Half of the businesses in the real estate sector admit to not being adequately prepared to prevent or mitigate a cyberattack, according to a 2017 KPMG study.
This constitutes an oversight, to say the least, by key players in the real estate field when it comes to the cybersecurity implications of digital transformation, and the new types of inherent risks. The reason for this relative absence of “cyber urgency” in real estate is perhaps the lack of, especially in the United States, a market-specific information security regulatory framework requiring business to adhere to and maintain sufficient cybersecurity controls. This reliance on regulatory direction, and in this case the absence of it, has led to the belief held by many real estate C-levels and stakeholders that cybersecurity is a mere compliance issue, having little to do with financial viability or business continuity. And since the real estate sector does not depend much on the heavily regulated tasks of collecting, processing and storing of personally identifiable information (PII), the sector doesn’t seem to sufficiently prioritize securing their information assets.
It can be argued that it is easier for real estate firms to comply with information security regulatory frameworks (like the GDPR in the EU) due to the limited range in which they collect, process and store personal data. And although the real estate sector generally falls outside the scope of industry-specific regulations such as HIPAA, SWIFT, FISMA, PCI etc., cyber risk is still relevant to their operations, financials, reputation and stock value. And this is because digital transformation refers to the broad adoption of automation technologies in all sectors, including real estate.
Digital transformation converges Information Technology (IT) and Operations Technology (OT) as they become more and more prevalent in successful management and decision-making in all businesses regardless of industry. The challenge of digital transformation lies in transforming existing manual activities into automated digital systems that can exceed human capacity, aiming to reduce costs, increase output and maintain more sustainable business models. However, this requires venturing into uncharted territory with regards to security, leaving organizations exposed to all kinds of risks related to information security.
The question remains: with more and more sensitive data extracted, processed and stored due to the inevitable and rapid digital transformation of today, how more exposed are we becoming through its inherent wider attack surface?
Let’s start from the basics.
Automation, data processing and data analytics vastly improve the design, planning, implementation, maintenance, management and supervision of real estate projects, asset management, or property trading. Today, every aspect of the real estate sector is affected by the implications of digitization, technology substitution, and task allocation. It is undeniable that technological advancements bring immense benefits to business efficiency and operational capacity, that also introduce their own risks to security and business continuity.
In other words, despite the new opportunities brought by new technologies, a broader use of technologies may also represent an expanded attack surface as well as unforeseen vulnerabilities to digital assets, intellectual property and operations for threat actors to exploit.
For this reason, digital transformation goes hand in hand with Security Transformation, simply because the enlarged exposure inherent in an increased reliance on data, digitization and technology, translate to bigger and more targets when it comes to cybercrime.
In the real estate sector, including smart city infrastructure, operational vulnerabilities are greatly expanding due to the proliferation of Operations Technology factors, such as sensors, IoT devices and APIs, internally or externally. A potential blackout or total data loss in a smart infrastructure due to a ransomware attack for example, can cripple operations and be devastating to an organization’s financial viability, continuity and brand reputation. The cost of remediating and restoring normal operational continuity after such a security breach can be enormous.
An increased susceptibility to cyberattacks against smart buildings, for example, comes from the broad adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, sensors, automation technologies and even centralized control platforms. It only takes watching the 2018 movie “Skyscraper” to see how human lives can be threatened directly by a compromised real estate asset management system. From physical access control and security monitoring systems to biometric sensors and environmental controls, smart building management faces unprecedented and elusive cyber-threats as well as operational vulnerabilities, if security is not properly managed.
Now suppose a real estate business develops an online app for property listings. The app contains a number of unspotted bugs that constitute serious security flaws. These security vulnerabilities, including client-side injection, poorly configured certificates or authentication, and improper session handling, result in exposure to innumerable cyber-threats that are constantly evolving. Such a vulnerable property listing app can cause data leakage, privacy violations and other security incidents that carry high remediation costs.
Another example of susceptibility to cyberattack is the contemporary real estate sales process, which today involves digital marketing with automated lead acquisition funnels. The compromise of a detailed database full of real estate sales leads could divulge high-profile investors’ strategic interests to potential extortionists, stock market manipulators, political campaign saboteurs, or just thieves prospecting lucrative targets.
