The Major Concerns Around Facial Recognition Technology

Facial recognition software has become increasingly popular in the past several years. It is used everywhere from airports, venues, shopping centers and even by law enforcement. While there are a few potential benefits to using the technology to prevent and solve crimes, there are many concerns about the privacy, safety and legislation regarding the use of the technology.

Facial recognition technology uses a database of photos, such as mugshots and driver’s license photos to identify people in security photos and videos. It uses biometrics to map facial features and help verify identity through key features of the face. The most key feature is the geometry of a face such as the distance between a person’s eyes and the distance from their forehead to their chin. This then creates what is called a “facial signature.” It is a mathematical formula that is then compared to a database of known faces.

The market for this technology is growing exponentially. According to a research report “Facial Recognition Market” by Component, the facial recognition industry is expected to grow $3.2 billion in 2019 to $7.0 billion by 2024 in the U.S. The most significant uses for the technology being for surveillance and marketing. This, however, raises concerns for many people.

The main reason for concerns amongst citizens is the lack of federal regulations surrounding the use of facial recognition technology. Many are worried about how accurate the technology is and if there are biases and misinformation in these technologies. One issue, for example, is that the technology has been proven in multiple studies to be inaccurate at identifying people of color, especially black women.Another major concern is the use of facial recognition for law enforcement purposes. Today, many police departments in the U.S., including New York City, Chicago, Detroit and Orlando, have begun utilizing the technology. According to a May 2018 report, the FBI has access to 412 million facial images for searches.

Not only is this a concern with the possibility of misidentifying someone and leading to wrongful convictions, it can also be very damaging to our society by being abused by law enforcement for things like constant surveillance of the public. Currently, the Chinese government is already using facial recognition to arrest jaywalkers and other petty crimes that cause debate amongst what is considered basic civil rights and privacy issues versus protecting the public. Accuracy and accountability are necessary when it comes to the use of technology, especially regarding the justice system.

The concerns have not gone unnoticed by politicians and many cities have started to create legislation around these issues. Oregon and New Hampshire have banned the use of facial recognition in body cameras for police officers. California cities, such as San Francisco and Oakland, and some cities in Massachusetts have outlawed certain uses of facial recognition technology for city officials including law enforcement.

The Utah Department of Public Safety has also put forth some bans on the use of facial recognition for active criminal cases. Law enforcement in Utah claim that the use of facial recognition software helps keep dangerous criminals off the streets, but advocates say that there is no checks and balances when it comes to the system. Recent pushes from Portland, Oregon show that they are soon to follow suit.

The latest legislation push to put limitations on facial recognition technology is a California bill, AB 1215, also referred to as the Body Camera Accountability Act. This bill will temporarily stop California law enforcement from adding face and other biometric surveillance technology to officer-worn body cameras for use against the public in California.

According to the ACLU of Southern California, “AB 1215 is a common-sense bill that rightly concludes that keeping our communities safe doesn’t have to come at the expense of our fundamental freedoms. We should all be able to safely live our lives without being watched and targeted by the government.”

Governor Gavin Newsom must decide whether or not to sign it into law by October 13. If he does, it will go into effect in January.
Law enforcement isn’t the only issue with the technology that is of concern. U.S. Customs and Border Protection in partnership with Delta have added facial scanning to the Atlanta airport’s Concourse E, its Detroit hub, boarding gates in Minneapolis and Salt Lake City, and this month to Los Angeles International Airport. The use of this technology causes concerns about how much people are being watched and if hackers can access this data causing more harm than good.

An activist group called Fight for the Future said facial recognition is an invasive technology that can be used for surveillance.

“Facial recognition really doesn’t have a place in society,” said Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future. “It’s deeply invasive, and from our perspective, the potential harm to society and human liberties far outweigh the potential benefits.”

With the vast number of concerns and privacy issues surrounding facial recognition software and its use, cities around the U.S. will face more dilemmas as they attempt to tackle these issues. AI and facial recognition technology are only growing and they can be powerful and helpful tools when used correctly, but can also cause harm with privacy and security issues. Lawmakers will have to balance this and determine when and how facial technology will be utilized and monitor the use, or in some cases abuse, of the technology.

