Hashtag Trending Feb.27- Will AI enable a four-day week?; SpaceX under scrutiny for allegedly blocking satellite internet services in Taiwan; How much does it cost to make the Apple Vision Pro?


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Will AI give us a four-day workweek?  The CEO of Nvidia says it’s time to stop teaching the kids to code. Are companies spying on you in your Teams and Slack chats? And how much does it cost to make the VisionPro headset?

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All this and more on the “I just wanna be George Jetson”  edition of Hashtag Trending. I’m your host Jim Love, CIO of IT World Canada and TechNewsDay in the US. 

The concept of a four-day workweek, once considered a distant dream for many, is inching closer to reality, thanks in part to advancements in artificial intelligence (AI). As AI becomes more integrated into office operations, its potential to reshape the traditional workweek is becoming increasingly apparent. Recent trials in countries like the UK, Iceland, and Portugal have shown promising results, with companies reporting boosts in employee morale and productivity.

A survey by Tech.co found that organizations with a four-day workweek are more likely to use AI extensively. For instance, 29 per cent of these organizations with a four-day week implement generative AI tools such as ChatGPT to streamline operations, compared to only 8 per cent of companies working five days a week. 

The adoption of AI not only automates mundane tasks but also frees up valuable time, allowing employees to focus on more complex and creative work.

Companies like Driftime, a London-based digital design agency, have leveraged AI to enable a flexible four-day workweek. By automating simple tasks, Driftime has seen an increase in the quality of work produced and a significant improvement in staff satisfaction. Similarly, TechNET IT Recruitment has utilized AI to save their consultants an average of 21 hours per week, leading to faster role fulfillment and an enhanced work-life balance for their team.

However, the transition to a shorter workweek powered by AI is not without its challenges. Organizational culture and an openness to innovative work structures play a crucial role in the successful adoption of a four-day workweek. Moreover, while AI can significantly benefit certain industries, its development still has a long way to go before it can universally reduce human working hours.

Despite these hurdles, the momentum towards a four-day workweek is growing, with business leaders from some of the world’s largest companies acknowledging its inevitability. As AI continues to evolve, it may well make the four-day workweek an unavoidable future, offering employees more time for personal pursuits while maintaining, or even enhancing, productivity and job satisfaction.

I’m still waiting to be George Jetson. Google it.

Sources include: BBC Worklife

Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang challenged the idea that learning to code is essential for the younger generation. It wasn’t an offhand comment, he did this at the World Government Summit in Dubai this week. 

Huang argued that the advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) has reached a point where coding tasks can be effectively managed by AI itself, suggesting that human efforts would be better directed towards fields like biology, education, manufacturing, and farming.

Huang envisions a future where AI’s capabilities in programming allow people to communicate with computers using natural language, effectively making everyone a programmer without needing to learn complex coding languages.

This shift, according to Huang, opens up the opportunity for individuals to focus on acquiring expertise in areas that AI cannot easily replicate, thereby contributing more significantly to society. 

However, Huang also emphasized the importance of upskilling, indicating that while the need to learn traditional programming may diminish, there is still a need for people to understand how to apply AI technologies effectively. 

This suggests a future educational landscape where the focus shifts from teaching coding as a fundamental skill to integrating AI literacy across various domains of knowledge and expertise.

Listeners would be advised to listen carefully and skeptically to this. I think a more nuanced view would be that we are going to need a lot fewer people who have a much higher skill level in terms of understanding how AI works, rather than just simple coding. And other disciplines are going to need some very top notch thinkers capable of bridging the gap between different and perhaps traditional industries and the new opportunities afforded by AI. 

In our opinion – the future lies in nuance, not black and white thinking.

Sources include: Tom’s Hardware

According to a Wall Street Journal video report, SpaceX, under the leadership of Elon Musk, is facing scrutiny for potentially blocking satellite internet services in Taiwan, which could be a violation of its contractual obligations with the U.S. government. 

This has prompted one American Congressman, Mike Gallagher to express concerns, especially regarding the implications for U.S. military personnel amid potential Chinese military aggression against Taiwan.

