19 February, 2015

AOW and emancipated workforces: Knowledge workers have the edge in the coming economy.

A recent article highlights the fear and doubt surrounding  the emergence of technology facilitated market place services that directly connect working agents with worker seekers. Companies like Uber, Taskrabbit, Elance and for tasks..services like Amazon's mechanical Turk. It got me to finally sit down and explain why this fear is normal but also to describe why it doesn't mean that the "gig economy" as some have called it is not the end of fair compensation for human forms of labor.

So now in stark light the ideas of direct exchange market places facilitated with a thin layer of technology is being examined in the public eye...but this is not new to any of you if you've been reading my writings on the subject going back to my white paper on the action oriented workflow paradigm that generalizes a solution for routing work between direct agents authoring and executing it.


The gig economy,  falls into a tiny sliver of the jobs that such systems can be used in to make more efficient and because they involve the utilization of physical labor they stand out as particularly potentially exploitative of their workers ...but the reality is this so called exploitation comes at the gain of many freedoms.

The only reason that jobs that involve (currently) human physical labor that are shifted to these types of systems are seen as exploitative is because you are not a photon.

What do I mean by that?

Well in modern physics the statistical behavior of particles based on their fundamental attributes was explored by Einstein, Fermi, Dirac, Bose, Planck and others. As the field of particle physics emerged from the elaboration of quantum theory in the 20's these attributes came to class particles into two types, those that had mass (fermions)  and those that didn't (baryons). An electron has mass and thus obeys a type of statistics called Fermi-Dirac statistics....collections of them under standard temperature and pressure regimes obey what is called Pauli exclusion.


The idea that two different particles (with different defined by the fact that they do not have the same fundamental attributes) can not inhabit the same place at the same time...however, particles exist that do NOT obey Pauli exclusion....you're using them right now to read this article. Photons are under no restriction when it comes to how many you can pack in a space...in fact, in fiber technology we rely on this trait to allow multiple signals to be packed down a single fiber line using a technology called DWDM...but I digress...what does this have to do with human labor forces and the gig economy?

Well humans can only give their physical labor to one employer at a time, humans can only be in one place at a time...just like electrons (well pedantically this isn't exactly the case at the quantum level but bare with me here physicist friends) and so when tasked two different jobs they must prioritize or select between them.

Even within the gig economy there is variance in this, consider that the maid service mentioned in this article can only have a maid in one place or another, making it difficult for the maid as she needs to bare various transportation costs for her physical person to be present in the place of work.

Yet another gig economy company also being given lots of press , Uber has a different efficiency profile for the workers....an Uber driver simply drives for Uber on their own time and because they are already in their own car it becomes efficient for them to move from place to place completing pickups addressed to them via the services technology but there is nothing stopping them from doing the exact same thing at the same time for Lyft or any other ride service that promises to bring them a market of people looking to get a pick up.

So Uber for drivers provides a greater level of efficiency for the worker than the maid service does for maids. However it is only in comparison to the old paradigm (where these choices did not at all exist for taxi drivers or maids) that we see that the expansion of the choice of options for workers is a very good thing.

Those maids who find they can deal with the transportation costs of getting to and from work locations dispatched to them by the service will opt into it....others will continue to work for private services. Ditto with Uber and cabs....some people will continue to work for municipal limosine commissions, others will find great freedom in being able to work on their own time and for as many dispatchers as they wish.

How action routing or work routing technologies benefit the transaction will vary depending on how physical the type of labor being transacted happens to be. 

I described this years ago in my AOW related articles but repeat what I realized then here, as technology in the form of machine learning and robotics continues to eat away all remaining physical labor jobs....humans MUST become knowledge workers and in the knowledge work economy to come the efficiency of the gig economy goes through the roof for two reasons.

1) The costs of transporting self to work ...disappear, companies can then cut the fat of infrastructure they formerly had to maintain people as temporary cows in terms of buildings, offices, light bills, taxes...etc.

2) The ability to meter and measure who is providing optimal work for given needs will lead to learning systems that build up a knowledge of preferred workers and route that work to them directly. This is precisely what the ADA (action delta assessment) algorithm does in AOW.

So in the current paradigm of temporal hegemony over pools of physical laborers I felt most important, people need to retool themselves for knowledge work. I wrote about this privately in an email to friends in 2006 (after I'd already built the solution that would be used by a world of emancipated knowledge workers) and transcribed that letter in an introductory post to my blog in 2008.