Follow me on LinkedIn. Check out my website.

Nicole Martin is the owner of NR Digital Consulting and host of Talk Digital To Me Podcast. She has worked in many different industries on customer

Source: The Major Concerns Around Facial Recognition Technology

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The Future Of Sales And The Pervasiveness Of Technology

I was recently a guest speaker at the Sales Leadership Conference organized by Dr. Karen Peesker, Co-Founder of the Sales Leadership Institute, a department at the Toronto Metropolitan University (formally Ryerson University) in Toronto, Canada. The conference was hosted by IT World Canada, Microsoft, DHL, Rogers and other community leaders. The conference goals were to bring university professors, students, industry leaders, and academicians to share their learning programs, identify gaps and requirements to advance the sales profession and most importantly, tackle a vision for the future of sales.

The strongest theme of the conference was the business imperative for advancing digital literacy, data literacy and ensuring that technology was firmly embedded in all sales learning programs. Digital literacy is best defined as an individual’s ability to find, evaluate, and clearly communicate information and knowledge through using diverse digital platforms. It is best evaluated by an individual’s interaction skills with technology and includes: grammar, composition, typing skills and the ability to produce text, images, audio and designs using technology.

This point was acutely reinforced by Fawn Annan, the CEO of IT World Canada (ITWC), with her high impact video conference address, where she identified how pervasive technology is in shifting the global sales landscape. Her panoramic and rich perspectives highlighting how diverse technologies – AI, analytics, IoT, driverless cars – are collectively impacting the world of a sales professional at work, and in society.

Annan quoted Gartner Group’s research stating that “a seller’s decision making is now based more on data, analytics and AI, versus intuition and experience” – prior stable hallmarks of a sales professional. This means that sales professionals will need far more digital literacy and data literacy training to be able to function in a far more data centric world. Other key takeaways from this video included:

1.) Hyper automation is advancing a buyer’s sales journey, and that a seller only has 26 moments to engage and influence a buyer in his /her purchasing journey. In other words, finding the right moments is even more important in following the customer data crumbs.

2.) Consumers check their cell phones on average 47 times/day and these frequent check-in’s, according to Google, are referred to as micro-moments. Hence the increased value of AI driven advertising as well the increasing intrusion consumers feel in invading their privacy.

3.) Over 76% of consumers transact and ship on mobile devices, and this number is increasing year-over-year. Hence, sales professionals’ primary interaction devices must be mobile and portable.4.) Sales applications exist throughout the sales buyer’s journey and increasingly, they are AI applications. According to McKinsey, the fastest growing companies invest more in AI sales digital tools than slower growth companies. A major contributor of sales performance success is having a robust sales software infrastructure. Hence, companies must accelerate their investments in sales intelligence software toolkits for advancing competitive advantage.

5.) Annan profiled two companies in her video address: SalesChoice and RingCentral. SalesChoice’s focus is on accelerating the growth of sales professionals and is a comprehensive AI platform well known for its proven sales use cases. Solutions include:

· Predictive Opportunity Scoring (focusing on the best deals with highest probability of a win outcome),

· Predictive Sales Forecasting that are securing prediction levels of up to 95% accuracy,

· Monitoring your data to ensure the AI predictions are on solid foundations,

· Relationship intelligence, with their new alliance partner, IntroHive, to bring even more win or loss signals to the attention of sales professionals. Who would not want to buy software that can predict your future outcomes at the top of your funnel and predict a win or a loss on every sales deal outcome, and identify the depth and breadth of your customer relationships across your enterprise?

· Mood and Health Intelligence: SalesChoice is active in innovation research with the Ontario Center of Innovation (AVIN program) and Purolator, propagating the importance of health in advancing employee productivity, and reducing attrition. Did you know that according to Payscale, sales account management was ranked as the second most stressful job, with 73% of respondents rating the role as “highly stressful.” Salespeople are under a lot of pressure to meet quota, convert quickly, and keep approval rankings high.

