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Putting the bots in Botswana?

Stuart White

The World in Black-N-White

A recent article had me reminiscing about my childhood and what jobs have disappeared since then and this subject of vanishing work functions and future careers re-emerged this week when I was interviewed about the future world of work – what it will look like and how, therefore,  HR managers should be preparing in anticipation.

It’s called the Fourth Industrial Revolution because it is the fourth major workplace and job function realignment since the original  industrial revolution of the 18th Century. It is characterized by a fast-moving fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres, collectively referred to as cyber-physical systems. Because of technology, its advances and the speed of it and how it affects us in every way, these disruptive technologies and trends such as the internet, virtual reality, artificial intelligence etc. will and are changing the way that we live and work.

This has many implications for HR Managers and indeed for people interested in what and how we will utilise humans in the future. The most immediate and obvious impact is that millions of jobs which will simply disappear as organisations decide which processes to automate and which human functions to replace with robots.  We have moved on from the scaremongering of the 80s and 90s which prophesied that computers would take over the world and make us all redundant. Such a reversal of roles is a quantum leap of reality and those sceptics were always rebuffed with the reassurance that there will always be jobs for humans and while that’s true the pertinent question remains, which ones?

As it gathers momentum how does one prepare for the 4th industrial revolution of data analytics, artificial intelligence, 3D printing etc. New jobs are being created – I can think of several such as app developer and social media marketer – and there is a hoard of the very familiar jobs disappearing. This became especially apparent when I was in Europe recently. We were planning a big trip the following day and wanted to fill up the car with petrol rather than attend to it in the morning.

So, at 10pm I went to the petrol station where the entire process and transaction took place without any human interaction:  no petrol attendant, no cashier, no security. I was struck by its simplicity (and retrospectively how quick it all is if you take people out of the mix). The other incident happened the following day when I wanted to use a public toilet, but found it was closed for cleaning. The sign on the door said this would take approximately 20 minutes. What was interesting was that the toilet cleaned itself.

It went into lock down mode and in a process which I guess is like a washing machine, it gives itself a good hose down and disinfect and then through fans and heaters it dries and voilà, it’s open for business again. A ‘Wow’ for me but, self-cleaning public toilets are already a common sight in European cities.

It is obvious that most manual labour and unskilled jobs will disappear – many are already  gone from  agriculture and manufacturing, more so by the day. Earthbound Farms in California has robot arms that put organic lettuce into clamshell containers. They are so fast that each robot replaces two to five workers at the company.Boeing uses giant machines to make its wide-body commercial jets, finding them more precise and safer than human  workers. Royal Philips Electronics, which manufactures electric shavers more complex to make than smartphones, uses robots encased in glass cages on top of which are perched video cameras.  And the list goes on.

Then there are jobs which just cant justify an additional human component on the chain as they have been replaced by the ease of self-service, causing disruptive changes in the market – think travel agents (as people do their own flight and hotel bookings) and secretaries (as managers handle our own mail, appointments etc), postal delivery, bank teller, the list goes on.  

What we know for certain is that if technology can manage a process more efficiently than we can,  then the tech option will be adopted and that job will fall away which leaves us to deploy humans to jobs which computers can’t (and that’s why artificial intelligence is so scary and why we have movies that even postulate a scenario where you can have a relationship with a computer). Science fiction stuff, you may say, but when I see how addicted to their smart phones people are, Facebook and Snap chat I am thinking that anything is possible.

There is even the story of Senji Nakajima, who claims he enjoys the 'perfect' relationship with 'Saori' a blow up doll – even taking the dummy out shopping to buy it fancy outfits – despite the fact that he is married to a woman with whom he has two children. Senji, 61, from Nagano, lives with his life-size doll in his apartment in Tokyo where he enjoys a physical relationship with it – but he claims he is happy because his plastic companion isn't 'after only money'. Based on that don’t rule out a digital relationship!

The best way to predict where the future lies is to see trends which can act as a sign of where we are going and then adapt our world of work and education to that future. It’s almost certain that jobs in the green environmental sectors will be huge, the mental health field has exploded – once a territory ringfenced for psychiatrists and psychologists we are seeing the need for mental health counsellors in a range of organisations.  When it comes to education, we need to overhaul it completely.

