Is Immortality the Best Employee Benefit?

#5 | What would happen if companies offered their employees immortality as an employee benefit? In this burgeoning age of digital afterlife services, such an offering is closer than you might imagine. If you have never heard of this new niche in the tech industry, prepared to be amazed when you tune into my latest episode.


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About the podcast:

The Jim Stroud Podcast explores the future of life itself by examining emerging technology,  the changing world of work, cultural trends and everything in between.

About the host:

Over the past decade, Jim Stroud has built an expertise in sourcing and recruiting strategy, public speaking, lead generation, video production, podcasting, online research, competitive intelligence, online community management and training. He has consulted for such companies as Microsoft, Google, MCI, Siemens, Bernard Hodes Group and a host of startup companies. During his tenure with Randstad Sourceright, he alleviated the recruitment headaches of their clients worldwide as their Global Head of Sourcing and Recruiting Strategy. His career highlights can be viewed on his website at www.JimStroud.com.

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 PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Hi! I’m Jim Stroud and this is my podcast.

In my book, “Retention is the New Recruiting,” I discuss perks and privileges companies dole out to keep their employees happy and on the payroll. One perk that did not make the book, because I just discovered it, is immortality. Yes, now, it is quite possible for companies to offer their employees life after death. And, I’m not kidding. Find out more after this message.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are a prime time for cybercrime. While you chase the best deals, hackers and criminals chase you with phishing campaigns, malware attacks, scammy banners, or fake e-commerce sites. Cybersecurity may seem very complex, but NordVPN makes it as easy as it gets. NordVPN’s cutting-edge technologies shield your Internet activity from hackers and malware, protect you on public Wi-Fi networks, and even block annoying ads. Go to JimStroud.com/secure to get NordVPN at 75% off. This is a limited time offer for listeners of The Jim Stroud podcast so, act NOW! Again, go to JimStroud.com/secure to get NordVPN and secure your online shopping and internet browsing today.

I think for as long as there has been life humanity has been obsessed with death. Religion, myth and legends filled that void for centuries but now, we are in a digital age and people are looking at technology as an escape from what eventually comes for us all. Did you know that there is an industry dedicated to virtual immortality? Some call it the “digital death industry,” or the “afterlife online services industry” or “digital afterlife services” or “death tech” industry.  Whatever the nomenclature, here are just a few of a growing list of companies who are now selling (or will one day sell) everlasting life at an affordable price.

Tech firm Eter-ni-me is beta testing an app that will allow users to create a digital “avatar” of themselves after they die. How? Well… Eternime’s app collects data about you by harvesting your smartphone data, and by asking you questions through a chatbot.  The goal is to collect enough data about you so that when the technology catches up, it will be able to create a chatbot “avatar” of you after you die, which your loved ones can then interact with.

When Eugenia Kuy-da lost her close friend Roman Ma-zu-ren-ko to a car accident in 2015, Kuyda missed him so much that she created a chatbot of him.  Eugenia said QUOTE “I wanted to tell a story about him and tell him some things I hadn’t been able to. I put together around 10,000 of his text messages and together with a brilliant AI engineer on our team, Artem, we made a bot that could replicate the way Roman used to speak.” END QUOTE From that experience Replika was born. Replika is an app in which you confide in an AI-powered chatbot that learns about you as you chat to it. And as of now, the app has more than 200,000 monthly active users.

Ever-days” is a company which creates pop-up social networks when a person dies. These networks are used to notify people of that person’s death, and thus far have been set up via funeral homes, although Everdays has recently launched a consumer app.

Eter9, created by Portuguese software developer Henrique Jorge, is a social network that uses artificial intelligence to learn from its users and create a virtual self, called a “counterpart”, that mimics the user and lives on after he or she dies.

Hossein Rah-na-ma, An entrepreneur and researcher based at Ryerson University in Toronto, and a visiting faculty member at MIT’s Media Lab, is building an application called Augmented Eternity; it lets you create a digital persona that can interact with people on your behalf after you’re dead.

