Spotted this weekend in a window on a National Trust site.
On Bank Holiday Monday my family and I visited our local Amazon fulfilment centre for a factory tour. It was an eye into the future of robotic automation, and an opportunity to see how something as traditional warehouse stock picking can be reinvented from the ground up.
We visited LTN4, which is in Dunstable (near Luton, Hertfordshire) in the UK. Amazon fulfilment centres are named after their nearest airport codes (Luton airport is less than 10 miles away), and we visited the 4th building on the industrial estate.
From the moment you arrive at the car park, safety is a priority. There are signs every few metres instructing drivers to reverse into spaces.
Inside the warehouse, there are safety signs everywhere. The second priority is security. Employees and visitors need to leave everything except keys, wallet and phone in a locker. There are hundreds of lockers for the 1,200 permanent staff. And there’s even an Amazon locker in the reception area. There are airport-style metal detectors which all staff need to pass through on the way in and out of the warehouse.
Once on the tour, we watched the stock fillers, stock pickers, and two sets of packing teams – for customers who ordered a single item, and on the opposite side of the warehouse, pickers for customers with multiple items. We weren’t allowed to take any photos during the tour, except in the room below. Continue reading Inside an Amazon Fulfilment Centre
ThisPersonDoesNotExist is my favourite site of the year so far. It’s mesmerising.
Each time you look at the site, it generates a face from a very clever Machine Learning algorithm. And the algorithm, well the learning, only gets better with time.
The more you look at the site, you then start wondering:
- If the facial components on ThisPersonDoesNotExist are from real people, who owns those parts? (E.g. my chin)
- If the faces on ThisPersonDoesNotExist are indistinguishable from real-life portraits, how much longer before we are looking at other computer-generated artefacts? Newspaper articles written by robot journalists and TV robot news anchors have already been done.
- When will we started reading fictional news items, totally fabricated from non-real photos and facts? How will we certify real things?
- What’s next?
It’s time for my annual blog/ RSS feed clean up, and to share my preferred thought-provoking digital news feeds:
1. Chris Matts (The IT Risk Manager). Chris regularly updates his blog with practical advice for technology teams and senior managers such as “executives and transparency”, and he focusses his agile transformation articles on business managers rather than technology teams. That said, there are also a fair number of more technical articles about automated testing and development. https://theitriskmanager.wordpress.com
2. Doc Searls. Doc has several interests, mainly in privacy, photography and technology. Whilst I don’t agree with his extreme views on privacy and anti-advertising, his blogs and other feeds are very interesting to read occasionally. http://blogs.harvard.edu/doc/
3. Google Webmaster Blog. there are several skills everyone in the digital industry should have, and one of them is an overview of search engines and how they work. The search engines are the key footfall, entry point, gateway and provider of revenue to almost every digital company. Stay up to date with Google on this blog. https://webmasters.googleblog.com/ Continue reading Top 10 favourite digital blogs
Here are my predictions for the digital and online industry for the coming year.
Every year I score my own previous year’s predictions– see how I fared for digital predictions for 2018 and work backwards.
1. Foldable/ rollable and other-able screens
Having been teased with foldable, rollable and extendible screens for several years, I think we’ll finally start to see them next year.
I hope the phones look nicer than the Royole. And I hope the televisions looks as nice as the LG rollable, especially in that low but wide position.
And if you’re thinking that TVs might disappear soon, it looks unlikely, because 70% of Netflix binging still happens on a TV. Continue reading 2019 Digital Trends and Predictions
Time to look back on the 2018 predictions from 12 months ago…. how many of the predictions came true?
1. Tesla share price to drop significantly
Tesla stock was $312 on New Years Day 2018 and finished the year at $333, so on the face of it, the prediction was incorrect.
However, on 7 August, Elon Musk made the headlines by tweeting that “funding secured” at $420. The share price jumped 10% to $379. He was personally fined $20 million, and the company was fined the same amount.
Two months later, the stock was $250. The stock has been relatively volatile since then, climbing back to $376 and back down to $333.
Amazingly, the offending tweet is still live.
I also mentioned how “2017 was generally a good financial year, and if consumer confidence drops in 2018, people will buy fewer cars.” Ford stock started 2018 at $12 and is now under $8. General motors started at $41 and is now $33. Jaguar Land Rover (which is a private company) made a pre-tax loss of £90m for the three months to end of September, compared to a profit for the same quarter in 2017. The firm’s Solihull plant, where it makes Range Rover and Jaguar models, was closed for a two-week shutdown due to “fluctuating demand”. That followed a move to a three-day week at JLR’s Castle Bromwich plant.
Prediction rating: 5/10 – Tesla stock has been a volatile stock in 2018 but has actually finished higher Continue reading Review of 2018 predictions
Almost half of the projects on GoFundMe, the fundraising website, are to pay for medical bills. That’s $930m out of $2bn (Source: Business Insider).
That’s over 250,000 campaigns a year, raising $450m per year (Source: GoFundMe).
Another way to look at this, is that consumers now prefer to have cheaper, or no insurance, and raise funds after a claim would have arisen.
Note: this applies to the UK, not just the US.
Since the early days of Internet services such as Google and Facebook, we’ve accepted that in return for these amazing services, we have to give some of our data away. It’s a value-exchange. We get to perform a search about anything, or store and share photos for free in return for the website having some data about us and selling that to advertisers. It’s a fair value-exchange.
It’s value because our advertising tends to be personalised toward us. I’d rather see relevant adverts, for example new bicycles products from my favourite brands, rather than tampons. Continue reading Privacy: the update
When the iPhone was launched, industry commentators predicted that everything would have a touch screen. And then Alexa came along, and those commentators predicted nothing would have a screen – everything will be Internet-enabled and voice controlled.
And the latest version of Alexa – has… a screen! Sometimes I think Amazon’s product strategy includes Jeff Bezos’ sense of humour.
We have had a Google Home device in our house for a year now. Actually, my son bought it and it stays in his room. Everyone in our house has an Android phone, and the Home device tries to be extra clever by automatically linking our phones to the speaker. I remember the first time I worked from home after he bought the Google Home and I kept hearing something upstairs. When I went to investigate, all my alerts were being announced by Google Home in his room!
My favourite use of his Home device is when I wake him up in the morning by asking Google to play some music that he doesn’t like, at maximum volume. Continue reading Amazon Alexa vs Google Home under one roof
The reaction to the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica data story has been more divided than any other technology I can remember. (Real-life) friends have closed several web accounts, beyond just Facebook, formally requesting their entire data to be wiped clean. And some friends don’t care.
But even if you quit Facebook and ask for your data to be deleted, it probably won’t. This is because Facebook stores shadow profiles about people anyway. This is one of the ways that Facebook seems to make accurate friend recommendations on the platform. Continue reading Facebook’s data privacy issue