Understanding Tech for Businesses: What Is a Bot?

Answers to your questions about technology today.

Technically speaking, bots are automated programs designed to perform a specific task, like tweet every new word that appears in the New York Times, colorize black and white photos on Reddit, or connect you with a customer service agent. There are bad ones, good ones, and countless more in between. A chatbot is a computer program designed to simulate human conversation. Bots are often associated with sites like Twitter, but there are many other types.

Read article at WIRED magazine

Employment Trends for 2018

from Industry Week Magazine:

As the economy continues to improve, employers will invest greater sums into the training and development of their employees.
More training and development will be utilized to fill the gaps in employee skill sets and will help companies work to full capacity in an improving economy. This will be essential for Generation Z employees, who are demonstrating a soft skills gap in the workplace.

Technological/AI advancements will continue to influence the workplace.
Trends that began in 2017 will accelerate in 2018, affecting employment opportunities across the board. Examples include fast food chains adding ordering kiosks and warehouses using automated order pickers.  Chatbots – programs that facilitate text conversations – are expected to save companies millions of dollars in salary expenditures annually, as will similar forms of artificial intelligence.

Why Government & Policymakers Need Tech Advisors & Their Disbanded Tech Advisory Board

from Clive Thompson at Wired Magazine July 2018

Technology impinges upon every part of our civic sphere. We’ve got police using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to determine which neighborhoods to patrol, Facebook filtering the news, and automation eroding the job market. Smart policy could help society adapt. But to tackle these issues Congressfolk [and all legislators and government administrators] will first have to understand them. It’s cringe-inducing to have senators like Orrin Hatch seem unaware that Facebook makes money from ads.

Our legislators need help. They need a gang of smart, informed nerds in their corner. Which means it’s time to reboot the Office of Technology Assessment…. The OTA was Capitol Hill’s original brain trust on tech. Congress established the office in 1972, the year of Pong, when it realized the application of technology was becoming “extensive, pervasive and critical.” The OTA was staffed with several hundred nonpartisan propellerheads who studied emerging science and tech. Every year they’d write numerous clear detailed reports–What happens if Detroit gets hit with an atom bomb? What’ll be the impact of automation?– and they were on call to help any congressperson.

It worked admirably. Its reports helped save money and lives: The OTA found that by expanding Medicaid to all pregnant women in poverty would lower the cost of treatment for low birth weight babies by as much as $30,000 per birth. It pointed out the huge upsides for paying for rural broadband, and of preparing for climate change. With a budget of only $20 million a year, the little agency had an outsize impact.

Alas, the OTA was doomed by the very clarity of its insight. It concluded that Reagan’s “Star Wars” missile defense wouldn’t work–which annoyed some Republicans. In 1995, when Newt Gingrich embarked on his mission of reducing government spending, the low-profile agency got the chop, at precisely the wrong time: Congress defunded its tech advisor just as life was about to be utterly transfigured by the Internet, mobile phones, social networking and AI (artificial intelligence). Nice work, guys!

Today Washingtonians of different stripes are calling for a re-boot. Continue reading “Why Government & Policymakers Need Tech Advisors & Their Disbanded Tech Advisory Board”