In a nutshell, real estate cyber risk emerging as part of increased automation and digitization includes threats such as security systems compromise, data loss, espionage, sabotage, extortion, and even cyber warfare.
In the age of technological advancement and a booming in security solutions, it is the illusion of relative safety that poses the greatest and most immediate threat in the real estate business. The costs of successful cyberattacks can range from hefty fines and reputation damages to data loss, sabotage, data theft, monetary theft and total disruption of business continuity.
Furthermore, with the enforcement of more and more complex privacy and cybersecurity compliance frameworks, the cost in penalties that may be incurred due to data breeches and security violations significantly increase financial risk in all sectors.
For the above reasons, IT and OT in real estate should go hand in hand with Security Transformation, simply because of the increased exposure inherent in digital transformation, and the widened attack surface it constitutes when faced with contemporary cybercrime.
A proactive approach to cybersecurity is always the most viable option, because the cost of an inevitable cyberattack is exponentially higher than the cost of maintaining an optimized security posture. Securing an organizational network environment should involve flexible cybersecurity solutions tailored to address individual organizational characteristics, regional considerations and industry-specific threats. Depending on the industry and organizational size/complexity, adopting a robust Next-Gen SIEM implementation with Advanced Security Analytics, and complemented by an Endpoint Detection & Response (EDR) solution, as well as 24/7 Managed Detection & Response (MDR) by a proven cybersecurity vendor, may constitute an absolute necessity.
With robust cybersecurity solutions in their arsenal, real estate businesses can then seize the opportunity to accurately quantify their cyber risk, triage cyber-threats relevant to their sector depending on severity and impact, and better position themselves to make informed decisions when determining their organizational risk appetite.
But the greatest safety precaution is a security-oriented attitude and mindset. Leaders in real estate are encouraged to foster a culture of vigilance and cyber awareness, always remaining up to date with the constantly evolving cyber-threat landscape, as well as staying abreast of the developments in cybersecurity as it relates to real estate sector idiosyncrasies and special considerations.
What makes a good impactful story (in copywriting or otherwise)? 🤔
Well, it just so happens that storytelling is a science in itself.
Let me explain.
Turns out there are certain elements in a story that relate to the collective human unconscious (as Carl Jung put it).
This is why ALL (every single one, actually) successful stories faithfully adhere to the “hero’s journey” structure. 😎
Be it a legend, a myth, a Hollywood movie, a children’s tale, or a slimy content marketing endeavor (I should know), they all share the elements of the hero’s journey, character-conflict-resolution, character arcs, and last but not least, character archetypes (something I discovered a few years back with the help of Jung’s work).
I found that the most successful characters, those who better relate to and engage the audiences, are the ones who represent a clear Jungian archetype.
The anima for the idealized mother type, the king for the empowering leader, the warrior for the determined brut, the lover for the hopeful natural, the magician for the skilled-obsessed, the trickster (my favorite) for the mischievous devilishly charismatic. 😈
Looking back in stories from popular culture that portrayed successful teams, I recognized that the most successful teams of characters were those that each member accurately described one distinct Jungian archetype, this way complementing their collective effort with a unique attribute.
One of the most spot-on examples by far is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. 🐢
You get the science geek, Donatello, who is undoubtedly the magician.
You get to passionate, angry and incredibly focused get-things-done tough guy, Raphael, the warrior.
You get the goofy, playful, innocent, idealist and passionate funny-guy of the group, Michelangelo, the lover.
And you get the responsible self-sacrificing leader, Leonardo, the king.
You can see identical patterns in the Avengers, X-Men, Lord of the Rings, Predator, Star Trek TNG, even the Fast and the Furious franchise. Who knew? 🎥 🍿
And then you get poor attempts at defining the characters of a team in a story, like Ocean’s 12, Guardians of the Galaxy, or Prometheus, and you’re left wondering which role each character actually played in the whole story.
