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Emerging Technologies

2021 is Blockchain’s Year … Starting here and right now, with Emerging Technologies in India

By Emerging Technologies, India, Mainstream Impact Investment, News

We can already see the future…According to Accenture’s Technology Vision Consumer Survey (www.accenture.com), 52% of us now have a daily dependency on technology, and we spend an average of 6.4 hours a day locked to our screens and phones: over the course of a lifetime that’s 21 years four months, which is nearly as long as we spend sleeping.

And, unsurprisingly, this trend has been turbo charged by the disruptions of COVID. Over the course of ten short months in 2020, Digital Technologies advanced by a decade, which didn’t just make it harder to tear teenagers away from their iPhones (although it did that too): unprecedented times have also profoundly changed the way we do business, intensifying digitisation of global supply chains and innovating a slew of new products and services. Think Zoom, Amazon and Netflix. 

So emerging technologies in India are no longer an optional extra to reduce costs: according to McKinsey (www.mckinsey.com) they have become a “critical component” of businesses and economies across the world… McKinsey are right, and at the heart of this maelstrom of change India has become a trailblazer in the Brave New World of innovation.

Emerging Technologies in India – AI For All

The subcontinent launched its “AI for All” Strategy as long ago as 2018 (www.niti.gov.in), recognising the key stake the fastest growing large economy in the world has in the AI revolution as well as the seismic potential of AI itself to transform economies across the planet. The programme sets out a solid foundation for research and development in emerging technologies, a basis for creation of a successful AI ecosystem and a collaborative network of experts and stakeholders across all four corners of India. 

All of which has started to bear fruit in the intervening three years.

In Bangalore (predictably) AI enabled technology has been developed to screen for early signs of breast cancer; hospitals in Tamil Nadu are using Machine Learning algorithms to scan for diabetic retinopathy as a response to a local shortage of ophthalmic specialists and, COVID again, MyGov (www.mygov.in) has been using an AI enabled Chatbot to enhance communications across the countrywide Citizen Engagement Platform.

In collaboration with businesses and service providers, Machine Learning and AI are giving key insights to help predict user events and future behaviour: disease prevention becomes better (immeasurably better) by tapping into lifestyle decisions and core demographic features.

The subcontinent also now has AI based solutions in crucial water management strategies, crop insurance and pest control: using image recognition drones and intelligent monitoring of irrigation systems to increase yields and improve harvest quality, so India’s rural poor can expect to benefit immeasurably. ICRISAT (www.icrisat.org) has developed an AI based power sowing app that can increase yields by up to 30%.

And that’s not all…

Blockchain

A Joint Report issued last month by the World Economic Forum and Chainlink found Blockchain has the power to “unlock the hidden values of legacy digital systems” and highlighted in particular the success of India’s Crop Insurance Scheme: providing coverage and financial support for farmers affected by natural disasters, Blockchain is enabling greater scheme transparency and accountability, as well as essential security of information. Smart Contracts have become a ready-made answer to age-old problems, and that’s not something that’s been lost on the Indian Government.

Earlier in 2020 the National Institution for Transforming India (a Government body) released its report examining the role and potential of Blockchain across a full spectrum of public activities, including commerce, social engagement and public sector initiatives. The paper seems set to have the same impact on the future of Blockchain (not just in India but worldwide) as “AI for All” had on Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence.

A Vital Agent for Change

So all in all, this looks like being Blockchain’s year and it’s starting up: not just because emerging technologies in India do things faster there and more reliably, but because they are a vital agent for change…rethinking and reimagining our future across the board.

Executive Overview

There are times when the World suddenly takes a new direction, and that’s true too in the uncertain times we’re living through at the moment: emerging technologies are rapidly evolving to change the way we all live, work and do business.


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The Future is Already Here… Bitcoin’s Surge in Value is Proof of a Connected Global Economy and India is Crucial to its Development

By Blackstone, COVID-19, Emerging Technologies, India, Mainstream Impact Investment, News

Suppose you live in the South of France: the Boulangerie (and every other shop for that matter) is Brexit sceptic, but you’re being paid in Pounds. Naturally you convert to Euros. It makes life easier. It makes sense. But why would anyone convert Sterling, or any other currency for that matter, into Bitcoin? You can’t buy bread with Bitcoin, it won’t get you a ticket on the Underground and Amazon doesn’t take it for any kind of lockdown delivery. As a non-fiat cryptocurrency, it’s about as much use in your purse or wallet as an IOU signed by Donald Trump.

So why is the value of Bitcoin skyrocketing?

