By Craig Bamford
Welcome to Notables for November 7, 2018!
First this week: Jesse Hirsh on the new USMCA trade deal and “data localization”.
After nearly a year of controversial negotiation, the United States, Canada, and Mexico finally created a provisional trade agreement. Some provisions are celebrated, some controversial, but one that may be under-reported is the issue of “data localization”.
Jesse Hirsh explains the issue for the Centre for International Governance Innovation. Data localization is the idea that data for a particular region or country should be stored entirely within that country, instead on remote international servers-principally within the United States. Europe and Asia have already moved towards forms of data localization, out of concern for citizens’ privacy and security. In Canada, this has been less of a concern, but Hirsh points out that the new trade deal may make it difficult or even impossible for Canadian citizens, firms and governments to localize data, and this may be a point of contention going forward.
Hirsh points to one key issue where Canadians may be exposed on this: cannabis. Canada has recently legalized cannabis for recreational use, but in the United States (and in almost every other country) possession of cannabis is criminalized. Since many Canadians can only legally buy cannabis on the Internet, and since these official portals require the use of (American) credit card companies, it is possible that Canadians’ purchase data may be stored on American servers, and may face international consequences for legal Canadian activity that is technically illegal. Will Canadians be automatically barred from the United States? Will they have credit cards declined or cancelled?
Hirsh says that “there is room for innovation”, and that there is a bit of “wiggle room”, but believes that Canadian policymakers will have to think about this carefully going forward.
Second this week: the future of work!
Desire 2 Learn has produced a whitepaper on the “future of work”, focused on the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”. The theory of the fourth industrial revolution is that the combination of heavy networking of quasi-autonomous devices, and the rapidly-growing presence of machine learning and artificial intelligence(AI) in the creation of both physical and digital goods and services, is going to revolutionize work to the same extent as (for example) the initial introduction of digital technology.
They suggest that this is going to be immensely disruptive to the economy in general, and specifically to labour; many sources have speculated that up to 50% of jobs could be “disrupted”, and others have raised concerns about AI causing a permanent reduction in the need for human labour, even in seemingly high-skilled fields like law and finance. The report points to the disruptive rise of the “gig economy”, students fearing that education can’t get them a steady job, and skills mismatch owing to quickly-changing skill requirements.
D2L focuses on education as a key solution. Education programs should be “aligned to labour market needs”, and focus on work-integrated learning opportunities that leverage industry as a partner. Lifelong learning will also need to be made routine in a world of steadily shifting skill requirements. Most important, however, may be “hybrid skills”: instead of focusing on “hard skills” that an AI can easily handle, human labour should be developing “soft skills” that can be adapted from field to field, and the sort of “critical thinking” that AI is unsuited for.
Third this week: Rogers Commits to the Internet of Things
Rogers Canada, leading Canadian telecommunications company, has announced that they will begin rolling out an “LTE-M” network in 2018, to be concluded by 2020. LTE is well-known as the technology that powers “5G” data for mobile devices. LTE-M is intended for fixed or mobile low-power “Internet of Things”(IoT) devices, connecting them to carry information over long distances with longer battery life and better network coverage. It will make “IoT solutions more accessible for Canadian businesses”, and transition devices away from relying on 2G and WiFi-based solutions.
Nigel Wallis, VP of Internet of Things and Industry Research at IDC Canada, said that “IoT is now a mainstream tool of Canadian businesses, with 81% of medium and large-sized Canadian organizations using IoT solutions today, up from 70% last year”. He added that low-power wide area networks (LPWAN) like LTE-M “enable businesses to re-think traditional operations practices, and to innovate in ways they would not have attempted before.”
Notables is a weekly collection of interesting science, technology, investment and innovation reports, press releases and other news bytes from around the web. Notables are curated and written by Craig Bamford.
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The views and opinions expressed in this piece are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of RE$EARCH MONEY.