Category: business

Tesla Accelerates Sustainable Energy

How will Tesla enable sustainable transportation?

disclaimer: written by a TSLA shareholder. Opinion. Not investment advice. Do your own research. All information here comes from publicly available sources or is speculation / guessing. Please fact check this blog post. (going overboard on the disclaimer after a particularly funny reddit comment).

Tesla has distinguished themselves as a company that builds both software as well as physical products and hardware.

One of the few companies whose mission appears to be sustainability over profit, they continue to innovate and create the best technology, forcing other players in the market to try to keep up.

Tesla’s Big Goals:

Tesla’s number one mission is to accelerate the transition to sustainable energy. Tesla is progressing in a few main areas to achieve this goal:

  1. produce more affordable electric vehicles
  2. build systems for energy storage
  3. be the best at manufacturing

The CEO of Tesla, Elon Musk, has stated how he believes “you have to have a goal”. Following his earlier statement, Elon kept his word – the company’s goals were concisely outlined during the Tesla battery day event this past September.

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Goal 1: Tesla building Affordable Electric Vehicles

Today, less than 1% of the cars on earth (the “global fleet”) are electric. To increase this, Tesla will build a car that anyone can afford. Tesla has announced plans to build a $25,000 electric car.

With what started as a luxury, high-end car, Tesla is working towards reaching economies of scale to move towards high volume production of a car for the mass market.

Once Tesla reaches full-scale manufacturing and production, Tesla wants to produce and sell 20 million cars per year, enough to replace 1% of the gasoline cars with electric vehicles.

To achieve these numbers, Tesla must increase production of their cars by 40X compared to their 2020 manufacturing numbers.

The center controls are completely touch-screen. source: Tesla

Elon has hypothesized that internal combustion engine industry WILL NOT EXIST in the future, aside from perhaps in museums and hobbyists.

Autonomy & self-driving cars:

Creating self-driving cars is not directly related to reducing carbon emissions, yet it does provide a few solutions that will make buying a Tesla an extremely attractive purchase:

  1. Safety. Autopilot, designed to avoid collisions, has the potential to save the lives of at least 40,000 people per year that die in automobile fatalities. With traditional automobiles, accident probability is 2.1 collisions per million miles. With Tesla autopilot, the probability is 0.3 collisions per million miles.
  2. Entertainment will be important in the car once human attention is no longer just being used to drive. This could include video games (the vehicles already have a number of games available), socialization, reading, working, etc.

It is hard to say just how valuable autonomy is to each customer, but the parameters are as follows: Since autonomy is valuable to cars at an individual level, the value of autonomy for Tesla = value of each car * value of autonomy per vehicle.

Full-self-driving technology BETA version feels like it is close to being released to the market after seeing a few of the CEO’s recent tweets on the subject.

source: Twitter

If the FSV features help the company sell more cars, then the company is that much closer to achieving its mission of an automobile economy based on sustainable energy.

Goal 2: Energy Storage – Tesla Batteries, etc.

To be truly sustainable, energy must be accessible and affordable to everyone. Tesla plans to make vehicles and grid batteries that cost less. This includes reducing the cost of energy per kilowatt hour by one half.

Tesla is working to change the trajectory of the curve of cost per kilowatt hour of energy, pushing the cost lower, shown as the red line. source: Tesla Battery day.

At Tesla battery day, the heads of the company mentioned that reducing the cost per kilowatt hour of batteries is not happening fast enough. This was demonstrated by showing the curve of cost per kilowatt hour of batteries and the slow rate of improvement. Its flattening out, as shown in the photo above.

Battery design:

Tesla is al re-engineering the battery cell design, manufacturing, and production processes to create more affordable cells.

Tab-less batteries. source: Tesla Battery Day
  • Tesla batteries are cylindrical, and newer versions are larger (bigger cylinder cells cost less)
  • Tab length in batteries: older batteries had tabs located at anode and cathode ends, which added to the distance an electron has to travel through a battery. Tesla got rid of tabs, so the electron only has to travel a shorter distance, making them more efficient.
  • Battery filler is not only flame retardant, and it is a structural adhesive. Glues cells to the top and bottom of the sheet.
  • Battery cells are load-bearing, made of steel, dual-purpose as the structure of the car itself. (see below)
The image shows how larger battery cells (blue cylinders) in the bottom image are more efficiently packed into the car. Older design at the top has a large amount of wasted space, shown in red. source: Tesla Battery Day
  • Anode: Tesla uses silicon instead of graphite (graphite is carbon based) for the anode. Silicon is the 2nd most abundant element on Earth, present in Earth’s crust as silicon dioxide, commonly known as sand). Stores 9x more lithium than graphite. Problem with silicon is that it expands in the cells. They use raw metallurgical silicon and design batteries to be able account for expansion.
  • Cathode: the cathode holds the lithium and retains its structure. Nickel is the cheapest and has the highest energy density, but Nickel presents challenges with chemical stability. Cobalt is more expensive, yet more stable than Nickel. For the most energy intensive batteries (like the semi-truck or the cyber-truck) they will use full nickel. The goal is maximizing nickel and gradually removing cobalt from battery manufacturing. The company has added coatings and dopants to stabilize nickel in the batteries. Cathode materials are purchased and priced based on the London metal exchange (LME).
  • Lithium: lithium is plentiful in the US, Tesla already has access to enough for every car (once they are building 20M+ per year). The company mines clay containing lithium in areas of the US where the ground has high concentrations. They extract the lithium via an environmentally friendly process involving table salt NaCl. After mixing it with salt and water, the lithium is extracted because lithium bonds extremely strongly to Cl-. The lithium effectively knocks off the sodium atoms, and we are left with LiCl salt, which the company can use for their battery manufacturing.
  • The company will eventually recycle materials in the used batteries to make new batteries.

Goal 3: Manufacturing

In addition to the number one goal of accelerating the adoption of sustainable energy, Tesla wants to be the best at manufacturing. Elon stated Tesla needs to be “better than anyone at manufacturing”. The company has created a vertically-integrated car from the ground up. They build everything in house, outsourcing little of the process.

The remarkable thing being built by Tesla is actually not the car, but how. The way the company built the car, with heavily automated robotic factories is impressive.

