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Driverless Cars

The advent of driverless vehicles holds many possibilities. Not unlike traveling by bus, plane or train, commuters may soon have the ability to busy themselves with reading, communicating with others or engaging in some other activity other than driving. Autonomous vehicles function using a combination of radar, sensors, and software to control a car or truck.

Levels of Autonomy

Self-driving vehicles are rated on a zero to five scale that explains different levels of autonomous functions.

  • Zero-Fully controlled by humans
  • 1-Vehicles having automatic braking systems, cruise control or parking assist
  • 2-The vehicle is capable of having two autonomous features operating simultaneously.
  • 3- Vehicles control safety features automatically but require human intervention
  • 4-The vehicle capably functions independently in certain situations.
  • 5-A vehicle functions independently under all circumstances

Varying degrees of autonomous function have been incorporated into vehicles manufactured by Google, Nissan, Tesla, and Uber. The self-driving vehicles features an internal map and radar sensors. Google’s prototypes have been equipped with cameras, lasers, radar, and sonar technologies that enable the vehicles to function independently. Some of Uber’s prototypes features 64 lasers in addition to various other sensors.

Onboard software programs receive the data gathered by the cameras and sensors to transmit instructions to the components of the vehicle that control acceleration, braking or steering. The software also features algorithms that instruct the vehicle to avoid obstacles and obey traffic regulations.

Potential Problems

However, the software is not fully capable of correctly analyzing and acting in certain situations. A self-driving vehicle created by Google became involved in a collision. The autonomous vehicle stopped at a red light. When the light turned green, the vehicle proceeded through the intersection. However, a distracted driver ran the stoplight and hit the robotic car. Thus far, self-driving vehicles are not equipped to handle situations involving human error.

Self-driving vehicles are also susceptible to hacking. More than one million Jeep Cherokees were subject to recall when it was determined that the autonomous technology was accessible by hackers. Security specialists determined that hackers could easily access the wireless technology that controlled acceleration, infotainment systems, and windshield wiper function.

Alterations or stickers added to road signs also confuse autonomous technology. In worst case scenarios, the self-driving vehicles may then ignore stop signs or other warnings that require specific actions on the part of vehicle drivers.

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Understanding Impact Investing

According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the world population is projected to reach 8.8 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100. Today’s 7.4 billion inhabitants already face global societal challenges such as climate change, food scarcity, endemic inequality, and a growing presence of warring conflicts. These societal issues are increasingly being challenged through the practice of impact investing.

Issues

Impact investing emerged as a prominent investment strategy in 2007 through global discussions on how to put forth a concerted effort to address prevailing societal problems. Human and environmental capital is at the forefront of the impact investing movement, where investors commit to investing in companies and organizations striving to make a measurable impact on global issues that impact our quality of life.

As with any investment portfolio in which the primary goal is to gain a sizable ROI (Return on Investment), individuals and institutional entities seek to secure ROI’s in emerging and developed markets. Real-life issues such as environmental degradation, systemic poverty, and geopolitical tensions highlight the challenges of companies and organizations looking for ways to make a difference while also being profitable.

Market

The Global Impact Investing Network has been a major force in advocating the benefits of impact investing, citing in a 2018 survey that at least $228.1 billion has been invested in companies that fit this market strategy. The adage that impact investing is on a global trajectory to “do well by doing good” has merit, and its estimated that this growing market could be worth $1 trillion in the coming decades.

Whether it’s investing in “clean technologies” focused on reducing our carbon footprint or companies that look for ways to reduce food insecurity, impact investing offers a wide range of opportunities for investors to be agents of change while benefiting financially from their investments.

As an investment vehicle, impact investing is playing a pivotal role in addressing current realities facing our world, by tackling profound societal issues that require creative and innovative solutions. Investors are increasingly engaged in a paradigm-shift where not only profit is the goal, but profit backed by a commitment to infuse real change on a global scale. Impact Investing is making inroads as an influential market strategy, one that will benefit future generations to come.

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Smart Home Technologies

Installing smart gadgets into a home make the environment more convenient and safer. Some devices are created to enhance the home front or to save money. There are numerous smart home devices on the market today.

NetGear Arlo Q

Home security systems have grown in popularity in recent years. The NetGear Arlo Q offers a simple system that monitors activity inside or outside of a residence. The cameras available with the system create highly detailed video captures and accompanying audio. Thanks to infrared technology, the images captured by the device are also amazingly clear regardless of available light. The system is easily customized to record up to seven days of video at the scheduled times of day or night.