The report highlights the strategic importance of SpaceX’s Starshield military satellites, which are utilized by Taiwan for intelligence and military purposes, with the U.S. government having invested over $100 million in the project. The congressman has requested detailed information on the satellite operations by March 8.

Additionally, the situation is complicated by reports from Defense One that Russia is using SpaceX’s Starlink satellite devices on the frontlines in Ukraine. This has been confirmed by a representative of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, noting that the Russian military’s use of Starlink has become systematic. 

Despite Elon Musk stating that the devices were not sold to Russia, the Ukrainian Armed Forces are actively working to neutralize the threat posed by Starlink on the frontline, with the Ministry of Digital Transformation proposing a solution to Musk for locating Starlink devices.

This raises concerns about the geopolitical implications of private companies like SpaceX providing critical satellite internet services, especially in conflict zones and areas of strategic interest like Taiwan and Ukraine.

Sources: MSN.com and the Wall Street Journal 

I almost skipped this story because it came from Fox which, I think we’ll all admit, has some issues with accuracy in journalism. But 

A recent report has revealed that several major companies, including Walmart, Delta, T-Mobile, Chevron, and Starbucks, are now monitoring employee conversations on messaging apps using software from a startup AI company called “Aware.” This software scans platforms like Slack and Microsoft Teams for keywords that may indicate employee dissatisfaction and potential safety risks. “Aware” claims it has assessed up to 20 billion individual messages from more than 3 million employees.

The move towards remote work has increased the volume of employee chats taking place online, raising new concerns about privacy and surveillance in the workplace. 

Jeff Schumann, co-founder and CEO of the Columbus, Ohio-based startup, says that AI helps companies “understand the risk within their communications,” getting a read on employee sentiment in real time, rather than depending on an annual or twice-per-year survey.

The company claims that it doesn’t monitor individual employees, but at least one article indicates that it may have the ability to do this. 

Regardless, this does raise issues about how artificial intelligence in the workplace is used to monitor employees and raises important questions about the balance between employee privacy and company oversight. 

As AI technology continues to evolve, it’s likely that its use in employee monitoring will become more widespread, prompting further debate on the ethics and implications of such practices.

Source: Fox Business and CNBC

Apple’s Vision Pro headset carries an impressive starting price tag of $3,499 US. 

But how much does it cost to make? A company called Omdia looked to uncover the cost to Apple for building one of these headsets, breaking down the Bill of Materials (BoM).

The analysis divided the headset into 11 groups of components, identifying the two main micro-OLED displays as the most expensive parts. Manufactured by Sony Semiconductors, these displays cost Apple an estimated $456, accounting for 29.6 per cent of the total BoM. The headset’s brains, including an M2 chip for running the VisionOS operating system and handling image processing, along with a separate R1 chip for managing inputs from cameras, microphones, and sensors, were estimated to cost $240, making up 15.6 per cent of the total BoM.

Overall, Omdia estimates the total BoM for the cheapest Vision Pro model at $1,542, which is 44 per cent of its retail cost. 

For comparison, the BoM of a 256GB iPhone 15 Pro Max is around $500, or approximately 42 per cent of its retail price. It’s about the same margin – but a lot more iPhones are sold than VisionOS devices.

And calculating a profit margin solely based on BoM is challenging due to the myriad associated costs, such as R&D, assembly, and shipping.

Omdia’s projections suggest that Apple will produce around 200,000 Vision Pro units this year, with an estimated 1 million units expected in the few years beyond 2024 following the launch of the new Vision Pro.

The bottom line? This is a significant investment Apple has made in developing the Vision Pro headset. If they sell a million of these, I assume they will make back their R&D costs and make a profit. 

I don’t think we’ll have to do a gofundme for this trillion dollar company, but it does illustrate the size of the bet that companies are making on augmented and virtual reality.

Source: ZDNet

Hashtag Trending goes to air five days a week with daily newscasts and a weekend interview show that we creatively called – the weekend edition. 

I got comments on my story yesterday on the growth in C level titles. Thanks. I am really interested in what you think about AI and your reaction to the story today. 

I like to keep it real and knowing what you think is a big help. 

Send us a note at [email protected] or drop us a comment under the show notes at itworldcanada.com/podcasts – look for Hashtag Trending. 

Thanks for listening and have a Terrific Tuesday.

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