Friday, June 24, 2022

Microsoft Report: Cyber-Influence Attacks Undermine Our Well-being

I work on the Future of Business team at TCS.  As part of our routine we track hundreds of emerging trends across seven domains; science, technology, societal, economic, geopolitical, philosophy and environment.  Our future is guaranteed to be influenced by a mixture of converging developments across all of these areas, with an occasional catalyst (historic transformational event), thrown in to super change them.  One of those catalyst was the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed millions and changed the way the world works, educates, lives, etc.

The COVID-19 pandemic taught us many things. It taught us that ingenuity, expertise, governments, science and very smart and hardworking humans all collaborating together can deliver lifesaving vaccines in record times.  This is how Science.org describes it, "Amid the staggering amount of suffering and death during this historic pandemic of COVID-19, a remarkable success story stands out. The development of several highly efficacious vaccines against a previously unknown viral pathogen, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), in less than 1 year from the identification of the virus is unprecedented in the history of vaccinology. (Source: Science.org)

As amazing as this story is, powerful foreign and domestic special interest groups influenced huge numbers of people to believe the opposite.  These special interest groups convinced hundreds of millions of people to believe the life saving vaccines were instead part of nefarious conspiracies designed to harm them.

As a futurist studying trends and emerging developments that could greatly benefit humanity in the areas of health, longevity, food abundance, an end to many chronic diseases, sustainability and many others, I wonder how many of these benefits and life saving developments will fall victim to politically motivated  groups employing cyber-influence campaigns against them.  These groups have already demonstrated an ability to create alternative realities in our minds where good becomes bad, and bad becomes good.

This week Microsoft released a report updating the world on Russia's cyber warfare against the Ukraine and Western nations.  This report includes the latest research conducted by Microsoft’s threat intelligence and data science teams. The report details sophisticated and widespread Russian foreign influence operations being used among other things, to undermine Western unity. Microsoft reported they are seeing foreign influence operations enacted in force in a coordinated fashion along with the full range of cyber destructive and espionage campaigns in Ukraine.  

One important section of Microsoft's report says, "These ongoing Russian operations build on recent sophisticated efforts to spread false COVID narratives in multiple Western countries. These included state-sponsored cyber-influence operations in 2021 that sought to discourage vaccine adoption through English-language internet reports while simultaneously encouraging vaccine usage through Russian-language sites. During the last six months, similar Russian cyber influence operations sought to help inflame public opposition to COVID-19 policies in New Zealand and Canada.  

We (Microsoft) are concerned that many current Russian cyber influence operations currently go for months without proper detection, analysis, or public reporting. This increasingly impacts a wide range of important institutions in both the public and private sectors." 

That was Microsoft being concerned.  I am concerned.  It is critical that we educate ourselves, our elders and our youth to recognize these destruction attacks and understand how these cyber-influence attacks work to influence and harm our societies' thinking.  Without being able to recognize and defend against these kind of mind-attacks, these alternative realities, scientist and entrepreneurs can develop the most useful and beneficial innovations that save lives and improve humanity's well-being, only to fall victim again to foreign and domestic cyber-influence campaigns that convince us to reject a better future.  

************************************************************************
Kevin Benedict
Partner | Futurist at TCS
View my profile on LinkedIn
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
Join the Linkedin Group Digital Intelligence

***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Looking Elsewhere for a Dependable Future

For most of recorded history not many things were dependable.  Crops were not dependable. Communications were not dependable.  Transportation was not dependable.  Logistics were not dependable.  Income was not dependable. Health was not dependable.  We had yet to domesticate the gods of science and nature to serve our ends.

Today, we can routinely move through complex environments with dependable transportation systems that involve millions of moving parts without so much as spilling our coffee, looking up from a game of Wordle, or being late to a meeting.   This amazing accomplishment, and others like it, have freed up our brains and provided us with the luxury of focusing our attention elsewhere - and elsewhere is an important place.  It's where the future is made.

