doctors in Austria implanted into a patient the first pacemaker which does not require surgery. Medtronic says it is the smallest pacemaker in the world. The device is 24 millimeters long and 0.75 cubic centimeters in volume—a tenth the size of a conventional pacemaker. Earlier this year, another device manufacturer, St. Jude Medical, bought a startup called Nanostim that makes another tiny pacemaker, and St. Jude is offering it to patients in Europe. This device is 41 millimeters long and one cubic centimeter in volume. The main advantage of the reduced dimesions of this pacemaker is that doctors can implant it into the heart through blood vessels, via an incision in the thigh. They use steerable, flexible tubes called catheters to push the pacemakers through a large vein.

Moreover the novel features of this pacemaker extend beyond its innovative implantation. The mini-pacemaker’s telemetry might facilitate a development in the future that would allow healthcare professionals to control the device and monitor patients using a standard programmer via smartphones, thereby providing individual treatment to patients in the most rural of areas. –

Why did Medtronic start working on this?. This post at the Harvard Business Review addresses the topic very well. It explains how Medtronic started working on this tiny pacemaker to fit the requirements of emerging markets such as India. Eventually, they come up with an innovative product for the global market.

Sixty-nine percent of deaths in the developing world are due to chronic disease, yet only 2.3% of international aid is allocated to chronic disease. In the United States, hospitalization of chronic disease patients accounts for the majority of health care costs. But innovation in managing chronic disease is happening faster in emerging markets such as India as a result of the scarcity of physicians.

At this point, few specialists are actually trained to monitor this device, or other Medtronic devices. In addition, the fragmentation of India’s healthcare system means that clinical outcomes aren’t monitored and evaluated in a standardized way. This increases the potential for device failure, and personal-injury lawsuits — a serious concern for Medtronic in a market with millions of customers. Medtronic recently paid $268 million to settle cases stemming from fracture-prone cables used to connect hearts to defibrillators, which earlier recalls could have avoided.

But Medtronic anticipated these institutional voids in the healthcare regulatory system. To preempt poor clinical-outcome monitoring, Medtronic placed passive remote sensors in the stent and pacemaker that transmit signals via any mobile handset to a cloud computing infrastructure — “patient care in the cloud.” The technology is being adapted for remote monitoring and adjustment of other products, including neuromodulators for Parkinson’s patients, and glucose modules.

At this point, few specialists are actually trained to monitor this device, or other Medtronic devices. In addition, the fragmentation of India’s healthcare system means that clinical outcomes aren’t monitored and evaluated in a standardized way. This increases the potential for device failure, and personal-injury lawsuits — a serious concern for Medtronic in a market with millions of customers. Medtronic recently paid $268 million to settle cases stemming from fracture-prone cables used to connect hearts to defibrillators, which earlier recalls could have avoided.

Actually, this process is known from some time ago as reverse innovation :

The process of reverse innovation begins by focusing on needs and requirements for low-cost products in countries like India and China. Once products are developed for these markets, they are then sold elsewhere – even in the West – at low prices which creates new markets and uses for these innovations.

We can see it as another consequence of globalization, medical device innovators have been embracing the notion of making products simpler, stripping out costs to make devices affordable for those who have very little income, and adapting devices to make them invaluable for healthcare professionals who don’t have the state-of-the-art facilities of a Western hospital. For sure, we will continue to see this process in the coming years.

Stephen Oesterle, Medtronic’s Vice President for Medicine and Technology, announced the development of the mini-pacemaker at the 2010 TEDMED

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#brainmonth hangout

#brainmonth hangout poster
The EC has promoted May 2013 as the European Month of the Brain “a full month packed with events and activities to make decision-makers, stakeholders, the media and the public aware of the successes achieved and the challenges still laying ahead for brain research.”

Personally, I had the opportunity to attend the European Brain Research conference in Brussels a few weeks ago. It was a great opportunity to listen relevant scientics, researchers, policymaker and companies discussing about the future and next challengues of the brain research.

To wrap up the #brainmonth a Google Hangout was hold yesterday and I was kindly asked to participate on it (thank again to EC for the invitation).

And here is the video of the hangout:

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The Mesh Of Civilizations

The Mesh Of Civilizations

Bogdan State is PhD candidate at Stanford University, in collaboration with other colleagues from Cornell University, Qatar Computing Research Institute and the Yahoo! Labs Barcelona is a research lab have recently published this work where they try to prove the The Clash of Civilizations theory proposed by Samuel P. Huntington in a 1992.

