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‘Lifelong learning will be normalised and seen as essential’

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Avanade’s Luke Bourke discusses the key trends he sees coming down the line for the future of work, from new jobs to talent retention.

Click here to view the full Future of Work Week series.

The future of work has been upended due to the pandemic. The use of workplace management tools and discussions around remote working have been completely accelerated and now what was once considered the future of the workplace is essentially the present.

While working during a pandemic does not paint an accurate picture of what the working world will be like, it has paved the way for remote and hybrid working to take hold and for employers and employees alike to look at what lies beyond these trends.

Luke Bourke is a modern workplace engineering consultant at Avanade. He works with clients to modernise technology estates and workstreams during digital workplace transformations.

Here, he told Siliconrepublic.com about how he sees the working world changing, having gone through a tumultuous upheaval over the last 18 months.

‘New roles will evolve to hopefully eliminate drudgery’
– LUKE BOURKE

What challenges and opportunities face the workplace and workforce of the future?

The main challenges facing both include securing data, delivering a consistent workplace experience across home and office locations, training and upskilling for evolving roles, and adapting to the climate crisis and biodiversity collapse in a sustainable manner.

Exciting opportunities will manifest as novel solutions, assisting our responses to these challenges. New jobs and roles will be created in artificial intelligence, data science, e-health, robotics, eco-hacking and climate engineering.

Click here to check out the top sci-tech employers hiring right now.

What key trends do you foresee in relation to workplace dynamics?

Better workforce management tools leveraging AI to analyse organisation, management and employee telemetry.

Increased use of sentiment and more thoughtful consideration given to employee mental health and wellbeing.

Prioritising outcomes and employee satisfaction over presenteeism and asset sweating.

More opportunities for cross-training and leveraging resources across geographies, disciplines and cultures.

Lifelong learning will be normalised and seen as an essential service consumed by employees as needed, leveraging advances in immersive artificial and augmented realities.

Presence will supersede place. Virtual or hybrid presence will be perfectly acceptable as adoption of high-quality collaboration tools and services becomes ubiquitous.

Diversity, equality and inclusion will be celebrated, encouraged and eventually normalised.

Conversations and expectations will shift to universally nurturing talent and realising potential as demand for specific skillsets grows.

Work-life balance is arguably central to job satisfaction. How can it be better achieved in the future?

By mainstreaming awareness from onboarding through to retirement.

Actively promoting or even funding employees to engage in hobbies, interests, pastimes and quality time with their families.

Adopting better tools that consolidate performance telemetry with sentiment, priorities, career progression and training.

We’ve seen immense increases in salary, particularly in tech. Do you think salaries in this sector will trend upwards or will we start to see other benefits coming to the fore?

There will always be demand for key skillsets during transitions like the shift from on-premise infrastructure to cloud services.

As these roles normalise, salaries will plateau and non-financial benefits, like a four-day working week and progressive inclusive company cultures, will retain key contributors.

We’re currently deep in the world of data. What part will data play in developing the future of work?

There will be a lot more of it along with mind-bending options to process, analyse, action and report. Higher quality, data-driven decisions will become cheaper and faster.

We’re looking at a more automated future, as AI and bots become more sophisticated. How do you think this will affect people’s roles?

Orchestration will become mainstream across more disciplines with improving accuracy. History will repeat itself. New roles will evolve to hopefully eliminate drudgery and automate more complex repetitive tasks.

Where do you believe we will we be seeing job growth and development?

Leveraging technology to solve climate change problems. Innovation to address biodiversity collapse and promote sustainable renewal. Continued growth in pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device production.

What will companies need to do to attract and support the best talent?

Enshrine inclusivity, equality and diversity in their values. Demonstrate that their people come first. Offer suitable flexibility and choices to promote talent adding value consistently.

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NFT trader OpenSea bans insider trading after employee rakes in profit | Non-fungible tokens (NFTs)

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A non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace has introduced policies to ban insider trading, after an executive at the company was discovered to be buying artworks shortly before they were promoted on the site’s front page.

OpenSea, one of the leading sites for trading the digital assets, will now prevent team members buying or selling from featured collections and from using confidential information to trade NFTs. Neither practice was previously banned.

“Yesterday we learned that one of our employees purchased items that they knew were set to display on our front page before they appeared there publicly,” said Devin Finzer, the co-founder and chief executive of the site.

“This is incredibly disappointing. We want to be clear that this behaviour does not represent our values as a team. We are taking this very seriously and are conducting an immediate and thorough third-party review of this incident so that we have a full understanding of the facts and additional steps we need to take.”