Last week it was trading against the US Dollar at a staggering $27,000 …and there’s no sign of it slowing down any time soon. The aggregate value of Bitcoin is now more than $500 Billion, which exceeds the market capitalisation of MasterCard and it’s twice as much as IBM. Over the last ten years a single dollar invested in Bitcoin has consistently returned more than $100 invested in the S&P 500.

BlackRock (www.blackrock.com) now predicts Bitcoin will replace gold as a reserve of last resort. 

What’s that all about then?

Part of the reason, for sure, is the limited number of Bitcoin in circulation: when the cryptocurrency was launched in 2009 (we still don’t know who did it) the number of “wallets” was restricted to 21 Million, and latest estimates suggest the number of unique users is now hovering at something in the order of 18 Million. The rate at which new Bitcoin reserves are released decreases by half every four years, so naturally investors believe its value can only go up as demand increases. Economists call it Says Law (www.investopedia.com), where increased demand combined with limited supply means a higher price. And functioning as it does through a decentralised Blockchain ledger, the Bitcoins in this restricted wallet can be converted into other currencies, products and services on the Internet, so it gives them “real” market value.

Trust comes into it too…

Those same Blockchain ledgers that act as the locked vault of the currency have proved to be highly safe and reliable, like…well, just like a locked vault. Exactly like a Pound coin (or a Euro for the man in the Tabac and the lady in the Boulangerie with flour up to her elbows), it doesn’t require either party to a transaction to trust in the good faith of the other. It’s the coin itself, or the Bitcoin in this case, that makes the transaction work. Just like fiat currencies (issued by Governments), Blockchain gives Bitcoin an elaborate system of checks and verification systems to make sure the payment will actually go through. And because there are no intermediaries it costs less too, as well as being exceptionally difficult to counterfeit.

With that substructure of trust and certainty, and with all 21 Million Bitcoins in circulation, the price of one Bitcoin would be $514,000 (adopting traditional monetarist M3 (store of value) modelling), and that’s more than twenty times higher than its current market value of $27,000. Small wonder then that the market price is so resurgent at the moment…it has a lot of headroom to catch up on.

It’s not something that’s been lost on the world’s most vibrant distribution hub either. Sitting at the very heart of the planet’s trading networks, India is making the most of Blockchain technologies to turbo charge future economic development, not just across the subcontinent but in global markets too.

You can expect Bitcoin to be a key part of the process…

Executive Overview

Economic commentators have concluded that the pandemic has brought ten years of technological innovation in six months, and looking at the exponential changes brought about by Zoom and Amazon, Bitcoin and Blockchain, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if that was right.

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Housing Markets are Broken…We can fix them with Modular Technologies

By COVID-19, Emerging Technologies, India, Mainstream Impact Investment, News

Our Broken Housing Market is one of the greatest barriers to progress”: that’s not Jeremy Corby or Bernie Sanders, or even some green haired social agitator…that’s the Conservative MP for Maidenhead, Theresa May (remember her).

And to drive the message home for those with a short attention span, her Government even called its 2017 Housing Policy “Fixing our Broken Housing Market”: but no matter how clear the message, it was eventually overwhelmed by Brexit, and Brexit did for Theresa May too. The Policy Paper was consigned to the waste paper basket and a commitment to build 300,000 new homes every year by the middle of the decade died on its knees: last year fewer than 60,000 new affordable homes were built in Britain …But Modular Construction can fix all that.

The housing market is broken

Like her or loathe her (and plenty do both), Theresa May got that one right…the housing market is broken. Not just in the United Kingdom but across the globe, with rising levels of homelessness and housing need. So if it’s broken why aren’t we fixing it? Why are dinosaur developers still struggling with bricks in the mud, like a mediaeval crofter fumbling with wattle and daub?

Some of the of the key answers are in that discarded Policy Paper, so it’s worth fishing it out of the bin, and when you do, take a look at one section in particular: “Supporting Developers to build out more quickly”.

Skip over the unpalatable reference for a “strategic licensing of protected species” (basically allowing building on nature reserves, so tough luck on the ducks), that one can stay in the waste paper basket: focus instead on the all important key word: “quickly”. Construction has been doing anything but for years, with an overall slowdown of 15% in UK delivery rates in the decade up to 2018: a trend that is sadly reflected across the planet (www.ourworldindata.org).

A commitment to modular construction

That’s why Theresa May’s Government committed itself to Modular Construction: because it can produce affordable homes 30% faster than conventional technologies, maximising design efficiencies through production of basic components in a climate controlled environment (without sloshing about in the mud), as well as reducing the disruptions anyone who has ever set foot on a building site will be all too familiar with.