Tesla is building 4 types of products for consumers:

  • Energy generation (solar panels / solar roof)
  • Energy storage (Tesla Powercell) – customers want the freedom to charge at home. The Tesla Powercell product allows people to do so.
  • Electric vehicles (cars and trucks)
  • Automated factories. The company has engineered machines to build the car, supporting the creation of each product. While these three products are very much in the foreground, the importance of the robotic factory in the background has given Tesla a wide competitive advantage that will be extremely difficult to copy.

Factories

  • Sustainable factories include car factories built with solar.
  • Factory close to consumers (on each continent) shortens the supply chain, quicker delivery to customers. Factory in Fremont California, Nevada, Austin TX, Berlin, Shanghai China.
    • Tesla is the only American car company with manufacturing facilities in China.
  • Largest casting machine ever to make the front and rear casting in one piece.
source: Tesla Battery Day

Engineering

The ability to do more with less is an important strategy in engineering for elegance.

The company focuses more on metrics within the context of product improvements and manufacturing than purely financial areas. As of Battery day, the company reported:

  • Reducing number of parts in the car: now 370 fewer parts.
  • Reducing floorspace required in the factory by 35%.
    • Ensuring each cubic meter of the factory floor does useful work.
  • Stop using cobalt in batteries, mainly use nickel now.
  • Materials engineering the frame of the car: Developed their own high-strength casting alloy of aluminum that does not require coating or heat treatment. (Heat treatment historically causes alloys to lose shape)
  • Shortening the supply chain for resources: Reducing miles traveled by materials that end up in cathode by 80%.
  • 10% mass reduction in the car.
  • 14% range increase
  • “Electric energy costs are half those of diesel. With fewer systems to maintain, the Tesla Semi provides $200,000+ in fuel savings and a two-year payback period.” – Tesla.com
Tesla Semi-truck rendering source: Tesla

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Sources:

  1. Tesla Battery Day presentation Deck: https://tesla-share.thron.com/content/?id=96ea71cf-8fda-4648-a62c-753af436c3b6&pkey=S1dbei4
  2. http://www.ev-volumes.com/
  3. IHS
  4. OICA
  5. https://www.tesla.com/blog/secret-tesla-motors-master-plan-just-between-you-and-me
  6. https://www.tesla.com/blog/master-plan-part-deux
  7. Tesla website
  8. TSLA 10k / annual report
  9. twitter

Top 4 Ways to Invest in Space Tech Companies

Human understanding of the universe in its unimaginable infiniteness only has room to grow.

Exploring unknown reaches of outer space will only accelerate in the coming years.

Space technology will improve exponentially. Space industry global revenue is expected to reach $1 trillion by 2040. [1]

The relatively untapped arena of outer space provides investment opportunities for not only large financiers, but small investors as well.

How to invest in space exploration

In an effort to keep track of the space tech market, Espresso Insight produced a compiled list of over 200 organizations building space exploration technologies. Get the Space 200 list below.

the Space 200 Download (its free)

4 ways you can invest in space technology companies:

1. Angel Invest

Become an angel investor and fund private companies and pre-IPO startups.

Platforms like Forge provide retail investors a gateway to pre-IPO companies.

space tech investing
source: NASA

Many space tech companies on the 2020 Espresso Space 200 are private companies and raising or have raised venture capital in the past.

2. Exchange Traded Funds

Another option is investing in an Exchange Traded Fund focused on space exploration.

A few popular ETFs that focus on space tech include:

  • ARK Innovation ETF (ARKK)
  • SPDR S&P Kensho Final Frontiers ETF (ROKT)
  • Procure Space ETF (UFO)

All of these ETFs may be purchased from TD Ameritrade, for example.

3. Indirect Investing

Invest in publicly traded companies that have stake in space.

Google’s parent company, Alphabet, for example, has invested in SpaceX.

By buying shares of Google, you are indirectly gaining exposure to SpaceX.

4. Publicly Traded Businesses

There are a good number of publicly traded companies that provide products and services directly related to aerospace, rockets, and futuristic space exploration.

Investing in these publicly traded companies is a good way to gain exposure to a larger more established organization that’s also doing exciting things building space exploration systems and technology.

There are quite a few of these on the 2020 Espresso Space 200, but a few are listed below.

  • Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA)
  • Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE: LMT)
  • Northrup Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC)

sources:

  1. morganstanley.com/ideas/investing-in-space

How procrastination can help you be productive

Procrastinating is a sign of intelligence. You don’t want to stop procrastinating, you just need to use it strategically.

One of the greatest business minds of our generation used procrastination as a tool to achieve success.

Steve jobs would procrastinate on certain tasks right in front of him. He would use this time as an opportunity to explore creative areas that were perhaps less conventional, but would prove extremely valuable to himself and the business.

Jobs carefully considered where his time was spent during each moment of his life. Diverting energy and time from one task allowed him to focus on unique and larger ideas.

If you are naturally intelligent, you may tend to procrastinate on dull and profane tasks.

By procrastinating, you are subconsciously searching for meaning. You are looking to exert your energy towards something more important.

Procrastination makes you feel like it is hard to get things done.

But the opposite is true. When you procrastinate on one task, you are normally incredibly efficient at another, less urgent (but still relevant) task.

I commonly hear that as people halt the efforts toward an urgent task, they exert energy towards something like cleaning. And the surprising thing is that they normally report cleaning their entire house/apartment, despite having something else seemingly important waiting off-hand.

Our goal is to move from wasteful procrastination towards productive procrastination.

  • Wasteful procrastination is when you aren’t making progress towards any of your goals.
  • Productive procrastination is when you postpone one task, while taking care of another important task.

To allow ourselves to exert productive procrastination effort, we need to outline our goals, then create tasks that map to those goals.

By having an outline of these, we will be able to selectively choose where we exert our procrastination efforts.

Here are a potential list of goals that you may have.

  1. Pass professional certification exam for your 9–5 job.
  2. Deliver exceptional work to clients at your job.
  3. Grow your blog on the side.
  4. Grow a following on Quora.
  5. Learn to make and edit YouTube videos.

Let’s think about how we can leverage procrastination to exert creative effort towards achieving all of our goals.