The next step for existing businesses though is to leverage AOW systems to emancipate their EXISTING work force by illuminating their action flows and using ADA to efficiently route through increasingly knowledge based workers no longer needing an office to work.

This allows those employers to dramatically cut infrastructure costs while still paying salaries to existing workers, while also finding the optimal workers. For those who are laid off (and that is inevitable) the ability to redeploy oneself virtually to new employees is trivial...and so the appearance of exploitation here is far diminished relative to physical labor markets made more efficient using similar technologies.

This is why in my current efforts to build a startup on the framework that implements AOW I am focusing on knowledge work verticals first over physical labor verticals and existing companies with their existing employee pools rather than contractor heavy industries.

I remain convinced that the vision of a globally emancipated workforce that I had in 2003 and built into existence in the form of the AgilEntity framework that implements the AOW paradigm will be the dominant means of human system interaction within  the next 25 years. Yes, the first efforts ...deployed to physical labor verticals are not as efficient as they rely on human physical labor but the robots are coming and those will go...and hopping to knowledge work, though terrifying for many actually harbors the greater chance of freedom from the hegemony of time that physical labor and routing has over most of our lives.

I prepared a 30 slide deck for easy digesting of all of these concepts and how the AOW/ADA paradigm leads to an emancipated future, given the density of the concepts and the misunderstandings expressed in articles like this one on the types of efficiency that are possible when marketplaces are made more efficient it is an eye opener for those who are curious about the larger picture.


I've also compiled for those with a weekend to read them all, a list of the AOW and workforce emancipation related posts at my blog. This gives the 10,000 foot to 2 inch view of my inspiration to discover the action landscape and my desire to ensure all human beings navigate it in the future.


18 February, 2015

Action Oriented Workflows, meritocracy built bottom up.

A recent article by Will Gossin had this very prescient quote:

In the knowledge-economy, reliable performance evaluations became insanely difficult. Among tech companies, Google’s People Ops team has been working very hard on this. And I know there will be HR consultants who say they can do it. But I challenge them to show how much variance in performance they can explain. More specifically: How certain are they that any of the hundreds of candidates who were passed over could not have outperformed the candidate they did hire? Imagine the kind of data we would need to claim that. Right now, it’s impossible. And without it, a true meritocracy will elude us.
So if organizations can’t use objective evaluation, how do they make hiring decisions? I believe that all job applications and interviews can best be described as an act of storytelling.
I think that focusing the question of diversity and objective evaluations of employee or worker capability on storytelling is a key insight. In my work of the last dozen years discovering and building the Action Oriented Workflow (AOW) paradigm and of the last couple of years identifying a key vertical industry to redesign using the paradigm in the form of a change to recruiting. Storytelling or rather identifying the story that a given employer is looking for has been the key.
Currently, organizations employ teams of usually over taxed HR workers to engage a candidate soup of people who present their availability for employment in several ways. The standard fair find out of a companies job availability from job posting boards and cold calls from direct hire recruiters, more crafty job seekers go directly to company pages and take time to upload their resumes and fire off opening letters and others find ways to identify key people in the organization and directly contact them. All these approaches are means of getting through the barrier of communication that blocks a candidate from a potential hiring manager before even the relaying of a story of interest can be described.
It is in this latter task though that the challenge multiplies. Hiring managers are usually too busy to evaluate deeply the true ability of a given candidate, they are also prone to use subjective evaluations to rule out or in people based on apparent personality schisms that may exist between them but that may not exist should the employee be hired and set as part of a team of fellow employees. This is where the problem with most hiring lies I posit.
Currently I am building a startup called WorkNetz that leverages the previously mentioned AOW technology to solve this problem by uniquely capturing the technical and cultural fit requirements of the organization by sampling the storytelling patterns of not just the hiring manager but of all the employees of a company. This would then be used as a template to enable efficient query of any candidate without the time consuming and often sequential process of existing HR hiring processes. I call this new direct form of hiring crowd vetting.
Moreover it enables an automated refinement of the evaluation criteria for any given candidate that is distilled from a holistic analysis of as many of the organizations candidates as possible. The statement by Will :