And it’s not just a question of speed of delivery. The average cost of building a traditional housing unit is £150,000, but by adopting modular technologies the bottom line spend is reduced by securing optimal delivery times and minimal labour costs.

The UK Policy Paper estimated that by prefabricating units offsite overall construction budgets could be reduced by as much as 25%. And they’re more environmentally friendly too…reducing waste levels by up to 50%, so that means less trucks chugging painfully to the landfill site as well. Modular buildings are better designed, better insulated and greener, reducing energy consumption by up to 20%. 

History may look kindly yet on Theresa May…

Modulex Construction (www.modulexglobal.com) is the World’s largest Steel Modular Building Company. It was established by Red Ribbon (www.redribbon.co) to harness the full potential of fast evolving technologies and deliver at pace to meet the evolving needs of the community.

Executive Overview

Especially in these testing times, we need to learn to make the most of what we already have: and when it comes to housing need across the Planet, that means Modular Construction.

We need to build better on pre COVID policies and do our best for the future…

If you would like to know more about joining our Mainstream Impact Investment journey click here

Artificial Intelligence

Who the Hell is Geoffrey Hinton…How a Man in Hush Puppies Changed the World with Machine Learning

By COVID-19, Emerging Technologies, India, Mainstream Impact Investment, News

Chances are you’ve never heard of Geoffrey Hinton, but humble as he is, Geoffrey changed the world forever. Most likely you haven’t heard of Backpropogation either (www.neuralnetworksanddeeplearning.com), but that’s the algorithm that powers Machine Learning, and it’s radically reshaping all our lives on a minute-by-minute basis.

Backpropagation and Machine Learning

Geoffrey Hinton is the father of Backpropogation, so it’s thanks to him that within minutes of Googling up a wedding venue, your screen pings full of adverts for top hats and tails. And it was Geoffrey who made sure speeding motorists are caught and fined, because Geoffrey’s behind number plate recognition too: no matter how complex the data, no matter how fast you try to dash away from the camera, Geoffrey’s always there. This unassuming, gangling man in a dubious sweater and hush puppies has changed the world forever…and, unsurprisingly, Geoffrey works for Google.

Perhaps alarmingly for some (and despite the avuncular air created by those hush puppies and sweaters) Geoffrey Hinton is also a Terminator 2 man. He doesn’t rule out ever more expansive decision-making by all those supercomputers, because, as he dryly puts it: there isn’t a good track record of less intelligent things controlling things of greater intelligence“.

He might have a point there…

But fundamentally Machine Learning isn’t about science fiction at all, it’s about science fact. Geoffrey Hinton’s algorithm already enables huge swathes of complex data to be gathered together (including who you are, where you live, what you buy, where you bought it and how); and then (this is the crucial bit), to enable computers make an educated guess (albeit a very good one) about what you’re going to do next. Hence all those pop up adverts for top hats and tails…

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Artificial Intelligence is the next step forward: using Machine Learning technologies the supercomputer takes note of its “environment” and maximises the chances of delivering on a set of predetermined goals, mimicking human cognitive functions including “learning” and “problem solving” capabilities. That’s how the machine can issue you with a speeding fine, but it’s also why it can already understand human speech (thank you Alexa) and why, in the fullness of time, we are likely to see driverless cars tootling up Streatham High Road (www.ucsusa.org/resources/self-driving-cars). 

The economic consequences of all that should be obvious to anyone not currently living in a cave: Blockchain is already a big thing, but its future development will inevitably be turbocharged by Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. The decentralised ledger systems at the heart of Blockchain will become faster and more efficient, matching up buyers and sellers more effectively and cutting out intermediaries to make worldwide markets super efficient too. 

The Internet of Things

And The Internet of Things is also already on the horizon: physical objects from toasters to climate control systems will be embedded in future with sensors and software to connect and exchange data over the Internet, making the “smart home” a practical reality. As soon as you wake up your iPhone will put the kettle on, and when you take the train home, the Oyster reader at the station will turn on your central heating. And if that sounds a little frivolous, think about this…if you have a heart attack, the on board radio in the ambulance can prep the intensive care facility in the hospital. So the Internet of Things might just save your life as well.

And we’ve got Geoffrey Hinton to thank for that. 

Executive Overview

Especially at the moment, emerging technologies are changing all our lives: think Zoom and Amazon, Ocado and Netflix. So it’s more important than ever to keep a keen eye on the future, if only because that’s where we’re all heading.

If you would like to know more about joining our Mainstream Impact Investment journey click here

Red Ribbon

At Red Ribbon we understand that the transition towards a resilient global economy will be led by well-governed businesses in mainstream markets, striving to reduce the environmental impact of their production processes on society at large and on the environment as well.

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