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When it comes to esports it seems like there is no end to the potential for expansions. What started as different and individual groups of gamers coming together to enjoy their hobby in an organized and competitive manner has grown over the years into a bona fide billion-dollar industry. With hordes of gamers joining in on streams and live esports events from around the world to make up audiences that traditional sports would be jealous of.

That being said, I’m only describing esports at the moment.

One key difference between esports and traditional sports (aside from the obvious physical athleticism requirements) is the fact that esports are subject to dramatic change.

I don’t just mean within whatever game the esports stars are playing either. Sure, one official league might use a set, specific version of CS:GO for their tournaments, whilst another welcomes updates and patches into the game itself and forces its players to stay on their toes as far as compatible strategy goes – but there are much bigger changes that could sweep the world of esports.

The Future Of Competitive Games

One such change is the rise and fall in popularity that lots of games go through, and how this translates to esports.

Sure, there are always going to be the mainstays of the esports scene; CS:GO, LoL, Dota 2, and so on, but what about seasonal games? Specifically, Fortnite.

Fortnite is a game that quickly spread its influence throughout the world, particularly amongst younger gamers. It’s free to play, microtransaction based business model combined with its ease of access for streamers made it a smash hit, which translated its popularity into the esports crowd. Just imagine the horde of devoted Fortnite fans who would want to attend the Fortnite world cup, or even just tune in to Twitch to watch their favorite players compete.

Now consider that in January this year Fortnite saw its lowest-income since November 2023. A sign of things to come? Possibly, but its more likely that at some point sooner or later a new game will come along that leeches Fortnites popularity, and encourages a drastic shift in the player base that again, would translate to the esports world.

My point (simplified) is this: popularity in some games comes and goes, and there is every chance that in a few years Fortnite could be a dead game whilst another, unreleased or even unthought of game enjoys the same level of fame.

But where does this leave the Fortnite esports players?

It seems that many esports players are trying to follow this career path as well, with pro players like Robson Merrit (TeaGuvner), going from pro player to coach without missing a beat, and doing well in their chosen path – but if the game no longer exists to play, then what good is coaching it?

In this situation, the player is left out in the cold once the game stops being profitable. What we could see within the world of esports is an overarching body or governing philosophy being developed, so that players can take their already established skills and tactics and apply them to other games. Is it possible? Perhaps, but there are a ton of variables to overcome when you are dealing with esports, and it may not be possible for a pro-Fortnite player to take their skills to Dota 2 and enjoy the same level of success.

Only time will tell.

The Next Step In Esports Training

So, I’ve touched on retraining esports players in different games should they decide a shift in career trajectory is necessary, but what could be in the future for the training programs of esports players? There is one thing on everyone’s mind within the industry in answer to that question, and that thing is AI.

We already know that esports players spend around 8 hours a day (in general) training. This means working as part of a team, as well as on their own to enhance and develop their skills in-game. But, what happens when the top player in any game reaches their peak, and the game lobbies aren’t filling up with internet strangers capable of providing a challenge?

Bots use AI written by the game devs to behave in a way that is consistent with the multiplayer in a game, with computer-controlled enemies and teammates simulating the actions of a real-life player in the multiplayer game, with no one controlling them.

And, if you don’t have familiarity with the concept of bots, then I can tell you that the option is often available for players to tweak the difficulty level of the bots themselves. You can play against simulated noobs, or seasoned veterans – it’s up to the player.

Now, let’s apply that technology to the esports world, and a player’s training regimen, and you can see why AI might be at the forefront of the esports training world.

Potentially, a player could spend limitless hours training against a plethora of opposites, with the AI in their game being built to match the habits of players at their skill level. Not only that, but an AI opponent could also potentially emulate the movements of other professional players, allowing for pre-match training to be conducted against a fairly realistic depiction of the opposite player to the esports player training.

AI could really help in players’ in-game performance, but what about coaching?

When it comes to coaching, esports teams already enjoy the expertise of players who have decided to stop their competitive playing due to whatever reason (aging out is a [popular one), and now teach the newer pro players how to win with all of their tactics and in-game knowledge.

But, esports are traditionally fast-paced, and it can be hard for a coach to single out an individual player for feedback during a fast-paced match, especially in games that have blink-and-you-miss-them opportunities cropping up every few seconds.