Imagine the kind of data we would need to claim that. Right now, it’s impossible. And without it, a true meritocracy will elude us.
:is answered by this technique. The gathering of the detailed information of a companies culture as assessed by its employees directly enables vetting of candidates and eliminates the waste and efficiency of traditional processes…more over the storytelling is implicit in the filtering process that candidates engage when they vet themselves into an organization rather than be shoe horned into an organization via the careful shaping that would otherwise be done either by third party recruiters purportedly working on their behalf or if they are lucky to get an audience with a hiring manager or key player, their own gumption.
The proper sampling of a companies DNA in this way allows a much more accurate assessment of fitness between candidates and the organization while reducing dramatically the work load of hiring departments *even as the company scales*, in fact with such a system…scaling is good for more efficient hiring as more of the company wide culture is sampled into the evaluation process.
Further, having access to the vetting data allows a new way of stream lining the physical interviews that eventually result once the crowd vetting process is complete. The particular individuals involved in providing cultural and technical test criteria can be called into the process based on determination of their availability via other means. As well the team or departmental levels can provide constraints on the individuals roped into the interview process. Not only would the system first signal to the outside world the need for a candidate by advertising new roles but it will also critically sub sample the pool of employees on the vetting side of the equation who would be more likely to properly evaluate the need of a given candidate once initial vetting criteria have been achieved, thus turning face to face interviews into little more than sanity checking exercises followed by the deliver of an offer.
On the organizations side, The novel AOW algorithm enables this process of cultural and technical DNA sampling to engage in a distributed and collaborative fashion that distributes the work load otherwise required on the part of HR alone while also providing incentives for participation to those employees who participate. The birth of a better meritocracy during the hiring process, one that his shaped to the fitness needs of the organization necessarily naturally emerges from this process on both sides of the transaction. The candidates vetting themselves into the organization are maximally randomized across gender, ethnicity, national origin and fitness in technical and cultural needs and the existing employees engaging in the crowd question process are also sorted based on their engagement of the process achieving a hiring nirvana not yet seen.
The recruiting service is still under construction but an idea of the much bigger problem that the Action Oriented Paradigm was invented to solve of :
Holistically, Surfacing, Metering,
Routing and Committing all your
business actions.
can be understood by viewing this online presentation.
The focus on recruiting is only the low hanging fruit on the tree of possibility that WorkNetz is set to harvest. The addition of autonomous work routing capabilities allows a new type of business process discovery, sampling and refinement to happen with minimal human input in the construction of the workflows. WorkNetz will thus serve as a critical stop gap to the haphazard application of automation to the needs of industry absent an embrace of the potential of the rising sea of knowledge workers looking to efficiently dispense their skills and maximize their inherent value. Meritocracy metered and delivered being the end goal for all vertical industries, Uber for everything.

02 February, 2015

Dynamic Cognition, on the meaning of play.

Since the rise of the social network in the last 10 years an interesting concentration and variety of human interactions have been enabled on the fluid and instant media of the social sphere. This media have allowed people to build and cross pollinate their existing social graphs with other people located in disparate regions of the world but also located in disparate cultural and social spaces. The access to all forms of information and the sharing of content related to that information is allowing us to present to each other novel truths that otherwise would not be within our radar and thus would not be available to expand the perspective we have of not just our friends but also of the ideas and truths being presented in the content they share.

Thus in a very real way we stand to be subject to a greater ability to learn about things in the world outside our local bubbles and that I posit is a net good. In several articles in the past I've talked about the powerful glue that social networks potentially harbor for closing the gap of "the other" on a global basis and how that tendency may very well be the perfect inoculation to our otherwise stubborn tendency to demonize that which we don't understand or are not aware of, to build empathy between us.

In other postings I've written about the necessity of mastering multiple mountains and mastering the meta in order to attune ourselves intimately to the reasons others have for presenting information as well as to align ourselves with the cognitive atoms of abstraction that they utilize in order to conceive and relay information to others.

Content presented through the social systems we now have has opened our eyes to analysis of the interactions of other humans in the ways mentioned previously but also, by showing us the interaction of non human animals has also allowed us to see another side of life...or rather, to more clearly see the humanity that exists in other forms of life entirely. This is so because now more than ever via the presentation of video clips on youtube, vine and Facebook and Google+ we dramatically increase our visibility into the actions being performed by our non speaking planet mates and some of  us are learning brand new things about animal interactions with one another, in particular we are seeing how play is intimately tying us in a bond of familiarity with non human mammals, avians and even some reptiles. Eyes are being opened to the complex mind states of our feathered and furry friends by having these examples of their interactions injected into the view of people who otherwise would probably not be privy to the existence of the behaviors.