Char-Broil Digital Electric Smoker

BBQ enthusiasts must either continually monitor the grill or check on the cooking process periodically to determine when foods need turned or are done. The digital smoker takes the guesswork out of barbecuing. The grill automatically heats electrically and alerts you via mobile device when the grill is ready and when food items reach acceptable internal temperatures. The grill features a full 725-square inches of cooking space and four chrome racks for small backyard feasting or larger party occasions.

Perfect Bake Pro

Often times, individuals choose to concoct a baked treat or a special dish only to find that they lack vital ingredients. However, the Perfect Bake Pro creates recipes based on the ingredients you have on hand. The autoscale simply adjusts the recipe accordingly. By placing a mixing bowl on the scale, the device automatically measures each ingredient when added. In this way, bakers and cooks have no need to use measuring spoons or cups to precisely calculate ingredients.

Philips Hue Smart Light Bulbs

By installing the Phillips devices, individuals have the chance to control lights via a smartphone or other mobile device. Simply install the light bulbs and download the mobile app. Additional accessories make daily living even more convenient through the use of a dimmer switch, motion sensors or tap controls.

Belkin WeMo Switch

The WeMo switches by Belkin provide remote control of any electrical appliance throughout the home. Simply insert the automated outlets into existing outlets. Any appliance plugged into the switch is then easily controlled via a mobile device or a smartphone.

Styles of Leadership

There are many different effective styles of leadership. It is important that you learn about these different leadership styles in order to find out which one works best for you. The more you learn about these different leadership styles, the more you will find how effective and ineffective certain styles are.

Democratic Leadership

One of the most effective ways to lead is in a democratic manner. Democratic leadership is based off the input that every team member gives the leader. This helps everyone feel involved in the decision-making process and ready to push forward with the team.

Strategic Leadership

Strategic leadership takes a close look at the corporate structure that an organization is operating within. It is important to remember that you can’t be too rigid in this style of leadership. This can potentially halt innovation that might lead to the growth of the corporation.

Autocratic Leadership

Autocratic leadership is a very authoritative way of going about things. In creative settings, this is usually a pretty ineffective way to go about things. Team members want to have their own way of getting a task done. However, in a manufacturing or similar setting, autocratic leadership can be a very effective way to get things done in a timely manner. Depending on the rigidity of the work, you need to decide if this firm leadership style is going to work for your organization.

Transformational Leadership

Many leaders believe that transformational leadership is the most effective type of leadership out there. This type of leadership is actually designed to teach individuals to promote growth and change on their own within an organization. A transformational leader is a unique type of leader. This is the type of leader who wants to help everyone on their team achieve their full potential. They most likely have a very energetic personality and are able to motivate their employees like most leaders can not. This is one of the most effective styles of leadership because it helps employees feel like they belong at their place of work and are doing the best jobs they could possibly be doing.

Determining which style of leadership is right for you will be a very personal choice. You will have to understand which style of leadership is most effective for you. This can only be discovered after you have applied some of these styles to see which one works best for you and your organization.

Creating The Best Team For Your Business

Creating an effective team for your business is about hiring people with skills that complement each other and using the right management techniques to shape them into a stellar team. Before you embark on putting your team together, make sure you understand how both of these elements work.

Hiring The Right People

There’s more to hiring than looking at education and experience. Put these following tips into practice to make sure you have a great team.

Don’t rush the process. Plan ahead in hiring decisions so you’re not forced to hire people to solve a worker shortage. Hiring under duress leads to bad hires, and sometimes hiring no one is better than taking on some problematic employees. Make sure you check with past employers and conduct interviews with more than one manager so you can compare notes.

Don’t always weigh experience as the greatest asset. Cultural values and attitude are usually more important. If your new team members lack passion and are not open to collaboration and communication, they will be ineffective for the company, even if they have impressive experience. It’s also vital that a person fits in with the culture of the group so that they don’t feel out of place.

Building an Effective Team

After you acquire the best team members, the work doesn’t stop there. You have to use the right management techniques to build these new hires into an effective team.

Start by developing clear picture of how the team should work. You should nail down one to three priorities that define what your goals are and use the onboarding stage to impart the cultural values of the company. Give the team a strong sense of the company’s vision and what is expected of them.