Our mental "elsewhere" can be a place of hope, joy, compassion, peace, beauty, love, generosity, community, creativity, innovation, trust and exploration.  It can also, depending on our circumstances, be a place of darkness filled with grievances, misery, hopelessness, conspiracies, anger, bitterness and resentment.  Since elsewhere is where we go to think about and design our future, it is critical that it be a healthy place both mentally and emotionally.  All of our building blocks of the future will be biased by the mental and emotional states we are in at the time of development.  They will also be biased by our perceived reality.

The challenge we all face as humans is effectively guiding our thoughts and emotions to ensure we plan our futures from the "elsewhere" where we can dependably appeal to "the better angels of our nature," to quote Abraham Lincoln.   The future is one very important reason we should be focused on the mental and emotional health of ourselves and the communities around us.

************************************************************************
Kevin Benedict
Partner | Futurist at TCS
View my profile on LinkedIn
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
Join the Linkedin Group Digital Intelligence

***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

Thursday, June 09, 2022

How Humans Learned to See the Future

If you have never read a book by or listened to a presentation by Futurist Byron Reese you have missed out.  He is a popular speaker and holds several technology patents, he has started and sold multiple companies, including two NASDAQ IPOs.  He has authored 4 books: Infinite Progress, The Fourth Age, Wasted, and his newest book that will be available in August of 2022 - Stories, Dice and Rocks that Think, and he has another in development.  
I love the work Byron does.  He is bold, deeply insightful, humble, immensely creative and shares his contagious sense of humor with all of us on the program today. Stories, Dice, and Rocks That Think: How Humans Learned to See the Future--and Shape It Learn more: https://www.amazon.com/Stories-Dice-Rocks-Think-Future/dp/1637741340/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3PODGJKLWX8FT&keywords=byron+reese&qid=1654809999&s=books&sprefix=byron+reese%2Cstripbooks%2C189&sr=1-1


************************************************************************
Kevin Benedict
Partner | Futurist at TCS
View my profile on LinkedIn
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
Join the Linkedin Group Digital Intelligence

***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

Tuesday, June 07, 2022

Our Future, Finding Joy and Industry Captains with Author Steve Hamm

In this episode of my podcast, former IBM Chief Storyteller, Pulitzer Prize-nominated author, and Documentary Filmmaker Steve Hamm joins us to share his experiences collaborating with scientists, technology leaders, governments, and captains of industry to save the planet.  In fact, he wrote a book about it, The Pivot: Addressing Global Problems Through Local Action.  Steve also shares his experiences meeting with and interviewing technology leaders including Marc Benioff, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, the Dalai Lama, and more.  We also talk about his career transition from focusing on emerging technologies to investing in saving our children's future.  Join us! I think you will like it!


************************************************************************
Kevin Benedict
Partner | Futurist at TCS
View my profile on LinkedIn
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
Join the Linkedin Group Digital Intelligence

***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

Wednesday, June 01, 2022

Transforming Healthcare with TCS Experts Stuart Gilchrist and Smriti Kirubanandan

We are excited to release the first episode in our new HLTH FORWARD series hosted by myself and healthcare expert Smriti Kirubanandan.  Our guest for our first program is healthcare expert Stuart Gilchrist.  He brings with him 37 years of experience working on all aspects of healthcare.  He shares his journey and how the healthcare industry has evolved over his career, what it means to be an industry leader today, and where healthcare is going in the future.


************************************************************************
Kevin Benedict
Partner | Futurist at TCS
View my profile on LinkedIn
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
Join the Linkedin Group Digital Intelligence

***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Leadership and Social Responsibility

In this interview, we take a deep dive into the role of the Chief Social Responsibility Officer with TCS's CSRO, Balaji Ganapathy.  We then explore how large multinational companies discover and define their purpose, and how they communicate it to their dispersed workforce.  We also discuss how large and global companies respond to controversial topics, politics, and global disasters.  We then dig deep into the strategies, tactics, and methodologies for implementing purpose, creating the right culture, and being a socially responsible organization.

Contribute and learn more about TCS' Ukraine Humanitarian Response:



************************************************************************
Kevin Benedict
Partner | Futurist at TCS
View my profile on LinkedIn
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
Join the Linkedin Group Digital Intelligence

***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

The Future of Work with Expert Dr. Paul J. Bailo

In this episode, we speak with Professor Paul J. Bailo, about the future of work.  Dr. Bailo teaches executives and students in many highly respected universities, and shares what he is hearing and learning as he moves back and forth between teaching, entrepreneurship, and leadership.