Behold, a snow surfing crow:

For reasons previously described I think this is a hugely important event and one which will only strengthen our bond with other living things, an outcome I posit must be enabled if we are to avoid some sort of human induced catastrophe on the part of humans who are not as attuned to the humanity in our fellow animals as we are as a result of our seeing the content of animal interactions that social networks make possible.

Play fuels the mind

One of my heroes Albert Einstein often spoke on the power of play in cognitive pursuits to allow the triggering of new insights and expand understanding. He wrote:

"Play is the highest form of research."

: A quote which stands out for a few reasons to me, first he describes it as research , an investigation of possibilities in a given sector of experiences. This doesn't isolate only cognitive pursuits however...research is conducted by a dancer exploring movements on the dance floor, a football player catching balls in the field and a bird testing the lift capability of it's feathered wings. So play is indeed in the same category as research but what then distinguishes play from research if they are not in fact the same exact thing? I assert that distinguishing factor is salience. How do we feel about our results as we engage in this cognitive or physical research called play.

Thus I assert that Play = Salience + Research

Where salience is the combined set of emotional and autonomic success cues that our bodies and brains reward us with when our research has achieved a desired goal during the course of play. For example, let's consider how while practicing on a piano, the initial frustrations derive from attempting and failing to achieve certain movements with the correct precision and timing...as our brains map the correct physical actions to the desired outcome our bodies and brains tie salience rewards to those movements. In our bodies the distributed network that is our physical embodiment of intelligence strengthen networks of response across our fingers, hands and upper arms...allowing us to cascade trigger the "trained" responses necessary to emerge the over all correct sequence while playing a given piece of music.

The efficiency of this process enabled by abstractions across these networks that allow them to be triggered at amazing speed. Ultimately playing back a piece we've been practicing is not an act of just doing it is an act of remembering and coupled with the positive factors that our bodies produced to keep us on task , to tell us "this is how it should be" we re-experience the joy of success we originally had while playing.

Play drives the mind and builds the self

In the brain these positive factors are the neurotransmitters that flow our brains and our released precisely to indicate when things are either going right or wrong. The hypothesis of the salience theory is that these low level chemical flows define the basis of orthogonal drive factors and from these drive factors emerge the importance measures that tell us when some action should or should not be taken as judged by comparison of an incoming sensation (be it visual or auditory or gustatory etc) as evaluated against some stored memory in the same sensation dimension that is judged to have a similar pattern. It is through millions of these comparison events that we retune our neural networks across all our sensory dimensions and this process requires great deals of training.....that training is what we call play.

The beauty of this process is that not only does it enable us under the guidance of these low level simple import factors emerge the ability to learn, to research by doing or thinking ...where "doing" is tasting, smelling, seeing, touching, hearing and what ever other senses we may possess but it inherently ties those activities to experiencing which itself are the rewards or punishments that the salience sub system labels our "play" outcomes as continuously.

Second to this but likely more important is that the cognitive cycle is moved by this process, I assert that every thought you have is driven in this way and the sequence of evaluations of these mini moments of play in every dimensional context of our experience is what makes us conscious. Thus consciousness is an indirect result of what happens when low level chemical signals are given out as rewards or punishments as we "research" comparisons between incoming sensation and previously stored memory across all the areas in which we are able to sample the world. This cycle being one performed as meaningfully by rats as by cats, as intently by a new born fawn as by a wolf or bird or any other animal.

So here we are on the social web privy to all forms of content recording the play states of not just other people in remote cultures but also of other animals, more able to see the experiences of other animals play out, to witness the evolution of their cognitive processes and the similarity of those processes at the deepest level to our own, in this recognition building empathy to the life experiences of these fellow thinkers that hopefully will bring us closer to a recognition of our obligation to their experiences in our personal relationships with our pets and other animals but in the distal relationship we all share on this planet as shared life citizens, to me this stands as a most beautiful truth enabled by social media, one that we need more and more people to harness as we are the stewards of this planet of life at play.

26 January, 2015

Patterns of Conservation in Energy across evolutionary history will span galaxies...

A friend asked these questions in a recent Facebook post: "The vertebrate design seems to be the winning one in our planet in terms of producing complex and thinking animals like us. 
Is there a special reason? What is so superior to this design than let's say the one of arthropods? 
Do you think if complex and intelligent life exists somewhere else in the universe could it be made of arthropod like beings with an exoskeleton?" Look to energy conservation in all things.