So, what if the esports teams could implement their coaching into the game itself, allowing AI to take over and deliver specific criticisms when they become relevant, as a form of instant feedback?

That’s exactly what is being planned on top of the line CPUs at the moment, and being made possible in future processors. These types of AI programs can analyze a player’s environment, play style, opponents and much more to deliver immediate feedback to a player in the moment, leading to a smoother and quicker progression in skill.

Bringing In New Talent

With the last section in mind, let’s look to the esports players who are only at the beginning of their career – or even those who haven’t begun to play yet.

With AI becoming such a prominent force in the world of esports, its entirely possible that in the future these types of AI will become available to casual players to download in exchange for a fee so that they can improve their in-game performance.

So, the potential pipeline for player progression and in-game engagement could be completely upheaved by AI integration, especially when you consider that the types of CPUs available for en masse gaming are becoming more powerful by the year.

This means that a player could potentially buy (for the sake of argument) the latest Call of Duty. Then, after becoming involved with the multiplayer and invested in progressing through the multiplayer skillset, they purchase the in-game esports training AI. Suddenly, not only do you have a player who is potentially a new esports player (depending on their skill level), but you have an additional in-game transaction that could lead to more (ie passes).

So, we have a way for esports to directly affect the lifespan of both new and established games with the development of esports training AI, but there is another way that the esports world could directly influence casual gaming with the implementation of this AI, and that’s with player support.

I mentioned before about how in-game AI could be possible of replicating professional players for the pro gamers to train against. This same technology could be collected together and distributed to a mass audience, allowing gamers to play against a virtual representation of their favorite esports players.

You can imagine how this could be appealing to both marketing teams and the players themselves; Players sign up to have their virtual presence distributed to the gaming audience in exchange for what we can essentially call an appearance fee, and in return, the players get the chance to play with the biggest stars in the esports world and see how they fare.

You can imagine how this can be spun out as well – imagine different amateur leagues playing not only against each other but pitting their skills against professional teams as well with the assistance of this AI. Game developers could maximize the impact of this AI too, offering in-game prizes and rewards for teams or players who can beat the professional AI.

That opens up a big question though: will the AI make it easier for new players to enter the esports world, and will the future of esports be easier to access?

The Accessibility Of Future Esports

One big question that comes up in regards to the future of esports is accessibility for new players, and how easy it will be for amateur players to become involved in the industry. So, to answer that question we need to look to the fastest growing platform that esports takes place on Mobile devices.

Right now mobile gaming makes up 51% of the whole world’s total gaming revenue, with its biggest audience being in China (though recent restrictions to Chinese policy regarding video games could soon change this), making up 620 million total players in China alone.

Consider that games like Hearthstone, Gwent, and other fantasy online card games are immensely popular in the esports scene and are easily playable on a phone.  The ease of access granted to these games alone on a mobile device means that we could see a huge influx of professional gamers in these different games, even though the average person on the street might not recognize them as a traditional game.

So let’s talk about a ‘traditional’ game, a shooter like Fortnite. Fortnite is also available to download onto mobile devices, and with the assistance of a gamepad players can easily dominate the leader boards should they want to invest the time into the game itself. China is already the biggest consumer of mobile gaming – so imagine how many potential professional gamers there are sat waiting for their chance to explore the esports world.

This isn’t lost on China either. The revenue generated by esports must be lucrative enough that different businesses and sections of the government have noticed, and are now opening ‘Gaming Hotels’, where younger gamers can go to develop their skills over an extended period of time in an environment similar to the gaming houses that lots of pro gamers live in around the world.

That is a trend set to expand across the globe. Gaming hotels, gaming camps – even esports scholarships at universities have begun, and as a result, the industry is seeing more support than ever in getting brand new players into the esports scene.

The Technology Of Future Esports

I mentioned towards the beginning of the article that there are going to be a lot of major changes to the way that esports are changed, and we can talk about a few of them here. For example, 5G is set to rock the mobile gaming world.

Whereas before the average mobile gamer might have had to settle on WiFi to make sure of a stable internet connection to enjoy online gaming on whatever mobile device they were using – be it tablet or phone.

