Sunday, June 28, 2015

Your Digital Footprints: An Indelible Electronic Trail

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Regardless of how you may feel politically about Hillary Rodham Clinton, her opinions, politics or candidacy, a recent article in the New York Times exposes some of the dangers which are manifest in our internet (or other electronic) communications and activities. While the article dealt with the political and legal implications of some "newly discovered" emails which Ms. Clinton failed to report to governmental authorities, the events described in the article could just have easily happened to you, me or anybody. Electronic communications contain our digital fingerprints (or, if you prefer, digital footprints) and always leave an indelible electronic trail.

While many of us are already striving to cover our digital fingerprints by regularly destroying or otherwise eradicating our email records (and even the hard drives which facilitated their creation, sending and receipt!), or by curtailing our activities and disclosures on social media, our digital footprints are not only something to be concerned about on our side; they have been transmitted to other parties (even if we have done all that is possible on our side to make them disappear).

This transmittal activity means that your electronic communications, whether sent or received, always leave an indelible electronic trail. With our increasingly dangerous dependency upon email and text messaging in lieu of in-person conversations and written correspondence, the potential for vulnerability and victimization is increasing for every otherwise tech-savvy citizen or subject. Remember that your electronic communications involve multiple parties - not just you!

There is no such thing as digital privacy. An excerpt from the Times article titled "State Department Gets Libya Emails That Clinton Didn't Hand Over," has serious implications for all of us.

The New York Times
WASHINGTON — The State Department said on Thursday that 15 emails sent or received by Hillary Rodham Clinton were missing from records that she has turned over, raising new questions about whether she deleted work-related emails from the private account she used exclusively while in office.

The disclosure appeared to open the door for Republicans on Capitol Hill to get more deeply involved in the issue. Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who is running for president, said he planned to send a series of questions to the State Department about the missing emails and about why it allowed her to use the personal account.

Republicans said that the State Department’s statement was likely to increase pressure on the House speaker, John A. Boehner of Ohio, to subpoena the server in Mrs. Clinton’s home that housed the account.

Mrs. Clinton has said that she gave the State Department about 50,000 pages of emails that she deemed to be related to her work as secretary of state and deleted roughly the same number. She said the messages she deleted were personal, relating to topics like yoga, family vacations and her mother’s funeral.

Her longtime confidant and adviser Sidney Blumenthal, responding two weeks ago to a subpoena from the House committee investigating the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, gave it dozens of emails he had exchanged with Mrs. Clinton when she was in office. Mr. Blumenthal did not work at the State Department at the time, but he routinely provided her with intelligence memos about Libya, some with dubious information, which Mrs. Clinton circulated to her deputies.

State Department officials then crosschecked the emails from Mr. Blumenthal with the ones Mrs. Clinton had handed over and discovered that she had not provided nine of them and portions of six others.

Nick Merrill, a spokesman for Mrs. Clinton, who is running for president, said that she had given the State Department “over 55,000 pages of materials,” including “all emails in her possession from Mr. Blumenthal.”

The chairman of the House committee, Trey Gowdy, Republican of South Carolina, said that many of the emails that Mrs. Clinton had not handed over showed that “she was soliciting and regularly corresponding with Sidney Blumenthal, who was passing unvetted intelligence information about Libya from a source with a financial interest in the country.”

“It just so happens these emails directly contradict her public statement that the messages from Blumenthal were unsolicited,” he said. Mr. Blumenthal identified the source of his information as Tyler Drumheller, a former high-ranking C.I.A. official, according to a person with knowledge of his testimony to the Benghazi panel. Mr. Drumheller was part of a group that sought to do business in Libya.

Supporters of Mrs. Clinton have argued that the committee’s mission has crept far beyond its original scope: to investigate the Benghazi attacks, which killed four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. Republican committee members have said that they are within their right to look into her email use because the resolution that created the panel directed them to examine how the administration complied with previous inquiries into the attacks. Mrs. Clinton’s emails relating to the attacks were not handed over to any of the panels conducting those inquiries.

Other panels in Congress may consider investigating the matter. Mr. Graham, who oversees a Senate subcommittee with sway over the State Department’s budget, said that the department “seems to have a system that is not working very well” in regards to its production of documents to Congress.

“I’m going to ask them whether they think Mrs. Clinton has handed over everything she should and what they are going to do about it,” he said. “And if they give me runaround responses, we’ll drag them up on Capitol Hill and make them answer these questions in public.”