So increasing health approaches are critical to ensure sales talent don’t burn out or give up. Estimates of annual turnover among U.S. salespeople run as high as 27%—twice the rate in the overall labor force. In many industries, the average tenure of a sales professionals is less than two years. Given that the costs to recruit a sales professional is 20% and the time it takes to ramp up a sales professional is around 9 months, you can see how expensive it is to not retain your sales talent.

AI can act like a crystal ball. With good data, the mathematical genius in an AI algorithm and computational power is like the holy grail to guide sales professionals to greater deal outcome success and hopefully to happier behaviors and positive win outcomes as well.

The second company profiled was Ring Central, where Annan highlighted their collaboration and call center solutions, using AI methods to optimize building more productive customer interactions. Leaders like Sheevaun Thatcher, are advancing sales modernization programs at Ring Central, integrated diverse disciplines from: Adult Learning, Interactive Design, Strategic Planning, Collaborative Leadership, Diversity and Inclusiveness and always connecting the dots seamlessly. If there is a leader to watch advancing the field of sales and learning enablement, it is Sheevaun Thatcher.

Annan consistently highlighted that having advanced AI solutions can make a major difference to your digital conversion success, and reinforced that the old tools of looking in the rear view mirror are simply yesterday’s approaches. Due to the rapid speed of our world’s changing footprint, having smarter and forward looking (predictive AI analytics) toolkits is the only way that companies can grow faster, and more importantly, survive.

Increased AI Sales Toolkits Knowledge and Competency is Key.

Educating sales professionals to be ready for a smarter AI focused workplace will require skills, knowledge and proficiency in using modernized toolkits. So sales training must offer hands-on and practical skills development in universities to hit the ground running and bring value to a company immediately upon hiring.

Companies that use AI for sales in pre-sales have seen a 50% boost in leads, a 60-70% reduction in call time, and a 40-60% cost reduction. Numerous toolkits are in the market identifying the ideal buyer prospect and even knowing the propensity (density) of a buyer’s interest in your solution. Knowing where you customer is in their buyer journey is an inflection point for engaging in a micro-moment. Leading solutions advancing leads using AI are profiled in this blog.

In addition to pre-sales, other AI approaches can be used in opportunity scoring, predictive forecasting, and even mood / health indicator correlated to win rates. These are all areas that SalesChoice, a former ITWC Digital Transformation Award recipient, has been pioneering in.

According to the 2021 Buyer Experience Study, 80% of SaaS buyers report the buying process has too many steps and results in frustration for both the buyers and sellers. Hence, what this means for developing sales training programs is that skills not relevant to technology will need to be balanced with those that are. For example, empathy and two-way listening is key. Strong sales professionals understand that a buyer comes to solve a specific problem and not to buy your product. Understanding your buyer’s need is key in order to find a path for resolving it rapidly and reducing buyer and seller friction.

Research has shown that identifying the needs of your buyer can shorten sales cycle by as much as 65%. Customers (buyers) are coming into sales cycles far more informed from online sources. Hence, sales professionals need to learn more consultation skills to unravel the customer’s needs using relevant problem solving skills, enabled with as much prior information on the buyer as the buyer has on the seller.

Increase Training on Collaboration and Selling Virtually

With continued reliance on working virtually, the sales professionals will need to use a variety of online sales toolkits, ranging from a leading CRM (HubSpot, Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, etc.,), calendar management system, and collaboration system (like Zoom, or Microsoft Teams) etc. Expertise for effective collaboration will need to include skills in emotional intelligence, written skills, video presence (posture, smiling vs frowning), and voice skills (how you sound impacts how people want to listen). Other key skills like relationship development are increasingly valued in our network economy as building trust online must be mastered in seconds to capture a conversion in a micro-moment exchange.

Increase Digital Literacy Skills

There are many skills in digital literacy – from being able to use software, operate a digital device, to the ability to manage complex cognitive, social, emotional and motor skills to function effectively in digital high-tech environments. Key areas in digital literacy for a sales professional will need to include: the ability to understand reading instructions in digital environments, create or analyze simple to complex graphical displays in user interfaces, use diverse visualization methods, extract knowledge from non-linear, hypertextual navigation, and ascertain the quality and the validity of the information that is being presented.