With 5G, it’s going to be a lot easier for a gamer to jump into any sort of mobile game at any opportunity, and practice their skills wherever they might be. That level of accessibility isn’t just going to draw in more gamers to the platform, but it could potentially also draw in a larger developer base for mobile games overall, with wider accessibility leading to larger overall profits.

Plus, mobile gaming and devices may become a big part of one technology that as of yet, isn’t fully integrated into the world of esports: V.R.

Virtual Reality is, as of yet, entirely underutilized within the world of esports – and that goes for both spectating and the games themselves.

Starting with the games, lots of industry insiders and game developers themselves have called V.R the future of gaming. That being said, the gaming world is yet to see a viable and enjoyable V.R game that enjoys the same level of success as Fortnite or CS:GO for example. Steps have been made with the likes of Pavlov, but realistically, the availability of V.R for the mass public is yet to get on the same level of mobile gaming, so it may be a while before we see the V.R equivalent of the LoL World Championships.

That being said though, through mobile devices there is a potential for V.R to become a big part of the audience’s experience. It wouldn’t be too hard for an esports tournament host to set up a type of ‘virtual arena’, and sell tickets or allow access to this arena as an alternative for those who have access to anything like Google Cardboard – a simpler way for gamers to get involved or closer to the esports action whilst being totally immersed in the experience.

Right now, there isn’t much in the way of V.R integration when it comes to esports. But we are certain that in five, ten or twenty years we are going to see V.R a lot more in our video games, and out of that will come to a thriving esports scene – just as it did for traditional games.

But, these are just a few ways that esports could change in the future. We are yet to see the full impact of coronavirus on the industry, and there could be an esports industry world-rocking technological development just around the corner that might force me to rewrite this whole article.

Right now, all we can say for certain is that the long term prospects for professional gamers are looking better thanks to the integration of AI and that different teams rosters should be set to grow exponentially as the popularity of gaming and esports expands, alongside the ease of access into the hobby.

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What’s Next For The Drone War?

An MQ-9 Reaper sits on the flight line Nov. 22, 2023, at Creech Air Force Base, Nev. The Reaper is an evolution of the MQ-1 Predator and can carry four AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and two 500 pound bombs while being able to fly for 18-24 hour missions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christian Clausen). Senior Airman Christian Clausen

On Jan. 20, the drone war entered its third Administration. Over the inaugural weekend, American drones fired missiles at suspected Al Qaeda fighters in Yemen, killing five people. The drone war, that is, the popular, unmanned-vehicle term for America’s strategy of targeted killing, is an outgrowth of President George W. Bush’s war on terror, a vestigial organ that became the centerpiece for the Obama administration’s eight years of low-intensity warfare. With much of American national security strategy poised to change under the new Trump administration, it’s worth taking a step back to examine what, exactly, the United States hoped to do with its drones.

The United States is, it’s worth noting, at war. It is in fact still at war, and has been ever since the passage of the Authorization to Use Military Force in the week following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. That act, still in effect into its fifth presidential term, gives the President broad powers to use force against persons and organizations that can be linked back to the Sept. 11 attack, and has been interpreted broadly enough to include ISIS. This is the context in which the drone war was born, an adaptation of a military scout into the most iconic aircraft of modern counterinsurgency warfare.

Rethinking the Drone War is a collection of reports recently published by Marine Corps University Press. The focus is about the national security potential for, and legitimacy of, drone strikes, and the dangers of civilian casualties, as the United States uses remotely piloted vehicles to pursue a war on terror.

“I think sometimes people think about drones and they think ‘killer robots,’” says Larry Lewis, who together with Diane Vavrichek wrote the reports in the book. “There’s also an interest due to a false understanding of what drones actually are and what they do.”

Drones are not, yet, the autonomous machines of fiction. While there are many existing weapons with some degree of autonomy, drones like the Predator and Reaper are still piloted vehicles, with humans controlling what the camera looks at, where the drone flies, and what targets to hit with the drone’s missiles. Humans actively pilot drones, and the Air Force struggles to find enough people up to the task.

