Smash the stigma of mental illness in our business and workplaces.

Let’s end the stigma about mental ill-health in the business
until it is as normal to talk about mental ill-health in the business world as it is to disclose a broken leg.

Just the other day, I had the pleasure to Chair a conference around the topic of the Future of Work. The conference organised by Chris Cummings of sonic events, held in London with a fantastic lineup of speakers including Twitter, BT, PWC, IBM and for Citi Group.

The afternoon session started with a talk around Artificial Intelligence, a topic that I was also going to be talking about later on in the day.

The second-afternoon session completely shook me up. Mr Rob Stephenson, the founder of inside-out, talked about Mental Health, and openly spoke about his bi-polar life.



Rob humbles me. He explained how he took on this challenge and turned it into an opportunity!  Rob has started a foundation for senior business leaders, to allow them to open up about their experience of mental ill-health.

From the website,, they write.

Each year, we publish a list of senior leaders from our workplaces who are open about their experience of mental ill-health. The list designed to celebrate each leader who has decided to open up around mental ill-health.   Playing their part in ending the stigma and helping others in their organisation speak out and seek help. We will grow the list each year, creating a ripple effect of more and more executives speaking out until it is as normal to talk about mental ill-health in the business world as it is to disclose a broken leg.

While Rob was talking, he mentions some of his daily checklist items of which one was about honesty. My stomach started to hurt, and I suddenly began to remember a deep dark place where I was some 15 years ago. I remembered my promise to myself that I must always be honest to myself.

I often inform people when I explain my professional journey about the fact that I once hit the wall and the doctors told me that I had only six months to live. I have described some of the reasons why and the changes I made after the recovery of my illness. I never explain the mental illness that took effect or horrible mental journey that I went through.

Rob Stephenson was talking about his everyday life with Bipolar. He said that today was about 6½ out of 10 and I felt so small in his shadow. As chairperson of the conference, I ask a couple of questions to the speaker after their talk. My body started to shake, my stomach was churning, and my eyes were filling up with water, both from remembering the worst times of my illness but also with Rob’s uplifting talk. It usually is effortless for me to talk and to facilitate these types of events, but this was emotional now, I grabbed his hand as if he had just become the world champion and thanked him for one of the best experiences in a conference I ever had!

I turned to the audience and explained that this was difficult for me. Having gone through some mental illness in the past and thinking it was over but really, I have been dishonest with myself, and that I am still trying to keep it in a box, buried deep in my soul, Rob has switched on the light and made me face this reality again. I did not think that I would be receiving therapy while at this conference.

However, this is not about me, as this is about a true hero and leader, Rob Stephenson, who has used this illness as an opportunity and instead of hiding mental illness like many do and have done in the past. He uses it as a catalyst to show to the world that many of us have some form of mental illness, making aware to the world that hundreds of senior business leaders have mental illness and understand these challenges, to smash the stigma of mental illness in our business and workplaces.

Thank you, Rob and your family for switching on the light!

How Artificial Intelligence will change commerce!

Photo by Fancycrave on Unsplash

What is Artificial Intelligence main asset?

If it has enough data, it is perfect at identifying trends and creating predictions!

So imagine when your shopping web site, whether it is food, clothing or household item shopping has collected enough data to predict what you want before you already have thought about it! The retailer could then send to you products that it has predicted, to arrive just in time for you to use them.

This scenario is very close to coming true for many of today’s e-retailers.

When I discuss this idea with friends or in conferences, I always recieve staements such like this will never happen. Statements such as ‘how can it predict my needs as I am unpredictable?’ also, ‘If they send me items that I have not ordered, then I do not have to pay for them!’

Artificial Intelligence actually can predict your predictability as well as your product selection predictability. Of course, retailers will start with customers who are very predictable before moving forward to customers who are more unpredictable.

Retailers have the upper hand when it comes to agreements. When we sign up for an account, there are always “A Terms of Agreement” that needs to be agreed to before continuing into the solution. We never read these agreements, and ultimately the retailers will include that they have the rights to send goods to you, based on your previous orders and that you must pay for them if you keep them. If you do not want them, you have to return the items.

