miércoles, 28 de enero de 2015

Digtalisation and labour relationships

One aspect of our daily life digitalisation is changing forever are the labour relationships. The impact is going to be felt in any kind of work because the changes rank from a redimension of our working space to our assessment performance. There is uncertainty about the goodness of the changes and for sure the evaluation of them will be personal and depend of your personal experience. What it is sure, is that even the oldest job on earth is transforming by ICTs.

In an historical review, maybe the first change introduced by ICT in work is telecommuting. Only in the US full-time teleworkers have grown nearly 80% between 2005 and 2012 reaching 2,6% of the workforce. Nevertheless, its impact is going beyond full-time teleworkers. In certain kind of jobs doing some kind of tasks outside the office is the norm more than an exception and it is expecting that more than 43% of the US workforce will do some kind of telecommuting by 2016.  This means from a personal perspective a great flexibility on how we organise our work and for employers a tool for recruiting and retaining talent

ICTs are also the main enabler of the sharing economy. Before the success stories of Uber or Airbnb, one of the first cases of sharing economy were crowdsourcing services like Amazon´s Mechanical Turk. Human resources is a natural focus of the sharing economy in a massive expansion of freelance opportunities. According with Amazon figures, their service give access to more than 500.000 workers in 190 countries, and there are other similar services around the world. Beyond telecommuting, crowdsourcing open the gate to a new model of flexible labour relationships based on demand and not a permanent contract. As it was published in The Economist recently, there will be an app for any kind of service we will need to hire.

The most feared application of digitalisation in work are bots. Probably, it would be better to speak about software substitution, as Bill Gates prefers, because in the majority of the cases the substitute is going to have a physical form. Only in the European Union, 50% of the jobs are at risk of computerisation. This means a future where almost any kind of the current jobs could be done by machines, and therefore a shift from a world with the disappearance of human capacity scarcity in the majority of production fields.


ICTs in the workplace could also be the mean for a bigger integration of handicapped people. For instance, the usage of exoskeletons will certainly augment the human capabilities. The main focus until the moment has been only for the basic recovery of paraplegics, but the limit could go beyond this. Once a handicapped has regained or obtained for the first time the mobility of "normal" person there is no reason why he would not do the same work.

As a kind of revenge, the software substitution is on the verge to reach the human resources departments. Recruiting and managing talent are among the main activities of this kind of departments. The information they handle is on the network, reputations are now Internet pages that are waiting to be analysed. Both the identification of candidates and the performance assessment of employers are increasingly done by computers based on big data algorithms. This means a further change of labour relationships, not only our work is important but also the trace of catchable by computers that we leave behind.

Two axes defined the changes in labour relationship brought  by digitalisation: Flexibility and objectivity. Both of them have a bright and dark side. The bright path lead us to utopias and the dark path to dystopias. Which one we finally takes us a society will depend on the extent that the human being will be the soul in the machine.




lunes, 26 de enero de 2015

#Copyright #DigitalSingleMarket #Industry Somewhere in #Digital Europe ... (26/1/2015)

Draft Report of the European parliament on Copyright

Amid the debate of the Digital single Market Strategy, the European Parliament has published a new controversial document for the debate. Now is the turn of the EU copyright regulation, as an starting point the Parliament has published a draft report on the implementation of Directive 2001/29/EC.


A safe and secure connected digital space for Europe: Speech by Vice-President Ansip

Speech by Vice-President Ansip at a debate organised by the European Internet Foundation VP Ansip. Interesting reading at this moment of the construction of Digital Europe when the European Commission has announced a Digital Single Market Strategy to be published in May


European Co-operation on innovation in digital manufacturing

The impact of digital technologies on manufacturing is a major aspect in the development of the digital economy. The European Commission organised a workshop on the matter and its contents are now avalaible online.



miércoles, 21 de enero de 2015

How #TTIP and #TISA could help to build the #DigitalSingleMarket

Right now, the European Union is engaged in negotiations of several international trade treaties. The most well-known is the TTIP, but there are also others as TiSA that draw less attention from the public. The less attention they draw the less information is available. It would be impossible to write an article about TiSA and the digital economy as long as the one I wrote about the TTIP and digital economy. Nevertheless, this does not mean it is a less important treaty.

The Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) is a trade agreement currently being negotiated by 23 members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), including the European Union. The aim of TiSA is to facilitate trade in services in the countries taking part in the talks, so providers from one country can offer their services in another. TiSA addresses barriers to trade in services between the countries taking part in the talks: treating foreign suppliers differently from local ones, limiting the extent to which foreign suppliers can opérate.

To cut a long story short, TiSA tries to goes deeper in the elimination of trade barriers for services achieved in the WTO's 1995 General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). In 1995 the digital economy was virtually inexistent, therefore among the most important topics covered by the TiSA is the update of the trade rules for telecommunication services and the creation of  trade rules for a new category of services called e-commerce.

As in the case of TTIP, the European Commission is negotiating the TiSA in complete secrecy. Furthermore, the citizens have less clues of the topics that are on the table due to the more shorter extension of the press material released for TiSA compared with the press material for TTIP. While we only know that in the 10th round of TiSA negotiations telecommunication services are on the table, after the 7th round of the TTIP negotiations we have at least a list of topics under negotiation for telecommunication and e-commerce services. However, it is worrisome for the citizens and businesses not knowing the position regarding the digital economy of the European Union in neither of them.

The digital economy is one of the cornerstones for the trade between the EU and its partners. Nevertheless, the lack of transparency on the negotiations about the digital issues does not help to foster the trust in the convenience of the TTIP and TiSA for the digital Europe. As a consequence of this lack of transparency, the leaks of the US position for e-commerce within TiSA creates uncertainty and undermines the efforts of the EU institutions for establishing the regulation pillars of the Digital Single Market. While endless negotiations are taken place about net neutrality and personal data protection between the Council and the Parliament, the European Commission is negotiating other terms for both issues behind the stage with the USA and other partners. Establishing a clear connection between both scenarios of negotiation would be extremely helpful to define the European digital stage and boost the needed investment in digital infrastructures.

The new European commission has highlighted building up the Digital Single Market as one of its priorities for 2015-20. As the Digital Single Market could not be isolated from the global digital economy, the trade international treaties under negotiation could be levers for a Digital Europe. But the opportunity of an early alignment between the Digital Single Market and the Digital Economy of the future would be only possible fostering the alignment of the negotiation of the TTIP and TiSA with the usual EU legislative process. Nevertheless, this is an opportunity not exempt of risks

lunes, 19 de enero de 2015

#BigData #DAD2014 #mHealth Somewhere in #Digital Europe ... (12/01/2015)

Emerging technologies: Big Data

A paper published by the UK government as part of the programme "Horizontal Scanning". This reports draw on insights from experts in and outside government, aiming to challenge the government’s thinking. The paper covers the definition, trends and opportunities brought by Big Data both for the public for private sector.



Making Europe Fit for the Data Economy

A proposal for a Big Data Action Plan for the EU published by Digital Europe, the voice of Europe’s digital technology industry


Digital Action Day Report

On September 29th 2014, the European Commission organised a high-level policy event focused on the 'Digital transformation in traditional EU industries'.  This report highlights the key moments of the conference and its main outcomes.


Summary Report on the Public Consultation on the Green Paper on Mobile Health

On 10 April 2014, the European Commission launched a public consultation on mHealth in the form of a Green Paper. This summary report is an overview of the views and actions suggested by stakeholders.

miércoles, 14 de enero de 2015

"Internet of the Things" as a synonim of connectivity

Since it became a mainstream element of our society by the end of the 90´s, Internet has been built as a succession of paradigms. Examples of this paradigms are e-commerce or web 2.0. There are different among them, but they share its complexity and being an umbrella for a huge range of services. The last of this paradigms is "Internet of the Things".

"Internet of the Things" is a synonym for the full digitalisation of society and economy. Its emergence has been possible thanks to the confluence of four technology elements (sensors, cloud, big data and mobility) that are making possible the creation of virtual images of any aspect of our life. It is more about the ubiquitous connection of people, whatever where they are and its activity, than the connection of things. Things are only the intermediaries to the network.