It was always a remarkable set of correlations to me that when I considered evolution from an energy conservation perspective that all things just made sense.

The evolution of sensing ability makes sense as a way for simple organisms to identify gradients and navigate within those fields. (Be those luminous , chemical or other gradients)

Sensing ability soon emerged the innovation of memory elements by storing aspects of sensed information for later comparison and poof the early first brain like computation is now possible....we see this ability already in archaea evolved up to several billion years ago. Memory is energy conservative because if you can identify a gradient one time and remember the pattern and then encode a motility heuristic to follow (or anti follow) the gradient for your own reasons of salience you can now optimize your survival actions dynamically in a changing environment in a super efficient way.

It all is about energy conservation.

So what of the exoskeleton of arthropod? What advantage in energy conservation does that provide? Well ...we know that such creatures evolved originally under water and the likely earliest forms evolved by accident and had the survival advantage of protecting them from being eaten by the predators of the time which were soft bodied.... detached bivalves, mollusk family members...the energy cost for producing an exoskeleton likely being worth paying for the increased survival probability under attack from a soft bodied predator. The story continues though for the vertebrates on land...where the costs for supporting an exoskeleton out weight (literally....the weight of an exoskeleton is a big cost factor in terms of time and effort to grow and mobility reducer once had) the advantages of protection especially when homeostatis enables creatures with internal skeletons to be far more mobile and active on land and so the energy advantage flips to these forms.

As for other planets I am certain the same rules of physics that constrained the efficiency domains of the evolution of various features here will apply on those other planets...with variation in water availability, atmospheric density and composition and chemical and mineral availability at the surface being the only constraints....where our chemistry is found the same regimes of probability for emergence of living forms will exist.

This is a main reason why I think we should be performing a much stronger test for exoplanets that model our Earth and Sol system more closely...I predict such planets (though rare apparently) will almost certainly also have evolved life....they may not have complex intelligent life but I am willing to bet that most of the ensemble will be found to be breathing worlds in some way...with the signature of at least microorganisms clear to see from spectographic analysis of the atmospheres (a technique actually published as possible in a research article from last year).

11 December, 2014

How birds lost their teeth, a theory...

In a recent publication of a landmark study where 40 species of birds DNA were sequenced and cross compared some really illuminating findings about probable evolutionary reasons for specific traits and relationships were revealed. One of the most interesting things is what was not realized about the origins of the birds beak.

"Although birds are descended from dinosaurs, they have no teeth. Most previous studies have suggested the common ancestor of modern birds lacked teeth, but other work has disagreed. The new findings add support to the idea of a toothless common ancestor, because all birds sampled share some mutations that turn off five genes for building teeth.

Researchers estimate that teeth, or at least enamel-covered teeth, disappeared about 116 million years ago in the ancestry of birds. They suggest beaks replaced teeth in a two-step process. But it's still not clear why beaks took over for teeth, said study author Robert Meredith, a biologist at Montclair State University in New Jersey."

Indeed, this line immediately brought up an idea of how it might have worked based on what we know about evolution and the forces that cause adaptations to flourish or to disappear as lineages continue to specialize into constantly varying niches. I'll start by stating that it should seem obvious that the common ancestor for birds...that from which the line descended as prior that they were classed more accurately as dinosaurs with features than birds is what we know from dinosaurs that they had teeth.

Even if the progenitor of the Avian line didn't have teeth itself it still descended from some land living dinosaur this is pretty clear from the many fossil finds of early proto Avian forms among the dinosaurs which have been found in China where it appears the Avian transition took off from 150 million years or so ago. We know for a fact that this ancestor did indeed have teeth as all early dinosaurs did...so how and why did birds loose them?

I think conservation of energy in the context of lineages exploring new survival niches created by the combination of access to feathers and trees tells the likely tale. The theories regarding bird flight that are most popular today advocate for a top down approach to evolution of birds, the theory being that animals attempting to gain the upper hand (literally) on their pray would do so from rock faces, vines and trees and bushes...stalking with feathered wings could provide gliding advantages that would allow a striking animal to both increase the glide length of their descent to the pray as well as slow the rate of fall allowing them a measure of increased success while hunting relative to those that do not take such advantages. A likely temporally significant adaptation was the formation of increasingly ossified skeletons to reduce the carrying weight of the animal and thus again increase glide distance and slow descent rate.

