Regardless of how frightening or exhilarating the prospect, there’s no avoiding artificial intelligence. As we indicated in our last blog, AI marches inexorably forward, transforming our reality and challenging our imagination. Pandora’s technological box has been flung wide open and the possibilities appear mind-boggling.
AI developments often come in surprise packages. For instance, you might think Facebook is just an innocuous way of disseminating information and socializing with family and friends. In reality, Facebook is a technological juggernaut with vast financial resources that’s on a mission to overtake Google, Apple and Microsoft and emerge as the force in artificial intelligence. Though Facebook is a relative newcomer to the AI field compared with the Big Three, the company has identified its objectives and how to achieve them.
Some 40 years ago, a long-running series of iconic TV commercials featured the E.F. Hutton investment firm. Typically in a crowded setting like a party or on an airplane, someone would mention that his broker was E.F. Hutton. Suddenly there was dead silence; no one moved a muscle. “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen,” the announcer intoned.
When it comes to computer science, we tend to pay particularly close attention to those we regard as experts and visionaries in the field. So it’s significant that Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates would endorse a couple of books that address the most fascinating and controversial topic of our time – artificial intelligence.
We’ve all had conversations with individuals who weren’t really “there.” You know the type; they appear to be paying attention but their eyes are darting all over the place. Or how about the people who in mid-conversation feel their cellphones vibrating and whip them out of their holsters – sorry, pockets — like gunslingers at high noon? Heaven forbid they should miss a Facebook notification.
Hundreds of computer apps. Countless TV channels. Twenty-four-hour programming. Twitter. Blogs. YouTube. Instagram. No wonder many of us have the attention span of a flea. OK, we’re exaggerating. Would you believe a goldfish? According to author Phil Simon in Message Not Received, a goldfish’s average attention span was nine seconds in 2013; the average American’s was eight seconds, down from 12 seconds in 2000!
It’s easy to be overwhelmed by technology. Innovation occurs so rapidly that you sometimes wonder whether machines – not people – are best suited to adapt. But there’s hope for us humans if we play to our strengths – intellect, empathy, enthusiasm, intuition, tolerance, and on.
That’s one of the unifying themes among the five English finalists for the 16th getAbstract International Book Award. Two nominated titles from the English and German language categories will receive the award in an official ceremony on October 19 at the Frankfurt Book Fair.
When the getAbstract International Book Award launched in 2001, it was the first international prize of its kind to honor outstanding works in the field of business literature. This year, getAbstract assessed more than 10,000 English and German business books in the fields of leadership and management, strategy, sales and marketing, human resources, economics and politics, finance, and career development.
The five English nominees:
Humans Are Underrated, Geoff Colvin, Portfolio, PRH/Nicholas Brealey Publishing
Yes, computers already have taken over many job duties. And it’s impossible to halt the evolution of technology. Yet our ability to interact and relate is what separates us from machines. Colvin believes that human beings will never become obsolete as long as we practice empathy and mutual understanding.
Invisible Influence, Jonah Berger, Simon & Schuster
Though the American culture, in particular, values uniqueness, we are still products of social conditioning. It’s unavoidable – other people influence our choices, behaviors, likes and dislikes. Berger suggests that while we strive for individuality, we also unconsciously seek acceptance.
Simple Sabotage, Robert M. Galford, Bob Frisch, Cary Greene, HarperOne/HarperCollins Publishers
Even employees with noble intentions can create chaos in the workplace. In referencing a 1944 U.S. intelligence service field manual, the authors demonstrate how to disrupt an organization from within. Simple things like excessive e-mailing and long presentations can create confusion and hinder productivity.
Splinternet, Scott Malcomson, OR Books
Many people believe the atomic bomb was the seminal innovation of World War II. In fact, it was the computer. Malcomson explains how the U.S. military industrial complex actually spawned the Internet and also how the roots of venture capitalism can be traced to WWII.
Vaporized, Robert Tercek, Life Tree Media
Amazon has no stores and Uber has no cars, but they dominate their markets. Any company has the potential to go digital in the age of “vaporization.” Tercek believes that understanding this technological phenomenon can help businesspeople make the transition and remain relevant.
You can’t tuck them into your wallet or pocketbook. You can’t use them in a parking meter or to pay your bar tab. Casinos won’t exchange them for chips. You can’t even hold them in your hand, yet people invest in them and their value is increasing.
Welcome to the fascinating and often shadowy world of bitcoin – a completely electronic currency that isn’t backed by anything physical, like gold. Though you may have heard of bitcoin, the concept is tricky to grasp, especially for those of us who find it challenging to replace the AA batteries in our TV remotes. Even technologically savvy individuals could find terminology such as “public and private key cryptography, blockchains and mining pools” a tad unsettling.
It’s always fascinating to see what summaries getAbstract subscribers find most interesting. In examining the list of the top 10 downloads for the first half of 2016, it’s clear that our readers are focused on self-improvement and increasing workplace efficiency, both individually and collectively.
Considering that a large part of the week is spent in the office, it’s not surprising that we want that experience to be enjoyable, fulfilling and promising. You’re sure to find inspiration in these fine reads.
Will robots take all our jobs? Not even the most fervent prophets of digitalization would claim that. What they do say, though, is that to thrive in the future economy, we’ll have to focus on the strengths that separate us from our ever-smarter digital colleagues. Over the last year, those uniquely human “soft skills” were the subject of many business books. You’ll find the most interesting among them on our shortlist – along with other highlights from the year.
getAbstract is proud to present the getAbstract International Book Award to the best business books of 2016. This year, getAbstract assessed more than 10,000 English and German business books in the fields of leadership and management, strategy, sales and marketing, human resources, economics and politics, finance, and career development. We have selected 10 finalists.