While the State Department acknowledged that it did not have several of Mrs. Clinton’s emails, it also told the Benghazi committee that it had not turned over other messages of hers. The department said that it had not done so because the contents of those messages fell outside the requests made by the committee.

“The State Department is working diligently to review and publish the 55,000 pages of emails we received from former Secretary Clinton,” it said in a statement.

That statement is unlikely to satisfy the committee, which believes it has been clear in its requests. Members of the panel have contended that the State Department has withheld documents to protect Mrs. Clinton and grind the investigation to a halt. State Department officials have said that one of the reasons it has taken so long to produce documents is that the department’s record-keeping system is cumbersome. They have also said that the committee has not been specific enough in its requests.
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The Takeaway: Every sender, or recipient, as well as all parties copied on all email and social media correspondence can become sources of information, regardless of your attempts to obfuscate, or destroy evidence of communications on your side, by yourself. And as regulatory and legal authorities become increasingly inquisitive about our communications via all electronic media (even our wireless cellphones, with our phone conversations and texts) in waging the war on terrorism, an increasing segment of the populations in each of the respective industrialized nations will become targets -- for better or for worse.

The Global Futurist Solution: If you wish to divulge or impart secret information to a second party, and you are reasonably certain that the party in question has not been bodily rigged to record any audio or video, have a live, in-person chat with that person (assuming , of course that you can be seen and don't necessarily mind being photographed from a distance associating with this second party) in a heavily-populated area. Nobody said that keeping secrets was particularly easy; and the trend is that it will become increasingly difficult.

Thank you, as always, for reading me.

Douglas E. Castle for The Global Futurist Blog

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Key Terms: business, forecasting, trends, future, prediction, disruption, displacement, innovation, complexity theory, economic waves and cycles, projections, planning



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Monday, June 15, 2015

The Virtual Workplace: The Inevitable Disruption - Douglas E. Castle

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The virtual workplace is more than just a tech-speak catchphrase. It is revolutionary, and its effects will be felt in every quarter. The Virtual Workplace - The Inevitable Disruption is a topic worthy of consideration to every trend spotter and every futurist.

The virtual workplace is increasingly becoming the norm, while the traditional brick and mortar offices housing the companies' headquarters are becoming increasingly obsolete - more symbolic of the "old paradigm" businesses. Companies are leaning to the extreme in the direction of telecommuting, and expect these disruptive and progressive trends to be on the rise. Please bear in mind that this article does not provide financial or investment advice:

1) Virtual meeting software and platforms will be in increasing demand. Citrix, WebEx and their other market-dominating peers are going to be experiencing competition for their market space due to the increasing demand for virtual forums;

2) Companies will be retaining more independent contractors and employing fewer in-house employees in order to reduce staffing costs and personnel-related overhead;

3) Commercial real estate will be taking a tumble as companies move to virtual environments and away from renting and purchasing buildings and office space;

4) An increasing number of 1 - 5 person corporations and limited liability companies will be formed as contracting and outsourcing increase and direct corporate employment decreases. Incorporation and registered agent businesses such as Legal Zoom and The Company Corporation will be experiencing increased revenues and market demand, as will their less-dominant competitors;

5) The demand for IT and computer systems professionals will increase, disrupting and displacing many middle-management, administrative and accounting positions;

6) Internationalism, in terms of globally-diversified markets and supply chain structure, will be on the rise as outsourcing and offshoring increase;

7) E-commerce will be displacing and outpacing traditional retail commerce;

8) Tax collections by governmental agencies will become increasingly difficult as the traditional employer-employee structure becomes increasingly displaced and de-centralized;

9) The utilization of household interior space will be shifting in favor of a greater percentage of work-at-home or home office space versus family and leisure space;

10) Society will become increasingly destabilized, and interpersonal and communications skills will suffer greatly due to a breakdown in the traditional face-to-face meeting paradigm.

The rise of the virtual workplace will ultimately affect every aspect of society, from simple reading and writing skills (declining) to the deterioration of international boundaries and political barriers (through outsourcing, offshoring, e-commerce and independent contracting). Be prepared for a radical change in all markets and marketplaces. This all-encompassing sea change is already underway and should be anticipated to accelerate in its course and severity over the next three to five years. After that, watch out for the rise of Artificial Intelligence.

Thank you, as always, for reading me.