And then there’s a shared misunderstanding of how, exactly, drone strikes work. Drones have the potential to be more precise than other airstrikes: with long linger times, a drone can stay in place or follow a suspected vehicle for hours before making the decision to fire, and powerful cameras mean drone crews can carefully decide whether to press the trigger. Yet that’s not always the case. A study Lewis published in 2013, using classified military strike data, found that drone strikes in Afghanistan caused 10 times the casualties compared to strikes by manned aircraft.

“There’s often a focus on platform and not process,” says Lewis. “All of our government officials talk about drones as the most surgical method of warfare. What they’re doing is they’re focused on the platform and capabilities, not how these capabilities are used in practice.”

Much of “Rethinking the Drone War” focuses on that practice, and on the places in the process that errors happen. There’s one particularly striking section, discussing a drone strike on a civilian vehicle in Afghanistan in 2010.

From the book:

The Predator crew relayed their interpretation of what was happening to waiting special forces, which fired on the vehicles and then saw signs that they may have attacked civilians instead. This incident was fundamentally a human failure, hobbled by poor communication between drone operators, special forces, and image analysts, that ultimately left innocents dead and undermined the legitimacy of American forces in Afghanistan.

Because so much of the drone war is conducted in secret, it’s hard to know what, exactly, are the rules governing the process. In May 2013, the Obama administration released a Presidential Policy Guidance on “Procedures For Approving Direct Action Against Terrorist Targets Located Outside The United States And Areas of Active Hostilities,” or a guide on how the United States conducts its drone strikes, in keeping with the Obama Administration’s interpretation of the laws of war.

We know the details of this policy because the Obama Administration declassified it in August 2023 (with light redactions). It was part of a broader move toward transparency on the drone war, following an earlier promise of disclosure of civilian casualty estimates from drone strikes. The disclosure aligned with the goals of an administration that spent the better part of a decade continuing a war it had inherited, while still trying to ensure that every part of that was conducted within humanitarian law.

So how will the drone war continue under its third administration?

“The difficulty is that ultimately any policy will try to maximize opportunity while managing risk,” says Lewis. “If you look at the recent raid in Yemen, that was an operation that was turned down with the past administration, and then was approved in the present administration. That’s an example of moving toward greater opportunity, but also creating increased risk, which we saw in practice. So a new policy will have to strike the balance somewhere, and it’s too early to tell exactly where it would go, but I would sort of expect an increased appetite for risk.”

Food For The Future Population: Vertical Farming

Sky Greens © Reuters

Global warming and increasing population negatively affect our basic needs for food and agriculture. Food insecurity, logistics, and various economic reasons also play an important role in the expansion of urban farms. Considering the area covered by traditional farming methods, it is quite impossible to include it in the urban area. Moreover, more importantly, the climate change we are facing has made a large proportion of the land unproductive. Thus, vertical farming, which emerged as a result of the search for alternative farming methods at this point where the sustainability of traditional agricultural soil is in danger, is still developing to reach optimum operation.

Vertical farming systems enable agriculture to be implemented in cities, allowing more compact production to increase both food safety and accessibility. It makes soilless agriculture possible with different technological systems developed. These stacked systems are adaptable indoors and outdoors, from green towers to greenhouses.

Vertical farms are beneficial systems for urban areas. Although efforts have been made to optimize them for some time, their examples are still not very common in building scale. But it is becoming common in greenhouse scales on small scale, indoors, in various market and commercial areas, and in neighborhoods. Many architects are working on deeply detailed projects on vertical farming, and although the number of applied ones is low, it is possible to reach many vertical farming structures designed with all their details. It is also possible to encounter the concept of “Agritecture” for this approach that considers agriculture and architecture together.

Soilless farming; hydroponics, aquaponics, and aeroponics

Harvesting fresh produce Bok Choy at Sky Greens © Photo by Nigel Dickinson

Vertical farming is a technological greenhouse system that creates a suitable habitat for each desired plant, aiming to increase productivity while using less water and soil. In this closed system, optimum nutrients and rays are provided for each plant, eliminating the need for toxic herbicides and pesticides and ensuring reliable food production.

The hydroponic system involves growing plants without soil and using nutrient-rich water instead. Even though water is essential for this system, it requires less water than traditional farming methods, making it more sustainable and cost-effective. Additionally, the use of LED lighting allows farmers to grow crops year-round in any climate, providing a consistent source of fresh produce for consumers.