I imagine that any company offering these types of perks would no doubt get the attention of the press and a bit of buzz in their respective industries. I also think that it would help shape the culture of the company as a bit quirky, innovative and/or pragmatic; depending on how the offering is spun.  However, I admit to being split on whether or not I would recommend that companies offer these types of services as benefits to their employees. On one hand, I have the testimony of Marius Ur-sa-che, CEO and Co-Founder of E-ter-ni-me, who said his service was beneficial because people can use it to reflect. QUOTE “We had people from the beta programmes who said it’s like having an imaginary friend and it’s providing some comfort.” END QUOTE

But, I remain a bit skeptical.

At a gut level, I have to wonder if its healthy for people to interact with a digital alter-ego of their deceased loved ones. I mean, some might use it as a form of therapy but others might isolate themselves with the digital alter ego and not be able to move forward with their life. If you want to see an example of that, check out the Netflix show – Black Mirror. (I love that show!) There is an episode called “Be Right Back” that depicts a woman who used technology to create a duplicate of her dead husband. (It is thought-provoking to say the least.)

I’m also wondering, what if hackers get into the machines and cause these digital alter egos to say profane things; as a joke. (How horrible would that be?)

Or, finally, what if some company manipulates the grief of love ones to sell their products. “Buy Juicy Cola! Because its what nana would’ve wanted.” Now that may sound ludicrous at best, cruel at the worse but as of now, there are no regulations in place to police this industry. So, who’s to say what could happen?

Of course, these are just my random thoughts. I would love to hear yours. Leave a comment on my blog at www.JimStroud.com. Do it now or, have your digital alter ego do it for you later.

If you like what you just heard, hate what you just heard or don’t know what you just heard, I want to know about it. You can contact me via my website www.JimStroud.com or you can message me on LinkedIn, Twitter… I’m everywhere, everywhere, everywhere. Oh, oh, if you want to support my Starbucks habit by dropping a little somethin’-somethin’ in the virtual tip jar I will not be mad at that, at all. There is a donation link in the podcast description. Thank you in advance.

Proud Parents are Enabling the Identity Theft of their Kids


#4 | Identity theft is a global epidemic and its about to get worse because of proud, well-meaning parents. Find out what I mean in the latest episode of The Jim Stroud Podcast.


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About the podcast:

The Jim Stroud Podcast explores the future of life itself by examining emerging technology,  the changing world of work, cultural trends and everything in between.

About the host:

Over the past decade, Jim Stroud has built an expertise in sourcing and recruiting strategy, public speaking, lead generation, video production, podcasting, online research, competitive intelligence, online community management and training. He has consulted for such companies as Microsoft, Google, MCI, Siemens, Bernard Hodes Group and a host of startup companies. During his tenure with Randstad Sourceright, he alleviated the recruitment headaches of their clients worldwide as their Global Head of Sourcing and Recruiting Strategy. His career highlights can be viewed on his website at www.JimStroud.com.

Subscribe now!

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Hi, I’m Jim Stroud and this is my podcast.

Wikipedia defines ID theft as the deliberate use of someone else’s identity, usually as a method to gain a financial advantage or obtain credit and other benefits in the other person’s name, and perhaps to the other person’s disadvantage or loss. Pretty accurate, I think.

According to a report from Javelin Strategy & Research, in 2017, there were 16.7 million victims of identity fraud, a record high that followed a previous record the year before. The amount stolen hit $16.8 billion last year as 30 percent of U.S. consumers were notified of a data breach last year, an increase of 12 percent from 2016. And for the first time, more Social Security numbers were exposed than credit card numbers.

And what’s worse? Incidents of ID theft will be more frequent and even harsher on the next generation because… of… you. I’ll explain after a word from our sponsor.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are a prime time for cybercrime. While you chase the best deals, hackers and criminals chase you with phishing campaigns, malware attacks, scammy banners, or fake e-commerce sites. Cybersecurity may seem very complex, but NordVPN makes it as easy as it gets. NordVPN’s cutting-edge technologies shield your Internet activity from hackers and malware, protect you on public Wi-Fi networks, and even block annoying ads. Go to JimStroud.com/secure to get NordVPN at 75% off. This is a limited time offer for listeners of The Jim Stroud podcast so, act NOW! Again, go to JimStroud.com/secure to get NordVPN and secure your online shopping and internet browsing today.