Douglas E. Castle for The Global Futurist

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Key Terms: business, forecasting, trends, future, prediction, disruption, displacement, innovation, complexity theory, economic waves and cycles, projections, planning



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Friday, June 5, 2015

Top Five Techno Trends: The Next Five Years -- Douglas E. Castle - The Global Futurist

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During the course of these next five years, several macro-trends are emerging for all futurists, strategists and investment professionals to observe closely. While I do not offer investment, financial, tax, legal or accounting advice in this article, any prudent businessperson should take heed of these sweeping macro-trends:

1) Technology will become increasingly smaller;

2) Technology will become increasingly multifunctional;

3) Technology will become increasingly either wearable on the Human body or implantable (think of applied nanotechnology) within the Human body;

4) Technology will be increasingly integrated with Human physiology and psychology;

5) Technology will become significantly capable of sending and receiving data, and acting upon it, in terms of self-regulation (think of a very futuristic thermostat).

It is unquestionable that biometrics, biofeedback, miniaturization technologies and all of the macro-trends described briefly above will represent the approaching intimacy of the relationship between Human and machine. Devices will be seen as enhancements to Human health, intelligence and capabilities. We will become increasingly dependent upon these devices, rendering us increasingly vulnerable to those who control or who can commandeer this technology.

Yes. It's going to be a brave new world - but with some major dangerous dependencies lying in wait.

Thank you, as always, for reading me.

Douglas E Castle

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Key Terms: business, forecasting, trends, future, prediction, disruption, displacement, innovation, complexity theory, economic waves and cycles, projections, planning

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Transforming Ideas Into Reality - Douglas E. Castle

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Transforming Ideas Into Reality
New 3-D Printing Technology Is Revolutionizing The Art And Pace Of Innovation And Invention




I've heard it said that “What the mind can conceive, humankind can achieve.” This notion of transforming ideas into reality is nothing especially new. Visionaries work at converting their ideas, plans and schematics into corporeal, tangible substance. This process has historically been an arduous one, requiring promotion, evangelism, acceptance, engineering, testing and fabrication through mechanical production methods. In brief, the meandering path from an idea (at inception) to a viable, functional product or service has generally been a lengthy and tenuous one, with many otherwise great ideas failing to attain actual materialization along the way. Too many brilliant ideas have never been actualized. The Law Of Attraction may well be in effect, but it operates in a rather slow and indirect way...

This has all changed, and is continuing to change at an accelerating pace, due to the introduction and ongoing development of three-dimensional computer technology which can directly convert drawings into tangible, three-dimensional output. While the output is, generally speaking, somewhat crude, the underlying technological engine of the 3D printers is constantly improving, and the creations being rendered are improving in quality, as well. We are not speaking of arts and crafts, but of the potential to generate human tissue and human organs – and more. This incredibly efficient transformation of thought into matter will revolutionize medicine, manufacturing, technology and life. Although I do not provide investment or financial advice, it is becoming increasingly apparent that investments in companies which design and create 3D software and printers (i.e., the hardware and other peripherals) may well become extremely valuable.

Going further, this emerging technology can be expected to cause substantial displacement over a very wide range of more “traditional” industries, and a significant number of companies [as well as the value of their shares] can be anticipated to be adversely affected.

Following is some additional information relating to this revolutionary technology:




Thank you, as always for reading me.


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NOTE: THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS ARTICLE SHOULD NOT BE CONSTRUED BY THE READER AS BEING LEGAL, FINANCIAL, TAX, ACCOUNTING, ECONOMIC OR INVESTMENT ADVICE. NO OFFERING OF SECURITIES OR OTHER INVESTMENT INTERESTS OF ANY TYPE IN ANY ENTITY IS MADE HEREBY, NOR IS A SOLICITATION FOR THE PURCHASE OF SECURITIES OR OTHER INVESTMENT INTERESTS OF ANY TYPE IN ANY ENTITY MADE HEREBY. THIS ARTICLE IS INTENDED FOR GENERAL INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND REPRESENTS THE VIEW OF THE AUTHOR ONLY.

THIS ARTICLE IS COPYRIGHT 2015 BY DOUGLAS E. CASTLE, WITH ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. ANY REPRODUCTION, TRANSMITTAL OR DISTRIBUTION OF THIS ARTICLE, EITHER IN WHOLE OR PART, IS UNAUTHORIZED AND MAY BE UNLAWFUL, UNLESS FULL ATTRIBUTION IS GIVEN TO THE AUTHOR AND ALL LINKS IN THE ARTICLE REMAIN INCLUDED AND “LIVE.”