As a consequence of its vocation of ubiquity, "Internet of the Things", as happened previously with e-commerce or Web 2.0, are an ever growing collection of ecosystems. These ecosystems are characterized by two features, there are at the same time independent among them but its value grow exponentially when they are connected. Examples of these ecosystems are Smart Cities and Smart Cars. They can work in an independent manner but it synergies makes them more valuable for us. The creation of this synergies it's only possible based on a set of standards. Therefore, openness, interoperability and portability should be nurtured by the ICT community in a more extreme manner than with previous techonological waves.


Nevertheless, "Internet of the Things" looks as a more complex paradigm than the previous ones. The promise is not only more services and efficiency for our life and activities, but also a transformation beyond the mere automatisation. This fact implies the need of more intervention from public authorities. The public intervention should be based on a "no harm" principle.

On one hand, public authorities should not harm innovation. As with any new paradigm, "Internet of the Things" development requires the development of the framework conditions that attract investments. But taking advantages of the "Internet of the Things" is not possible without access to specialised soft and hard infrastructure required by big data. It is needed to make available this infrastructure to those with ideas and less access to funding sources.

On the other hand, governments should guarantee no harm to the citizens. "Internet of the Things" without limits poses a clear threat to privacy. Public authorities shall develop the conditions that avoid an excessive concentration of information in the same hands and the capability to discriminate based on this information. The protection of citizens as consumers is also needed.

"Internet of the things" is the last of the row of paradigms unleashed by the internet. Its development requires more complex balances than previous paradigms. More equilibriums based on openness are needed both in the ICT, investment and public sphere that will not be possible without dialogue between all the stakeholders. "Internet of the Things" is a synonym of connectivity both as technological paradigm and as a society achievement.

lunes, 12 de enero de 2015

#Measurement #IoT #TTIP Somewhere in #digital Europe ... (12/1/2015)

Measuring the Digital Economy: A new perspective

The growing role of the digital economy in daily life has heightened demand for new data and measurement tools. The key objectives of this OECD publication are to highlight measurement gaps and propose actions to advance the measurement agenda.


Internet of things: Blackett review

This report sets out the findings of a review by the UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser on on the internet of things. It recommends 10 actions for government to maximise the opportunities and reduce the risks of these new technologies.


Factsheet on ICT in TTIP

The European Commission has published aditional on TTIP negotiations. Among the documents published is a factsheet of the scope of ICT products negotiations within TTIP. It should be highlighted that the negotiations on ICT products are part of a broader chapter related to regulatory cooperation.

miércoles, 7 de enero de 2015

ICTs: Good or bad for jobs?

There is a growing concern in the society about the impact of ICT usage in jobs. Some pieces of news and studies published has critically contributed to this feeling. On one hand, wages seem to go down since the beginning of the massive usage of computers in the 80´s. On the other hand, there are estimations of huge loses of jobs ahead in the next years due to computerisation. Nevertheless, due to the current economic conditions, it is difficult to identify which part of jobs and wages decline is the responsibility of computers and which part of the economic crisis.

The main risks for jobs coming from ICTs come from the ability of computers to reproduce human tasks at a cheaper price. This ability drives to process innovation and increasing of efficiency in every industry, which in turn decreases the need for human intervention in production. As it is shown in "The second machine age", this ability does not affect equally to all kind of jobs. If we classify jobs according with the level of skills that demand, both extremes of classification are safe. Only the jobs that demand a medium range of skills are seriously at the risk of disappearance in the near future. However, this safe situation will not last forever and the number of current jobs that would be easily reproduced by machines are called to grow.

If all the current jobs could be at risk sooner or later, the only way out is the creation of new kind of jobs. The creation of new kind of jobs depends only on one factor: the capacity of the companies to take advantage of computer abilities beyond the mere automatisation of processes. This capacity would drive to product innovations and the new products would require new human abilities, and therefore new jobs. For instance, the growth of e-commerce has had as a consequence the creation of new forms of packet delivery.

The jury is out. It would be hasty to conclude that ICTs are good or bad for jobs. The verdict will depend on the ability to compensate process innovation and product innovation.
palyginti kainas