How are the internet and the digital revolution changing our lives? There are probably more than a thousand answers to this question, so for this first-ever LeWeb Trends Review — inspired by several online publications over the past few weeks — we’ve decided to focus on some of the major changes happening in technology and innovation.
Has “the age of internet ubiquity” arrived? To this question, Business Insider answers yes — and it’s a resounding yes, judging by their forecasts for the upcoming years (see chart above). In other words, “the world is moving beyond standalone devices into a new era where everything is connected”, be it TVs, cars, wearables, not to mention the already numerous smartphones, tablets and other devices we find so hard to live without now.
The “Internet of Things” is undoubtedly bringing much hope to many areas of our lives, such as healthcare. The Huffington Post points out that it may well help us live better, thanks to connected information, for instance. But the security risks are real: more than ever, control is key when it comes to connected objects. That is, at least, what Intel VP Doug Davis acknowledged last month in an interview where he stressed his priorities for the company’s future products: “It’s very important for us to create a secure capability in the device, so that we know what its integrity is at the time that it boots up.” See the full video below:
With more and more machines around us, calculating faster than before, we may be just one step away from omnipresent artificial intelligence (AI). A far-fetched assumption for some, but not to acclaimed physicist and academician Stephen Hawking, who warns against the dangers of uncontrolled technology in The Indepedent: “Whereas the short-term impact of AI depends on who controls it, the long-term impact depends on whether it can be controlled at all.” The Latin Post commented on Hawking’s statement, pointing out that even experts “agree the IT arms race has insufficient controls.”
Even if that Terminator-like apocalypse hasn’t happened yet, the consequences of AI are already inspiring creators all over the world, such as filmmakers: in Spike Jonze’s near-future feature Her, a man falls in love with his digital assistant. That inspired DNews to make a video about the history of artificial intelligence, stressing that computers capable of human-like thought won’t be available before 2018… And those are the “aggresively positive estimates!” Watch the video right here:
In the meantime, the first steps towards artificial intelligence are perhaps best embodied by everyday tools like Nest, a thermostat that learns the preferences of its users and can be controlled via a smartphone. In a video made by The Economist late last year, its CEO Tony Fadell linked the emergence of “smart” objects to our need to save time and better control our lives in “a congestion-based economy”, taking the examples of car- and home-sharing.
Which segues neatly into another major trend: the sharing economy! LeWeb’14 Paris curator Jeremiah Owyang recently published an incredibly handy overview of today’s collaborative economy: be sure to dive in!
Although it remains very hard to predict how the internet will re-shape industries, we do have some past examples we can learn from. As Quartz reminds us, what happened to the music industry over the past decade is a typical disruption effect, where new business models emerge and incumbent players are threatened. Moreover, the very product — in this case, music tracks — or at least its consumption, is transformed irrevocably: “Music is no longer a commodity, it’s an environment, or atmospheric element. Consumers have much more choice and you see people indulging in the specificity of their tastes dramatically more. They only bother with music they like”, says rock music producer Steve Albini. Not to mention new tools available to artists, such as wearable tech: in a recent post, Create Digital Music explored the case of gloves designed to manipulate digital music, a project supported by artist Imogen Heap.
The last major trend we’ve witnessed in recent weeks is successful tech companies’ move towards philanthropy, encouraged by influencers such as Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff “to donate their time, equity, and products to charity”, notably to fighting poverty in San Francisco, as Valleywag points out. Can SF be a model for the future of philanthropy? Probably, but be sure to read The Guardian‘s interviews with 11 leaders to get a glimpse of the shape of things to come.
This and more in our new “LeWeb Trends” Scoop.it page, where we curate news about the tech trends shaping the world today, before discussing them onstage at future editions of LeWeb.
Featured image credit: “The Internet Of Everything” – Forecasts by BI Intelligence Estimates