Some managers like to take a hands-off approach with employees because autonomy gives people more ability to feel confident in their job, but it’s also important to give regular feedback. When you establish a regular rhythm of feedback, employees will get used to it and not be put off when you need to adjust their performance.

Everyone has heard the phrase “lead by example” because it’s the best way to get people to adopt the desired approach. If the boss isn’t respecting the company culture and values, then the employees won’t be motivated to do so either.

Understanding Fintech’s Impact on Finance

Every year, new terms are added to a number of dictionaries, from urban to traditional. Over 800 words were added to Merriam-Webster in 2018. Many of these words were created by combining two words together such as “glamping” (glamorous + camping) or shortening them, such as “avo” for avocado. There were new words formed with prefixes, such as “cryptocurrency” (crypt- meaning secret) as well as words that explained an action instead of being a noun (e.g. “force quit”). And when there are advances in an industry, there will be new terms. The term “fintech” made this list last year. It is simply a combination of the words finance and technology. The term is applied to new technology that improves and automates finance services for people and businesses.

Fintech’s Expanse

But what exactly is fintech? To put it one way, it is software and algorithms used on computers and smartphones. The term is fluid in that it changes as its base (technology) changes. Originally, fintech was applied to the technology used for the back-end of computer systems of financial institutions. It now includes automation applied to the financial industry. It’s even applied to subcategories of finance, such as wealth management, transactions, investments as well as developing technologies (e.g. bitcoin). Fintech has changed the way we bank as well as manage businesses. This is evident from the number of fintech products consumers use. According to EY’s 2018 Fintech Adoption Index, the survey shows 15.5% of consumers use at least two fintech products. As for regions that must the most fintech products, Hong Kong is the winner with 29.1% of the market share. The United States followed with 16.5%.

The Future of Fintech

Fintech also includes artificial intelligence (AI) in its application to finance. AI is evolving (like computers did) and will soon be anticipating our banking needs, regardless of age or type of business. There are many fintech startups with the sole purpose to revolutionize established banking practices. However, some may see it as a disruption of traditional banking and money management. One of the goals of fintech is to perform banking tasks without human assistance. It’s interesting to note that this idea was similar to the use of computers when they came on the market. Yet, fintech has a better chance than computers of achieving this goal, as it has already infiltrated the finance industry. Only time will tell the level of evolution fintech will reach.

Technology Trends of 2019

Technology is quickly changing each year. It’s important for a person to stay abreast of these changes as it will affect both their personal life and their business life. Here are five emerging technologies that are on the radar for 2019:

Blockchain

With the rise and fall of cryptocurrency prices in 2018, more people were exposed to blockchain technology. While it is still in its early stages, there is a lot of potential for the technology. Smart contracts have been created that use blockchain technology in the transportation, financial and consumer spaces.

By being decentralized, these applications will not suffer from any downtime, censorship or fraud and run as they are programmed. For example, Slock is a company that uses blockchain technology to rent bicycles. Patrons can unlock a bike after the contract is agreed upon by both parties.

Quantum Computing

In just a few years, quantum computing will begin to be applied to business problems in the real world. This will be especially important in the areas of materials science and chemistry where it is near impossible to find answers using the computing power available today.

Immersive Experience

Mixed reality, augmented reality and virtual reality are changing how humans interact with both the digital world and each other. This is proving highly useful in situations where two parties are physically separated.

For example, an engineer could guide another individual who is located in a remote area to repair equipment and get it back online.

Empowered Edge

The goal of edge computing is to drive greater capabilities into computing systems that are located in remote areas. Even though these localized computers are far away from their primary data center, they still need to perform reliably and stay connected.

While cloud computing is currently being used, it just can’t keep up with the quantity of data that is continuing to increase. Edge computing has been designed to bypass cloud computing’s latency and transfer data to its destination faster for processing.

AI chips will help edge computing by providing more storage and greater computing capabilities. In addition, technology like 5G will also help drive edge computing.

Cybersecurity

While the cybersecurity space may not seem like it’s a technology that’s emerging, it is having to evolve as the threat from hackers continues to grow each year.

A list of technologies is being adapted to help enhance cybersecurity. These include deep learning, client technology, behavioral analytics, data loss prevention and hardware authentication. As long as there continue to be hackers on the internet, cybersecurity will have to evolve its technology.