Of course, retailers are smart. They will select VIP accounts to start with and be very conscious of the customer and the encroachment of prediction engine. Fantastic marketing, great pricing and promotion campaigns will be put in place to ensure a comfortable flow of acceptance for Item Prediction.

As humans, we will accept this unknown need to think about such meaningful tasks.

The prediction engine is complete when the loop is closed using feedback and appraisals. In five years, we as humans will wonder why did we ever have to think about buying such goods.

Why would retailers do this? What do they have to gain?

The initial focus will be to build trust for the brand of the retailer, a retailer that can help me focus on more important things in my life. A retailer that can successfully deliver items that I need, and now it can provide products before I know that I need them.

The retailer will get a guaranteed business and as time moves, as more items are added to the basket, more profit from these transactions.

The ultimate gain is the transformation of the business to consumer model to the business to the wholesaler/retail model. I describe this from B2C to B2W.

The retailer (who becomes the wholesaler), can then manage the purchase price against the selling price. Consumer branding as we know it today will disappear as these huge wholesaler-retailers decides which brand to delivered to the consumer. If the product producer does not play ball, then their product will not be available from the wholesaler-retailers.

What happens to today’s retailers, supermarkets, clothes shops, furniture stores and the likes?

Will they survive?

Only specialised stores, exotic boutiques, high-end stores will survive as the customers are looking for specific items, but prediction engines may too replace this ability. We are not describing a revolution but an evolution, just as the corner store disappeared, the high streets and shopping malls have become ghost towns, most retailers will not be able to fight the wholesaler-retailer giants. We can see that today that we order batteries, eats, tickets via our in-house voice-activated AI engine, instead of buying them at a shop.

What can we do? Can we stop this happening?

Not really, it is progress, and it has already started. We can become more humanistic and focus on local markets, community shopping. It will help, but it will not stop the giant wholesalers-retailer making their mark.

Written by George Edward Muir

#ai #futureofwork #future #retail #futureofretail

When will Humans Retire?

The number of people on the planet who are 60 or older will more than double from 1 Billion in 2015 to 2 billion in 2050. With the implementation of Artificial Intelligence and robotics, when will humans retire?

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

The global population is getting older.

We are informed about the fact that we are all living longer, the global population is getting older and it happening now! The number of people on the planet who are 60 or older will more than double from 1 Billion in 2015 to 2 billion in 2050 — an increase from 11 per cent of the global population to 22 per cent for the over.

At the same time, the number of people below the age of 24 will have no significant growth. To put it into perspective that is almost 10,000 people reach the age of 65 every day in the USA.


Retirement age is increasing.

As a consequence of the increase of the over 60’s, our governments have already started to raise the official retirement age. Countries have slowly been increasing the retirement age from 62/65 to 67 around 2023.

Governments are already contemplating to change the retirement age to 75 or even 80 by 2035.

I believe that government retirement strategies are unsustainable!

50+ Syndrome

Training opportunities, leadership programmes and talent management schemes are absolutely necessary for a modern workplace. The majority of these initiatives focuses on young employees, to develop young talent into management/leadership roles. These initiatives are in place to help the company to grow and develop.
An employee learns and develops new skills. The company builds loyalty and better company branding, which enables the attracting of new talent.

The challenge is that once an employee reaches the age of 50, what do modern companies offer? There usually are not a lot of development opportunities or re-skilling opportunities for the 50+. Thus this encourages our 50+ employees, especially our senior managers sit fast and hold onto their positions as long as they can.

For the majority of people aged 50+, (who are not headhunted), find it extremely difficult to find and secure a new job.
Primary reasons are the interviewee experiences out-ways the interviewer’s experience as well as their unconscious bias of older people.

Are business making the right decision about development opportunities for the 50+ workforce, if the retirement age will increase to 75 years old?

Now comes the biggest game changer

By 2023, 50 per cent of the tasks that we perform in a modern workplace will be executed by Artificial Intelligence and robotics. In a report from the world economic forum, by 2023, 70 million of today’s jobs will disappear, and at the same time, 130 million new job roles will appear, job roles that we may not even exist today. Fifty-four per cent of the workforce will need to be re-skilled.

Who will get re-skilled? The under 50’s? The under 25’s? Everybody?