Our current system spends so much time and effort into teaching children how to answer questions instead of how to ask questions (and computers are lousy at asking questions). Problem solving and critical thinking skills will be the skills in most demand…and then adding judgment into the mix (computers are also lousy a prioritising and determining what’s important).

As remote and flexible workers will become more commonplace  there is a need to teach students true team working so that they will be adaptable and cooperative enough to work in multi-disciplinary teams where there is less familiarity within the team members and often cultural differences which means that an advanced level of inter-personal skills and cooperativeness is required in order to be effective and accepted – in other words being on your best behaviours – which currently many employees don’t bother about in their all too comfortable job and familiar  team environment (not sure a computer can do that either!).

What this all boils down to is that for now and far into the future, machines and robots work for and on behalf of mankind, not the other way round, relieving their human masters and mistresses of menial or repetitive tasks, freeing up humans for critical-thinking functions.  And let’s face it, no-one wakes up one day and decides that what they really want to do in life is clean lavatories!

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Technology saves Lions from angry Okavango villagers

22nd November 2022

Villagers in the eastern Okavango region are now using an alert system which warns them when collared lions approach livestock areas. The new technology is now regarded as a panacea to the human/wildlife conflict in the area as it has reduced mass poisoning and killing of lions by farmers.

The technology is being implemented by an NGO, Community Living Among Wildlife Sustainably (CLAWS) within the five villages of Seronga, Gunutsoga, Eretsha, Beetsha and Gudigwa in the eastern part of the Okavango delta.

A Carnivore Ecologist from CLAWS, Dr Andrew Stein explained that around 2013, villagers in the eastern Okavango were having significant problems with losses of their cattle to predators specifically lions, so the villagers resorted to using poison and shooting the lions in order to reduce their numbers.

He highlighted that as a form of progressive intervention, they designed a programme to reduce the conflicts and promote coexistence. Another component of the programme is communal herding, introduced in 2018 to reduce the conflict by increasing efficiency whereby certified herders monitor livestock health and protect them from predators, allowing community members to engage in other livelihood activities knowing that their livestock are safe.

They are now two herds with 600 and 230 cattle respectively with plan to expand the programme to other neighbouring villages. Currently the programme is being piloted in Eretsha, one of the areas with most conflict incidences per year.

Dr Stein explained that they have developed the first of its kind alert system whereby when the lions get within three or five kilometers of a cattllepost or a homestead upon the five villages, then it will release an alert system going directly to the cellphones of individuals living within the affected area or community.

So, if a colored lion gets to about five kilometers of Eretsha village or any villagers in the Eretsha that has signed up for, the system will receive an SMS of the name of the lion and its distance to or from the village, he stated. He added that this enables villagers to take preventative action to reduce conflicts before its starts.

Dr Stein noted that some respond by gathering their cattle and put them in a kraal or put them in an enclosure making sure that the enclosure is secure while some people will gather firewood and light small fires around edges of the kraal to prevent lions from coming closer and some when they receive the SMS they send their livestock to the neighbours alerting them about the presence of lions.

He noted that 125 people have signed to receive the alert system within Seronga, Eretsha, Beetsha, Gunutsoga and Gudigwa. He added that each homestead is about five people and this means more than 600 people immediately receive the messages about lions when they approach their villages. He also noted that last year they dispersed over 12 000 alerts, adding that this year is a bit higher as about 20 000 alerts have been sent so far across these villages.

Stein further noted that they have been significant changes in the behavior of the villagers as they are now tolerant to lions. 85 percent were happy with the SMS and people are becoming more tolerant with living with lions because they have more information to reduce the conflicts, he stressed.

Stein noted that since the start of the programme in 2014 they have seen lion populations rebounds almost completely to a level before and they have not recorded cases of lion poisoning in the last three years which is commendable effort.

Monnaleso Sanga from Eretsha village applauded the programme by CLAWS noting that farmers in the area are benefiting through the alert system and take preventative measures to reduce human/lion conflict which has been persistent in the area. He added that numbers of cattle killed by lions have reduced immensely. He also admitted that they are now tolerant to lions and they no longer kill nor poison them.