The genes of these individuals then propagated and the strategy continue to be employed from higher and higher vantage points selecting from those lineages individuals with either longer feathers or other advantages to such a mode of attack.

Eventually creatures like Archeoptrix ruled the forests where they took advantage of their feather laden hands and high vantage point to thrive but as those hands became wings and the descendants become capable of powered flight from the ground as their bones ossified. Mean while the strategy of hunting from the vantage point was replete with dangers...as these animals became less dense the animals they could target as prey continued to be lethal land living therapod or mammalian forms, the task of hunting was both dangerous (throwing yourself down from a high point is not exactly an optimal survival behavior trait) time consuming.

However something became more true the greater their ability to ascend the trees and later fly between them was unleashed. The new lineages were able to find different food sources away from those that their ancestors prayed upon, the vast access to nuts, seeds and fruit evolved around the same time as the angiosperm radiation continued apace, I posit provided a huge niche for potential exploration as a food source that up to that point no other large animal (besides the super massive therapod dinosaurs) were able to mine efficiently.

The early therapod descended avians who transitioned to more fruit and nut eating could satisfy their dietary requirements (which were increasingly more efficient compared to land living thanks to that high metabolism and low bone density they'd evolved) using these sources while not engaging in the dangerous activity of attacking much more bone dense and potentially lethal pray forms on the ground.

With food sources waiting in the trees the need to have teeth at great energy cost no longer presented itself as a requirement, the efficiency of eating nuts and berries with a beak would provide an advantage to exploiting those resources and so the first mutations in lineages to reduce tooth profiles likely allowed those lineages to more efficiently consume nuts and fruit while avoiding increased likelihood of death from not attacking ground pray. Several hundred or thousand generations later and the beak had spread as an adaptation across lineages exploiting this new (angiosperm radiation hit its stride around 160 million years ago right in the midst of the therapod to avian evolutionary shift) and relatively untapped regime.

So a multi step process of the energy efficiency for continuing to attack downward led to an increase in efficiency for attacking the static and safe food in the trees now evolving around them an increasing fruit and nut carrying capability, they had ascended to meet this static bounty rather than the dynamic and dangerous food they had descended from.
We know that birds in fact form a critical piece of the seed distribution puzzle for the angiosperms and so a synergistic relationship now formed explains the radiation and expansion of the flowering plants along with the dinosaurs and the insects who also enabled and thrived as the angiosperm radiation took place.


In a related discussion on this thread at Facebook a friend noted the insect radiation that was on going about the same time as a likely driving food source in the trees for early avian forms to use to supplant land based quarry. I assert this was indeed a factor but a lesser factor as insects still need to be captured at energy cost relative to fruits and nuts which are simply sitting there.
So step by step:

1) (~200 - 180 mya) Small feathered dinosaurs learn to ambush from increasing heights.

2) (~180 - 160 mya) Feathers evolve to enable greater height ambush without damage and better glide times. At same time Angiosperm radiation goes into full effect as insect synergy begins.

3) (~160 - 140 mya) Bone density reduction happens in early avian forms allowing yet higher ambush falls and glide times. Opportunity costs for teeth starts to dwindle as attack cost for land predators increases.

4) (~140 - 120 mya) Angiosperm radiation quickens as fruits and nuts evolve in force, insects explode provide secondary air born sources of food. Early avian cost for attack on ground exceeds cost for taking either insects or static fruits and nuts.

5) (~110 mya) True birds evolve specializing in either fruits and nuts and insects.




04 December, 2014

AOW: Shooting for the Moon instead of the Mountain

A recent Medium article exposes some of the drawbacks inherent in the business model of the TaskRabbit service.

 TaskRabbit is very much in the space that my Action Oriented Workflow mines for all possible work interactions but only for the subset of physical labor of a temporary and nature. They are a subset of the much larger space that AOW enables harnessing with both physical and knowledge work (this being the much bigger piece of the pie that WorkNetz will primarily focus on)...that said, one of the key features of the AOW technology  is the ability for delegated agents to REJECT work they do not wish to do OR to even simply never get work in their cue at all if they are not electing to receive it.

I saw this as a critical requirement of the system for two reasons:

1) If you give them the ability to reject they retain that sense of ownership, they are indeed their own boss and work on their own schedule as most people want and with Taskrabbits pivot are not denied.

