The challenge with having drivers sit in self-driving trucks, helping fine-tune the software, is that it is a massively unproductive use of their time. Especially given how unhealthy sitting for long periods in trucks is (see article below), I would find it hard to believe truckers would want to sit around all day, unless they really had no economic choice.
One related potential positive externality associated with self-driving trucks, on that point, is that freeing up truck drivers from actually having to drive could improve their health outcomes, and perhaps even health outcomes for society as a whole, if you can accept that healthcare costs across the system may decline as a result.
I thought it was interesting that you brought up the point around room automation and then environmental practices as an area for continuing improvement. To me, the rise of the “smart room” could be a great way for hotels to leverage digital technology to better manage their environmental footprint. E.g., if a guest has raised the temperature of a room really high overnight and is leaving the room for a few hours, the smart sensors can realize this and normalize temperatures.
Another example of where digital technology can be useful for environmental purposes is in how some hotels will try to minimize water usage by incentivizing guests with SPG points to re-use towels. Currently from what I’ve seen, a guest has to remember to put a notification around the door, and often forgets. I can imagine a future where a guest will get a notification on their phone from the hotel app telling to do the same thing, which I imagine will be more effective than a door hanger.
I was interested to hear about how algorithms can reflect implicit biases on behalf of the coder, which on second thought is not so surprising because codes are a human creation.
Seems like there are a few competitors in this space, including Automated Insights. Obviously the existence of multiple companies suggests that people view this as a profitable market one day, reinforcing your point around the technology’s potentially disruptive nature. Would be curious to know how big the estimated market is, and what other applications could be viable beyond just journalism.
I was also shocked to see a big PE firm (Vista Equity) investing in this space via the purchase of Automated Insights. Based on this article, it seems like a lot of the big tech companies like Google and FB are pouring money into this space as well. As a result, I’m curious to see who wins in this marketplace between players like Quill and others.
This is an important topic, so thanks for the post. To push the conversation even further, I would argue that if people view an HBS education as a “luxury good”, which has value beyond just the curriculum itself (manifested in ways like the network you build and get access to), then HBS may not necessarily need to adapt its model to conform with what its competitors are doing – because what HBS is offering is a fundamentally different good. Additionally, pn and paper pedagogy has worked well for a long time, and it’s not clear to me that integrating the classroom experience digitally will contribute more to students’ learning.
I would suggest that HBS consider offering some mandatory RC teaching around basic computer science, because those are skills managers will definitely need to know going forward.
I appreciated this post. In my previous life as a private equity investor, we looked into a number of water treatment opportunities as a way to monetize this trend towards technologies supporting potable water. In fact, one of the last deals I worked on, which we subsequently closed after I left, was a water treatment company called Culligan Water (press release below).
I am a bit skeptical that it is possible to build a floating desalination plant – right now that seems a little too “blue sky” of a technology opportunity. However, I am hopeful that I am wrong, because I do think that the declining rates in potable water is a major issue facing the world today. The most talented and entrepreneurial minds in our generation are attracted to technology, but not to water technology. I hope that will change.
I also found this one quite interesting. There are also other industries benefiting from the ice melting, namely the luxury tourism industry. As you can see from the article below, some cruise companies are trying to monetize the opportunity to tour the famed “Northwest Passage” which is now starting to open up due to climate change.
It would be nice if companies like these could create a fund whereby they set aside some of their profits to support research into protecting certain aspects of the regions they are financially benefiting from.
First of all, I loved the title of the post – I was too chicken myself to come up with a good pun in my title.
I’d be interested to learn more about how this company is able to market itself as “meat” as opposed to “meat-like”. E.g., how did they convince Whole Foods to sell them alongside meats as opposed to veggie burgers? There must have been some economic incentive for Whole Foods to agree to vend the Beyond Meat products at the expense of other options.
I took a look myself, and I was impressed by their packaging on their website, which depicts the products just like any other meat burger. This is in direct contrast to “veggie burgers” which I have seen at super markets, which brand themselves with green packaging, and thereby lose the masculinized images of flames and grills that I think are key to getting buy-in for people to purchase a non-meat alternative. I would be willing to try this product, and that’s a big step because I generally think veggie burgers are gross. Thanks for opening my eyes to this product.
I hear the author’s point around “disaster fatigue” as described. I was interested to come across a different use of the term, as defined by the Red Cross itself: “Disaster fatigue is a phenomenon that occurs when an individual, family or community is faced with a string of crises”.
Leaving aside questions around defining what exactly is the correct usage of the term, it is sad to envision a future where an increasingly volatile climate makes rebuilding communities in certain areas difficult. I think a major secondary effect will be great human migrations inland or to locations with less volatility, which will strain those locations’ infrastructures further (though may lead to increased economic benefits with increased immigration). Hard to predict how it will play out.
Like some of the others posting here, I was surprised by the company’s decision to move into the business of owning white oak timberland. I was impressed by the article below, which provided some additional insight into the sustainability of white oak. It appears that a) Makers is well-regarded in the industry for its leadership in the field of sustainable bourbon production and b) white oak should continue to grow in enough supply to meet demand for another century despite climate change.