Here’s a story:

Perhaps you have been studying for your exam for a few hours. Eventually, your focus drifts off and you open up YouTube and go down the rabbit hole of videos.

BUT WAIT!

One of the goals on your list had something to do with YouTube. You want to learn how to make and edit YouTube videos. As you “procrastinate” by browsing YouTube, you’re not just mindlessly watching videos. You are watching with intention, observing and learning what makes an appealing and interesting YouTube video. What types of headlines are successful creators using? How do the thumbnails of the best videos look? Does the content appear scripted? How long are the top videos?

As you exert this type of distracted yet productive energy while “procrastinating”, you’ll eventually begin to get some ideas for your current YouTube projects. You’ll also start to understand what makes a good YouTube video. This will help refine your vision.

Perhaps you start to procrastinate some more. You take a break from YouTube and go for a walk. On your walk, you shoot a few video clips of cool stuff you see in your neighborhood – nothing fancy, just on your iPhone. Street art, interesting buildings, uniquely shaped trees, you and your friend, whatever. The beginnings of your YouTube creation project.

The day is coming to a close, and you decide to meet a few friends for drinks. As you the conversation progresses, you share a bit about the projects you’re working on in your current job. Since you work in similar industries, your friends give you some ideas about those projects, and you give them a few ideas as well.

The next morning is Saturday, and you feel guilty for sleeping in late. Surprisingly, you have no hangover.

You begin to remember a few ideas for your clients. Although it is Saturday, you don’t want to forget these ideas, so you go ahead and write them down on a document. Before you know it, an hour or two have passed and you’ve actually made a lot of progress on the client project. You realize that this will make your life much easier in the upcoming week.

Your attention begins to divert as you looked something up on Google that brought you to Quora, and now you’re going down another rabbit hole of Quora content.

BUT WAIT!

One of your goals is involving growing a following on Quora. Just like how you used dedicated intention and focus towards learning about YouTube, you can do the same here. As you read a few click-bait answers, you realize you could write just as good, if not better answer than some you’re seeing. You go ahead and answer a few questions that spark your interest. Little do you know, these answers you write will start getting a few views! Perhaps you can use this content to drive traffic to your blog as well?

So, to review:

How did we leverage productive procrastination in the story above?

  • By procrastinating on studying for the exam, we were able to watch YouTube videos and learn more about what makes a good video.
  • When we went on the walk, something seemingly relaxing turned into a chance for us to gather some raw footage to use in our YouTube project.
  • As we grabbed drinks with friends, we not only were able to socialize and blow off some steam, but we were able to get ideas and input from others about a few of our projects, and leverage this to help us move forward the following day.
  • Although oversleeping on Saturday may have consumed a few hours of our morning, the extra sleep surely helped us avoid having a hangover and we were thus able to be quite productive out of nowhere.
  • Although spending a few hours on a Saturday doing work, it was surprisingly enjoyable as we were able to relax and think freely without the common week day interruptions like emails, meetings, etc.
  • While we got distracted from the work we were doing on Saturday, we were able to divert this attention towards a few of our other goals – building a following on Quora and growing a blog.

Never forget that the time you spend “procrastinating” are minutes, hours, and days of your life. What you do makes you who you are.

Don’t worry so much about procrastinating.

Focus on what excites you.

In addition to your responsibilities, leverage that excitement to exert productive effort towards your goals.

How to use Virtual Reality in Human Resources 2020

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Using virtual reality technology in an organization may seem futuristic. But VR is quite well established; current technology systems exist and are readily available for implementation. In the virtual world of 2020, businesses have an opportunity to leverage VR to serve a wide array of functions.

But with an emerging technology like VR, where should a business start? It turns out HR is a safe place to establish a pilot virtual reality strategy.

In this post, we’re going to discuss the applications of virtual reality to human resources. We will focus on both benefits and potential return on investment of implementing such systems.

“Employees are a company’s most valuable asset.”

To stay modern, HR leaders have a responsibility to invest in the best tools for their employees.

From the initial job application up to an employee’s daily experience post-hire, VR will change the employee journey.

If HR leaders can learn anything from their own workforce, its that employees crave a modernized work experience. A big part of this is making sure your employees have the latest and greatest tools. Its likely that employee adoption of VR will be quite rapid, since its intuitive and easy to use. Technology companies like STRIVR are building VR tools oriented around the business user.

With a strategic up front investment in time and resources, companies may see long term benefits including:

  • reduce travel expenses
  • reduce costs
  • save time
  • enable employee flexibility
  • enhance productivity
  • increase efficiency,

Many human resources departments are taking steps in VR. Let’s look at a few HR processes where you have he potential to leverage VR today:

VR in HR in 2020

Interviews & Candidate Screening:

the benefits: By leveraging VR to screen candidates and conduct interviews remotely, firms will benefit by minimizing travel expenses without sacrificing sense of personal connection.

During the candidate screening process, VR will foster a collaborative and interactive environment for prospective employees to meet with recruiters and hiring managers. VR may allow candidates to work out problems in front of the interviewer in ways that we cannot yet imagine. Additionally, group interview sessions could be done remotely while maintaining the personal and collaborative feel that an in-person interview would have.
As opposed to phone or email exchange, VR may make the subtleties of person-to-person interaction more fluid and natural, taking body language and other non-verbal communication into context.
Although VR may seem rare today, comparative technology to conduct video interviews is being used by many companies. Software like HireVue makes this possible by organizing video interviews with candidates. Virtual reality would only enhance the immersive experience of video, which is already used by candidates and hiring managers alike.
Similar to the video interview tools out on the market, a virtual reality system would be integrated within the applicant tracking system or core HRIS with minimal burden on IT teams.

Pre-employment experiences:

the benefits: By providing candidates with pre-hire tours, companies will ensure they are portraying the right brand message.