Increase Data Science and AI Skills

In our data rich world, it is imperative for sales professionals to develop stronger data literacy skills. Data literacy skills include the ability of a sales professional to identify, understand, operate on, and use data effectively. Gartner Group defines data literacy as “the ability to read, write and communicate data in context, including an understanding of data sources and constructs, analytical methods and techniques applied, and the ability to describe the use case, application and resulting value.

Further, data literacy is an underlying component of digital dexterity — an employee’s ability and desire to use existing and emerging technology to drive better business outcomes.” Gartner Group is predicting that by 2023, data literacy will become essential in driving business value, demonstrated by its formal inclusion in over 80% of data and analytics strategies and change management programs.

However, traditionally sales professionals possess stronger skills in relationship building, listening and understanding people’s emotional states. A recent survey found that out of over 7M sales professionals on Linkedin, only 0.4% indicated they had studied math. This mirrors my experience as well leading sales teams or building software for sales professionals. Data literacy is a major gap in sales and to bridge this gap, companies will need to invest in training sales professionals in math, statistics and AI general concepts. This also will shift the hiring profile as increasing digital literacy and data skills are imperative to lead in the changing data rich world.

Conclusion

The Sales Leadership Institute and the leadership of Dr. Karen Peesker is an excellent initiative that requires government and industry support, as close to 5% of the North American labour population is comprised of sales professionals. Sales is an important profession focused on selling a company’s products or services, and also one that manages the customer’s relationship from an account management perspective.

Skill development in digital literacy, data literacy, relationship intelligence, and not losing sight of the softer skills (communication, written and oral, and listening) are all critical to advance the sales profession and be prepared to compete in a world that, as Annan shared in her video address, is increasingly technology centric.

SalesChoice, an AI SaaS company focused on Ending Revenue Uncertainty and brining more Humanity to Sales to avoid attention deficit disorder using AI and Cognitive Sciences. A former Accenture, Xerox and Citicorp executive, she bridges governance, strategy and operations in her AI initiatives. She is also a board advisor of the Forbes School of Business and Technology, and the AI Forum. She is passionate about modernizing innovation with disruptive technologies (SaaS/Cloud, Smart Apps, AI, IoT, Robots and Cobots), with 14 books in the market, with The AI Dilemma just released. Follow her on Linked In or on Twitter or her Website. You can also access her at The AI Directory.

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Source: The Future Of Sales And The Pervasiveness Of Technology

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Why All Investors Need To Own Gold and Bitcoin

I was lucky enough to find myself on GB News at the weekend, standing in for the veteran broadcaster Alastair Stewart, who was taking some no doubt well-deserved time off. No prizes for guessing what subject was the main focus of the two two-hour programmes.

The world has changed, and investors need to take that into account

There were all sorts of guests – Russian, Ukrainian, Polish – who all knew their onions, and added so many profound insights into the conflict. I sat there trying to ask sensible questions while absorbing as much information as I possibly could. I can’t pretend to be informed on this subject, despite being a lot more so now than I was a week ago – like most of us, I guess.

We covered so many subjects. The incredible bravery of the Ukrainian people and the resilience they have shown in the face of much better-armed opponents; the apparent strategic mistakes made by Russian forces so far, and the poor communication; the ruthlessness of Putin, the need to win and the risk that he doubles down.

We also covered sanctions, Swift and the weaponisation of money; the war on the oligarchs and the kleptocrats; the imminent refugee crisis; propaganda; the tacit alliance between Russia and China – and that China will be watching all of this and learning; the ramifications for Taiwan; the dependency of so many nations on Ukraine and Russia for food supplies. And much more besides. I watched, listened and tried to learn.

I left the studio with a distinct feeling of dread that this invasion may prove to be the beginning of something much bigger. Russian commentator Konstantin Kisin, who hosts the popular podcast Triggerpod, kept repeating the point that in terms of historic significance this invasion is “bigger than 9-11”. The geopolitical landscape has changed, he said, and the West is at war.