Generally, the plants are placed in a growing medium. The process begins with an air pump that oxygenates the water-nutrient-rich solution. First, water is sent through a pump to the highest row of plants and then the natural force of gravity enables its flow to the subsequent rows. After the water is released, it runs through the soil and contacts plant roots. These roots absorb the vital nutrients from the water, helping to nourish the plants for healthy growth. The used water then goes back to the tank for reuse.

The general operation works similarly in all three systems. The nutrition of the water used in aquaponics is obtained from a pond with fish, while the nutrients in the reused water are fortifying the fish, and mutual benefit is provided. The difference between aeroponics and hydroponics is; In hydroponics, water reaches the roots as it flows, while in aeroponics, water is sprayed directly onto the roots.

All three systems are widely used on various farms. While operating as a soilless and water-dependent system, it provides benefits in resource consumption compared to traditional agriculture.

Agritecture: agriculture+architecture

Packing harvested Bok Choy fresh at Sky Greens © Photo by Nigel Dickinson

We do not often encounter vertical farming practices on an architectural scale yet. These farms, which were generally created on a greenhouse scale, began to enter many areas, including houses. However, there are inspiring architectural projects that have been constructed or are yet to be constructed in this regard. It is possible to see how these vertical farms, which are aimed to become widespread in cities, will look and how they can be included in human life in these projects.

La Cité Maraîchère in Romainville by ilimelgo

La Cité Maraîchère in Romainville by ilimelgo

The Cité Maraîchère is a municipal facility for urban agriculture and sustainable food, as well as a hub for agricultural, social, architectural, and technological innovation. The building aims to be a link between traditional and modern market-gardening practices in a revitalizing neighborhood. Facing climate change and food challenges led the firm to create an urban farm.

Some parts of the ground floor of the building are reserved for social areas and the market, while the other floors are designed for vertical farming. The façade and technical details of the building are designed to benefit vertical farming in the space that aims to produce accessible and healthy food. In the building, where maximum daylight and optimum ventilation are considered, it is aimed to make farming convenient with kinetic details.

Jian Mu Tower by Carlo Ratti Associati

Jian Mu Tower by Carlo Ratti Associati

Wumart, a Chinese supermarket chain, held an international contest to determine the architectural design of the last vacant lot in Shenzhen’s Central Business District; this project was known as the Jian Mu Tower. The 218-meter tall building, designed by CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati in the competition, merged architecture with urban agriculture. It included a large hydroponic farm across its entire facade, capable of producing vegetation to feed up to 40,000 people annually.

Jian Mu Tower, also referred to as Farmscraper, aims to show that it is possible and essential to integrate vertical farming with large-scale buildings into the city. The project was developed with the consultancy of ZERO company working on innovative urban agriculture. The AI-supported virtual agronomist system proposed by the company is a system that monitors everything necessary for plants during the day, watering and aerating, and keeping track of nutrient ratios. The vertical farming elements with the kinetic system used on the façade can be adjusted automatically according to the sun demand in the interior and the amount of sun needed by the plant.

Sunqiao Urban Agricultural District by Sasaki

Sunqiao Urban Agricultural District by Sasaki

Facing the fact that China has lost more than 123,000 square kilometers of agricultural land through urbanization in the past two decades, Sasaki designed the area together with the urban agriculture and development area in its project. The project, which uses different technological vertical farming systems against the area covered by traditional agriculture and the energy it consumes, also works as a laboratory for the development of these systems.

Sunqiao aims to be an agricultural area by combining different vertical farming systems. At the same time, while meeting the needs of local food, it also cares about areas that will enable young people to receive education and contribute to this issue. As cities continue to expand, it has made it its mission to soften the sharp distinction between urban and rural.

Skyfarm by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners

Skyfarm by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners

The Skyfarm was a research project for the Milan Expo 2023 under the concept of ‘feed the world’. Skyfarm is an alternative to conventional land-intensive farming systems. A vertical farm is a multi-story structure that grows foods in densely populated urban areas or where there is insufficient land or poor soil quality. It was aimed to get maximum sunlight in the circular designed structure with a light bamboo structure.