To attract the best people to join their teams, companies must differentiate themselves. Virtual reality provides an opportunity to prove that they are modern and high tech.
Virtual reality is the closest thing you can get to experiencing something, without actually doing it. A virtual tour of the office could give the employee a better sense for the workplace culture, and what it will actually be like working for a particular firm. In addition to info sessions and career fairs, virtual office tours could be used as a method of familiarizing candidates with the company culture. Come companies offer online 3-D tours of office amenities and training areas. The job market is hot. The unemployment rate is at an all time low – 3.6% as of May 2019. The best applicants are selective and often receive multiple job offers. Aside from the common offerings (competitive pay, benefits, development, flexibility, etc.) employers may find it valuable to provide a virtual experience of the actual day to day job.  Rather than just hearing about the job opportunity, candidates could actually feel themselves doing the job with VR.

Employee Onboarding:

the benefits: speed up employee time to productivity.

How long does it take your new hires to reach proficiency in their jobs? How much productivity is lost between the time from when they accept the offer letter to the time that they are actually doing productive work for your business? How long is your onboarding process? These are just a few questions HR teams ask themselves, especially when companies hire large cohorts of people. Optimizing the post-hire processes can help ensure quick time to productivity. Your CFO will be glad to hear that your employees can get started on their actual jobs more quickly, ultimately contributing to your company’s profitability and bottom line. Developing a type of self-paced e-learning with VR could simply supplement what companies are currently doing with their learning management system.
Includes the employee training process, could be linked within your Learning Management System.

With the self-paced and module based training courses, VR in addition to videos may help employees to learn more quickly. Which brings us to our next topic of VR in HR disruption, learning management. More on that below.

Learning and Development:

the benefits: continuous, on-demand employee training.

Flight simulators already exist that offer pilots in training with the opportunity to perfect their skills before the danger of a live environment. Similarly, other types of employees, such as bridge construction workers that perform tasks on underwater bridge supports while scuba diving, experience potentially dangerous work situations. To ensure the employees are practiced, ready, and know what to expect, simulation of work environments could be developed such that they can better prepare themselves for the job. In this scenario, incorporating a mixed reality  experience may even make sense.

Workplace Gamification:

the benefits: by leveraging AR type tools to make work engaging and motivating, companies may increase employee productivity.

Here’s where we can use our imagination even more, and where understanding what types of things Video Game systems have already done will help us understand what’s actually possible. In a physical-labor intensive job in high school, I had the task of loading equipment and supplies from a warehouse into the back of large semi-truck trailers. The hours were long, the pay was good, and it was quite a workout to say the least. Imagine warehouse workers, like me, who are tasked with the repetitive task of loading trailer after trailer, could do so in a virtualized gaming world. Imagine the workers could wear a headset, and become immersed in a tetris-like environment where they are no longer simply loading boxes and supplies into a truck, but are playing a game in real-time with various graphics, information, and instructions being displayed to them during their entire workday. Incentives could be pushed in the form of in-game rewards or something similar to help them stay motivated. Beyond the work and the game itself, the game could serve as a platform fostering greater employee collaboration, feedback, and performance.

Health & Wellness:

the benefits: keep employees happy and productive by providing employee escapism & mini-vacations.

The “R” in VR. Reality. We shouldn’t take this word lightly. The immersiveness of VR often makes the user feel that their experience is truly real. As the saying goes, “perception is your own reality”. If someone has an experience, and barring logic of knowing that they are wearing a VR headset, it feels real to that person, is the impact it has on them not close to the impact that the real life experience would have?
All humans encounter and experience stress. Its a fact of life, and some stress is good. But having time to relax is also important. By providing a meditative like experience through Virtual Reality to break up the continuation of a stressful work environment, companies could foster employee wellness. By giving employees a relaxing mini-vacation at their desks, how much might employee productivity be increased?

Meetings:

the benefits: remote work more personal.

Similar to the case with interviews, VR tools could allow teams located in different areas to communicate and collaborate as if they were in the same room. The goal is to replicate the natural feeling of presence you have during a standard in-person meeting.

We’ve covered the potential ways that virtual reality could change and improve the employee experience.

Businesses leaders must consider the question of how they will establish an advantage over competition by staying ahead. Adopting virtual reality technology to supplement their HRIS might just be one way to do so.

As we’ve shown, employees have a tendency to embrace and consume the latest and greatest technology in the workplace. Improvements in monitor screens, ergonomic mice, automated standing desks, etc just make the employees day more comfortable and immersive.

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9 Productive Organizations Using Virtual Reality in Human Resources

In this post, we cover 9 different companies that are using virtual reality for human resources. We’ll discuss the benefits these companies have realized by implementing VR in HR and other parts of the enterprise, which include:

– reduce travel expenses
– reduce costs
– save time
– enable employee flexibility
– enhance productivity
– increase efficiency, and more.

We hope this post helps you decide if VR is right for your business.

Examples of Enterprise VR for HR:

This post will cover a few companies that have implemented virtual reality into their current processes and systems.

1. Deutsche Bahn

German Railway company Deutsche Bahn employed a large population of employees set to retire within a few years. The company was hiring aggressively, and needed a way to train all these new employees. As a railway company, equipment and machinery is heavy and expensive – there isn’t an easy way to bring it into the classroom. The company built 360-degree VR experiences with the help of a few 3rd party startups. “This lets technicians practice how to assemble switch locks and troubleshoot problems with switches”, stated the Deutsche Bahn website. The company also mentions that an augmented-reality system can be used to guide even their more experienced employees through complex repair processes to speed up procedures. In addition to training, the company sets up VR headsets at job fairs, trips, and interviews. This enables recruiters to present immersive experiences to attract prospective candidates.

2. Walmart

Walmart, which is the nation’s largest private employer, has installed Oculus Go headsets into their 4,600 U.S. stores. VR helps understand how an employee accomplishes a task in a virtual setting. Managers are able to gain insight into employee skills and understand how employees handle everyday scenarios, which include managing sections of the store or preparing for busy season. This helps determine who gets raises and promoted to management roles. Walmart’s goal is to reduce turnover as well as limit decision bias in hiring to increase diversity. STRIVR, company based in silicon valley, builds the VR simulations.

3. The British Army

VR helps soldiers of the British Army familiarize themselves with aspects of combat before going through actual training. VR is used for vehicle, flight, and battlefield simulation, medic training, and even a virtual boot camp. Leveraging VR allows the British Army to save money. VR is a cheaper way to train soldiers on certain processes before doing them in real life. Visualizing and going through proper procedures and techniques in a virtual environment minimizes the use of costly resources such as fuel and supplies. Avatars within the simulation are designed to display true facial features such that soldiers can recognize each other, allowing soldiers to function as a team. Data capture and analysis allow soldiers to review and improve their performance. The virtual training is developed by Bohemia Interactive Simulations (BiSim).