On both days, I left the studio feeling glad that I owned gold. It has been a source of immense disappointment and frustration to me, as regular readers will know, but there is a time to own gold and now would appear to be one of those times. I have reported more times than I care to remember on the vast amounts both Russia and China have accumulated over the last 20 years.

Meanwhile, the way that the West has weaponised its money and banking against Russia is extraordinary – unprecedented even, and made possible by digital banking and modern technology. China is surely looking at this weaponisation, looking at Taiwan, and thinking that to protect itself, it needs to de-dollarise as quickly and discreetly as possible. Indeed, we know China has already been doing that.

With so much money frozen abroad, one of the few ways in which Russia can actually fund itself is by selling its gold, probably via Dubai, so that may mean selling pressure. Even so, I think gold rises from here.

Hold gold, bitcoin and gold miners in the Americas

Inflation comes with war; money gets debased, no matter which side you are on. If there is some kind of China-Russia, anti-West alliance, then just as we have retaliated against Russia through Swift and the banking system, that alliance will do the same in reverse. Ergo, it will wage war on the dollar.

Western money is vulnerable. Fiat money has been printed into oblivion, while interest rates have been suppressed. Official inflation is already at 7%, while actual inflation is arguably much higher. Yet the system probably can’t take interest rates much above two or three percent. There is too much debt.

When the price of raw materials – commodities and natural resources – goes up even more because a key supplier, Russia, has been cut off, the pain of inflation is going to get worse. Governments may well attempt to impose price controls, but history shows that any relief that comes from price controls is only temporary. For the most part they don’t work and often just lead to shortages.

I’ve said for many years all China has to do is declare what its gold holdings really are – and you can see last year’s estimates here (I will do an update on this soon) – and that will be tantamount to a declaration of war. My theory, remember, is that China’s gold holdings are as big, if not bigger than those of the US.

I know I have long moaned about gold. It’s the most analogue asset there is in a world where all the value is digital. But I have also said many times that I continue to own it. It may be analogue but it has also been money since forever. It’s the first metal we ever used. 

We used it long before the Bronze Age, when we discovered smelting. Its purpose was the same as it is now – as reward, as display, as store of value, as tool of trade (in this case barter). In other words, as money.

But I have moaned about it because it has been such a perennial disappointment for so long.The currency wars are hotting up. Attacks on national currencies are going to become the norm; the rouble has been bombed already. Don’t think that at some stage the dollar, euro and the pound are not going to come under attack, because they will. Other fiat currencies will get caught in the crossfire.

Gold and bitcoin are the places to hide. On the subject of bitcoin, I see this conflict as an opportunity for it to decouple itself from the Nasdaq. If Swift is out of bounds, and governments in conflict have their tentacles running through the banking system, the use case for bitcoin suddenly got more compelling. What better way to transfer value across borders? You want to own both. And all those gold miners located far away from all of this in the Americas. There’s going to be a lot more demand for their product.

Source: Why all investors need to own gold – and bitcoin | MoneyWeek

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How to Fix The Minority STEM Crisis

Boasting a stellar academic record, a bachelor’s degree in engineering, and an MBA, Carla landed a plum job at one of the nation’s leading computer and information technology companies. She was excited to join the tech world and contribute to the Texas-based company where she hoped to make her career.

Carla’s excitement didn’t last. A Black woman, she felt overlooked and excluded from opportunities to advance. She found herself fighting for her annual raise. “I honestly felt,” she said, “like it was because I was a woman. I had probably one other woman on my team at various times, and it just seemed like the men weren’t having the same problems we were having …

I felt like at some point they weren’t listening to me.” After being asked to clean out the office of a colleague who had left the firm, she came across one of his old pay stubs. She discovered that he’d been making four times her salary despite having just one more year of experience. She abandoned her dream of working in technology and now works as a human resources officer for a law firm.

Carla’s story is one of 25 qualitative interviews at the core of a new report, STEM Voices: The Experiences of Women and Minorities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Occupations, published by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). (Subjects spoke to us on condition of anonymity.) Carla’s account—and others—echoes many of the themes discovered in an earlier AEI survey of STEM worker perspectives, which identified sharp differences in perception about workplace environment, support, and opportunities.