Vertical farms in the project include hydroponic, aquaponic, and aeroponic varieties. The ground floor has a social area for visiting and a marketplace. Above that, there are water tanks and fish arranged for aquaponic production. In this system, the water with the fish is used in the hydroponic system on the upper floor, while the water comes back to the tank with the fish for reuse. At the top is the aeroponic production system, which operates in mist with minimum water use. The floor layout has been made to use water efficiently.

The Future Of Artificial Intelligence In Manufacturing

Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) systems and applications are improving at a rapid pace. According to Business Insider Intelligence, the IoT market is expected to grow to over $2.4 trillion annually by 2027, with more than 41 billion IoT devices projected.

Providers are working to meet the growing needs of companies and consumers. New technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), and machine learning make it possible to realize massive gains in process efficiency. 

With the growing use of AI and its integration into IoT solutions, business owners are getting the tools to improve and enhance their manufacturing. The AI systems are being used to: 

Detect defects

Predict failures

Optimize processes

Make devices smarter

Using the correct data, companies will become more creative with their solutions. This sets them apart from the competition and improves their work processes.

Detect Defects

AI integration into manufacturing improves the quality of the products, reducing the probability of errors and defects.

Defect detection factors into the improvement of overall product quality. For instance, the BMW group is employing AI to inspect part images in their production lines, which enables them to detect deviations from the standard in real time. This massively improves their production quality.

Nokia started using an AI-driven video application to inform the operator at the assembly plant about inconsistencies in the production process. This means issues can be corrected in real time. 

Also read: Top 6 Tips to Stay Focused on Your Financial Goals

Predict Failures

Predicting when a production line will need maintenance is also simple with machine learning. This is useful in the sense that, instead of fixing failures when they happen, you get to predict them before they occur.

Using time-series data, machine learning models enhance the maintenance prediction system to analyze patterns likely to cause failure. Predictive maintenance is accurate using regression, classification, and anomaly detection models. It optimizes performance before failure can happen in manufacturing systems.

General Motors uses AI predictive maintenance systems across its production sites globally. Analyzing images from cameras mounted on assembly robots, these systems are identifying the problems before they can result in unplanned outages.

High speed rail lines by Thales are being maintained by machine learning that predicts when the rail system needs maintenance checks.

Optimize Processes

The growth of IIoT allows for automation of most production processes by optimizing energy consumption and predictions for the production line. The supply chain is also improving with deep learning models, ensuring that companies can deal with greater volumes of data. It makes the supply chain management system cognitive, and helps in defining optimal solutions. 

Make Devices Smarter

By employing machine learning algorithms to process the data generated by hardware devices at the local level, there is no longer a need to connect to the internet to process data or make real-time decisions. Edge AI does away with the limitation of networks.

The information doesn’t have to be uploaded to the cloud for the machine learning models to work on it. Instead, the data is processed locally and used within the system. It also works for the improvement of the algorithms and systems used to process information.

Also read: The 15 Best E-Commerce Marketing Tools

What’s Next?

The manufacturing market is seeing a huge boost thanks to the IIoT and AI progress. Machine learning models are being used to optimize work processes. 

The quality of products is getting improved by reducing the number of defects that are likely to occur. This is expected to improve over time, and it also will heavily improve the production process to reduce errors and defects in products.

There is still a huge potential of AI that has yet to be utilized. Generative Adversarial Networks (GAN) can be used for product design, choosing the best combination of parameters for a future product and putting it into production.

The workflow becomes cheaper and more manageable. Companies realize this benefit in the form of a faster time to market. New product cycles also ensure that the company stays relevant in terms of production.

Networks are set to upgrade to 5G, which will witness greater capacities and provide an avenue for artificial intelligence to utilize this resource better. It will also be a connection for the industrial internet of things and see a boost in production processes. Connected self-aware systems will also be useful for the manufacturing systems of the future.

Preparing Your Workforce For The Future Of Fintech

blog / Finance Preparing Your Workforce for the Future of Fintech

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Banking has existed in some form for millennia. And for many centuries, the core principles and activities of the financial industry essentially remained the same, even as the scale of global financial activities grew exponentially. 

