Interesting Reads – 2018-07-01
Blockchain beyond the hype: What is the strategic business value?
Speculation on the value of blockchain is rife, with Bitcoin—the first and most infamous application of blockchain—grabbing headlines for its rocketing price and volatility. That the focus of blockchain is wrapped up with Bitcoin is not surprising given that its market value surged from less than $20 billion to more than $200 billion over the course of 2017.1 Yet Bitcoin is only the first application of blockchain technology that has captured the attention of government and industry.
Blockchain was a priority topic at Davos; a World Economic Forum survey suggested that 10 percent of global GDP will be stored on blockchain by 2027.2 Multiple governments have published reports on the potential implications of blockchain, and the past two years alone have seen more than half a million new publications on and 3.7 million Google search results for blockchain.
Most tellingly, large investments in blockchain are being made. Venture-capital funding for blockchain start-ups consistently grew and were up to $1 billion in 2017.3 The blockchain-specific investment model of initial coin offerings (ICOs), the sale of cryptocurrency tokens in a new venture, has skyrocketed to $5 billion. Leading technology players are also heavily investing in blockchain: IBM has more than 1,000 staff and $200 million invested in the blockchain-powered Internet of Things (IoT).4
Despite the hype, blockchain is still an immature technology, with a market that is still nascent and a clear recipe for success that has not yet emerged. Unstructured experimentation of blockchain solutions without strategic evaluation of the value at stake or the feasibility of capturing it means that many companies will not see a return on their investments. With this in mind, how can companies determine if there is strategic value in blockchain that justifies major investments?
Our (McKinsey) research seeks to answer this question by evaluating not only the strategic importance of blockchain to major industries but also who can capture what type of value through what type of approach. In-depth, industry-by-industry analysis combined with expert and company interviews revealed more than 90 discrete use cases of varying maturity for blockchain across major industries (see interactive).
Best Practices in Cognitive Computing
Cognitive computing is such a tantalizing technology. It holds the promise of revolutionizing many aspects of both our professional and personal lives. From predicting movies we'd like to watch to delivering excellent customer service, cognitive computing combines artificial intelligence, machine learning, text analytics, and natural language processing to boost relevance and productivity. This compilation has four articles as detailed below:
- Cognitive Computing: Film at Eleven
- Is Netflix the Evolution of Cognitive Search?
- Cognitive/AI-Powered Customer Service: Use-Cases and Real-World Examples
- How to Steer Cognitive Applications With Semantic Technologies
12 ways to keep your kids safe from sexual encounters online
Naomi, who is 10 years old, is having a sleepover at her friend Jaime’s house. A babysitter is there but she is on her phone, distracted. Jaime tells Naomi she has something to show her.
The next day, Naomi goes home and tells her mother that she saw a man and a woman having sex on the computer. Naomi was not expecting to see this explicit material and is now very distressed about what she saw. Her mother is devastated.
It is not uncommon for youth to accidentally stumble across, or be exposed intentionally or unintentionally by their peers, to sexually explicit images or videos online. A new study shows that one in five children between the ages of nine and 17 report having accidentally seen sexual material online through websites, pop-up videos and spam emails. Moreover one in nine say they have received unwanted sexual solicitations online.
There is near universal use of digital technology among youth — 95 per cent of teens report they own or have access to a smartphone and 45 per cent report they are online “almost constantly.” Children under the age of eight also spend a considerable amount of time with screen media — on average two hours and 19 minutes per day.
Internet technology can be used as a valuable informational resource and learning platform. But, as it is largely unregulated, it also has its disadvantages. There are a growing number of initiatives to promote safe, ethical and responsible engagement online, under the umbrella of a concept called digital citizenship.
Due to their inexperience, children may not understand the risks they can be exposed to online. Below, we provide some suggestions and resources to arm parents, educators and young people — to use the internet safely and responsibly.
Ten red flags signaling your analytics program will fail
How confident are you that your analytics initiative is delivering the value it’s supposed to?
These days, it’s the rare CEO who doesn’t know that businesses must become analytics-driven. Many business leaders have, to their credit, been charging ahead with bold investments in analytics resources and artificial intelligence (AI). Many CEOs have dedicated a lot of their own time to implementing analytics programs, appointed chief analytics officers (CAOs) or chief data officers (CDOs), and hired all sorts of data specialists.
However, too many executives have assumed that because they’ve made such big moves, the main challenges to becoming analytics-driven are behind them. But frustrations are beginning to surface; it’s starting to dawn on company executives that they’ve failed to convert their analytics pilots into scalable solutions. (A recent McKinsey survey found that only 8 percent of 1,000 respondents with analytics initiatives engaged in effective scaling practices.) More boards and shareholders are pressing for answers about the scant returns on many early and expensive analytics programs. Overall, McKinsey has observed that only a small fraction of the value that could be unlocked by advanced-analytics approaches has been unlocked—as little as 10 percent in some sectors. And McKinsey’s AI Index reveals that the gap between leaders and laggards in successful AI and analytics adoption, within as well as among industry sectors, is growing (Exhibit 1).
That said, there’s one upside to the growing list of misfires and shortfalls in companies’ big bets on analytics and AI. Collectively, they begin to reveal the failure patterns across organizations of all types, industries, and sizes. We (McKinsey) have detected what we consider to be the ten red flags that signal an analytics program is in danger of failure. In our experience, business leaders who act on these alerts will dramatically improve their companies’ chances of success in as little as two or three years.