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Key Terms: business, forecasting, trends, future, prediction, disruption, displacement, innovation, complexity theory, economic waves and cycles, projections, planning

Monday, February 23, 2015

Cyber Security Assessments And Insurance - The Global Futurist - Douglas E. Castle

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The incidence and scale of hacking (and other types of data security breaching) activity, multiplied by its accelerating level of sophistication has individuals and businesses in an ever-increasing state of fear.

With our dangerous growing dependency on the electronic storage and transmittal of information, as well as with the growing percentage of commerce and banking transacted online and via mobile devices, there is a rapidly rising risk of significant financial and personal (real, physical) loss. Of course, this increasing risk, both actual and perceived, will translate to increasing opportunity for certain entrepreneurs, enterprises and visionary investors.

I would suggest that two business-to-business industry sectors which will ripen to full bloom during the next two to three years [although I do not provide financial or investment advice to any reader/s under any circumstances] will be: 1) cyber security assessments, evaluations and standardized ratings*; and 2) insurance (i.e., insurance products and policy providers) against losses due to incidents involving hacking or other types of data security breaches.
____
* These standardized security ratings could be some variation on the theme of ISO (the International Organization For Standardization) 27001, or promulgated by some other body, either existing or to be created.
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Start scanning and scouring the news and marketplaces for companies which are contemplating significant investments or forays into either one or both of the above industry sectors, and you will be looking at the future, albeit today.

Prepare yourself, your systems, your routines and your portfolio accordingly.

Douglas E. Castle for The Global Futurist Blog


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Key Terms: business, forecasting, trends, future, prediction, disruption, displacement, innovation, complexity theory, economic waves and cycles, projections, planning

Monday, February 2, 2015

Computer Security: Codes Or Encryption? - Douglas E. Castle

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Computer Security: Codes Or Encryption?


As computer hackers become increasingly sophisticated and collaborative over their efforts year after year, encryption (no matter how sophisticated or complex) will not provide an adequate defense against various forms of data interception, database compromise, and computer security. Instead of predicting the future, I am going to propose that encryption protocols be augmented by the use of private codes. While codes and code books would seem to be things of the past, they should well be revisited as a means of beating cyber criminals who intend to unlawfully intercept and abuse or corrupt your data.

The combination of encryption and code in securing important emails is a practical application of this combination of technologies. But before going further, allow me to differentiate between codes and ciphers.

Codes, which require a code translation book (preferably not recorded on your business' computers), are word or phrase substitutions. They are used in police and military communications, Gregg Shorthand, and in conveying other sensitive types of data transmissions and critical communications. They are very effective at keeping interlopers unaware of the meaning of the message (even if intercepted) because the only persons who know what the encoded expressions mean are the sender and recipient of the data, each with his or her respective code book. For example, in a message, the expression "All Clear" can easily mean "There is an emergency situation. We have been compromised. Abort the mission." The more code used in a data transmission, the more difficult it becomes for an illicit interceptor to translate the meaning of the correspondence.

Ciphers, as related to encryption rely on formula or algorithms where letters, numbers or symbols are consistently or formulaically substituted by other letters, numbers or symbols. Regrettably, even the most complex algorithms (even compounded ones or temporally shifting ones) are ready targets for hackers. The hackers' work is to find the algorithm -- and there are far too many programs designed to do just that. Codes, if properly constructed and changed periodically, are far more difficult to break. Using a combination of both codes and encryption should be the best practice for electronic communications of private information, and I am optimistic that I have either inadvertently predicted the future or influenced it for the benefit of my readers, clients and colleagues.

Some resource links follow for your further research and reference regarding the brief discussion above:

The Different Types Of Codes And Ciphers

Downloadable Mobile Applications For Codes And Ciphers

Online Cipher Creation Programs And Tools

As always, thank you for reading me.