According to this theory:

the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural. Nation states will remain the most powerful actors in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future

Within this work,

Rather than examining the relations among states, we take a bottom-up view by examining the flows of email between countries, to map global patterns of cross-national integration and divi-sion based on the structure of interpersonal social ties among the populations of the world’s countries.

The figure of this post shows the outcome of the State’s research work. It shows the relationships between the countries according to the emails exchanged between them. The color of the node shows the civilization label according to Huntington’s thesis. The red arrow points out the Spain node which acts as bridge between the Western and the Latin America cluster.

As the authors argues in the discussion section one limitation is related to the fact that they investigated a communication network (there is no necessary “clash” between countries that do not communicate, and Huntington’s thesis was concerned primarily with ethnic conflict). There are also important effects associated with common language, previous colonial relationships, as well as with Hofstede’s uncertainty avoidance (UAI) measure.

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Lo que nos deja 2012

Feliz 2013

Listas, resúmenes, lo mejor y lo peor de 2012.

– El 2012 visto por Google: Zeitgeist 2012: Year In Review. Sin lugar a dudas Google y Youtube se han convertido en dos de las herramientas más utilizadas para estar al día y entender todo lo que sucede a nuestro alrededor. La huella es clara y la respuesta a la pregunta ¿Qué buscamos este año? resume muy bien muchos de los acontecimientos más destacados de este año.

– 2012 ha sido sin lugar a dudas un año intenso en lo político, económico y social. Especialmente en España. Aqui tenemos un resumen de España en 12 gráficos.

– Estas son las mejores fotos del 2012 de la revista National Geographic

Los 10 errores tecnológicos del año 2012. Desde el punto de vista del sector tecnológico, este año 2012 hemos asistido al lanzamiento de Windows 8, el iPad Mini o la presentación del Project Glass de Google, tres momentos destacados entre otros muchos que han hecho que este año 2012 haya sido tan interesante. Sin embargo, además de sus luces, este año que terminamos también ha tenido sus sombras materializadas en malas decisiones, errores y fiascos. Personalmente destacaría: Los mapas de Apple, El nuevo canon digital de España y SOPA.

Más de 150 mensajes para felicitar el Año Nuevo 2013 con humor

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Top Ten App para Tablets Android

Desde hace algo menos de un año tengo una tablet Android ASUS Transformer y realmente cada día estoy más contento con ella. El principal inconveniente que le veía al principio era la falta de aplicaciones adaptadas para tablets, a medida que van apareciendo la tablet se va haciendo más útil e incluso algunas veces mucho más practica de utilizar que el portatil.

1. Gmail. La app de Gmail para tablets me parece muy buena. Leer el correo aqui me resulta más cómodo que en el ordenador.

2. Feedly. Para leer los RSS. Se sincroniza con Google Reader y además puedes configurar una parte con noticias sugeridas. Es muy cómoda y práctica de utilizar e igual que me pasa con el correo me gusta más leer los feeds aqui antes que en el ordenador.

3. MX Video Player. El mejor reproductor que he encontrado hasta ahora.

4. Plume for twitter. Para Twitter.

5. Flickr Viewer HD.

6. Dropbox + Dropsync. La app de dropbox está genial pero hace falta utilizar otra app (Dropsync) si quieres descargarte al tablet varios archivos automáticamente.

7. AirDroid. La descubrí esta semana. Cuando lanzas esta aplicación puedes conectarte desde un navegador en un ordendor dentro de tu misma LAN con la tablet. Simplemente hay que poner en el navegador http://web.airdroid.com/ una password que genera la app y ya está conectado. Permite incluso enviar archivos de varios Gb.

8. Pulse. Para leer noticias. Se puede personalizar totalmente. La experiencia de usuario es muy buena.

9. File Manager. No está adaptada para tablets y la UX no es demasiado buena pero funciona muy bien con discos en red

10. Dolphin Browse. Un navegador minimalista pero que funciona a las mil maravillas.

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Sufriendo la Obsolescencia Programada en mis propias carnes

Se denomina obsolescencia programada u obsolescencia planificada a la determinación, la planificación o programación del fin de la vida útil de un producto o servicio de modo que —tras un período de tiempo calculado de antemano por el fabricante o por la empresa de servicios durante la fase de diseño de dicho producto o servicio— éste se torne obsoleto, no funcional, inútil o inservible.

