AI News, When Innovating, Go Slow

When Innovating, Go Slow

The tangled history of innovation reveals a peculiar lesson: Slow is often better than fast.


Austrian-American economist and political scientist Joseph Schumpeter, who first recognized the importance of innovation for economic growth, famously described innovation as coming in “gales,” sweeping aside all that came before.

And the wise adaptation of advances in technoscience—in the design, engineering, and management of large knowledge-based systems that deliver energy, information, transportation, security, food, and health—takes time.


Few monumental shifts render existing technologies obsolete right away, and the social impact of new technologies often takes decades to reveal itself.


Yet when scaled across nations as large as the United States or China, the widespread adoption of biofuels would greatly increase the price of food [PDF], as well as the amount of land needed to grow it, erasing any environmental gains we might make from abandoning gasoline.


Drones or robot-controlled aerial vehicles, for instance, seem to have emerged suddenly, with pundits, politicians, and ordinary citizens now wondering how their use will change not only the way war is waged but every aspect of our lives.

The Drones Have Taken Off: Our Investment in Kespry, a Leading Industrial Aerial Intelligence Platform

The company’s drones were used in several rescue and recovery operations in the aftermath of the two recent natural disasters – further supporting our team’s view that Kespry will emerge as a market leader in the crowded drone ecosystem.

Investing in the drone ecosystem offers unique market insights to Cisco and allows us to further support our industrial customers in their adoption of IoT and their digital transformation journey.

The Cisco Investments team has closely monitored the drone ecosystem for last several years and had identified a handful of drone startups that were led by best in class teams, backed by top VCs and were starting to show signs of industry adoption.

For a long time though, government regulations for the drones industry were unclear and this was stalling broader commercial adoption of drones.

The release of Part 107 by FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) in June 2016 greatly helped in clarifying regulations for commercial drone flight operations and provided impetus for faster adoption of drones.

What also sets the company apart is that its solution generates business insights, not just raw data, and the output is fully integrated from data collection in the field to accurate measurements, image classification, report generation and business decisions.

The Kespry analytics software instantly calculates the volume, cut, fill, tonnage, and other relevant operational metrics, becoming the single source of truth for site planning and inventory management.

Here is a short list of use cases and applications we are starting to see emerge: We are very excited about our investment in Kespry and look forward to working with the Kespry team to usher in an era of ubiquitous aerial intelligence for driving efficiencies in the industrial sector.

Drone tech offers new ways to manage climate change

'When making predictions about climate change, it's critical that scientists understand how much energy Earth is absorbing and retaining,' said Charlotte Levy, a doctoral candidate who presented a talk on her research at the annual Ecological Society of America meeting, in Portland, Oregon, Aug. 8.

'We can send one to hover above a forest and then have it fly across the road where the same forest was thinned five years earlier, and we can measure precisely what the difference is.'

Now the researchers can look specifically at how management techniques affect forests' overall albedo, and can adjust forest planning to account for factors that influence climate change.

In certain conditions, however, such as locations blanketed with reflective snow cover for long portions of the year, planting trees can actually have a warming effect.

As these cold-region trees grow, they create a dark surface that absorbs energy and, because they grow slowly, do not sequester as much carbon as trees in warmer regions that grow faster.

Architects and scientists interested in looking at the albedo of different building styles, which can be important for reducing the urban heat island effect, could benefit from the drone technology as well.

Innovation 2050 - A Digital Future for the Infrastructure Industry

Infrastructure and construction companies are therefore likely to become ever more focussed on horizon-scanning and innovation in the future, looking for new ways to build competitive strengths and enable the development of new products and services.

Companies such as Balfour Beatty will therefore need to become more agile and consider their business models, potentially changing their portfolios of products and services in order to provide a personalised, next-generation offer, meet the needs of their customers and secure their market position.

Large infrastructure and construction companies are likely to focus more on systems integration rather than a more traditional offer, as commissioners look to cut out the middle-man, seeking out smaller disruptors directly and designing new payment and incentive mechanisms for example.

The sector will increase its use of data analytics to better understand customers and meet their needs, and will work more with startups to develop new solutions, new market capacity and provide solutions to problems that do not yet exist.

In particular, the research centers on digital tech use cases for enabling design and construction such as VR, site safety training, virtual mock-ups and parametric decision making through advanced modelling.

Photovoltaic glazing, which can effectively turn whole buildings into solar panels, will also become widely used, while new materials that can respond to a variety of environmental conditions or can reduce carbon emissions from the area around them will become important.

In some cases, the technology behind these new materials has existed for some time, however their use has been limited both by lack of availability at scale in some cases, but, more generally, a reluctance among customers to try new technologies, and among contractors to suggest their use.

With self-learning technologies which eliminate the risk of human error and replace humans in repetitive, unskilled roles, traditional industries such as manufacturing are likely to decline, even as new industries emerge.

However, there will be a greater need for more specialist skills and we will begin to see a dramatic increase in competition for “digital natives”, those who grew up in the digital age and are able to combine digital skills with creativity and new ideas.

With companies such as Amazon and Google currently struggling to find enough skilled staff, and the infrastructure industry increasingly seeking to recruit from the same talent pool, we must work to improve the image of the industry and to explain the wide range of exciting and challenging roles in order to attract the skilled individuals we need.

The focus will change from delivering infrastructure which fulfils a single purpose, for example, a bridge spanning a river, and move to how the infrastructure interacts with the wider built environment and the long-term life and performance of assets.

This will be particularly effective where technology combinations are used, for example, drones capturing site data so that real time 3D models can be sent to robots and unmanned machines, from bulldozers to diggers, which will carry out the main demolition and construction work, with a human overseer.

Beyond autonomous vehicles, which will see vehicles collaborating to allow the creation of safer, faster transport systems with much greater capacity, many believe that we will also see a working Hyperloop – a new method of transportation which relies on electric propulsion and levitation to send pods from city to city at speeds of up to 760 miles per hour, within the next decade.

Balfour Beatty believes that other new, disruptive ideas for making mass transit faster, safer and less damaging to the environment will emerge, providing a response to congestion, cities dominated by vehicles and issues such as noise and air pollution.

Airbus, for example, has suggested that aircraft could, by 205014, be catapulted into the sky using a concept called ‘eco-climb’, building on the idea which has been used by the military to launch craft from aircraft carriers, for several decades.

To be able to embrace these technologies as they emerge, countries around the world need to be ready with the various regulatory frameworks required and infrastructure and construction companies need to ensure that they have the skills, knowledge and systems in place to build the associated infrastructure.

Although it may sound like something out of science fiction, direct neural control already exists in primitive forms, enabling amputees to control prosthetic devices using direct neural signals, for example.

Privacy issues and dangers surrounding sinister uses, such hackers accessing the information needed to control or manipulate the microchipped person or people, would need to be overcome, but the use of potential direct neural control for improving the safety of workers and improving efficiency of construction is significant.

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