Thursday, 3 August 2017
A company in Wisconsin just made the news for micro-chipping its employees. As per USA Today, 40 employees at the local firm Three Square Market, which makes cafeteria kiosks intended to replace traditional vending machines, “got tiny rice-sized microchips embedded in their hands … for convenience, a way for them to bypass using company badges and corporate log-ons to computers,” so that “now they can just have their hands read by a reader”.
In the future, these employees will be able to receive payments from contactless cards on their hands. It’s handy. It’s efficient. Is it terrifying?
The response was predictably hysterical, with countless scare stories and people screaming: “The end is nigh.”
Others restrained themselves but worried about the power dynamic. “Is it really voluntary when your employer is asking you if you would like to be micro-chipped?” asked Noelle Chesley, associate professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin.
But to me this seems like a lot of puff about nothing. We need to remember that this is only a microchip. Right now, if you carry a phone around with you 24/7, you already have a microchip – in fact, many more than one – in your pocket permanently.
This scaremongering matters because micro-chipping presents us with lots of opportunities, and it might very well be the future of work.
The Wisconsin firm’s microchip is restricted in functionality: taking payments, opening doors, and logging on to computers. My vision is much bigger.
Imagine you and all your work colleagues are chipped. This microchip holds lots of useful data not only about your work, but about you too. It has a complete archive of all the feedback that you’ve ever received as an employee, metrics on your performance, and a record of your behavioral traits, such as how you work best.
Scary? Nope. This data is already being collected by many companies under the guise of 360-degree real-time feedback.
JPMorgan, for example, recently introduced this software. It’s useful because it gives managers a rich bird’s-eye-view of how their teams and organisation is performing. It’s useful for employees because it gives them immediate actionable feedback on how they can improve.
At the moment this data is stored on companies’ tech systems. But why couldn’t it be stored locally on employee microchips? It would be more accessible, and might even give employees better ownership over the data.
But how is this helpful? Imagine you walk into the room and your smartphone connects to all your colleagues’ microchips. On the screen you immediately see who everyone is, what their roles are, their behavioral traits, communication styles, strengths and weaknesses.
This would give you incredible instant insight. Think how useful this could be in meetings. You would know the right person to direct your updates too, and because you know how they prefer to interact, and you could do it in a way that suited their communication style too.
Perhaps in the future it might even be possible to see this data “on” your colleagues directly in augmented reality through optical head-mounted displays (think Google Glass).
This isn’t just a “nice to have” either. It would make an immense difference to productivity. According to research by Salesforce, 86 per cent of employees and executives cite lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures. Microchips could transform communication.
Of course, I’m not blind to the dangers. We can’t allow microchips to track or monitor employees without their explicit consent. And in my view it should always remain absolutely voluntary. But rather than scaremongering, we should make it our jobs to try to solve as many of these problems as possible. Realize the opportunities while mitigating the risks.
There is an obvious way to do that: make sure the software the chips are paired up with have strong privacy protections. For example, employees should be able to log into their microchip and control whether the data it holds is public or private. This could even be monitored and regulated by the Government.
There is always fear when new technology comes to market. Micro-chipping is no different. But I believe the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, and we should welcome the future with open arms – micro-chipped, of course.
Wednesday, 2 August 2017
Honda along with HRC had developed the NXR750 which went on to win the Dakar rally for 4 consecutive years and this served as an inspiration for what is known as the Africa Twin currently. Honda has brought in the Africa Twin CRF1000L to India with a price tag of Rs 13.06 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) with the deliveries limited to just 50 units which might increase in the future. The reason it has become a legendary dual sport motorcycle is courtesy of the technology that Honda has added to it.
Engine Specification and Transmission
Honda India offers only the DCT gearbox which makes it one of the most technologically advanced ADV motorcycle on offer in India. A DCT gearbox is usually found on cars, but the Africa Twin also does away with the need to manually change gears with three shifting combinations ‘N’ (Neutral), ‘D’ (Drive) or ‘S’ (Sport) to take care of. The Twin also has an automated manual transmission which can be implemented through the manual shift selector on the left side of the handlebar. The engine powering the Africa Twin is a 999 cc parallel twin which delivers a power of 87 bhp@7500rpm and 91.9 Nm Torque@6000 rpm. What it basically means is that this tall motorcycle is very similar to riding a Honda Activa.
Another handy feature is a ‘G’ switch on board takes care of off-road riding by providing half clutch control and better traction. It also has an incline detection feature to keep rider on top of terrains like loose, steep track or dune. Apart from that the right side of the handlebar provides access to 4 automatic driving modes which include ‘D’ mode and S (Sport) mode with three shift options: S1, S2 and S3.
Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC) along with ABS works out different permutations to give 80 different combos to help adapt to the rider skill level or to suit the riding conditions.
Features and Equipment
Honda Africa Twin gets a rally spec instrument cluster with LCD display which is easily readable and houses a Speedometer, Tachometer, Fuel, Gear position, ABS, HSTC, Odometer, Trip and Clock. For lighting up the roads it gets twin lamp LED headlamps with AHO (auto headlamp on) function while the taillight and side blinkers also have LED lights.
The suspension unit upfront is Showa 45mm cartridge-type inverted (Upside Down) telescopic fork while the rear one is a Monoblock cast aluminium swingarm with gas charged dampers which allow excessive travel range. The anchor is dropped by 310mm floating front discs which are fitted up front and 256mm single unit at the rear.
Saturday, 29 July 2017
What's the story?
Conflict of interest in Indian cricket has been an issue which has troubled the cricketers since long. Indian stalwarts like Sunil Gavaskar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly have been the victims of this and now it is the turn of Virat Kohli and some of his players. According to a report in The Hindustan Times, the BCCI has urged the Indian captain to quit his job from the post of a manager at Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd (ONGC).
In case you didn't know...
Players from Delhi have been offered an honorary position at ONGC for years now with the likes of Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag and Ishant Sharma working in some capacity or the other with the public sector firm.
The Supreme Court's Committee of Administrators (COA) has made it clear to the board that no cricketer can hold positions at any government or public sector companies. The reason which the Supreme Court assigned committee has cited is to avoid the conflict of interest issue.
The heart of the matter
Virat Kohli has represented ONGC in numerous local tournaments. Along with the captain, the BCCI has issued a strict warning to the likes of Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara and almost 100 other Indian cricketers who hold some or the other position in any public sector firm. This issue will now be discussed in the next SGM in New Delhi and is expected to be the most controversial topic of the meeting.
A BCCI official was contacted in regard to this issue and he revealed, "Yes it will be tabled (at the next SGM meet) and we will talk about it in detail. Not just players but there are whole lots of other things as well when we deal with conflict of interest."
The official continued by saying that, “The players obviously will be most affected and it will be for the members to decide. We also have the option of referring it back to the Supreme Court as per their recent directions.”
It is yet to be known what sort of impact the scenario will have on Kohli who is leading his team in the ongoing Test series against Sri Lanka.
Indian cricketers have always been offered honorary positions in companies such as Railways, ONGC, Air India, HPCL, Indian Oil, FCL, BSNL, Audit and Excise and Income tax office. An issue of the conflict of interest had also arisen during the first season of the Indian Premier League but was sorted when these companies had provided a no objection certificate to their employees.
But the COA has made the rules strict this time around with all the mentioned players now having to resign from their posts before offering them new contracts. This decision might go on to worsen the working relations between the players and the board.
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