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THE IDEAL QUALITY OF A MUSLIM

8th September 2022

A Muslim is supposed to be and should be a living example of the teachings of the Quran and the Sunnah (the teachings and living examples of Prophet Muhammed (SAW Peace be upon Him). We should follow these in all affairs, relations, and situations starting with our relationship with our Lord, our own self, our family and the people around us. One of the distinguishing features of the (ideal) Muslim is his faith in Allah, and his conviction that whatever happens in the universe and whatever befalls him, only happens through the will and the decree of the Almighty Allah.

A Muslim should know and feel that he is in constant need of the help and support of Allah, no matter how much he may think he can do for himself. He has no choice in his life but to submit to the will of his Creator, worship Him, strive towards the Right Path and do good deeds. This will guide him to be righteous and upright in all his deeds, both in public and in private.

His attitude towards his body, mind and soul

The Muslim pays attention to his bodys physical, intellectual and spiritual needs. He takes good care of his body, promoting its good health and strength. He shouldnt eat in excess; but he should eat enough to maintain his health and energy. Allah, The Exalted, Says Eat and drink; but waste not by excess, for Allah loves not the wasters. [Quran 7: 31]

The Muslim should keep away from alcohol and drugs. He should also try to exercise regularly to maintain his physical fitness. The Muslim also keeps his body and clothes clean, he bathes frequently. The Prophet placed a great emphasis on cleanliness and bathing. A Muslim is also concerned with his clothing and appearance but in accordance with the Islamic ideal of moderation, avoiding the extremes.

As for his intellectual care, the Muslim should take care of his mind by pursuing beneficial knowledge. It is his responsibility to seek knowledge whether it is religious or secular, so he may understand the nature and the essence of things. Allah Says: and say: My Lord! Increase me in knowledge. [Quran 20: 114

The Muslim should not forget that man is not only composed of a body and a mind, but that he also possesses a soul and a spirit. Therefore, the Muslim pays as much attention to his spiritual development as to his physical and intellectual development, in a balanced manner which ideally does not concentrate on one aspect to the detriment of others.

His attitude towards people

The Muslim must treat his parents with kindness and respect, compassion, politeness and deep gratitude. He recognizes their status and knows his duties towards them. Allah Says And serve Allah. Ascribe nothing as partner unto Him. (Show) kindness unto parents [Quran 4: 36]

With his wife, the Muslim should exemplify good and kind treatment, intelligent handling, deep understanding of the nature and psychology of women, and proper fulfilment of his responsibilities and duties.

With his children, the Muslim is a parent who should understand his responsibility towards their good upbringing, showing them love and compassion, influence their Islamic development and giving them proper education, so that they become active and constructive elements in society, and a source of goodness for their parents, community, and society as a whole.

With his relatives, the Muslim maintains the ties of kinship and knows his duties towards them. He understands the high status given to relatives in Islam, which makes him keep in touch with them, no matter what the circumstances.

 

With his neighbours, the Muslim illustrates good treatment, kindness and consideration of others feelings and sensitivities. He turns a blind eye to his neighbours faults while taking care not to commit any such errors himself. The Muslim relationship with his wider circle of friends is based on love for the sake of Allah. He is loyal and does not betray them; he is sincere and does not cheat them; he is gentle, tolerant and forgiving; he is generous and he supplicates for them.

In his social relationships with all people, the Muslim should be well-mannered, modest and not arrogant. He should not envy others, fulfils his promises and is cheerful. He is patient and avoids slandering and uttering obscenities. He should not unjustly accuse others nor should he interfere in that which does not concern him. He refrains from gossiping, spreading slander and stirring up trouble – avoids false speech and suspicion. When he is entrusted with a secret, he keeps it. He respects his elders. He mixes with the best of people. He strives to reconcile between the Muslims. He visits the sick and attends funerals. He returns favours and is grateful for them. He calls others to Islam with wisdom, example and beautiful preaching. He should guide people to do good and always make things easy and not difficult.

The Muslim should be fair in his judgments, not a hypocrite, a sycophant or a show-off. He should not boast about his deeds and achievements. He should be straightforward and never devious or twisted, no matter the circumstances. He should be generous and not remind others of his gifts or favours. Wherever possible he relieves the burden of the debtor. He should be proud and not think of begging.