Characters who don’t have a clear archetype or teams of characters with more than one of each archetype are boring, unrelatable, and unimpactful.
That’s just bad writing. 🧐
There is no point in storytelling if it will be duller than reality.
Because, apparently, this is the way our brains are wired to process, assess and respond to storytelling. 🤯
What’s your favorite character or team of characters from a story?
What’s their archetype?
What’s yours? 😎
Copywriter in Cyprus: The reality of writing for marketing, sales and advertising in a small Mediterranean country
Copywriters in Cyprus are a rare, distinguished and misunderstood breed.
The country is still (but quickly) catching up to the concept of professional wordsmiths specializing in targeted written content for marketing, sales, advertising and public relations.
However, the traditionalist family-oriented closed-circle culture of this small Mediterranean island tends to always adapt swiftly once it picks up on the tried-and-tested benefits of something new (see how fast, although late in the game, Cypriots adopted digital marketing).
In the not-so-distant past, most business owners in Cyprus have disregarded the power of carefully arranged wording that will dictate life or death for their business's image, sales and viability.
This reality was not because of negligence, but because no one showed them the way to negotiating and convincing in a single headline, or engaging is results-oriented direct marketing with a short 1-minute-read email.
They were unprepared to see the value that comes from a specialized service that turns words into SALESMANSHIP IN PRINT that can reach thousands in a day, and convert to leads, sales and direct revenue with minimal effort.
In essence, the "copy = money" rule was picked up by only a few in the local business culture, the few who made leaps in their growth, leading their markets while leaving everyone else behind wondering how they did it.
For this reason, most Cypriot business owners in the past casually assigned their written content, marketing copy, advertising, public relations and proofreading to generic office administrators, personal assistants or even family members, believing that no one really reads anymore.
But your sales prospects DO read what you have to say. They might not read for more than 8 seconds each time they come across one of your posts or peripherals, but that's all you need!
Good copy is like good manners; it is expected as a show of respect to your audience.
But now, business owners in Cyprus are FAST acknowledging the value of professional copywriting in gaining a competitive edge and in sustaining their business continuity.
They now see the opportunity of staying relevant in their market by leveraging the power of the written word to positively sway opinions and constructively guide their audiences to make informed personalized purchases.
And this is what copywriters do. They inform, educate and open the minds of specific audiences to the value that new possibilities can bring to them.
Copywriters are different to literary writers, journalists or technical writers. Writing copy is all about psychoanalyzing your audience to then apply principles of psychology, marketing and sales to create intrigue, grasp your readership’s attention, and convert into engagement or direct sales, fast and hassle free.
So, how are things shaping up for Cyprus copywriters?
Well, this is my prediction:
In 2019, medium-to-large Cyprus-based businesses who value their written salesmanship (or copy), not to mention their image, recognized the need for at least one resident copywriter as well as assigning projects to freelancers for a bit of talent variety. On the other hand, most small businesses in Cyprus assigned the management of their social media, digital marketing and web content to specialized copywriters or social media managers with a knack for writing copy.
In the market of Cyprus, copywriters are getting savvier and more competitive on a global level. They stay up to date with the global writing market, and they get to bolster their skills arsenal with expertise in sales, digital marketing, psychology, SEO, web design, and more.
Copywriters in Cyprus also prefer to specialize in a number of markets in which they provide added value coming from their own know-how on top of their independent research.
I foresee that, from 2020 onward, we will experience a drastic demand for copywriters in Cyprus, especially for those with niche market expertise, such as the real estate, technology, gaming and finance sectors.
Having said that, location is still key.
Even though copywriting can be conducted remotely over email and video calls, the most important element of any writing process (that being research, interviewing and communication) is best done face to face.
A copywriter, although slightly autonomous, is still a member of a team, and relies on several other people to accurately develop content and convey information, strategies and goals for the copy to be effective.
So, local copywriters are still in demand, at least for the trust that comes from seeing in the eye who you're shaking hands with.
Current in-demand languages for copywriting in Cyprus are English, Russian, Chinese, German, Arabic, and of course, Greek. Fluency in more than two of these languages is a major advantage.