4. Kentucky Fried Chicken

KFC is using the technology to teach employees how to cook fried chicken. The company did so by partnering with Oculus, to build an escape-room themed game where employees learn how to cook chicken the hard way. Although the game has received mixed reviews, the description states that “this was the clearest way to communicate exactly what is expected when it comes to making his fried chicken.” Say what you will about the overlap of VR technology and cooking chicken – one thing is for sure – there are few better ways to satisfy your hunger than stopping by KFC.

5. Lowe’s Home Improvement

Lowe’s developed a VR application at their Lowe’s Innovation Labs to make home improvement projects simple and seamless for the customer. The virtual experience allowed customers to walk through and learn how to accomplish DIY projects, such as tiling a shower. According to Lowe’s, going through such a project in virtual reality helped people reach memory performance levels comparable to someone with more experience. It can be hypothesized that VR has a measurable impact on humans ability to learn. By giving inexperienced customers the confidence to take on a DIY project, Lowe’s stands to sell more products and increase revenue.

6. Hilton Worldwide

Hilton is using VR for virtual employee training. Hilton’s goal was to improve communication between customers and staff. To do so, they developed VR system that replicates real-life customer reactions to different scenarios. This helped employees develop the interpersonal skills needed to foster positive customer interactions. Beyond customer interaction, Hilton also piloted a conflict resolution program to help employees become more skilled at service recovery. One of the challenges of rolling out the service, it seems, is localization. Since Hilton has properties across the world, the VR must be catered to many different languages.

7. Samsung

Samsung needed to make training at their production more efficient and less costly. The employee experience during training includes a headset as well as a handheld controller that mimics a tool that allows the employee to work through the mock manufacturing processes. For Samsung, the bonus is that they actually make the hardware: phones to be viewed on VR headsets.

8. Volkswagon

VW uses the HTC Vive virtual reality system to assist with train 10,000 employees in the production and logistics teams in order to increase productivity and efficiency. With VR training, employees can learn at their own pace, and the company avoids costly travel expenses. VR is also scalable. So far, the company’s VR lessons include vehicle assembly, new team member training, and customer service.
In addition to employee training, VW uses VR technology for prototyping. The product team is able to construct virtual car parts that can be built in real life after being perfected. Building virtual prototypes has a few advantages over physical ones – often, virtual is faster, cheaper, and easier to tweak. It also allows designers to communicate and share ideas with engineering and others on the development team.

9. NBC

NBC broadcasted a number of hours of the Rio Summer Olympics as well as the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in VR. The events included opening and closing ceremonies, men’s basketball, gymnastics, track and field, beach volleyball, diving, boxing, alpine skiing, curling, snowboarding, skeleton, figure skating, short track, ski jumping, ice hockey, big air, and fencing. The NBC team has partnered with Intel and Samsung to broadcast these past events.

We hope you now have a general idea about the ways that a number of large, recognizable companies are investing in virtual reality technology specifically for human resources. All of these companies are realizing a positive impact in doing so. Is your team looking to implement VR or other emerging systems in your organization? The team at AbstractRealization.com would love to hear about it – let us know, here.

What Can We Learn About Human Psychology from Conspiracy Theories?

The internet is great for some things – reading the news, looking up a definition, and staying connected with friends. Its also wildly entertaining. Does it get better than those w-t-f moments of over-shared Instagram memes and videos?

Yet, by nature, the internet acts as somewhat of a living, breathing organism. Human knowledge has become digitized. On a small computer in our pocket, we have access to a magical portal (aka Google) that answers any question imaginable. The way we process information is a continually evolving phenomenon as well. The human species use of the internet formed out of the wild-west-like arena of the early 2000’s to what it is now: a quite imperfect yet effective place where we spend so much of our daily lives. If you search the far-flung corners of the web, you undoubtedly stumble upon questionable content. Diverse ideas, extreme opinions, rabbit holes of detail about the most niche and specific topics.

In this post, we’re going to examine conspiracy theories. Of course, the existence of conspiracy theories, is nothing new or novel. For as far back into my childhood as I can remember, the History Channel has publicized conspiracy theories about aliens, the moon landing, historical events, etc. Specifically, this post will examine the “Flat Earth Theory” that seems to have quite a buzz on the internet recently.

After repeatedly hearing about this common conspiracy theme, I decided to dig into a few articles, videos, podcasts, and eventually deep into the trenches of Reddit to understand what people were talking about. I’m not quite sure how long ago the Flat Earth theory became such a viral internet discussion, but it seems like it re-emerged in the last two or three years.

Does it surprise you that the shape of planet Earth is a topic of discussion and debate? We’re talking about the object on which every human being who ever existed lived out their lives. The shape of the place that Carl Sagan described at a lecture in 1994 as a “pale blue dot”.

After looking into it, I can say beyond the shadow of a doubt that proponents of the Flat Earth theory (called a ‘flat earther’) are not true internet trolls. For the most part, flat earthers are not intentionally trolling anything – they genuinely believe that the Earth, in all its beauty, with all the international issues, and all the culture and scenic locations, is shaped like a flat plane.

Before diving in, it would be valuable to understand a flat earther’s point of view and mannerisms which will tell us a bit about their psychology.

Before even attempting to prove that the earth is spherical to a flat earther, a few key considerations are required. The challenge is due to the fact that the beliefs come from somewhat of a faith in skepticism. They possess a desire to believe that we are being deceived, if not a slight paranoia. To reason with someone who promotes an idea that is not backed by science, you cannot simply use scientific techniques as evidence. The only hope is to let emotions, passion, and other tendencies do the trick. Either that, or detach from any hope of convincing a flat Earther to believe anything aside from what they choose.

To see a flat Earth discussion first hand, listen to the first few minutes of the following interview between Joe Rogan and his good friend Eddie Bravo.

We can use the above interview as an example of how flat earthers think, and then apply these ideas to consider proving them wrong.