Did you know that children have more than 1,000 pictures of themselves posted online before they turn 13? I read that in an article published by The Telegraph, here’s a quote, ‘Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, said today children’s digital footprint was starting in the womb, from the moment parents posted their scans on social media. She also warned that children’s lives were being “datafied” on a huge scale as their personal information was being collected by smart toys, smart speakers and even school apps. Further down in the article, it says, “The report highlighted that an average child has around 1,300 photos and videos published of them on social media by parents before they turn 13. Then when children get on social media themselves they will on average post nearly 70,000 times between the ages of 11 and 18. The report said that parents could be unwittingly gifting frausters key information such as names, ages and addresses, by simply posting a picture of their child on their birthday.”

Now, how eye-opening is that? Today, hackers have to break into data systems to get the data they need to perform their mischief but for the next generation, all that information will be public; all courtesy of proud parents who volunteered it on the web.

As concerning as that is, there is hope for the online privacy of the next generation. What is this bright light at the end of the tunnel? It is not an oncoming train. It’s the trend of people abandoning social media. I’m not sure you noticed it, especially in the contentious political atmosphere of the United States, but people are leaving social media in favor of messaging apps. Increasingly common on Facebook and Twitter, especially since the election of President Trump and Brexit, are posts from users declaring their departure from social media. The reasons vary. Some blame the proliferation of fake news, others point out privacy issues and some just don’t like the impact it was having on real life relationships. Even at the beginning of 2016 the number of tweets was in monthly decline, and one 2017 study found that Android app Twitter use was down 23%, Instagram use down 23% and Facebook down 8%.

So, if people are leaving social media, where are they going? Messenger apps. Over 2.5 billion people have at least one messaging app installed. Within a couple of years, that will reach 3.6 billion, about half of humanity. The market’s leading duo, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, both owned by Facebook, are nearing one billion monthly users each. Many teenagers now spend more time on smartphones sending instant messages than perusing social networks. WhatsApp users average nearly 200 minutes each week using the service. When it comes to sharing, private messaging already dominates, with almost 70% of all online referrals coming from dark social.

Umm… And just as a FYI, Dark social is activity web analytics can’t track, it’s people sending and sharing links privately through communications such as email and instant messaging.

NOW, Is the trend of people leaving social media in favor of messaging apps a good thing? Well, yes, in terms of personal mental health and here is the proof of that – “The Happiness Research Institute” published a report called “The Facebook Experiment: Does social media affect the quality of our lives?’ In this report they worked with 1,095 people who frequent Facebook daily and divided them into 2 groups. One group continued life on Facebook as per normal and the other group abstained from Facebook entirely for one week. The result? The people who walked away from Facebook were happier. Additionally, these participants also were found to be more decisive and enthusiastic and were less worried, lonely and stressed compared to those who remained on Facebook. Meik Wiking, the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute attributed the results to people’s tendencies to compare themselves to others on social media.

All of that to say, if we are to slow down ID theft as we know it, we might want to consider reducing time spent on social media and opt to express ourselves on messaging apps. In this way, there is less material for hackers to find on the web and speaking of less material for hackers to find, I suggest you rethink what you post about your kids online. Check my blog at JimStroud.com for information on that and other resources related to this podcast.

If you like what you just heard, hate what you just heard or don’t know what you just heard, I want to know about it. You can contact me via my website www.JimStroud.com or you can message me on LinkedIn, Twitter… I’m everywhere, everywhere, everywhere. Oh, oh, if you want to support my Starbucks habit by dropping a little somethin’-somethin’ in the virtual tip jar I will not be mad at that, at all. There is a donation link in the podcast description. Thank you in advance.

This is what happens when you crowdsource morality!

#3 | What would happen if we crowd sourced morality? In other words, instead of a bible or a quran or a torah guiding us, we make life and death decisions based solely on the collective wisdom of the public. Let’s take this a bit further, and plug the results of those whims into machines. What would happen then? Or rather, what’s the worst that could happen? Tune in to find out!