Let’s be frank – we go on the Internet at work for a thousand different reasons: checking e-mail, watching YouTube videos, shopping on-line, following your favorite team, the list goes on and on. Companies understand that it’s nearly impossible to enforce policies that prohibit personal computer use during business hours. It’s just a fact of life.
Mobile devices merely compound the electronic chatter …Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. The lure is so compelling that otherwise intelligent individuals actually take their eyes off the road to text – even while traveling at high speeds. Hey, smartphones can’t cure stupidity.
Apparently, we have now crossed over into a relatively new dimension — “augmented reality” – thanks to the Pokémon Go phenomenon. In less than a month, Niantic’s Pokémon Go has eclipsed Candy Crush Saga as the most popular mobile game in US history with roughly 21 million daily users. Don’t be shocked if someone zig-zags past your cubicle in hot pursuit of Dratini or Snorlax. At this rate, Pokémon Go may soon join tobacco on your company’s short list of banned indoor activities.
If you’re working at a job you dreamed about as a child, consider yourself fortunate. Many high school students struggle to identify their areas of interest. They attend college because everyone else does and graduate with history or philosophy degrees that are fairly useless in the real world.
A four-year college education is no longer an automatic ticket to success. Advanced degrees – and additional financial obligations – often are required in certain fields. But what if you don’t know which direction you’re headed? What if you’re no closer to choosing a profession than you were before going off to college?
When it comes to leadership, one size most certainly doesn’t fit all. Some individuals are ruthless, opinionated and impulsive. Others are mild-mannered, diplomatic and sensitive. The most effective leaders often seek a middle ground, using a combination of techniques depending on their circumstances.
Gary Vaynerchuk undoubtedly has employed multiple strategies and approaches in his lucrative entrepreneurial career. But it’s clear that confidence or decisiveness has never been one of his issues. Get past his swagger and affinity for self-promotion and you’ll find someone who’s passionate about succeeding in life.
Vaynerchuk’s fourth book, #AskGaryVee, a print version of his popular YouTube series, The #AskGaryVee Show, is loaded with Vaynerchuk’s takes on social media, brand marketing and business development. Vaynerchuk covers a lot of ground, though he makes one thing perfectly clear: there is no substitute for hard work – or “hustle” – one of his favorite terms. If the other guy is working around the clock, then brew a giant pot of strong coffee and forget about sleep. You get the impression that’s Vaynerchuk’s greatest discovery would be a 25th hour.
Last week, it came as a great shock to many people worldwide that a majority of British voters – 52% – supported leaving the European Union.
Now that Brexit is moving closer toward becoming a reality, getAbstract recommends this comprehensive reading list to all those seeking to understand the consequences of the “Leave” vote and to anyone concerned about migration, monetary policy and other major issues the EU faces.
Free Reading List: Brexit and The Future of The European Union
Ever feel like a hamster on one of those little wheels, running furiously but going nowhere? You try to focus on work but you can’t help thinking about what’s for supper or when to squeeze in a workout or who’s going to watch the kids Saturday night. Your mind always seems to be racing.
Well, the authors of One Second Ahead would like to suggest that your participation in drama and chaos is strictly optional. You’re not obligated to feel overwhelmed, powerless and distracted. Rasmus Hougaard, with Jaqueline Carter and Gillian Coutts, believe that properly training your mind using specific techniques will boost your productivity and peace of mind. getAbstract recently connected with the authors for a quick Q&A.
What is “mindfulness” and why is it vital in a corporate environment?
In simple terms, mindfulness is a set of tools and techniques designed to enhance mental effectiveness. Specifically, mindfulness training techniques skillfully applied to the workplace enhance focus, creativity, communication, team work and a sense of well-being. These are vital skills for team success and organizational results.
getAbstract has always tried to summarize the most important, informative and entertaining business books on the market. But with hundreds of quality titles being released every month, we may inevitably miss a few that deserve a spot in our library.
Maybe you can’t find a particular selection on our website. Perhaps you’ve just read a fantastic book or watched an amazing video presentation that you think we should summarize. Please send us your ideas and suggestions!
Sports fans typically have only a passing interest in their favorite team’s financial state of affairs. They don’t really care if the billionaire owner can afford to upgrade his yacht or whether the front office convinces a sponsor to purchase one of those plush corporate suites.
Sports fans simply are looking for entertainment from athletes who try hard, hopefully win more than they lose and may even occasionally challenge for a title. Soccer, for example, is the world’s most popular sport, yet many professional clubs struggle to meet their financial obligations, according to Stefan Szymanski, author of Money and Soccer. They’ll never win a championship and can’t afford the star players that could really make a difference, but are loved by their adoring followers anyway.
When it comes to learning and development within your organisation, there’s two words you never want to hear: status quo. And whether your L&D specialists believe in their methodology or can support its effectiveness is immaterial. Status quo implies you are satisfied with the ways things are and have no immediate plans to implement change.
In business, unless you are moving forward, you are moving backward. It’s easy to fall into a routine, particularly if your company is financially successful and your employees appear to be growing professionally. But if you don’t have standards to measure yourself against, how can you possibly know if you’re maximising your L&D initiatives?