These 10 startups are redefining healthcare in India
Over the past three decades, while India’s GDP has constantly grown at about seven percent, the country’s healthcare sector continues to lag behind. According to the Indian Medical Association, India’s healthcare spending remains low at 1.2 percent of the GDP. This is dismal, when compared with the US’s 17 percent or China’s 5.5 percent. Presently, India has just 0.7 doctors and 1.1 beds for every 1,000 of its citizens.
The government aims to increase the healthcare spending to 2.5 percent of the GDP by the end of its 12th five year plan, and to 3 percent by 2022. Much of this will be done through public private partnerships and using tech to increase the reach and multitude of healthcare services.
With a fast-growing middle class and increased usage of Internet and mobile broadband, there is a high demand for quality and affordable healthcare in India. Healthcare market in India is poised to grow from $100 billion in 2016 to $280 billion in 2020, creating huge opportunity for healthcare and healthtech companies and startups.
While most healthtech startups in India are still in their nascent stage, there are larger trends emerging in preventive healthcare, analytics, pathology, emergency services, among other things. We share below a list of 10 startups and discuss the larger trends emerging. The list in no way is exhaustive, but is representational of the larger trends being witnessed in the sector.
Introduction to Cyber Security: 10 Steps – Executive Summary
Guidance on how organisations can protect themselves in cyberspace, including the 10 steps to cyber security. This guidance is designed for organisations looking to protect themselves in cyberspace. The 10 Steps to Cyber Security was originally published in 2012 and is now used by a majority of the FTSE350. The 10 steps guidance is complemented by the paper Common Cyber Attacks: Reducing The Impact. This paper sets out what a common cyber attack looks like and how attackers typically undertake them. We believe that understanding the cyber environment and adopting an approach aligned with the 10 Steps is an effective means to help protect your organisation from attacks.
Photos: The world's 25 fastest supercomputers
The latest TOP500 list of the fastest supercomputers in the world is out, and while the US is back in pole position for the first time in six years, Chinese machines continue to dominate the wider list. The new TOP500 list is led by Summit, a US Department of Energy supercomputer capable of performing 122 quadrillion floating-point operations per second. While there are many changes in the top 25, most of machines still rely on vast numbers of Intel CPUs, aided by Nvidia GPUs or many-core Intel Xeon Phi processors. Here are the 25 most powerful machines in the TOP500 list of supercomputers.
India’s mess of complexity is just what AI needs
The country’s diversity of scripts, dialects, dress, and culture is a challenge that will make artificial intelligence more resilient..
In 2010, I (the author of the articel) hired two engineers from an Indian college to help me develop a product that could automatically grade the spoken English ability of job applicants. About a year later, they knocked on my office door with concern etched on their brows. “We are doing machine learning here, but all our friends are doing software engineering,” they explained. “Do we have a future?”
Things have changed dramatically. In India today, every engineer claims some type of machine-learning project. Most businesses have a top-down mandate to incorporate AI into their processes and products. The excitement has reached all the way to the government: in this year’s speech on the federal budget, Indian finance minister Arun Jaitley announced that the country will launch a national program to promote AI research and development.
This newly awakened interest in AI borders on euphoria, but little of it is realistic. India has a relatively small body of researchers and research output in the field of machine learning. From 2015 to 2017, the contribution of Indian researchers to top AI conferences constituted one-15th of the US contribution and one-eighth of China’s. At the most recent conference of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, Indian researchers presented 20 papers, compared with 307 presented by our US colleagues and 235 from China. Most Indian research institutions have, at best, a rudimentary AI research program. India contributes little new knowledge in machine learning and lacks local expertise in the knowledge that is being created every day by others.
To end hunger, we must make smarter use of land and sea
Better systems, information sharing and technological progress are vital for nutrition security.
A recent issue of National Geographic (February 2018) raises the question of who will feed China. We have to ask a similar question about India. The answer lies in the integration of ecological principles, technological advancement and information sharing.
The Endless Scroll: How to Tell if You're a Tech Addict
Don't let your apps, games, and smartphone control you. Once you understand what's happening in your brain while you use technology, you can do something about it.
Brian was cleaning his bedroom when he came across an old iPhone. The screen was cracked, but he found a charger, plugged the smartphone in, and turned it on. The college junior told himself it was just for nostalgia's sake. Then he discovered an old tablet, too. He started tapping on apps and soon figured out how to get a Wi-Fi hotspot working, so he could get around the blocks on his home router. Brian's current phone and laptop had blocks on them too, but these old devices didn't. He was online.
Brian caught up on YouTube videos, scrolled through subreddits, and played a few old games. Soon he fell back into a comfortable internet routine he'd been repeating for years. A couple nights later, Brian fell asleep just before sunrise. He'd spent hours playing a mindlessly fun tower defense game. He woke up to find his parents had confiscated the old iPhone, which he'd left strewn out on his bed. His mom found the iPad in his baseball bag the next day.
Brian is a tech addict.
He's recounting his recent relapse in a session at the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction (CITA) in Hartford, Connecticut. Brian is in his sixth week of treatment since taking a leave of absence from college, where he's an engineering student. (Brian consented to having PCMag to sit in; his name has been changed to protect his privacy.)
Archives of Interesting Reads at
We will be pleased to have your feedback on the “Interesting Reads” being sent once in five days. Pl. share the links of any interesting things you come across so that we can include them in these email posts. Also, pl. share the email ids of your colleagues, friends, peers and contacts, if you want them to be included in the google group to get regular posts.
You may pl. send your communications to email@example.com