Douglas E. Castle - Join me on LinkedIn

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Key Terms: business, forecasting, trends, future, prediction, disruption, displacement, innovation, complexity theory, economic waves and cycles, projections, planning

Monday, November 17, 2014

Work Ethic: People Versus Corporations

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WORK ETHIC: PEOPLE VS CORPORATIONS
A Highly Worrisome Mindset And Trend Amongst The U.S.Voting Population
                                                  Published In The GLOBAL FUTURIST BLOG
               Published In DOUGLAS E. CASTLE – OBSERVATIONS, THOUGHTS AND COMMENTARY 

I received this item in a newsletter from MomsRising.Org just two days ago, and I found it understandable, but somehow disheartening and consistent with my intuitive feelings about the declining US work ethic. While I support the notion of paid sick days (for employees who have at least demonstrated certain other attributes at work than showing up on time on “well days”), it seems that the high prioritization and politicization of this issue well over other issues having to do with economic stimuli, jobs creation, productivity incentives, entrepreneurship credits and other positive pro-growth issues, all of which are critical to sustain the American Dream – or to attempt to bring it back into being – seems to be saying something about the mindset of the voters and perhaps the majority of the American populace:
-- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

“It's time for a celebratory fist bump (more later on why a fist bump, specifically)!
Paid sick days WON BIG at the polls on Election Day — with nearly 1 million more workers gaining access to earned sick days in Massachusetts, Oakland, CA, and Trenton and Montclair, NJ, making it crystal clear that American voters overwhelmingly support paid sick days.

In fact, a whopping 81% of voters, across political parties, gender, and race, say it's important for lawmakers to consider paid sick days laws because they help keep working families economically secure. Woot! Time for another fist bump!

Now, it’s time for the next step: Taking paid sick days to Congress. This is a boost for families, our economy, and... our leaders. Why? Let’s be honest, Congress could use some popularity points right now (a poll found that lice are more popular than Congress!!!).

Since Election Day told us that paid sick days are VERY popular, and Congress needs a popularity boost, now is the perfect time to tell Congress about these popular paid sick days victories — and also tell them that we expect them to keep up the momentum for earned sick days while they’re back in session.

It’s a win-win!

Urge your members of Congress to prioritize paid sick days across the nation...” 

-- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Here's is what I have concluded and am very concerned about as an economist, businessperson and entrepreneur:

Item 1: The emphasis is on employers and/or the government to make conditions easier for employees,
to care for them, to be responsible for them and to guarantee them careers irrespective of performance, loyalty, longevity, innovation or attitude.

Item 2: Why aren't there more incentives for companies which create permanent jobs, and for employees who are superior performers, loyal, senior in longevity, innovative and demonstrating encouraging attitudes?

Item 3: Why are there less incentives and aid for solopreneurs, start-ups and small business in the form of tax benefits, grants and the like? The voting (there's no escaping politics, I know...) public doesn't want to assume responsibility for its work product – it wants to be coddled by corporations with a government to police this.

Item 4: Why isn't more focus being placed on the administration of employee pension and special tax- deferred pension and profit-sharing plans? Why is it required that companies (whom I tend to favor in many arguments – even if it makes me the devil's advocate at parties) only keep several years of anticipated pension payments actually funded [in accordance with current regulations], instead of fully keeping those those plans fully funded with the accumulated amount that they are going to owe? The average employee thinks that his or her fully-vested retirement plan and pay are fully-funded and keep in a segregated corporate account!

This is truly a reasonable expectation, and the regulations should provide for full funding of retirement amounts which will be due for all employees, with actuarial adjustments for employee post-retirement longevity? Why should a company be permitted to go bankrupt and escape its obligations to 20- and 25-year veteran employees? That is beyond just unfair. It is a death knell for good employees if their corporate employers want to go bankrupt as a matter of convenient escape from the rigors of responsible management and fair payment obligations! This is one of the only matters where I clearly favor the employee's well-being and expectations over those of Corporate America.

Item 5: Both the government and the major corporations have helped to destroy the U.S. Work Ethic by their unholy alliance in generally disregarding simple Human decency and compassion and displacing these intangible but valuable things with incentives for fiscal irresponsibility and fattening the wallets of the seniormost level of mismanagement (and members of their boards of directors with bonuses stolen from the employees and the taxpayers)... TARP anyone?

Proposed Direction And Course Correction: Corporations and employees must be educated to the advantages of a long-term alliance between them instead of a series of short-term skirmishes on an issue-by-issue provocation basis.

Douglas E. Castle 






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Discovering and following significant trends across an extensive range of domestic and international consumer, business, demographic, cultural, economic, political, technological and other key areas of influence and impact on life and business; predicting future change, preparing for it and profiting from it.

Key Terms: business, forecasting, trends, future, prediction, disruption, displacement, innovation, complexity theory, economic waves and cycles, projections, planning

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