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Evolve Summit
EVOLVE! Summit:  The Greatest Recruitment and Sourcing Conference in CEE! Join Jim Stroud and a host of recruiting and sourcing experts from around the world, November 13-14, 2018. Click here for more information.

About the podcast:

The Jim Stroud Podcast explores the future of life itself by examining emerging technology,  the changing world of work, cultural trends and everything in between.

About the host:

Over the past decade, Jim Stroud has built an expertise in sourcing and recruiting strategy, public speaking, lead generation, video production, podcasting, online research, competitive intelligence, online community management and training. He has consulted for such companies as Microsoft, Google, MCI, Siemens, Bernard Hodes Group and a host of startup companies. During his tenure with Randstad Sourceright, he alleviated the recruitment headaches of their clients worldwide as their Global Head of Sourcing and Recruiting Strategy. His resume and career highlights can be viewed on his website at www.JimStroud.com.

Subscribe now!

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Hi. I’m Jim Stroud and this is my podcast.

{music}

Quick question for you. Okay, maybe two. What would happen if we crowd sourced morality? In other words, instead of a bible or a quran or a torah to guide us, we make life and death decisions based solely on the collective wisdom of the public. Let’s take it a bit further, and plug the results of those whims into machines. What would happen then? Or rather, what’s the worst that could happen? Hah! I’ll let you know after this important message.

{Promo message for Evolve Summit in CZ.}

Consider this… It’s a lovely day out, and you decide to go for a walk along the trolley tracks that crisscross your town. As you walk, you hear a trolley behind you, so you step away from the tracks. But as the trolley gets closer, you hear the sounds of panic — the five people on board are shouting for help. The trolley’s brakes have gone out, and it’s gathering speed. You find that you just happen to be standing next to a side track that veers into a sand pit, potentially providing safety for the trolley’s five passengers. All you have to do is pull a hand lever to switch the tracks, and you’ll save the five people. (Hoo-ray!) But, there’s a catch. Along this offshoot of track leading to the sandpit stands a man who is totally unaware of the trolley’s problem and the action you’re considering. There’s no time to warn him. So by pulling the lever and guiding the trolley to safety, you’ll save the five passengers. But, you’ll kill that one man. What do you do?

This scenario is called “The Trolley Problem.” It is a moral paradox first posed by Philippa Foot in her 1967 paper, “Abortion and the Doctrine of Double Effect,” and later expanded by Judith Jarvis Thomson. Far from solving the dilemma, the trolley problem launched a wave of further investigation into the philosophical quandary it raises. And it’s still being debated today.

Fast forward from that 1967 imaginary moral paradox to a real 2018 moral paradox; where you are riding alone inside of a self-driving robot car. Suddenly, three pedestrians leap into a crosswalk in front of the robot car you are riding in. The robot car must instantly decide between running the pedestrians down and thus, saving your life or, crashing into a concrete barrier which would kill you but save the lives of three pedestrians. So, what should the robot car do?

Since 2016, scientists have posed this scenario to folks around the world through the QUOTE “Moral Machine,” END QUOTE an online platform hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that gauges how humans respond to ethical decisions made by artificial intelligence. After collecting 40 million decisions across 233 countries, the researchers found that overall, participants favored sparing the lives of the many over the few, humans over animals and the young over the old. But if you look a little deeper into the geography of those who responded, you notice that where you live has a lot to do with your life and death decisions. For example…

…people in the U.S. and the U.K. favored sacrificing the one life in order to save more lives whereas in Taiwan and Japan the opposite view was the trend.
…people in China favored saving the elderly over the young moreso than those in France, who decided differently

I think all of this is fascinating, especially in light of Waymo. Waymo is a robotic car company created by Google. Waymo is about to make a major technological leap in California, where its vehicles will hit the roads without a human being on hand to take control in emergencies. As of October 30, 2018, the CA Department of Motor Vehicles cleared Waymo’s driverless cars to cruise through California at speeds up to 65 mph. I hope, for the sake of CA pedestrians, that Google has solved the trolley problem.