In that survey, conducted in 2020, white and Asian men saw the workplace as collaborative, open, and friendly and believed that women and minorities experienced their jobs in similar ways. Female and minority respondents said quite the opposite: They felt overlooked, not included as teammates, and cut off from the kind of coworker support their white and Asian male coworkers said they enjoyed. The survey data showed two almost entirely different worlds.

For STEM Voices, we tracked down 21 participants from the 2020 survey to paint a clearer picture of the people behind the survey data (interviews with a handful of other STEM professionals supplemented this research).

Our findings help explain why diversity remains elusive in STEM: Diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives (DEI) can get workers to the foot of the ladder, but they don’t help them climb.

Despite myriad recruitment programs and initiatives to boost the number of women and minorities pursuing science and tech careers, women make up just 34 percent of the STEM workforce, according to the National Science Foundation. At the same time, Black and Hispanic Americans are underrepresented, especially among workers with a bachelor’s degree or more.To be clear, the problems for women and minorities in STEM start well before employment and even before graduation from post-secondary institutions.

One reason for these failures is a faulty “pipeline” of female and minority students into STEM. Blacks and Hispanics, for instance, are less likely to attend college, major in STEM, or complete a degree than whites. In 2017–19, Black and Hispanic students earned just 7 percent and 12 percent of STEM bachelor’s degrees, respectively, according to the Pew Research Center, though they collectively represent 31 percent of the U.S. population. But as Stem Voices reveals, the pipeline isn’t the only problem. Our interviews delved deeply into workers’ personal and career trajectories to understand their experiences and the challenges they faced on the job.

Over and over, female and minority workers recalled confronting barriers to success, including social isolation, lack of mentors, and outright discrimination. Though STEM careers might be among the most lucrative and in demand in today’s economy, many of the female and minority workers we interviewed did not believe that those opportunities were available to them.Many said they felt shut out from opportunities for advancement and lamented the lack of supervisors and mentors who looked like them.

As the computer instructor Michelle P. told us, “I never had a female manager. Ever.” A majority of women and workers of color interviewed also said they had experienced some sort of stereotyping, discrimination, or bias because of their race or gender. Out of 19 female and nonwhite interviewees, only two said they had never personally experienced discrimination or disparate treatment.

Many reported hurtful comments based on stereotypes about their intelligence or capabilities, which affected their morale, performance, and perceptions about their field. Others said they were passed over for promotions and other opportunities. John D., a Black computer programmer, said he overheard colleagues at his firm say they “had to overlook qualified white people to hire unqualified Black people.”

Tiffany C., an Asian doctoral student, said she was labeled as “difficult to work with” at the engineering design firm in Austin, Texas, where she worked before returning to graduate school. Carla A., the engineer, was told she needed “to smile more.” Another interviewee said one of her supervisors micromanaged her work but not those of lesser-qualified whites. “There is some sort of preconceived notion that Black people don’t do well in sciences,” J.S., who holds a doctorate in veterinary science and works for the federal government, said.

Many interviewees said they confronted unwelcoming office cultures and that they struggled to fit in. Women with children said balancing work and family obligations was a particular challenge, while other women said they kept to themselves to avoid sexual harassment. “One of the things … I kind of learned early on, too … was to really make clear that … I was happily married and not looking for anything,” said the IT instructor Michelle P. David B., a Black engineer, said he felt the need to seem unthreatening to white colleagues and bosses at the naval shipyard where he worked.

“I had to downplay the fact that I went to a good engineering school,” he told us. “As a matter of fact, I had to downplay that I even had an engineering degree, and I was going for a master’s degree.” Compounding these issues are the vastly different perceptions alluded to above, held by white workers in STEM. According to our July 2020 survey of STEM degree holders, more than 50 percent of women and nonwhite STEM workers said they believe that women and minorities encounter more obstacles in STEM than in other industries.