Are you a copywriter? Are you interested in writing your own copy?
Then be sure to subscribe to my newsletter, or check out my resources section for useful material that I'll be regularly updating.
We've all been there, especially straight out of uni, made to feel desperate for a job, any job (not just a copywriter job), sending badly written CVs indiscriminately for vacancies that don't even match our profile, only to get 1 humiliating interview for every 100 applications, which ends up with the frustrating "we'll be in touch" rejection statement.
You deserve better!
Indiscriminately applying, and the frame of desperation that job candidates tend to project, may actually be the exact reason why we are not treated as well as we'd like. This is because a perceived oversupply of applicants gives employers the false impression that they can hire anyone, anytime, at any rate.
So, my advice to job applicants is to stop wasting your time (and stop artificially inflating labor supply against your best interests) by only applying to employers you would actually LOVE to work with.
But how do you choose a GOOD employer when most of the information about them you have as a job applicant comes from a mere job ad?
With so many job openings out there, it would be extremely useful to be able to spot red flags and filter employers according to your preferences and expectations, assuming of course that you value your work and time, and that you do have expectations when negotiating a job.
Well, I've put together a list to help guide you on how you can vet employers. Save some time when looking through job ads by filtering them (and the employers behind them) based on the following red flags:
(Caveat: these are my personal opinions. Treat them as such.)
Copywriting is more of a science than an art. Copywriters deal with clearly defined variables and precise dynamics in the human psychology that ultimately help make a successful marketing campaign.
A study by the Harvard Business School found that 95% of our decisions are made on a subconscious level. This means that we form impressions and opinions without being aware of it or as to how we were influenced into thinking that way.
Have you ever liked someone without being able to know why? Did you wonder how that was the case without being able to quite put your finger on it?
Most of our decisions are so far removed from our awareness that we even subconsciously do things to affect others subconsciously without being aware of it. Don’t believe me? I invite you to consider why high heels for women are considered to be an indication of prestige, wealth and comfort. Or why red lipstick is universally considered to be an indicator of attraction. Or why a business suit is of more high status than a more comfortable and functional tracksuit.
Our brains are wired in specific ways that determined thought processes and dynamics that affect our decisions on a fundamental level. This is the result of billions of years of evolution that ended up structuring a basic mental architecture that allowed our ancestors to survive and thrive. For example, the cave men who subconsciously decided that fanged animals were dangerous got to survive and reproduce. The cave women who subconsciously decided to be attracted to cave men with power and influence got to reproduce and pass on their genes to us.
The world has changed a lot since them, but the dynamics are the still same. Today’s “powerful men” are not defined by a muscular body but by skill and monetary control. This is why women today are generally attracted to influential leaders, successful businessmen and popular sensations. This is what power is in modern societal structure.
But how do we subconsciously decide that someone is indeed powerful in today’s day and age? The answer is micro-indications of power. Such indications are subtle and often elude conscious awareness, which tends to be slow and avoids generalizations. One general indicator of power is uncomfortable high-class attire because it indicates to the subconscious mind that one is so powerful that they do not need to submit to manual labor. Yes, this is a subconscious line of reasoning, one of innumerable logical pathways that determine our decisions.
How does this relate to marketing and copywriting? Well, a good copywriter understands good consumer psychology. Before we write something, we profile our audience. Although this may require some generalizing, it is necessary, and results are based on approximations and maximal impact rather than one-size-fits-all solutions. Besides, isn’t that how most of pharmaceutical studies work too?
I use evolutionary psychology to profile audiences and predict how they will respond to a given product, service or business. When writing copy, I take into consideration the dynamics of subconscious impressions and decision making that still define our psyche today.
By leveraging evolutionary psychology, I identify the right emotional triggers and subconscious reasoning mechanisms that will help audiences better understand how a given product or service can benefit them and help solve some of their everyday predicaments. This is the aim of good copy after all.
It is not manipulating if done honestly and with the aim of helping audiences solve their problems. It is only manipulative an unethical writer aims to deceive and make a short-term impact. But audiences are quick to respond, especially today when anyone can post a review on Amazon or Twitter or anywhere.