A few points from the video about how a flat earther thinks:

  1. Eddie Bravo, the guy who believes the earth is flat, ALSO questions the validity of tools like Carbon Dating. When talking about the source of his information on the subject, his response is “I’m looking on YouTube. I’m getting my stuff from YouTube”.
  2. He follows by saying “I’m having fun, its entertaining”. All three people in the video have smiles on their faces.
  3. “Figuring out how we’re being bullshitted. I love that shit.”
  4. All three people in the video possess abnormally high amounts of charisma, and speak quite eloquently, despite how silly or funny they may sound.

Based on the above statements, what can be inferred about flat earthers:

  1. The source of information is inadequate.
  2. A flat earth believer actually enjoys the subject. They want to believe that the earth is flat because they like the idea. Similarly, people WANT to believe that their life is meaningful, because they like the way that sounds.
  3. Beyond simple enjoyment, the flat earther possesses a true passion and biased love for the idea which they promote.
  4. However outlandish the guys’ ideas may be, the way they say it and how they speak captivates an audience. Their tone of voice, pace of speech, and body language entices the listener to want to know more about whatever it is they are saying no matter how outlandish.

Going further: The phrase “the earth is flat” sounds SO FAR-OUT that it tends to really grab and hold people’s attention. People love arguing, conflict creates passion, and a question of whether or not the earth is flat is easy to disagree with. The YouTube video I pasted above has over 2 MILLION views. Attention sells, and it pays well. The internet platforms on which flat earth theories are discussed incentivise content that gets more views/likes/ etc.

Do you really want to know what it would take prove that the earth is shaped like a sphere and not flat?

If so, then ask yourself the following:

“What made me interested in the flat earth debate in the first place?”

If you really go deep, your answer to that question will tell you more about human psychology than you may initially realize.

Whether or not someone on the internet wonders if the earth is flat or round doesn’t truly matter much. They’re not stopping the important things from happening. Humans still send rovers to Mars, and rockets into outer space. If anything, thinking about these types of questions keep a person’s mind occupied, and gives them some sense of a purpose, however questionable it may be. Also, its entertaining.

What happens when you engage in a discussion with a flat earther?

Misinformation, inauthentic references, fake news. But more importantly, what else occurs? Laughter. Entertainment. maybe even Fun. Sometimes the debate itself is what people love doing. And maybe, just maybe, a flat earther knows that they will never be short of attention and an absurdly hilarious conversation if they maintain their belief that the Earth is flat.

Have you looked at the horizon lately?

Is Virtual Reality the Future of Human Resources?

Virtual Reality is an umbrella term that comes in many forms: augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality, and extended reality. Each form of VR provides the user with a sense of immersion at varying degrees. When you factor in the possibility of sensory input beyond just visual and auditory, that VR continuum of possibility extends even further.

While the idea of experiencing a virtual world may sound like science fiction, virtual reality experiences in 2019 are very much available at the consumer level.

What About Enterprise VR?

Arguably, the best place to experience state of the art Virtual Reality is an industry in which most HR practitioners wouldn’t expect to find themselves: video games. In terms of VR tech, video game companies are like ultra-marathon runners in a 5K race.

Gaming devices such as Oculus, HTC Vive, or Playstation possess capabilities that dramatically outpace a layperson’s expectations. These VR gaming systems are so good that the technology is now being adopted outside of the game industry for which it was originally designed.

Human resources is just one of those places where VR is being adopted.

Although our focus is the enterprise application of VR for HR, I do recommend HR practitioners at least look into how video games have thrived with VR technology. Doing so will help understand a bit more about what to expect with VR for HR as technology improves.

Passionate human resource practitioners understand that at its core, HR is about a company’s most critical asset: people.

This post focuses on employee adoption of technology. An understanding of how employees adopt technology will help us understand how an enterprise VR implementation might go over inside an actual organization.

First, Put Yourself inside Your Employee’s Cube:

To begin, picture an office-style workplace environment. Within a cubicle or office, workers sit in ergonomic adjustable chairs. Often, desks move up or down, offering “standing desk” capability.

These employees do most of their work on a laptop computer. The laptop’s display is often extended to two or more additional monitors. Many employees wear expensive noise-cancelling headphones.

With LCD screens surrounding the field of vision and headphones drowning out distractions, the employee’s sensibility to the outside world is almost removed. They see and hear little outside of digital notifications. Lounging in an environment of comfort and focused knowledge work, the modern workplace has already become somewhat of a virtual world.

But let’s hope our employees don’t get too immersed in their cubicles, its important get move around the office. Innovations in interior design and office furniture give employees unique zones to conduct their business that didn’t exist years ago. Soundproof pods, for instance, allow the employees to make phone calls free of colleague earshot.

Employees Welcome Tech With Open Arms

According to bls.gov, the average full time M-F worker spends about 8.5 hours working per day. A 40+ hour work week means employees spend close to more time in the office during waking hours than they do at home.

Its no secret that newer technology tends toward more and more of an immersive experience. More immersive tech means we are more tuned-in to do our jobs; by-and-large, employees love it.

Say what you will about the addictive nature of internet access via cell phones and computers, as technology becomes available to employees in the workplace, you can be confident that it will be greeted with open arms. Employees adopt workplace technology at an alarmingly fast pace.

Curved monitors are now quite common in some offices; where there is an option, desks that lack curved monitors are abandoned. After experiencing newer and better technology, the former feels obsolete. Humans crave the new, the novel, and the innovative. Modern workers won’t stand to revert to a more elementary desktop display. This fact of human nature is exemplified nowhere stronger than in the location where we make our livelihoods: the workplace.

We can expect the office environment to become more immersive. Virtual reality – in whatever form you can imagine – will play no small role in this trend.