It does not compute!

From a work perspective, Artificial Intelligence and robotics will focus on assembly, productivity, agriculture, finance, construction as well as learning more and more skills as they develop.

Humans will need to focus on human interaction (e.g. nursing, caring), complex problem solving and innovation. The way we work will change, we will probably only work a few days a week and a few hours a day.

If we are all working to the age of 75, will there be enough work for us all to do? Will we get paid the same amount of salary as we do today?

Our governments need taxes to be able to exist and to sustain the governmental services required by the population.

Will they be able to collect enough taxes without the introduction of taxation on Artificial Intelligence and robotics?

Will we ever retire?

To be able to retire, we need to be able to work and pay taxes and save money so that we can retire. Over the next ten years, the way we understand about retirement will need to change, as well as the way understands work. As Artificial Intelligence and robotics become more de facto, the impact on the way we work will be destructive.

By 2030, I believe the concept of retirement as we know it today will have disappeared!


AI & Robotics will change the way we eat.

In my ebook “The Future of Work”, The rise of Fifth Industrial Revolution, I write how Artificial Intelligence and Robotics will change fast food restaurants in the next six years.
I decided to elaborate on this topic to explain how this will happen in the next six years.

The Future of Work
George Edward Muir

There will be three major stages in this revolution.

There will be three major stages in this revolution.

  • How we order food at a restaurant.
  • Robotic cooking and 3d Food Printing.
  • How Artificial Intelligence will decide on your food choice.

Stage 1

We as humans are now accustomed to the self-service kiosk when buying groceries, furniture or checking-in to a flight.
The presence of self-service food kiosks is now appearing in fast food restaurants. The purpose is to reduce staff costs and increase profitability. With the implementation of customer relationship solutions in the kiosks, they will recognise customer preferences and will be able to market special offers.

In fast food restaurants, profitability is generated through large sales volume. Humans are the most significant overhead cost, and thus it is more economical to replace humans with technology. At the same time, human interaction and dialogue is a critical component from a customer’s perspective. Customer service is more significant the more costly the restaurants become. A major challenged for the restaurant and its reputation there is a discrepancy between the order and the delivery to the customer.

Stage 2

The automation of kitchens with robotics within a fast food restaurant is the second stage of this revolution.
Within this stage, I can identify three distinct developments.
Initially, there will be robotics in the kitchen. We already have robotics in the processing of food in factories.

The first example is the Spyce Kitchen in Boston, MA, USA.

Four MIT students set up the Spyce Robotic Kitchen.
The restaurant has robotic ordering kiosks from order to delivery around 3 minutes. All bowls are 7.50$ and very healthy.

All recipes are developed by a human chief, with four choice sections, all ingredients, vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free. All customers can customise their meals. Meals cooked in woks and robotic runners collect the ingredients and make the meal. The wok then empties the food into a bowl where a human collects it and adds the finishing touches.

The robots do the hard work, the making, the washing and the other-workers focus on customer service and hospitality.
By replacing humans with robots, you can make your food healthier and cheaper.

The customers love that fact that the food is healthier, that they save money compared to other fast food, but the silver bullet is to be able to customise your menu and get it presented to you within three minutes, so essential to be able to skip the queues at lunchtime.

The second example is creator, San Fransisco, CA, USA.

creator has developed two automated hamburger bots, a lovely design that deliveries made to order, high-quality, hamburgers. It takes five minutes to cook the order, and no human is involved in the making of the hamburger. The bot has a total of 350 sensors, providing precisely the hamburger that you request — super fresh burgers with better quality for a lower price.
The hamburger bot makes 320 hamburgers an hour, and the customer can choose the from two cheese, 12 seasonings, 15 sauces, locally produced vegetables and buns plus antibiotic and hormone free, pasture raised brisket and chuck come from a coop of family ranches on the west coast called Country Natural Beef.
There is a positive reaction to creator hamburger. From the customers, made to order a hamburger with no human hands touching the burger from the beginning of the cooking process. Freshness and quality at great price.
The workers are healthier because they are not breathing in the fumes and sweating in the heat.
The workers can be involved in other creative tasks.
The owner can get make hamburgers in a smaller space at a lower cost, allowing the ingredients to be of higher quality.