2) Allowing people to reject work allows that work to move with alacrity to those who are available and want to do it, if you've got a global pool of options then this becomes MORE certain the larger your organization and or the larger your pool of possible contractors are.

:I explain why this is critical in my posts on Action Oriented Workflow but the sound bite can be had by flipping through this presentation deck I prepared last year to describe how AOW enable systems will work.

WorkNetz AOW presentation slides

With the implementation of the autonomous work routing of the ADA (Action Delta Assessment) algorithm the determination of who gets a delegated action is done purely by the historical algorithm and those preferred nodes are virtual managers by virtue of the fact that their past performance has made them stars to the system and they still have the ability to re-delegate (reject work) that they get in their queue.

This virtual or dynamic management is the only type of management that should exist I posit, a real time assessment of ability to redelegate work trumps the manual distribution of labor that is done when people are in charge of teams of workers which is rife with opportunity for cronyism to skew results away from what would be ideal for the business. I elaborate on this in the AOW white paper.

When TaskRabbit was announced, I recognized it immediately as a play that was tacking toward what I'd already built with AgilEntity in the form of the AOW paradigm which generalizes the solution for any vertical physical labor or knowledge work. I considered describing WorkNetz the company I am working on now to present solutions built on the AOW paradigm as: "taskrabbit for everything" at some point...given this shift in their approach, which makes sense given that in any given geographical region, there is a low density of people who can mobilize, are skilled and willing to perform a specific physical task it is clear why as a target TaskRabbit was aiming too low, they built a rocket that only allowed them to reach for the mountain instead of the moon.

Solving the problem for one type of labor (physical) made sense as there would be no need to tackle the much harder problem of generalizing to all types of work actions irrespective of their nature as physical labor associated or knowledge work associated would be a much more difficult task one that I took on and completed when I completed the implementation of the Action Oriented Workflow technology in AgilEntity in 2005.

I chose to generalize the solution for any type of interaction and let the business decide how it is going to provide incentives to the agents it already has...what I defined as "in sourcing". This is critical as it prevents the attrition problem that is described in the article where once a person is set up with a tasker through the service why would they use the service a second time if they can get the direct contact information for that same tasker from the initial interaction? By enabling any existing business to turn all it's employees into an emancipated workforce of contingent laborers who are employees one can harness that existing workforce optimally to make action execution fluid and 24/7 possible and maintain this advantage even as the company grows from 10 to 10,000 "employees" distributed all over the globe.



WorkNetz AOW presentation slides

01 December, 2014

Master the Meta

About 6 years ago I wrote a blog post titled Mastering Multiple Mountains where I spoke about the interesting dynamic of interaction that happens between people with different levels of understanding of any given concept.

The difficulties of engaging an exchange of knowledge between these different levels of understanding are what make the art of diplomacy and consensus building an art. The need to constantly gauge the state of knowledge of the others participating in the conversation is required and is made more efficient the more any given conversant has multiple mastery of different areas of potential conversational exploration.

A corollary to this skill that I've been considering is highlighted by the advantage to communication enabled by those who master multiple mountains of knowledge and that is being able to consider a meta analysis of a given discussion. Meta analysis is slightly different from simply gaining knowledge across different areas and being able to then illuminate relative ignorance between oneself and others in discussion as was the scope of the earlier article. Meta analysis also involves being able to shift perspective from ones own state of knowledge to that of the other and then to restrict the 'view' to consider the reasons why the other may be taking a line of argumentation. It is related but tangent to that earlier article.

In all types of engagement being able to master the meta is a powerful tool in exposing where one may be led to ruin by the very veracity of the data that they hold as basis for their expressed knowledge even if that data and knowledge has veracity behind it, failing to engage in this shifting of perspective via meta analysis could lead to ruin.

For example being oblivious to the social mores that may be in place when discussing subject matter in public in certain cultures could lead to perceptions of great offense which in some places could make one subject to violent response without even realizing it.

Science fiction has often used this potential schism in social norms as fodder for story lines from Star Trek on but it is a critical failing of making assumptions about the perspectives and expectations of others irrespective of the state of knowledge that may be had by different participants in a conversation. So in attempts to relay information it is important to both recognize the differential knowledge sets that we have compared to those we are communicating with and also be able to inhabit those knowledge sets in order to guide our approach to building consensus...sort of a rudder in the water to the angling of a wind born mast on the boat of our path through the sea of ignorance toward a common island of truth.