If you like what you just heard, hate what you just heard or don’t know what you just heard, I want to know about it. You can contact me via my website www.JimStroud.com or you can message me on LinkedIn, Twitter… I’m everywhere, everywhere, everywhere. Oh, oh, if you want to support my Starbucks habit by dropping a little somethin’-somethin’ in the virtual tip jar I will not be mad at that, at all. There is a donation link in the podcast description. Thank you in advance.

Human Cloning: The Answer to Talent Scarcity

THE JIM STROUD PODCAST | Human Cloning: The Answer to Talent Scarcity

#2 | Earlier this year, something extraordinary was being reported in the news.  For the first time in American history, there were more jobs than people out of work. To be specific, in June 2018, there were  6.7 million job openings but only just 6.4 million available workers to fill them; this according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employers have been complaining for years about the inability to find workers with the right training for the positions available. In the meantime, companies are adding other incentives to retain workers and pull new ones in.  As the demand grows, workers have gotten more confident about leaving their current positions for better ones. So, what is HR to do? One solution might be… Human Cloning!

Links related to this podcast:

Special thanks to our sponsor:

Evolve Summit
EVOLVE! Summit:  The Greatest Recruitment and Sourcing Conference in CEE! Join Jim Stroud and a host of recruiting and sourcing experts from around the world, November 13-14, 2018. Click here for more information.

About the podcast:

The Jim Stroud Podcast explores the future of life itself by examining emerging technology,  the changing world of work, cultural trends and everything in between.

About the host:

Over the past decade, Jim Stroud has built an expertise in sourcing and recruiting strategy, public speaking, lead generation, video production, podcasting, online research, competitive intelligence, online community management and training. He has consulted for such companies as Microsoft, Google, MCI, Siemens, Bernard Hodes Group and a host of startup companies. During his tenure with Randstad Sourceright, he alleviated the recruitment headaches of their clients worldwide as their Global Head of Sourcing and Recruiting Strategy. His resume and career highlightscan be viewed on his website at www.JimStroud.com.

Subscribe now!

Brain to Brain Communication… Its a thing. 

THE JIM STROUD PODCAST | Brain to Brain Communication… Its a thing.

# 1: Believe it or not, scientists connected 3 human brains together and used that connection to… play Tetris because… why not? This new technology represents a LOT of possibilities, both positive and negative. On the positive side, I can imagine paraplegics using this tech to move prosthetic limbs. On the negative side, I foresee a HUGE problem for the HR department. Tune in to the first episode of my new podcast to see what I mean.


Click here to listen on Anchor.fm

Links related to this podcast:

Scientists connect 3 actual human brains (then make them play Tetris)
# Facebook is building brain-computer interfaces for typing and skin-hearing
# Elon Musk launches Neuralink, a venture to merge the human brain with AI
# Why You Will One Day Have a Chip in Your Brain
# Mental message sent from one person to another 4,000 miles away
# Brain Control With Light: It’s Possible With Optogenetics
# Support this podcast (please and thank you)

Special thanks to our sponsor:

Evolve Summit
EVOLVE! Summit:  The Greatest Recruitment and Sourcing Conference in CEE! Join Jim Stroud and a host of recruiting and sourcing experts from around the world, November 13-14, 2018. Click here for more information.

About the podcast:

The Jim Stroud Podcast explores the future of life itself by examining emerging technology,  the changing world of work, cultural trends and everything in between.

About the host:

Over the past decade, Jim Stroud has built an expertise in sourcing and recruiting strategy, public speaking, lead generation, video production, podcasting, online research, competitive intelligence, online community management and training. He has consulted for such companies as Microsoft, Google, MCI, Siemens, Bernard Hodes Group and a host of startup companies. During his tenure with Randstad Sourceright, he alleviated the recruitment headaches of their clients worldwide as their Global Head of Sourcing and Recruiting Strategy. His resume and career highlights can be viewed on his website at www.JimStroud.com.

Subscribe now!