These are the standards by which the (ideal) Muslim is expected to structure his life on. Now how do I measure up and fit into all this? Can I honestly say that I really try to live by these ideals and principles; if not can I really call myself a true Muslim?

For the ease of writing this article I have made use of for want of a better word, the generic term he, his, him and the male gender, but it goes without saying that these standards apply equally to every female and male Muslim.

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OUR BELOVED CHILDREN

29th August 2022

Homicide and suicide kill almost 7000 children every year; one in four of all children are born to unmarried mothers, many of whom are children themselves..childrens potential lost to spirit crushing poverty.childrens hearts lost in divorce and custody battles.childrens lives lost to abuse and violence, our society lost to itself, as we fail our children. If you bungle raising your children, I dont think whatever else you do matters very much. (Quotation taken from a book written by Hillary Clinton).

These words may well apply to us here in Botswana; We are also experiencing a series of challenges in many spheres of development and endeavour but none as challenging as the long term effects of what is going to happen to our youth of today. One of the greatest challenges facing us as parents today is how to guide our youth to become the responsible adults that we wish them to be, tomorrow.

In Islam Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has enjoined upon the parents to take care of the moral and religious instruction of their children from the very beginning, otherwise they will be called to account for negligence on the Day of Judgement. Parents must inculcate God-consciousness in their children from an early age, whereby the children will gain an understanding of duty to The Creator.

 

The Holy Quran says: O you who believe! Save yourself and your families from the Fire of Hell. (Ch. 66: V6). This verse places the responsibility on the shoulders of the parents to ensure that training and guidance begin at home. The goal is to mould the child into a solid Islamic personality, with good morals, strong Islamic principles, knowledge and behavior so as to be equipped to face the demands of life in a responsible and mature manner. This should begin with the proper environment at home that inculcates the best moral and behavioral standards.

But what do we have instead? Believers of all Religious persuasions will agree that we have children growing up without parental guidance, a stable home environment, without role models, being brought up in surroundings that are not conducive to proper upbringing and moulding of well-adjusted children. These children are being brought up devoid of any parental guidance and increasingly the desperate situation of orphaned children having to raise their siblings (children raising children) because their parents have succumbed to the scourge of AIDS.

It is becoming common that more and more girls still in their schooling years are now falling pregnant, most of them unwanted, with the attendant responsibilities and difficulties.

Observe the many young ladies who are with children barely in their teens having illegitimate children. In the recent past there was a campaign focused on the girl-child; this campaign targeted this group of young females who had fallen pregnant and were now mothers. The situation is that the mother still being just a child and not even having tasted adulthood, now has the onerous responsibility of raising her own child most of the time on her own because either the father has simply disappeared, refuses to takes responsibility, or in some cases not even known.

We cannot place the entire blame on these young mothers; as parents and society as a whole stand accused because we have shirked our responsibilities and worse still we ourselves are poor role models. The virtual breakdown of the extended family system and of the family unit in many homes means that there are no longer those safe havens of peace and tranquility that we once knew. How then do we expect to raise well-adjusted children in this poisoned atmosphere?

Alcohol has become socially acceptable and is consumed by many of our youth and alarmingly they are now turning to drugs. Alcohol is becoming so acceptable that it is easily accessible even at home where some parents share drinks with their children or buying it for them. This is not confined only to low income families it is becoming prevalent amongst our youth across the board.

 

It is frightening to witness how our youth are being influenced by blatantly suggestive pop culture messages over television, music videos and other social media. Children who are not properly grounded in being able to make rational and informed decisions between what is right and what is wrong are easily swayed by this very powerful medium.

 

So what do we do as parents? We first have to lead by example; it is no longer the parental privilege to tell the child do as I say not as I do- that no longer works. The ball is in the court of every religious leader (not some of the charlatans who masquerade as religious leaders), true adherents and responsible parents. We cannot ignore the situation we have to take an active lead in guiding and moulding our youth for a better tomorrow.

In Islam Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: No father gives a better gift to his children than good manners and good character. Children should be treated not as a burden, but a blessing and trust of Allah, and brought up with care and affection and taught proper responsibilities etiquettes and behaviour.

Even the Bible says;Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God.Verily I say unto you, whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. (Mark 10:14-15)

The message is clear and needs to be taken by all of us: Parents let us rise to the occasion – we owe it to our children and their future.

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