NFTs are digital assets whose ownership is recorded and traced using a bitcoin-style blockchain. The NFT market boomed earlier this year as celebrities including Grimes, Andy Murray and Sir Tim Berners-Lee sold collectibles and artworks using the format. But the underlying technology has questionable utility, with some dismissing the field as a purely speculative bubble.

The insider trading came to light thanks to the public nature of the Ethereum blockchain, on which most NFT trades occur. Crypto traders noticed that an anonymous user was regularly buying items from the public marketplace shortly before they were promoted on the site’s front page, a prestigious slot that often brings significant interest from would-be buyers. The anonymous user would then sell the assets on, making vast sums in a matter of hours.

One trade, for instance, saw an artwork called Spectrum of a Ramenification Theory bought for about £600. It was then advertised on the front page and sold on for $4,000 a few hours later.

One Twitter user, ZuwuTV, linked the transactions to the public wallet of Nate Chastain, OpenSea’s head of product, demonstrating, using public records, that the profits from the trades were sent back to a wallet owned by Chastain.

While some, including ZuwuTV, described the process as “insider trading”, the loosely regulated market for NFTs has few restrictions on what participants can do. Some critics argue that even that terminology demonstrates that the sector is more about speculation than creativity.

“The fact that people are responding to this as insider trading shows that this is securities trading (or just gambling), not something designed to support artists,” said Anil Dash, the chief executive of the software company Glitch. “There are no similar public statements when artists get ripped off on the platform.

“If Etsy employees bought featured products from creators on their platform (or Patreon or Kickstarter workers backed new creators etc) that’d be great! Nobody would balk. Because they’d be supporting their goal,” Dash added.



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British home computer trailblazer dies aged 81 • The Register

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Sir Clive Sinclair died on Thursday at home in London after a long illness, his family said today. He was 81.

The British entrepreneur is perhaps best known for launching the ZX range of 8-bit microcomputers, which helped bring computing, games, and programming into UK homes in the 1980s, at least. This included the ZX80, said to be the UK’s first mass-market home computer for under £100, the ZX81, and the trusty ZX Spectrum. A whole generation grew up in Britain mastering coding on these kinds of systems in their bedrooms.

And before all that, Sir Clive founded Sinclair Radionics, which produced amplifiers, calculators, and watches, and was a forerunner to his Spectrum-making Sinclair Research. The tech pioneer, who eventually sold his computing biz to Amstrad, was knighted during his computing heyday, in 1983.

“He was a rather amazing person,” his daughter, Belinda Sinclair, 57, told The Guardian this evening. “Of course, he was so clever and he was always interested in everything. My daughter and her husband are engineers so he’d be chatting engineering with them.”

Sir Clive is survived by Belinda, his sons, Crispin and Bartholomew, aged 55 and 52 respectively, five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. ®

A full obit will follow on The Register.

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UN human rights chief raises concerns over AI privacy violations in report

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‘AI tech can have negative, even catastrophic, effects if they are used without sufficient regard to how they affect people’s human rights.’

The UN’s human rights chief Michelle Bachelet called for a moratorium on the sale and use of artificial intelligence technology until safeguards are put in place to prevent potential human rights violations.

Bachelet made the appeal on Wednesday (15 September) to accompany a report released by the UN’s Human Rights Office, which analysed how AI systems affect people’s right to privacy. The violation of their privacy rights had knock-on impacts on other rights such as rights to health, education and freedom of movement, the report found.

“Artificial intelligence can be a force for good, helping societies overcome some of the great challenges of our times. But AI technologies can have negative, even catastrophic, effects if they are used without sufficient regard to how they affect people’s human rights,” Bachelet said.

“Artificial intelligence now reaches into almost every corner of our physical and mental lives and even emotional states,” Bachelet added.

Japanese multinational Fujitsu caused a stir when it announced plans to implement AI facial recognition technology to monitor employees’ concentration levels during meetings.

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The report was critical of justice systems which had made wrongful arrests because of flawed facial recognition tools. It appealed to countries to ban any AI tools which did not meet international human rights standards. A 2019 study from the UK found that 81pc of suspects flagged by the facial recognition technology used by London’s Metropolitan Police force were innocent.

Earlier this year, Canada banned Clearview’s AI facial recognition technology after the company violated Canadian privacy laws by collecting facial images of Canadians without their consent.

Bachelet also highlighted the report’s concerns on the future use of data once it has been collected and stored, calling it “one of the most urgent human rights questions we face.”

The UN’s report echoes previous appeals made by European data protection regulators.

The European Data Protection Board (EDPB) and the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) called for a ban on facial recognition in public places in June. They urged EU lawmakers to consider banning the use of such technology in public spaces, after the European Commission released its proposed regulations on the matter.

The EU’s proposed regulations did not recommend an outright ban. The commission instead emphasised the importance of creating “trustworthy AI.”

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