Labor Day

Overview:

On September 5th, 1882 New York City celebrated the first Labor Day to provide tribute to the social and economic achievements of the American worker. This, however was not considered a national holiday at the time, and the second “Labor Day” that was celebrated in 1884 was proposed by the Central Labor Union and it was known as a “Workingmen’s Holiday”.

How it began:

While most National Holidays have a known origin; Labor Days origins are rather unknown, and to this date no one knows who first proposed the idea for a worker’s holiday.

The first who was thought to propose the holiday was a man by the name of Peter J. McGuire, a general secretary for the “Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor”. He was the first to suggest a specific day in order to appreciate those ‘who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold’.

However, some research suggests that Peter J. McGuire was not the first to propose this idea. It is said that in 1882 a man by the name of Matthew Maguire, a machinist for the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J proposed the idea while he was serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York.

Legislation:

As with every national holiday, the bill to introduce Labor Day was first introduced by the state of New York, but the law was first passed by the state of Oregon on February 21st, 1887. During this same year, more states, which included Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York enacted legislation and created the “Labor Day Holiday”.

By the end of 1889, Connecticut, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania also enacted the same legislation. By 1894, 23 more states had also followed suit with recognizing Labor Day as a holiday, and on June 28th, 1884 the holiday was passed at a federal level and that it would be celebrated on the first Monday in September of each year.

Source: https://www.dol.gov/general/laborday/history

Self-Driving Cars

Is the time of humans behind the wheel ending in the foreseeable future? Most Americans today are aware of the future of self-driving vehicles, cars that can take you to and from your destination autonomously. What used to be a dream has turned into a reality, a typical commute to work will be free of any driving, one can sip their coffee and eat their breakfast behind a self-steering wheel. We can say this with confidence because self-driving cars aren’t a thing of the distant future or even the foreseeable future, they are a thing of the present. Companies like Uber, Tesla and Waymo are testing their cars on the streets; Other companies like Apple are hinting at their own development. Waymo for instance has announced that it is almost ready to become the first self-driving ride hailing service. Over the past year, in 25 U.S. Cities, over 600 Waymo self-driving vehicles have been on the road, catering to the transportation requests of some 400 plus members of its early rider program. These individuals have trail-blazed the path ahead using the self-driving cars as transportation to school, the mall and other populated areas.

While Waymo is showing that automated driving can be done, Tesla among other companies is working on turning every car on the road into a vehicle capable of such maneuverability. Tesla has had cars that can cruise on the highway for the past couple of years, however its newest software “Version 9” will finally begin to enable full self-driving features.

Apple has recently put its steak in the self-driving game as well. A new Apple patent describes a software that has the car inform riders the route it is going to drive. Apples goal is trying to desensitize the ride, keeping riders not surprised by sudden changes in route. Apples autonomous car initiative, “Titan, seems to be surging upwards in growth after the tech giant hired prominent engineers from both Waymo and Tesla.

Source:

https://www.theverge.com/2018/8/21/17762326/waymo-self-driving-ride-hail-fleet-management

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/08/21/apple-self-driving-car-patent-predicts-future-moves.html

 

AI: The Fourth Industrial Revolution

Artificial Intelligence the fastest growing field in tech has another prominent country willing to foster further research into the technology. With fear of China potentially leading the fourth industrial revolution,  a new bill was introduced in congress by Congresswoman Elise Stefanik. Her purpose for the bill is because she felt that “Artificial Intelligence is a constantly developing technology that will likely touch every aspect of our lives”. The major fear that concerns the US government is that with China increasing its funding into Artificial Intelligence the US needed to increase its addition to AI technology development.

According to Stefanik “The new bill will develop a commission to review advances in AI, identify our nation’s AI needs and make actionable recommendations of what direction we need to take.” Essentially meaning that the new commission would have to look into ways into what type of AI research needs to be conducted and give incentives to companies to share data on research that they have already completed.

After the introduction of this bill in March the President had an AI summit that included government officials, researchers, and major companies to discuss the future of AI technology and how it can be used by the government. After the summit the president established a brand-new AI task force that will be tasked with the job of determining the ways in which the federal government should invest in Artificial technology. The president’s goal is to “improve virtually every aspect of our lives, create vast new wealth for American workers and families, and open up bold, new frontiers in science, medicine, and communication.”

The summit was one of many steps taken by the government to help gain an edge in AI. Furthermore, the government has seen growth in investments made in AI and related technology since 2015. In addition, when President Trump introduced his budget for the 2019 fiscal year he made Artificial Intelligence a priority for the budget. All of these advancements made to invest in AI will not only help revolutionize the lives of every day Americans but impact the way business is conducted in every field.

Finally, with all of the investments made by the government in AI technology the business sector that might benefit the most could be small businesses. Most small businesses are always looking for ways to cut cost. With AI technology the use of AI can greatly reduce cost for small businesses that otherwise would not be possible. One of the most important ways that AI can help with cost reduction is with marketing by using AI algorithms. According to Artur Kiulian “small companies can find the best marketing strategy and dramatically reduce their CPC (cost per click) thanks to the sentiment analysis algorithms that analyze customer engagement with their marketing campaigns”. The use of AI algorithms would reduce cost for small businesses because they would have to hire less of a management team while also having a system that could analyze data without the need for additional man power. The use of AI for marketing is just one of many ways that small businesses can reduce cost and help their business grow.