For companies and leaders, this shift has opened up some big questions. What does the future of fintech hold for organizations inside and outside the financial services industry? And what can companies do now to prepare their workforces? 

What Leaders Need to Know About the Future of Fintech

As a refresher, fintech broadly refers to the application of emerging technology to the financial services industry, generally to streamline and improve the delivery of core services. Today, fintech startups and legacy companies that embrace emerging technology are challenging existing financial services business models. How? By disrupting intermediaries, reducing fees, offering an improved customer experience, and democratizing financial services products. 

The promise of fintech has made it the leading sector for venture investment in recent years—even amid the challenging financial landscape of 2023. But fintech isn’t just for startups. It’s relevant to companies of all sizes in banking, investing, real estate, insurance, risk management, regulation, and other fields in the financial industry. 

The venture firm Coatue predicts the fintech market cap will grow by 50% in the next three years, with nearly unlimited potential for companies that can tap into this market while maintaining sound business practices. Legacy companies that don’t adapt, on the other hand, face a serious risk of disruption. To stay ahead in this fast-changing landscape, corporations and their employees need to develop the new skills and capabilities required to adapt to—and innovate—new financial technologies. 

Fintech Focus Areas in 2023

Microfinancing and crowdfunding

: Providing financial services to those who have traditionally lacked access to tools such as banking and lending. 

Payments and remittances:

Offering new tools for making payments and transferring money, including across currencies, with increased speed and decreased costs. 

Cryptocurrencies, blockchain, and other distributed ledger technologies:

Creating decentralized, highly secure platforms for storing data and conducting transactions and offering alternatives to traditional fiat currencies. 

Fintech startups have emerged in each of these areas to challenge legacy companies with new products and services that address unmet needs in both the B2B and consumer spaces.

Top Capabilities Needed for Fintech Success

To make the most of the opportunities the fintech revolution offers, major corporations and scrappy startups alike need teams equipped with not only broad industry knowledge but also emerging technical skills. 

The top three capabilities companies need to develop to prepare for the future of fintech are:

1. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Fraud detection and prevention 

Regulatory compliance

Credit risk assessment

Institutional trading 

Customer service

2. Data Analytics 


Customer service

Product development and refinement

Risk management

Investment decision-making

Regulatory compliance

Data analysts in the fintech industry need a strong grounding in core data science principles to succeed, as well as specific knowledge of the specific challenges and opportunities that high-frequency fintech data presents. 

3. Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology

Despite recent setbacks in the cryptocurrency space, blockchain and distributed ledger technology remain one of the most promising areas of financial innovation. The top use cases for blockchain in financial services include:

Smart contracts

Fraud prevention

Decentralized payments

Tokenization of assets


To make smart investments in this space, companies need teams that understand the complexities of blockchain systems and can evaluate their application to various financial products and services. They also need to understand the complex risks associated with decentralized finance. 

In addition to these core capabilities, companies also need employees with knowledge and skills in a variety of related areas, including embedded finance, global fintech regulation, open banking, banking-as-a-service, strategic finance, and financial governance.

How to Build Teams for the Future of Fintech

Globally, fintech talent is in short supply. Companies face increasing challenges in recruiting and retaining qualified employees for key roles—and even highly-qualified talent may lack important context and knowledge specific to the intersection of finance and technology. 

Berkeley Fintech: Frameworks, Applications, and Strategies, a University of California, Berkeley Executive Education course delivered in partnership with Emeritus, prepares teams to make the most of opportunities in the fintech space—and to meet emerging challenges head-on. 

This course, designed for teams in banking, investing, real estate, insurance, risk management, regulation, and other fields in the financial industry, as well as fintech startups, dives deep into both the financial and technological considerations to offer a holistic view of the future of fintech.

This two-month online course pairs theoretical knowledge with real-world applications and is structured around three primary outcomes. 

Section One: Building Foundational Knowledge and Understanding ‘Why Now?’

The first section of the program provides teams with a comprehensive overview of the fintech revolution history to date, the broader fintech landscape and the economic foundations of fintech. It ensures teams have a shared understanding of the foundations of fintech and the overall opportunity, answering the question of “why now”?