Best HR Focused Websites

A curated list of what we think are the best HR websites out there today:

hr.com/

hrtechnologist.com/

shrm.org/

eremedia.com/

tlnt.com/

peoplemanagement.co.uk/

hcamag.com/us

joshbersin.com/

thehrdigest.com/

hrexchangenetwork.com/

hrtrendinstitute.com/

humanresourcesedu.org/

hrci.org/

ihrp.sg/

ipma-hr.org/

shrmnorcal.org/home

hrmonline.com.au/

whatishumanresource.com/

hrchitect.com

elearningindustry.com/

talentlyft.com

td.org

Product affiliated sites that do have good blogs

empxtrack.com/blog/

sagepeople.com/about-us/news-hub/

hrdailyadvisor.blr.com/

hr.blr.com/

Have a website in mind that we missed? Let us know

Motivational Messages

We hope you find these thought provoking. Submit your favorite quotes here to be featured.

7/30/19
Its no longer a career ladder, its a jungle gym.

7/3/19
He took a reasonable care of his body’s health, not as one who was greatly attached to life, nor out of regard to personal appearance, nor yet in a careless way, but so that, through his own attention, he very seldom stood in need of the physician’s art or of medicine or external applications.
– Marcus Aurelius in Meditations

6/15/19
“The curse of mortality. You spend the first portion of your life learning, growing stronger, more capable. And then, through no fault of your own, your body begins to fail. You regress. Strong limbs become feeble, keen senses grow dull, hardy constitutions deteriorate. Beauty withers. Organs quit. You remember yourself in your prime, and wonder where that person went. As your wisdom and experience are peaking, your traitorous body becomes a prison.”
― Brandon Mull, Fablehaven

5/23/19
“In other parts of the world, kids–even in urban areas–play barefoot soccer from the time they can walk. In America, there are travel teams and team mothers and tournaments. It’s an organization, and until we see it as a street game, we’re [USA Soccer] never going to to get where we need to be.”
– Tim Howard, USA and Everton Goalie, Golden Glove – 2009 Confederation Cup Tournament ESPN Magazine, June 2009

5/16/19
“Before the development of tourism, travel was conceived to be like study, and its fruits were considered to be the adornment of the mind and the formation of the judgement”.
– Paul Fussel

5/9/19
“Going to the mountains is going home.”
– John Muir

5/2/19
“If you’re not working on yourself, you’re not working.”

4/25/19
“The earth snapped and popped and rippled. It was, Goldfinger thought, like driving through rocky terrain in a vehicle with no shocks, if both the vehicle and the (ground) terrain were also on a raft in high seas.”
– Kathryn Schulz, from The Really Big One, describing the earthquake to hit the Pacific Northwest.

4/18/19
“I’ve never made a record I liked”
– Buddy Guy, the New Yorker magazine

4/11/19
“My favorite part of my work is following my curiosity around the bend, over the next ridge, into the souk, hunting facts and asking questions, going where the story seems like it might be rich.”
– William Finnegan in Barbarian Days

4/4/19
“Only a dead fish goes with the flow.”

3/28/19
“You gotta grind. that’s where a lot of comics fuck up. they do it like once a week and they take a few weeks off, and then they come back and do it again. and they’re like how do you do it all the time? I’m like, cause I know how to grind, I’m a grinder”
– Joe Rogan

Accounting for Pollution: Garbage lasts Forever

You won’t hear an accountant mention pollution & accounting in the same sentence, but we are going to do so here, since we aren’t accountants. Garbage is what’s known as an economic bad, as opposed to most physical items, which are considered economic goods. Since garbage costs time and energy to remove, the possession of more garbage decreases the value of the one who possesses it. The phrase “throw it away” is misleading, comparable to fake news. Forget about diamonds – garbage quite literally is forever. We have nowhere to put it, so we resort to housing garbage in designated areas of our home planet Earth. As we continue generating this economic bad, garbage accumulation must result in a decrease in the value of planet Earth.

If you take a class in environmental science or search online, you’ll learn of the two rough categories of pollution:

Point and non-point source pollution —

Point-Sources

Point-source originates from a definite, identifiable source. Think of it as original pollution. Examples of point-sources:

– factories
– sewage treatment plants
– electric power generation
– oil & gas extraction
– oil & gas refineries
– coal mining
– coal fired power generation
– air pollution
– mobile sources & transportation (planes, trains, automobiles)

This San Antonio de los buenos pipe dumps over 20 million gallons of sewage into the Pacific Ocean every single day. Although the origin has been identified, there is nothing that has been done. A solution may cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Humans, mammals, and creatures of every taxonomic rank experience pain. Illness affect us all, and each illness has the potential to reach a point of no return, at which point it becomes terminal for the organism. As of this moment, humans are inflicting a seemingly small amount of damage – analogous to an illness – on our earth via pollution. In an anthropomorphic sense, we are giving Earth a weakened immune system. It has the sniffles. As of now its not too late to get healthy. We can reduce the ill effects of pollution on our environment and atmosphere. And in doing so discover practices that promote a healthier Earth. Although not easy, we have to believe that it is possible. This is of utmost importance because if we aren’t careful, the small damages we are doing to earth may turn into something more serious. Its far easier to prevent lung cancer by refraining from smoking than it is to cure lung cancer after you get it. Likewise, it requires significantly more energy to clean up pollution than to prevent it. Prevention is better than clean up.

Non-point sources:

Non-point does not originate from a definite, identifiable source. It is a result of the diffusion of point-source pollution.

Run Off: Let’s look at an example. Think about the contribution of a cars in a city to non-point source pollution that accumulates on roads (let’s simplify by excluding air pollution from the equation).  in your city distribute substances (oil, gasoline, exaust, sludge, rubber, litter, debris, etc.) that accumulate on road surfaces. Individually, each car is a point-source. The aggregation of these chemicals being deposited by all 494,000 cars registered in San Francisco contributes to the category known as non-point source pollution.

Another example is runoff. The harmful chemicals that collect on any surface of earth, whether a road, parking lot, farm, originate at point-sources including cars, equipment, debris, agricultural materials, etc.

“When rain or melted snow moves over and through the ground, the water absorbs and assimilates any pollutants it comes into contact with.” (USEPA, 2004b)

Let us consider agricultural non-point sources, which are a result of the diffuse runoff that comes from the use of fertilizers, pesticides, or animal waste while growing crops and livestock.

Simple logic: to reduce the non-point source pollution that as a result of agriculture sources, we must stop it at the point of origin.

In this case, identifying each point source is too cumbersome and thus impractical… but we can paint a picture of what the point source associated with each non-point source generally looks like.