Good copy is empathic and aims at helping audiences solve their everyday struggles. To make it work, do your homework, research and take into consideration the feelings of your audiences. You will then succeed in relating to them.
University textbooks teach that manager and leader are dissimilar qualities, in that managers are concerned with numbers, while leaders tend to value the human factor. This may be true, but what about real-world examples?
Even though management schools make a point about that trendy term “leadership”, we still encounter more managers than leaders out there because leadership is still a vague concept assigned to people with charism, which is another vague vapid term. In the modern business world, we are witnessing a leadership deficit because no one taught managers how to practically be leaders. Rarely discussed in university classrooms, the actual reality of leadership, as opposed to bland management, may elude even the brightest of educators.
From practical experience and applied knowledge, this article breaks down what I think are the definitive qualities that make a leader more than a simple manager:
Accountability. It should be a no-brainer that leaders are responsible for their team’s performance. They are responsible for their department not just to their superiors, but also to the people they lead. It’s easy to blame your subordinates, but a leader willingly takes the blame, even when objectively it was a team member’s fault. And the reason for that is that a leader is indirectly responsible for each team member’s mistakes since it’s a leader’s job to proactively identify issues, to train, to monitor, and to extract maximum performance out of the people involved. A leader takes the blame for not finding the right way to communicate effectively or to leverage the specific skills of specific people in that specific way that triggers them to unfold their productivity. This includes holding themselves accountable for conflicts, as well as their constructive resolution. Leaders are decisive and they stand by their choices or mistakes. This means that they own their mistakes instead of looking to blame team members or external factors. Even if it’s a team member’s fault, a leader takes full responsibility for them because they were under the leader’s wing, the leader’s area of influence and control. The leader is willing to take the hit and does so boldly because leaders are confident in their ability to formulate plans to manage disasters and to improve anything and anyone.
Delegation. This means avoiding micromanagement. Sure, a leader may be better at performing a specific task that is the responsibility of a team member, but letting them do it and accepting the perceived relative imperfection of the result, basically not micromanaging, keeps the ball rolling, the team working, keeps employees happy, promotes initiative, gives them a sense of ownership of their work, and encourages them to be creative and innovative because they are entrusted with the responsibility of their tasks. Micromanaging kills all initiative, creativity, motivation, inspiration, productivity, not to mention the negative effects on trust, self-worth, sense of purpose and mental wellbeing. Leaders are not afraid to take a leap of faith in the team they themselves have developed, and they are confident that it will perform well as a whole.
Involvement. A leader involves team members in everything that’s going on that remotely concerns them. Be it a casual brief on the strategy of the organization, or some everyday harmless gossip about the working environment (work-life happens to be the largest part of people’s lives), involving people and not leaving them in the dark helps them feel relevant and appreciated. Team members who feel isolated and distanced by management will demonstrate low levels of motivation, creativity, drive, productivity, and loyalty.
Interest. A leader is genuinely interested in their team members’ wellbeing. Leaders are proactive in identifying their team members’ concerns and they create the right environment where people can feel empowered to talk and share what’s on their mind, freely, without fearing negative repercussions. Leaders keep the communication frame light, fun and friendly without compromising professionalism so that team members can feel comfortable to share. Leaders frequently enquire how their people are, how their health is, if the working environment is promoting their wellbeing, and what they can do as leaders to improve workplace wellness and productivity, as well as employee relevance and development. But a leader’s job doesn’t just end at asking and not following up. Leaders don’t just ask. They are also willing to work extra and put the necessary processes in place to address team members’ concerns, where possible. Team members who request something reasonable that improves their wellbeing and productivity and don’t get a response may feel betrayed and unappreciated, especially when that something is relatively easy for management to do.
Mentoring. A manager views their employees as tools to get tasks done. A leader views their team members as people with concerns who need to be cared for and supported to grow as individuals first and then as professionals. Leaders are mentors in that they serve as role models to inspire their team members. Moreover, leaders provide the necessary opportunities and put in the work to develop their team members’ skill-sets. Failure to guide and provide the necessary opportunities for team members to grow will inevitably lead to team members feeling betrayed, unappreciated, and having no purpose. The impact of that on wellbeing and productivity can be severe, to say the least.