AEI’s 2020 survey also found, however, that many white workers don’t agree that their female and minority colleagues face difficulties in advancement, which perhaps presents the thorniest challenge to improving diversity in STEM. To these white workers, there is no problem to fix. Just 26 percent of whites in AEI’s previous survey, for instance, thought Black workers face more obstacles in STEM than in other fields compared to 51 percent of nonwhite workers.

While only 34 percent of men said women face more hurdles to advancement, 54 percent of women said they did. The white men we interviewed for STEM Voices also reflected these sentiments. “I didn’t see people, females, and the few minorities that were there held back,” said the retired chemist Jack H., who spent his career in the Army and is white. “If you have the ability and the drive, people will see that.” Moreover, some interviewees, such as the wildlife biologist Todd B., said they believed that concerns about racism and sexism are overblown.

“When you have a fire and you let the fire burn down to nothing but an ember, when you start blowing on that ember, it’s going to break out into a flame again,” he said. “My opinion is if we stopped focusing on all the racism … if we just let it die down, it would eventually go away.” This chasm in perceptions between white male workers on the one hand and their female and minority colleagues on the other means that STEM’s diversity crisis defies an easy fix. Culture, moreover, is notoriously difficult to change through policy.

This is something of a tautology: One of the best ways to solve the STEM diversity problem is simply to increase the number of women and minorities in the sector. To do that, we need complementary strategies that boost the numbers of women and minorities in the STEM pipeline and “stop-loss” efforts focused on retaining those already in the field who can strengthen diversity and inclusion efforts on the job and provide more mentors for those in the pipeline.

Historically black colleges and universities play a crucial role in building the pipeline. Many of the interviewees in STEM Voices, for instance, attended an HBCU, where they had mentors, felt challenged in their courses, and belonged to a community. These foundational experiences, interviewees said, instilled the confidence and self-reliance they’ve needed to survive in challenging work environments.

One obvious step, therefore, is to increase investment in HBCUs, which produce a disproportionate share of the nation’s Black STEM graduates. Nearly half of the Black women who earned degrees in STEM between 1995 and 2004 graduated from an HBCU. Although the American Rescue Plan granted HBCUs a historic $2.7 billion, this much-needed infusion didn’t reverse decades of chronic underfunding.

Another pipeline strategy is to dramatically increase the number of Black and Hispanic K–12 teachers in STEM. Just 6 percent of K–12 STEM teachers in 2012 were Black, and only 6 percent were Hispanic, according to research by Tuan Nguyen of Kansas State University and Christopher Redding of the University of Florida. Increasing the number of minority teachers in STEM would provide more minority students with the role models and mentors that many of our interviewees said were critical to their decision to major in STEM fields in college.

Expanding internships and early work experience would also allow minority students to develop mentors and professional networks for future guidance and support. The retention challenge is rooted more in culture than in formal education and is, therefore, harder to address. The answer is not, however, more “diversity training.” As Frank Dobbin of Harvard University and Alexandra Kalev of Tel Aviv University write, these efforts can backfire because “anti-bias messaging tends to provoke resistance in white men who feel unjustly accused of discrimination or worry that their employers’ commitment to equity threatens their careers.”

Most of the disadvantage women and minorities experience is subconscious and unintentional, rather than overtly racist or sexist. This accounts for the wildly different interpretations of working conditions and opportunities we discovered in the survey and STEM Voices. Everyone understands the awkwardness and discomfort of being outnumbered in a social setting. Alerting managers and employees to “go the extra mile” to ensure that women and minorities are integrated into day-to-day work will do much to break down barriers.

As Dobbin and Kalev suggest, managing diversity should not be “relegated” to women and workers of color but be part of every manager’s job description. Over time, structural investments and human resource efforts like these will produce the numbers of women and minority professionals necessary to shift the culture of STEM for the better. In the interim, those in positions of authority and advantage in the workplace need to redouble their efforts to build resilient workers who can succeed despite the odds against them.

Source: How to Fix The Minority STEM Crisis | Washington Monthly

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How Data Is Helping To Resolve Supply And Demand Challenges

Perhaps one of the most sweeping outcomes of the 2020 pandemic has been its effect on the global supply chain. From consumer goods to raw materials, products are either unavailable for purchase or take excessively long to reach their destinations. Even common grocery items like baby formula are becoming hard to find, as reported by CBS in an April 2022 report.