The pollution in the runoff example is the result of multiple locations over a period of days or weeks before rainfall, so you can’t pinpoint the exact source. Runoff is difficult to measure, identify, and control because it is the result of combined pollution sources that are received by the environment when water absorbs those chemicals which occurs over the entire surface of earth.

– land runoff
– precititation (acid rain)
– atmospheric deposition
– drainage
– leakage
– seepage (from underground storage tanks)
– hydrological modification (via rainfall and snowmelt)
– storm water runoff
– atmospheric deposition of contaminants, and
– storm water runoff from
– golf courses
– agricultural establishments
– forestry or construction sites

Acid Rain: Sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) enter the atmostphere when fossil fuels are burned at factories or by internal combustion engines. These chemicals can cause acid rain. Acid rain occurs when sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) reacting in the atmosphere with water; it then returns to earth as polluted rain, fog, or snow. Acid rain is considered non-point source. The originating source of acid rain are the multitude of point-sources sending smog into the atmosphere that combines with clouds.

After examining how we define point and non-point sources, logic will allow us to realize that by reducing all the point-sources, we will eliminate non-point sources of pollution from appearing. This of course does not include pollution that has already entered the atmosphere. What’s there is there unless we can do something to remove it. Reducing point sources of pollution will thus stop non-point sources of pollution from accumulating, but we will still have cleanup to do. However, for now, to make the largest impact, humans should focus efforts toward reducing point-sources.

Seems simple enough. But what happens when we try to track pollution to discover where it is coming from?

Can we track pollution?

It turns out that tracking pollution to a single source is difficult.

How can we determine the source of microplastics pollution, the material washing up on the far-stretching beaches of Zlatni Rat, Croatia? By first examining the materials themselves, maybe we discover that a large percentage of it is made up of specific types of materials – for instance, polystyrene (aka styrofoam).

Going with this example, after disposal, a piece of styrofoam will break up into 999,999 pieces pretty quickly. These tiny polystyrene particles may have come from a piece of packaging, part of a cooler, a styrofoam cup, you name it. We can consider existing ocean currents  in the Mediterranean and near Croatia to consider what may have sent it there. Because the Mediterranean is a semi-closed body of water, attaching to the Atlantic only through the strait of Gibraltar on the west and to the Red Sea via the Suez Canal on the southeastern side, we can hypothesize that microplastic particles existing there also originated there. The Mediterranean is more or less a closed system.

It is much more likely that the point-source origin is located somewhere along the coast of the Mediterranean sea. By narrowing it down, we can then try to estimate travel time to determine how long it may have taken to get from one place to another. We can think about ocean currents that may have sent it there. We can try multiple things to try to get a sense for where exactly all of the rubbish is coming from.

But ultimately, it is absolutely impossible to know where exactly plastics on the beaches of Croatia originated.

Scientists have categorized this as “non-point source” pollution because its origin is unknown. In a disorganized universe that follows the second law of thermodynamics, microplastics get lost in the clutter of the environment and atmosphere. Nobody can identify the source.

But these microplastics came from somewhere. So by convention, these pieces of microscopic polystyrene are considered non-point and separate from point-sources of pollution.

Non-point source pollution results from the disorganization and diffusion of all the point-sources of pollution combined through the environment. Non-point source pollution is “redundant source pollution”. Current technology is too incompetent to identify the point-source tied to every non-point source.

Accounting for pollution

In 1769, when James Watt patented the first steam engine. Voila, air pollution was amplified. With the growth of transportation technology as well as the human population since that date, pollution has progressively gotten worse as we’ve continued polluting the earth for at least 250 years.

Imagine for a second that we want to calculate how much pollution has ever occurred in the history of the world between now and forever-ago. To measure and account for quantity of those harmful substances in our environment, it would be helpful to differentiate between point and non-point because to avoid redundancy. Although an impossible feat in practice, to do so in theory, we would simply need to account for pollution arising from every single point-source in human history. By summing up pollution from each and every the point source ever, we would get an exact amount of total historical pollution (THP). We don’t need to factor in non-point source, because it would be counted twice.

(Point Source) + (Non Point source) > THP

THP is equal to the sum of all point sources of pollution from time = year 1700, to time = year 2018.

THP = ∑ (all point-sources of pollution) = Total Point-Source Pollution

Conclusion

Two broad types of pollution have been discussed briefly. When we consider which efforts will most greatly impact the future of humanity and help us create a clean, healthy environment, it can be hard to say which efforts are most effective.

The intention is not to say one category of pollution is worse or more benign than the other. The purpose is to identify the difference between pollution that has already entered the ecosystem, and pollution that is currently entering the ecosystem.

Before taking efforts to eliminate it, let’s realize there are different strategic purposes to reduction of each.

  1. The value in eliminating non-point source pollution: stop pollution from diffusing and spreading to new areas, and remove old, existing pollution from our environment. Pollution that is already there.
  2. Value in eliminating point-source pollution: prevent future pollution from entering out atmosphere and environment in the first place! Pollution that is entering the environment right now and into the future.

It is far easier to prevent a problem than it is to fix a problem.

In order to minimize human contribution to the pollution problem, humans must stop putting it into the ecosystem in the first place.

When calculating amounts of pollution, non-point source pollution has already been accounted for via the summation of all point sources. Point source pollution that has diffused throughout the environment can no longer be traced, so we duplicate it if we add them together. In theory, non-point source pollution is redundant and already accounted for, so we can essentially ignore it when accounting for how much pollution we create.

With enough thought and research, a point source can be broken down into its component point-sources. If you think you have a non-point source, ask yourself: What do I need to do to identify the original source?

Who has the power? The decision makers in the agriculture industry control what pesticides and fertilizers are used, as well as what happens to animal waste. In addition, every automobile manufacturer . on the business side of a a farm or agricultural facility. But as comsumers, we have the power to choose where our dollars go. Each dollar spent is like casting a vote for which business practices we will incentivize. If we purchase products that contribute to jit, we are playing our small but incremental role in the continuation of

For the future of our species, we must be focus on identifying point-sources in order to reduce the amount of pollution at its origin, rather than after-the-fact removal. If you are interested in discussing this further, please contact us.