Emotional intelligence. Leaders are perceptive of their team members’ emotions, as well as their own. They value emotions and consider how emotions of others are affected by their decisions. If marketing teaches one thing, is that emotions determine our choices more than rationality, and success in anything comes from inspiration, positive mindsets, loyalty, ambition, and drive, all of which are emotions. Great leaders know how to tap into those emotions and leverage them to empower their team members first, and then the team as a whole.
To sum up, unless an organization is interested in mediocre results at best, then managers need to become leaders. You can tell a good leader by observing their team members. Are they inspired? Are they happy? Are they driven by a sense of purpose when it comes to their work? Do they admire their supervisor? That’s how you spot a model leader.
Article originally posted on Medium.
What is writer’s block? Why does it have to exist when I know I have so many things to say but just can’t find the words to get them out of my head?
As an afflicted of writer's block, I’ve come to realize that it simply is seductive addictive perfectionism induced by perceived societal expectations and a fake cluttered self-image that cloaks our inner child and true core self.
Have you ever seen a child with writer’s block? Of course not. They just write whatever comes to mind. They are innocent. Their self-image is genuine and hasn’t been smothered yet by masks over masks of fake faces of deluded ideals. They just are.
So, do you want to get rid of writer’s block? Just be. What block you are crippling thoughts of what others might think and what your expensive-writing-course author prowess should be. But nobody can write your material better than you can. Regress your mind to a more innocent way of thinking where you are just you without being seized by a legion of perceived standards and crippling what-ifs.
As Confucius (I think) said, less is more. Writer’s block is trying to go for more and delivering less.
Every time you travel, you uncluttered your emotions and reboot your mindset.
It doesn’t matter where you go and what you do. The act of escaping the prison of routine provides perspective. It is a mind-opening reminder that there are more possibilities for you; better possibilities.
Advice: don’t waste time looking for the perfect destination. It’s about the journey. Go somewhere, anywhere, and you might be surprised with what you find. Inside you, especially.
When I was in elementary school in the late 80s, I vividly remember reading a text about the soon-to-be-redundant role of the coffee delivery person (a common institution in the Mediterranean and the Middle East) due to the rise of automated coffee vending machines (yes, vending machines were NOT science fiction in the 80s). The text made the emotional argument for the loss of income of an individual whose skills' future utility in the economy seemed dim. It also made the argument that machines don't offer the interpersonal exchange of a business transaction, an element vital to human wellbeing. I wonder if that served back then as a hint to me that they were, in fact, two separate products.
Fast forward thirty years and not only are automated coffee machines almost completely extinct, but we have more coffee shops, coffee delivery services, and coffee professionals than ever before. What happened? Why was the prediction of automation-induced mass unemployment wrong?
The trouble begins with our tendency to view the world ceteris paribus. A job becoming redundant because of automation does not mean that those redundant people will never be able to offer value to the economy. In the past, the vast majority of people were engaged in plowing fields. Now only a tiny percentage of people are involved in agriculture, yet we consume more quality food than ever and we have people working in jobs that our ancestors could not imagine possible. Obviously, we are missing something when blaming automation for unemployment, because if that were the case, with the rapid growth of technology, almost no one would be able employable today since few people would be able to offer value in today's technology-driven economy.
And this is the point. A job is not something the economy gives you. A job is simply the relative perceived value you can provide to the economy under given circumstances. It's what you can give to other humans that they value and are willing to reciprocate.
It is true that technology and automation change the parameters and criteria by which we value labor in the world economy. However, is that necessarily a bad thing?
Let's go over the argument that automation makes people redundant. Let us take the example of the accountant. In the near future, it is projected that automation will render most accountants obsolete. Yet, can you have accounting without accountability? Won't you still require someone's signature and liability (skin in the game) to ensure that numbers are as authentic as possible? Won't you still need supervisors to supervise, monitor and maintain automated accounting systems so that they don't run wildly out of control? Won't you need new kinds of job descriptions to describe the new positions created for those who support such automated systems?