Source:

https://www.defensenews.com/congress/2018/03/21/new-bill-would-prepare-us-for-artificial-intelligence-threat/

http://fortune.com/2018/05/10/white-house-artificial-intelligence-task-force/

The Department of Defense and Other Transaction Authorities

Other Transaction Authorities, commonly known as OTAs, have been in use since the 1950s, but only recently have they become “critical to rapid prototyping in the defense realm,” according to Washington Technology.

Other Transaction Authorities are a business tool allowing procurement through means other than by the Federal Acquisition Regulations; in other words, as defined by Oles Morrison, OTAs describe “streamlined procedures that federal agencies may use to procure innovative research or prototypes.”  Other Transaction Authorities thereby give the Department of Defense and military services a much more efficient acquisition process—saving years of red tape and potential protest—and have drawn much praise and excitement; however, OTAs have also drawn criticism for lacking quality screening and fairness.

Other Transaction Authorities have helped the military accelerate innovation in all sorts of functions, especially in the IT field where the evolution of technology vastly exceeds the pace of a traditional acquisition process using Federal Acquisition Regulations. According to Air Force Director of IT Acquisition Process Development Maj. Gen. Sarah Zabel, some vendors have brought in their ideas and have been given a contract the same day. With the ability to procure needed services as soon as possible rather than services which were needed months or years ago, OTAs have found a lot of popularity in the defense realm for their speed. Additionally, OTAs have proved very useful in engaging small businesses and other non-traditional defense suppliers, diversifying the acquisition portfolio as Department of Defense OTAs must use a non-traditional defense contractor, have all of its participants be small businesses, or have at least a third of its total cost paid by parties other than the government.

Taking advantage of the efficiency, flexibility, and accessibility afforded by Other Transaction Authorities, the Department of Defense’s use of OTAs has grown exponentially from less than $500 million in 2013 to more than $2 billion in 2017. However, Other Transaction Authorities have also received their fair share of criticism.

Strictly speaking, Other Transaction Authorities are not subject to the FAR or DFARS and not subject to procurement statues; they are simply contractual actions. Thus, criticism of both lack of public transparency and proposal integrity weighs heavily, considering the transparency of typical acquisitions. Likewise, the award process draws concern: Just this year, the Government Accountability Office ruled in favor of Oracle America, which argued that a follow-on OTA was made without adequate notice or competition. Therefore, the GAO will review OTA usage, a win for OTA detractors. However, the GAO will only review an agency’s award decision to assess whether the agency was correct in choosing to use an OTA over traditional procurement contract; protesting an agency’s award decision after proper use of OTA is still unprecedented.

Other Transaction Authorities are becoming more widespread, growing as a percentage of defense contract dollars, but going into the future, OTAs will most likely not replace the traditional acquisition process. Traditional acquisitions based on FAR and DFARS have provided many effective services and tools before, and many future services and tools will need to be procured through a process that draws heavily from standardized, well-known regulations. At the same time, OTAs are a tool that can create flexible and fast provision of innovative services. Therefore, federal agencies including the Department of Defense will continue to use both traditional acquisitions and Other Transaction Authorities, for some situations call for quality and transparency while others call for speed and flexibility.

 

Sources:

https://www.transform.af.mil/Portals/18/documents/OSA/OTA_Brief.pdf?ver=2015-09-15-073050-867https://federalnewsradio.com/acquisition/2017/10/ota-contracts-are-the-new-cool-thing-in-dod-acquisition/

Small Business Savvy

For centuries, businesses and technology have been intertwined in innumerable ways: businesses attempt to protect their patented technologies, businesses seek to gain an edge through commercial technology, businesses birth themselves from a new technology, and the list goes on. And while big, well-known companies tend to take the spotlight, small business are becoming more and more tech-savvy, implementing technology in more frequent and newer ways to improve not only operations but also employee flexibility; however, rise in tech-savvy graph comes with a suite of concerns as well.

Generally, small businesses have been looking to increase employment, and they have been using technology to do so. How? According to CNBC, small businesses attempt to attract new talent by implementing technology which will shorten work hours and create opportunities to work at home. For example, productivity services such as Microsoft’s Teams allow employees to communicate with each other remotely and receive live updates, while customer relationship management software like Zoho and Salesforce helps “future-proof” small businesses, making tasks easier to complete as employees spend more time with the software. Small business owners can also grow their businesses not only independently but also while working at home or at other jobs, hiring employees who can then do the same. This work-life balance that has arisen from small business integration of technology is alluring to potential employees. Contrary to the common concern that technology will replace human labor, small businesses are implementing technology to create more attractive places to work in hopes that they can actually increase employee count.

 

However, a more pressing concern for small business owners is balancing the incorporation of newer technology with rising costs and larger time commitments. Of course, small business owners look to technology to ultimately save time and money in the long run, but nonetheless small businesses still need to initially pay for increasingly expensive technology. Likewise, it takes time to implement new business processes involving the new technology and for employees to learn said new business processes. Even small businesses born from technology platforms find technology mastery challenging. Although owners may inevitably find themselves hesitant to implement new technology because of cost and time concerns, they generally understand that new technology is beneficial in the long run. Increasing employment in conjunction with increased productivity is a long-term benefit too good to ignore. As such, the increasing trend of becoming tech-savvy small business is predicted to continue.

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2018/07/26/small-businesses-using-big-technology-attract-more-hirees.html