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Robots will soon be able to read texts for us, engage in conversations, clean our windows, deliver packets and parcels, prepare our pill-boxes and even help us get back on our feet should we fall, or have difficulty just getting up. We had them first in the military sector, then carrying out industrial chores, now we see a new generation coming, prepared to do household chores, maintenance work, leisure activities or engage in educational activities. Whether they be macro-, or nano-, humanoid or dronoid, these robots are about to become our future companions. So, where do we stand today?

Robots are machines capable of endlessly repeating the same operation, without fatigue or making mistakes. With such qualities, they are now quietly moving into many areas of our socio-economic world, replacing human operators deemed less reliable and more expensive. Medicine, especially surgery, is a prime demand field for robots. The latter can carry out very precise operations, in a cluttered environment, reducing the risks for both the surgeon and the patient.

In recent years, the massive and controversial use of drones in U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan has fueled an intense debate. But this controversy is only the tip of the iceberg: the development of standalone and remote-controlled machines is but the prelude to the rise of military robotics, a field that involves all industries. It is already used in logistics, communications and training, with expected effects on number of staff and productivity. The gradual integration of robotics will affect the safety of operational troops and combat on the battlefield. It will also raise many ethical questions.

The next automobile revolution will be the driverless car. Ever since the automobile industry was born, it has continuously represented a clear-cut vector for technological progress and societal transformation. Driverless cars, with general roadworthy models running by 2030, promise to bring sizeable changes to the way we live, to the environment, to our health, the economy and industry at large. Market potential is already visible but many questions still remain to be answered.

Initially developed for military uses, exoskeletons are now moving into civvy street, with applications under development for disabled senior citizens or handicapped persons. Business of this product calls for sophisticated technologies by also for a clear view at the end-users. In this technology-intensive, leading edge emerging market, start-ups are out front.

It's understood, the twenty-first century will be the century of robots. And there is a lot of talk concerning a subfamily of these machines: drones. While these remotely piloted aircrafts were first developed in a military context, there seems to be no end to their civilian uses. This development goes hand in hand with a radical change in business models, marked in particular by a sharp drop in prices and an increasing variety of uses. So what are the current prospects?

The African digital boom has already begun. McKinsey estimates that the contribution of the Internet to the annual GDP of Africa could rise from $18 billion in 2014 to $300 billion in 2025. Yet, all the countries are not addressing the digital wave with the same attitude.

African nations are seldom mentioned in the world ranking of innovative countries, but things could change with the rise of a new generation of technologies that perform many financial transactions from mobile phones. Today, mobile banking opens a new avenue for development. But can this model be exported?

Ever since the electronic properties of silicon were discovered in the United States in the late 30s, it has been a well-known fact: a new material can change the world. Perhaps because it weighs less, is sturdier, provides better thermal and acoustic performance, lasts longer, or makes production and assembly easier. Every now and then, the scientific community announces a new miracle material successor to silicon and the 2010s already rustle with announcements about a very serious candidate: graphene, a two-dimensional crystal consisting of a single layer of carbon atoms, which is credited with exceptional potential.

The venture investor and former Facebook executive examines technologies he thinks will improve the quality of life and economic output, and explains why most executives undervalue technical proficiency.

The Bitcoin bubble bursting is but one small part of a bigger story. The most exciting part is not speculation, but challenging the banks' control over payment solutions. This is what we should discuss. Starting now.

How social innovation is shaking business foundations

Business June 13th, 2013, Pierre Massotte / Chairman, Institut de l'Innovation et du Développement (I2D)

Long relegated to the fringes of the industrial world, social innovation is now finding its way into business practices and strategies. The related notions of emergence and self-organization are creating new, bottom-up models. Before trying to manage them, better to understand them.

With the introduction of Google Glass, an effort to create and market computerized eyewear, Google has captured the imagination of technologists, consumers and even sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live, while also raising a number of social and privacy issues. Experts at Wharton say that the Google Glass experiment will be important to watch from a business, marketing and cultural perspective, and they add that no one, including Google, has any clue how the search giant's efforts will play out.

Big Data marked a break in the evolution of information systems from three points of view: the explosion of available data, the increasing variety of these data and their constant renewal. Processing these data demands more than just computing power. It requires a complete break from Cartesian logic. It calls for the non-scientific part of human thought: inductive reasoning.

Organizational social-media literacy is fast becoming a source of competitive advantage. Learn, through the lens of executives at General Electric, how you and your leaders can keep up.

They are between 15 and 34 years old. Nicknamed the “digital natives”, they are the first generation of individuals who have always lived with the new technologies. They eat, read, inform themselves differently, and their cultural practices are shaking up the media landscape. Between traditional media and emerging players, two models are competing. Will the latecomers displace older lions? What options do traditional media have to counter their decline?

Sharing ideas… and emotions: why innovation needs cooperation

Business January 11th, 2013, Norbert Alter / Professor of Sociology, University Paris-Dauphine

Try as you may, innovation can never be reduced to a mere good idea. Innovation is a process, which is played chiefly in the way those who are to implement it can successfully make novelty theirs. Quite often management tends to overlook this process of appropriation, or to consider it only in terms of hindrances and obstacles. How, on the contrary, can the internal resources of organizations be enhanced and mobilized? The answer is straightforward: by developing a culture of cooperation, which allows for some degree of transgression… and also makes way for emotion.

Smartphone credit cards and card readers, prepaid debit cards and other burgeoning electronic payment systems are making it easier than ever to move through the world without carrying cash. While going cashless offers some convenience to consumers, it also comes with potential fees and penalties from banks, credit card companies and others. As observers from Wharton and elsewhere note, cash is the more expensive proposition for those who handle financial transactions. But it will be tough for firms to convince consumers that dollars and cents have become a mere curio of the past.

Medical imaging: these are the days when technological frontier renewed scientific discovery

Science and Technology June 28th, 2012, Wafa Skalli / Director, Laboratory of Biomechanics (Arts et Métiers ParisTech)

Advances in medical imaging make this discipline a laboratory for the latest scientific methods. Disruptive innovations stemming from the convergence of medicine and physical sciences lead to fundamental questions: is there a place for experts against machines? How to reconcile statistical data, mass produced by new devices, with a focus on he who is central to medical practice: the individual?

Is Modular Design the Key to Fast Innovation?

Science and Technology May 23rd, 2012, Nicolas Bry / Senior Vice-President, Orange Innovation Group

In recent years, many firms have sped up their innovation processes. But can we protect the meaning and relevance of innovation while accelerating and increasing its impact? This is exactly the issue challenged by component innovation.

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