Yet it's true, automation does cost some people their jobs in the short run, as it makes then irrelevant. Does that mean that they will never find work again? Far from it! They will be able to enter a more vibrant job market because the increased profitability from automation allows employers to spend more elsewhere, or to increase their capacity, or invest in research for innovative products that require new types of job descriptions. This means that the economic cycle, which definitely does not shrink due to automation, becomes enriched with more activity, more volume and more velocity, either in the form of more goods and services being demanded or in the form of new goods and services demanded and supplied due to automation.
Let us now take the example of music. When the gramophone was invented, musicians felt that their trade would become obsolete in an era when the service of music could only be provided by live performance, something only very rich people could afford at the time. Plus, music was never enjoyed at the consumer's convenience, even for the richest; it's not like they had an iPod and headphones in their pockets to listen to whatever they wanted whenever they felt like it. The gramophone question was this: Why would anyone pay a musician when music could be recorded and reproduced endlessly by a machine? So they logically (at first) felt that the demand for musicians would decrease drastically. Yet today, not only do we have available to us almost infinite amounts of music to choose from, live or otherwise, but the average musician gets paid more than ever and even the poorest among us can afford to buy and enjoy music, not to mention that any teenager with minimum music education can easily become a bedroom music producer and contribute with unique creativity. We have more musicians, more music professionals, better wages, and lower prices in music than ever before, all because of technological automation.
So why didn't automation destroy music? Easy. Because technology enabled the industry to grow. A gramophone made an alternative to live music performance affordable. This was translated into a drastic increase in demand. Demand for live music may have been reduced at the beginning, but more musicians had an option to compose, record and sell records. The increased competition further lowered prices, which in turn stimulated demand even more, perhaps disproportionally more than the lowered prices, meaning that increased music sales outweighed price reduction losses. Fast forward to the radio, cassette player and Napster, and today anyone with a $20 smartphone can enjoy more music than any aristocrat 100 years ago. And musicians on average tend to be much better off now than then.
Not only do we now have countless examples of automation actually bringing more to the collective economy while improving our lives (proof by correlation), but we also have the rational reasoning behind it (proof by causation). Automation has no point if the increased profit it yields cannot be spent. If employers can sack all of their employees for sci-fi androids like Data from Star Trek, what will they be producing and for whom, if most of the population is unemployed? It makes no sense for anyone to apply automation if that is what it meant. Increased profitability from automation WILL be spent, and it will be spent on people who earn. Money is like water. It always finds a way to fill the gaps, one way or the other, sooner or later. And even if we do reach a technological level where every single human task can be performed by machines, then we will either all live like gods in a money-less paradise with free abundant stuff where no one needs to compete for limited resources with anyone, or we will exclusively produce other commodities, such as philosophy, debate, comedy, art, ideas, and perhaps, hugs
And to answer the question "How can redundant specialists adapt to new technologies and market dynamics?", I offer a different approach: Perhaps it is the employers who will need to adapt first. They will have to. Otherwise, who will buy their products in a shrinking economy resulting from mass unemployment? Increased economic activity due to automation creates spikes in demand, in some fields more than others, and that increase in those fields will require more labor, and perhaps new types of labor too, labor that automation hasn't caught up with, or may never will. And it's the employers in those fields that will have to compete with each other to acquire top talent. In their efforts to compete, they will have to adapt their requirements. In the IT sector, for example, an extremely competitive field for employers, a university degree is not always required if a professional can demonstrate top talent. If the IT labor market was not competitive for employers, and labor demand was much lower than labor supply, employers would be requiring more and more qualifications to screen the multitudes of oversupplied talented professionals at their disposal. This example serves to illustrate how market dynamics can be a win-win if healthy progress is allowed to run its course.