Section Two: Developing Technical Knowledge 

The program provides an in-depth overview of the skills and core capabilities that are driving the fintech revolution: AI/ML, data science, blockchain/distributed ledger technology, financial literacy, and a deep understanding of the ecosystem. Teams will learn the core principles of each area, understand how the technology is applied, and identify opportunities to use new tools to add value. Employees in both technical and non-technical roles will understand where the competition is headed and how to stay one step ahead. 

Section Three: Real-World Application

The final section of the program applies fintech theory and principles to real-life business challenges. Using case studies from both startup disruptors like Venmo and legacy companies like Fidelity, participants explore applications of fintech business models and learn from notable Silicon Valley VCs and others (e.g., a World’s Private Equity leader) about what makes a great investment. Finally, the focus is on applying new frameworks to assess a fintech valuation as well as identify fintech ideas or investment opportunities for your organization.

Learn more about group enrollment options in the Berkeley FinTech course to ensure your team is prepared for the future of fintech.

What’s New In The Fortnite 18.40 Update Patch Notes?

What’s new in the Fortnite 18.40 update patch notes?

V18.40 is a huge new update to Fortnite, Season 8 — Here are the patch notes

In the latest in the long line of updates to Fortnite: Battle Royale, we get even more changes to The Convergence in the centre of Apollo Island. There is also another brand-new War Effort, and this one is bigger than ever. Keep reading for the full Fortnite v18.30 patch notes.

Fortnite 18.40 — patch notes

The Convergence changes again

The named location in the centre of the Season 8 map, The Convergence, features The Golden Cube, surrounded by a mass of bouncy, pink Corruption Cubes. The area was seemingly created by The Cube Queen, who has been floating above it in a golden sphere.

The Convergence has been growing throughout the season, and gets another overhaul in update v18.40, getting bigger still as we get closer to the end of Cubed: Season 8.

Shopping Carts return!

That’s right, everyone’s favourite ‘vehicle’ is back on the island. Holding no real competitive edge, the shopping cart is just a whole lot of fun. Well, for the person riding it. If you’re pushing it – or in front of it – not so much…

War Effort — The Salvaged BRUTE

The latest War Effort takes on a new form, as you are now no longer voting between two weapons. Now you are just going to be funding the addition of The Salvaged BRUTE.

If the War Effort gets fully funded, the new (nerfed) BRUTE will be dropped onto the island for players to mount and take into battle against hordes of Cube Monsters, with a new combat design built for the job.

Now, if you’re remembering the BRUTE of old, which was totally OP and kind of ruined PVP, then fear not. Epic Games has stripped down the BRUTE this time, leaving it far easier to counter and defeat.

Naruto and Team 7 come to Fortnite v18.40

Of course, the news you’ve been waiting for, Naruto finally comes to Fortnite. Following months of rumors, four new skins bundles are available in the Item Shop, for Naruto himself, Sasuke, Sakura and Kakashi, the latter of which will also be appearing as a new Island Character. Naruto, Sakura and Kakashi will come with two style variants, while Sasuke will come with the Snake Sword Pickaxe.

The collaboration will also feature new loading screens, as well as a new Naruto-themed Creative Hub, and, with Kakashi as an Island Character, you’ll be able to collect new Ninja-themed challenges to complete while you traverse Apollo island. In order to help you in your quests, the Paper Bomb Kunai has been introduced as a new weapon in Battle Royale matches. Find the explosive throwing knife in Chests or Loot Llamas, or buy one from Kakashi Hatake with Gold Bars.

There is so much more to the Fortnite x Naruto Shippuden crossover, and you can see the full details at chúng tôi Head over to the official blog page to find out more about the different bundles available and get a first look at the skins and their variants.

Earn Battle Pass XP from Creative maps

The new Accolade Device has been introduced to creator-made content. If you play maps which utilise this device, you’ll find there are new Accolades that have been set by the map creator which will earn you buckets of XP to add to your Battle Pass progress.

Fortnite patch notes – Bug fixes

Finally, there have been a few bug changes in v18.40. Grapplers were not available in the Team Rumble and Battle Lab loot tables, this has now been fixed. Also, cars will no longer disappear or move when players try to get in or out of them.

For the full patch notes for Fortnite v18.40, check out Epic Games’ official news page.

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