Q1: Talk to us about some of your first jobs... A1: 1:32 Q2: Are people going back to work? Do you think there will be more long-term hybrid modes? A2: 9:47 Q3: In this new world you’re envisioning, should that impact the way we educate our kids? A3: 11:18 Q4: What is your take on the Digital Assistant? A4: 16:07 Q5: What is your take on automation creating unemployment? A4: 21:20 Q6: How do you see the interest in relocalizing work affecting the jobs of the future? A6: 27:03 Q7: What advice do you give your students about what they should do to prepare for a career? A7: 30:42


************************************************************************
Kevin Benedict
Partner | Futurist at TCS
View my profile on LinkedIn
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
Join the Linkedin Group Digital Intelligence

***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

Transferring Human Vulnerabilities to Artificial Intelligence

I have written a series of articles about the future of information, truth and influence.  These articles explore the human vulnerabilities that are exploited in social media, and in combination with other traditional forms of media. I also explore the concept of social engineering and information operations where professional marketers, military and political strategist use the way our brain works to influence us.  In this article we explore how our brains and their instinctual and learned biases can cause us problems when combined with artificial intelligence and automation.

In the revealing new book, The Loop, by NBC News technology correspondent, Jacob Ward, he shares how we can cause ourselves harm by letting our unconscious, evolutionary instincts and biases shape our automated future.  He warns that the real danger of artificial intelligence is that it is informed by and learns from how our human brains work, and our human brains are constantly making instant and unthinking decisions using instinctual and learned biases, short-cuts and hidden processes.  These decision-making tendencies protected humans from predators, marauding hordes and other dangers throughout history, but today we are often incorporating these same instincts into the automated systems that are increasingly making decisions for us today.  The results are leading us to some unintended consequences.

The Future of the Home with Futurist Alex Whittington

In this episode of the Future of Business, futurist Alex Whittington and I share our pandemic experiences living and working at home with our families for the past 2-years.  We then explore her research into the future of homes, and ponder how our pandemic experiences might change the way homes are designed in the future.

You can jump to specific questions and answers below.

Q1: In the vortex of this pandemic, tell me how your personal life changed. A1: 1:19 Q2: Did you do anything to accommodate moving your work all online? A2: 3:10 Q3: What do you think are some of those lasting influences on society that we’re going to leave this pandemic with? A3: 4:55 Q4: How do you think houses themselves, going forward, will change? A4: 11:21 Q5: How might our idea of entertainment and life with a family in a home change? A5: 16:07 Q6: If we start with a brand new home, how do you think that will change given our pandemic experiences? A6: 21:21 Q7: You were talking about unschooling, as a philosophy or concept, share that with us... A7: 24:45 Q8: You also write about co-living and co-working spaces, what have you learned about that? A8: 27:52 Q9: Let’s say you were buying an older home, what are some of the things that you would change to accommodate what we have learned during the pandemic years? A9: 31:47
************************************************************************
Kevin Benedict
Partner | Futurist at TCS
View my profile on LinkedIn
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
Join the Linkedin Group Digital Intelligence

***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Watching Information Operations in Real-Time

This week Microsoft published a paper called Special Report: Ukraine.  In it, they reveal Russia's cyberattacks on the Ukraine and detail the strategies Russia is employing, and what they have been doing to combat it.  I can't imagine that the team of coffee drinking, rain soaked programmers in Seattle expected to find themselves in the middle of a war.  Heroes and nerds come in all different sizes and sometimes they are one and the same.

At the beginning of the report, Microsoft shares how Russians view information warfare, “Confrontation in the information space with the goal of causing damage to critical information systems, undermining political, economic, and social systems, psychologically manipulating the public to destabilize the state and coerce the state to make decisions to benefit the adversary party”, according to public Defense Ministry documents.  Additional comments by Russian officials suggest they view information operations as a means to degrade troop morale, discredit the leadership, and undermine the military and economic potential of the enemy via information [operations], which can at times be more effective than traditional weapons.