One of my favorite pro-technology arguments is the Instagram phenomenon. Instagram gave the opportunity to almost anyone to become a model or photographer, bypassing industry gatekeepers and getting a chance at global exposure without the Harvey Weinsteins of the world at the auditioning desk. This did not deprive established models of their work. Quite the contrary! Instagram models enjoy an alternative revenue stream through affiliations and advertising. Consumers get hooked to consuming more eye candy because it's so much more available and accessible now, thus making the pro model service more desired. And with an accelerated circulation of money due to new "jobs" like these being created, we all enjoy more buying power with our money due to that growth. This way, models are much more employable and much more niched than ever before. It's a win-win!
To sum up, automation does not bring unemployment long term. It may cause some jobs to be lost in the short term, but it is a necessary bump towards collective (or individual) progress and development. We should not fear automation, even though it can cause a frequent reshuffling of the employment market, causing uncertainty and fear. However, we should welcome it as a necessary hassle, like visiting the doctor.
The healthy market will not let society suffer due to automation. If automation caused massive unemployment, employers would be the first to suffer as their products and services would be demanded by fewer buyers (employed people with disposable income). And the market tends to balance itself because people are logical, industrious and awesome. We always find ways to create new products and services with each need of ours that is being satisfied by automation. we are even good at creating new needs for us! We've done that for thousands of years. And we've only just started! Don't believe me? Look at how the labor supply deficit in the IT sector suggests that the more technology improves the more people are needed.
Fearing automation is like fearing the dentist. It's perfectly natural to dread the sound of a dentist's drill. But we know that a little pain now will save us from a ton of pain later, not to mention it gives us that Colgate smile! (I am in no way affiliated with Colgate).
Article originally posted on Medium.
In my quest for philosophically induced breakdowns of cherished beliefs, motivated perhaps by the sheer challenge of confronting my own biases, I sought to identify cornerstones of ideological waves of thought, and then attempt to unleash the force of unsettling chaotic skepticism upon them. Because, beyond overdramatic flamboyant writing styles (such as my own), nothing does a greater disservice to a position than a bad argument. One such thought experiment was my skeptical analysis of the ‘infinite monkey’ theorem.
The ‘infinite monkey’ theorem asserts the hypothetical notion that a monkey typing randomly and unintelligibly for eternity could end up producing, to the exact detail, all the works of Shakespeare, given enough time (meaning, infinite time). This thought experiment is a basic argument for Darwinian evolution, as it supports the plausibility of randomly created complexity and order without purpose.
Even though the ‘infinite monkey’ theorem is widely accepted as logically sound, I will boldly (perhaps foolishly, who knows?) attempt to question its validity.
Let us re-examine the ‘infinite monkey’ theorem. It is the idea that infinite randomness will end up with infinite possibilities. I respectfully disagree, and here’s why: this theorem is based on the assumption that a monkey’s keystrokes are ‘sufficiently randomized’, and this rule is not random.
I don’t question Darwinian evolution here, but rather, I am simply skeptical (and cynical) of this theorem’s value as a valid argument for Darwinian evolution. The ‘infinite monkey’ theorem is a bad analogy because random monkeys do not type perfectly randomly. They type in the quite limiting manner which their clumsy thick fingers allow them. Therefore, given infinite time, we’d get infinite letter combinations of adjacent keys, and perhaps zero combinations of letters whose keys are of a certain distance apart on the keyboard (or old-fashioned typewriter — I miss those…). To perform otherwise would mean that we’re not dealing with a monkey but with a computer program that is ‘programmed’ to produce ‘sufficiently randomized’ letter combinations to ensure the creation of any and all sequences possible. However, this requires the setting of a rule, which in itself is not random. Infinite time does not guarantee infinite possible results. An easy way to see this is by picturing the infinite points on a ruler between 0 and 1. There are infinite possibilities of points on that line, but none of those infinite points will ever be point 1.01. Infinity, it seems, is finite.
To assume perfect randomization is to assume a purpose, which makes the ‘infinite monkey’ theorem self-defeating. Therefore, to end up with infinite random possibilities in infinite time, we require a rule, which in itself is not a random thing. This realization, like most of philosophy, serves to further confuse us in our search for the truth. But it makes the journey towards truth while sailing on the boat of philosophy much more interesting! :)
Article originally posted on Medium.