Analysts predict that the major supply and demand crunches will have less impact in the future, per CNBC. However, businesses and buyers aren’t content to wait until early 2023 to feel less of a pinch. They want answers now, and they’re getting them in the form of innovative uses of data and technology.

As it turns out, data—when utilized thoughtfully—has value in smoothing out supply chain hiccups. Below are several examples of how data is being tapped to tackle post-pandemic procurement and delivery issues.

1. Data is revealing where companies should focus their resources to satisfy customers.

Nothing is as frustrating for shoppers as being unable to get what they want. To better allocate resources and anticipate needs, some brands are leveraging real-time data analytics. Understanding in-the-moment demands enables teams to pivot and respond.

An example of this type of process is Chipotle’s use of Semarchy’s data management tool. After “The Great Carnitas Shortage of 2015,” the company realized that it needed to make adjustments to its supply chain. By aligning operations, communications channels, and ordering platforms, Chipotle found it could more easily stay ahead of supply chain issues. This has helped the company meet customer experience assumptions and avoid snags.

2. Data is reducing friction from delays in service industries.

Many services that followed more traditional in-person models were forced to embrace digitization during Covid. Many found that their internal processes weren’t ready for the challenges or consumer expectations of online transactions, though. For instance, some small to mid-sized financial lenders realized that they didn’t have the workflows or tools to streamline application processing. As a result, they risked falling behind their bigger competitors.

Data-driven software solutions from entities like publicly traded MeridianLink have helped fill this gap. MeridianLink, valued at over $2 billion, designed a data-rich platform to gather and process loans rapidly. Their platform has enabled nearly 2,000 financial institutions to swiftly turn around consumer loan applications without causing friction.

Due to the improvement in efficiency backed by data, banks, credit unions, and mortgage lending houses can keep pace. In today’s strong real estate market, that’s a huge supply and demand advantage.

3. Data is freeing employees to concentrate more fully on supply chain management.

Overcoming major supply chain hurdles can only happen when thought leaders have the bandwidth to brainstorm. Regrettably, far too many of them are bogged down by repetitive tasks. If those tasks can be automated, they can take up far less time. The result is teams who can concentrate on solving high-level concerns.

For instance, consider digital pioneering company IBML and its Cloud Capture software. The software captures, identifies, and classifies information from any source such as a complex invoice or a standard customer return form. Once appropriately logged, the information becomes available to authorized users. This type of consistent data capture facilitates a less clunky document processing.

It also frees executives, managers, and supervisors to divert attention toward pressing supply chain concerns. The supply chain conundrum won’t be fixed overnight or even in a few months. Yet fresh, data-driven solutions can help companies undergo fewer stressors as a result of supply and demand interruptions.

Many businesses have yet to digitize their supply chain processes, but rather rely on paper-based exchanges. This can lead to very limited visibility and coordination, and processes being heavily disrupted in times of crisis. This can lead to a failure to anticipate and meet demand and consequent loss of revenue.

Digitization requires investment and change management, but if properly leveraged it supports visibility, collaboration and communication. Access to real-time data compared with historical data can help businesses to identify cost drivers, support demand-supply balancing, manage warehouse cost by way of stock optimization, optimize processes, and in turn, identify opportunities to lower costs.

This can result in an ecosystem which makes digitization and data sharing pay by improving economic and financial performance.The collection and analysis of data creates valuable visibility and understanding within the supply chain but also greater confidence in the analysis and decision making process.

It enables businesses to introduce governance mechanisms and business models to measure the demand signal across the supply chain. Data can be used to oil the wheels of the supply chain but to achieve these benefits collaboration and the sharing of data is required amongst participants across the supply chain or at least between critical parts of the chain.

Collaboration and data sharing require trust. This can be challenging, particularly where the parties in the supply chain are competitors.

Serenity Gibbons

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Source: How Data Is Helping To Resolve Supply And Demand Challenges

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