As well as food bots, there is 3d Printing of food.

The ability to print food already exists today, commercial 3d food printing is available, both for the home and for catering organisations.
There are 3d food printers for Chocolate, pasta, pastries available around the 2.500 to $5.000 price tag. Today’s printers are using a 3d extrusion technology, in effect replacing plastics / and metals with a paste-type ingredients.
This allows chefs to create structures and shapes that they cannot do in today’s kitchens, with fresh ideas. These printers are using fresh ingredients to make new and exciting food.

The world’s first 3d printing restaurant, Food Ink

The world’s first restaurant where the food, utensils and furniture are all 3d printed.It is a pop-up restaurant that highlights the advances in 3d printing. Food is being 3d printed using the latest technologies such as by flow, a paste 3d extrusion printer. By flow can create customised shapes that chefs cannot make by hand.
Beehex was backed by NASA to help develop a concept for 3d food printing for space travel. One of their products, Chef 3d, can print a pizza in six minutes.

The next evolution is Bioprinting.

Bioprinting has been developed to fabricate biomedical parts, natural tissue and organs. Some companies are pioneering this technology to create synthetic materials such as fur and leather.

This research has been applied to 3d printing of synthetic meat. Dr Amy Logan, a team leader for dairy science at The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), has just launched a three-year study into the personalised fabrication of smart food systems.

The mission statement “Our scientists and engineers at CSIRO are working towards this future where food, nutraceuticals and other products will be personalised based on an individual’s genetic makeup, and a reality where optimum well-being for each person is a reality. We are building the underpinning science required to: Develop a personalized and instant food processor, providing the smart, structured soft materials (food and cosmetics) on demand and personalized for you on the day, incorporating sensor technologies that measure food – body and cosmetic – body interactions coupled with personalized genomics and phenotype (lifestyle) data.”

[Personalizing Food, Directed by Your DNA | The Spoon.]

Dan Gibson talks about their DNA printer (the first printer in 2013) in his 2018 TED talk that allows them to edit DNA. He talks about creating life-giving scientists the power to convert digital information into biological material. Scientists can read DNA easily but create (writing) is not as easy. It will not take long to industrialise this approach to make food.

Stage 3

Everybody has their personal assistant with them, their mobile telephone. It is continuously collecting data, and when it is connected to your health devices; smartwatch, health bracelet, and other IoT devices. They are al collecting even more information about your body. We also add useful information through apps, such as water apps and calorie counters. The artificial intelligence will calculate your daily intake, the fat intake, the vitamin intake, the burn rate of your body to perfection that it can simulate how your body is functioning.

Once your personal assistant is on communication with the self-service kiosk, whether they are at a restaurant or a grocery store, the loop is completed. Your personal assistant will be able to order on your behalf, knowing your preferences and also predicting any specific customisations and in other words, making our food choices.
When we are conformable with this level of autonomy, your personal assistant will program the customisation of the food to include supplements and vitamins, remove/replace ingredients that will help your body to function better.
Your personal assistant will know you, your preferences and your body better than you do. It can predict your wants and needs, and it will order food/meals on your behalf. It will ensure you eat at the right time and if you ever overindulge, it will balance your food intake over time.

The Next Six Years

Over the next six years, the food revolution will have begun and that the majority of people will accept the progress in the robotisation of the making of food.
Just as most homes have a microwave, I believe that every home kitchen will have a 3d food printer of some form.
Obesity and our need to be more healthy and fitter will be a major selling point of this revolution.
There are of course significant consequences on workers who work at fast food restaurants and grocery stores. Artificial intelligence and robots will replace their jobs. Even exclusive restaurants will use robotics in the kitchen as we can already see that Michelin star chefs use their robots today.
The most controversial discussion will be the use of bioprinting. There has already been a backlash on genetically modified foods. The ability to ask for food as in StarTrek is not too far away technically but will probably not be commercialised by 2025.

George Muir is the founder and CEO of Udal Cuain AB.

He is a renowned keynote speaker and Futurist. He is known for igniting ideas, discussing the practical importance of the digital revolution in business and how artificial intelligence will impact our professional and private lives in the future.