Esta semana me he encontrado con que al encender mi impresora EPSON C46 la luz de encendido y la luz de mantenimiento (de falta de tinta y de falta de papel), se iluminaban intermitentemente en verde y rojo respectivamente, esto quiere decir que la lleves a mantenimiento, menos mal que existe Internet y Googleando un poco me encuentro con esto y esto fue lo que pasó:

El truco del contador no es el único que utilizan. Si tu impresora te dice que está estropeada, antes de llevarla a ningún sitio, pregúntale a Google!

Sobre el tema de la Obsolescencia Programada el documental Comprar, tirar, comprar de RTVE es muy esclarecedor y educativo. Recomendado!

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Cultura online. Recursos gratuitos.

Para muchos artistas y creadores o generadores de contenido el libre intercambio de archivos gracias a Internet no supone una pérdida de dinero ni una interferencia en sus intereses comerciales, ni les arruina sino que les da visibilidad y sirve como medio de promoción.

1. Paulo Coelho ofrece en su propio blog una lista de enlaces en donde están disponibles sus libros en versión digital.

2. Academic Earth, Khan Academy. Cursos de todo tipo: biología, economía, ingeniería…

3. Cursos de Universidad Berkeley.

4. MIT Open Course Ware http://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm

5. Cursos de Stanford, en este caso puedes incluso participar, hacer ejercicios y exámenes y recibir a cambio un pequeño certificado de haber superado el la asignatura. Para este primer semestre de 2012 ofrecen bajo este formato: Lean Launchpad, Technology Entrepreneurship, Anatomy, Making Green Buildings, Information Theory, Model Thinking, CS 101, Machine Learning, Software as a Service, Human-Computer Interaction, Natural Language Processing, Game Theory, Probabilistic Graphical Models, Cryptography, Design and Analysis of Algorithms I, Computer Security

6. Conciertos en streaming gratis: Coldplay en octubre del año pasado

7. Recopilación de una cantidad ingente de datos, ordenados, clasificados y listos para utilizar en presentaciones: gapminder.org/

8. TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) es una organización sin ánimo de lucro dedicada a las “ideas que vale la pena difundir” (Ideas worth spreading). TED es conocida por su congreso anual (TED Conference) y sus charlas (TED Talks) que cubren un amplio espectro de temas que incluyen ciencias, arte y diseño, política, educación, cultura, negocios, asuntos globales, tecnología y desarrollo, y entretenimiento. Los conferenciantes han incluido a personas como Bill Clinton, James D. Watson, Murray Gell-Mann, Bill Gates, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, y Billy Graham. Gratuitas accesibles a todo el mundo y con subtitulos en la mayoría de los casos.

9. Unos 200 Millones de fotos con licencia Creative Commons en Flickr: 29.664.243 (Atribución), 10.508.590 (Atribución- Obras no derivadas), 58.769.937 (Atribución-Nocomercial-Obras no derivadas), 27.936.682 (Atribución- No comercial), 59.779.481 (Atribución-No comercial-Compartir), 18.493.320 (Atribución- Compartir)

10. Wikipedia que ha logrado más de 17 millones de artículos en 278 idiomas.

11. eBooks gratuitos en Amazon: 1600+ títulos en castellano El Quijote, La Regenta, etc… www.amazon.es 4.500+ en inglés (A Tale of Two Cities, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland) www.amazon.com

13. Música Creative Commons 342,300 canciones www.jamendo.com/es/ además de ccmixter.org/ freemusicarchive.org/

14. Aprende a programar con Stanford en iTunes http://www.apple.com/education/itunes-u/

15. HTML, CSS y Javascript en https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/learn“>Mozilla’s Developer Network 

16. C++, Java, Python, GO Android en http://code.google.com/intl/es-ES/edu/courses.html“>Google Code University 

17. http://p2pu.org/es/groups/“>P2P University 

18. OpenWareCourse Universia. La red de universidades iberoamericanas, Universia, crea el consorcio OCW Universia que promueve la difusión en abierto de material de apoyo a la formación, incentivando la participación de su profesorado en dicha iniciativa. La misión de esta acción es promocionar la educación y potenciar el conocimiento de manera abierta y sin restricciones.

OpenCourseWare es una herramienta que permite la libre publicación de material y proporciona los contenidos de forma gratuita a usuarios de todo el mundo. No es un servicio de formación a distancia a través del cual se pueda cursar ningún estudio o titulación, ni recibir ningún tipo de acreditación.

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