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Scenarios for Smart Devices in 2025: Brave New Smartphone and/or Black Mirror?


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Presented by David Wood, Principal, Delta Wisdom

In this talk anticipating future scenarios for smart devices, futurist and smartphone industry pioneer David Wood suggests answers to a number of key questions. What are the key trends we should be watching, to see if they'll ever emerge from a slow disappointing phase into a fast and furious phase? How might these trends combine to shake up present-day usage patterns? Will the successors of the smartphone accelerate a Brave New World, and/or make Black Mirror a reality? And what can we learn from past predictions of future smartphone scenarios?

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Scenarios for Smart Devices in 2025: Brave New Smartphone and/or Black Mirror?

  1. 1. David Wood @dw2 Scenarios for smart devices in 2025 Brave New Smartphone and/or Black Mirror? Graphic adapted from Imperial College TMT event
  2. 2. @dw2 Page 2 Brave New Smartphone? Frightened into submission? Distracted into triviality? Manipulated into compliance? 2025 smartphone? SOMA Access to a fake world that’s more engaging than the real world? Something that deeply exploits human psychology?
  3. 3. @dw2 Page 3 first-president-on-facebook-god-only-knows-what-its-doing-to-our-childrens-brains/ Facebook’s first president, on Facebook: “You’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology…” “God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains” Mark Zuckerberg and Sean Parker on-facebook-2508036343.html
  4. 4. @dw2 Page 4 regret-the-monster-they-created “Most of the early employees I know are totally overwhelmed by what this thing has become” “They look at the role Facebook now plays in society, and how Russia used it during the election to elect Trump, and they have this sort of ‘Oh my God, what have I done’ moment.” “I lie awake at night thinking about all the things we built in the early days and what we could have done to avoid the product being used this way” “Some early Facebook employees regret the monster they created” Think harder about the consequences in advance
  5. 5. @dw2 Page 5
  6. 6. @dw2 Page 6 Answers? Questions! Trend analysis Scenario analysis Key skills: Imagination Collaboration Strategy Agility Enhancement Futurist?Disappointment ahead of disruption Envision future scenarios Evaluate future scenarios Overcome future shock Tools 1. Credible? 2. Desirable? 3. Actionable?
  7. 7. @dw2 Page 7 “History does not repeat itself, but it rhymes” Attributed to Mark Twain, novellist
  8. 8. @dw2 Page 8
  9. 9. @dw2 Page 9Vision: June 1998 Positive feedback cycle Spotted trends Anticipated convergence Patiently built a platform for collaboration
  10. 10. @dw2 Page 10 Handset manufacturers Consumers & enterprises Developers NetworksEnhanced 2.5G and 3G networks: packets, high bandwidth, good roaming, low latency Large volumes of advanced open programmable mobile phones Mobile services, content & apps: boost revenues (both data & voice) Rich component technologies (hardware & software) Standard open mobile OS The smartphone market virtuous cycle
  11. 11. @dw2 Page 11 facts and figures • Original (1998) business plan predicted profitability in 3 years (2001) • In reality it took 7 years to become profitable (2005) – We needed three additional major rounds of investment – It took longer than expected to evolve technical platform solutions • 8 years to reach 100 million smartphones sold (96 months) • Another 18 months to sell next 100 million (< 96 weeks) • Another 36 months to sell next 300 million (to 2010) • But by this time, the high-profile, high-profit smartphones were being powered by iOS and Android (“phase 2 smartphones”) • Symbian and partners had been overtaken by faster, more nimble, more effective companies from Silicon Valley
  12. 12. @dw2 Page 12 Disruption in the last 12 years
  13. 13. @dw2 Page 13 Smartphone Capability Time Feature phones (phase 0) Phase 1 smartphones 1990 2000 2010 Software relatively unimportant Software important Software critical Mini-computers Supercomputers Phase 2 smartphones (superphones) “Software is eating the world” The future arrives in waves Transitions between waves are difficult
  14. 14. @dw2 Page 14 New platform capability Disappointment Further Disappointment Again! Old platform no longer competitive Disruptions can take a long time in gestation Even though they may eventually seem to blossom quickly Previous platform New processes, skills & tools critically important New platform hype Poor usability, hard to configure Services & apps missing or inadequate Prepare for the change! Opportunity: Take charge of the change! Technology enthusiasts
  15. 15. @dw2 Page 15 Not being able to act on spotting the change Worldview Phone-centric (Smartphones phase 1) Internet-centric (Smartphones phase 2) Most important app Most important partners Third-party apps (openness) Source of most innovation US market Dramatic influencerA laggard (troublesome) Mobile industry “Nice to have” Network operators Telephony (phone app) Silicon Valley (and similar) Fundamental new value Silicon Valley developers Web-browser (& web apps) Smartphone characteristic Expensive, powerful, data-richSmall, robust, low cost Not anticipating the degree of change
  16. 16. @dw2 Page 16 Corporate inertia • It’s hard to turn around an oil tanker • It’s even harder to turn around a flotilla of oil tankers, all moving in close formation – Doing things that used to make their company successful • The company often knows what needs to be done… but is unable to implement these changes – Advice from analysts is often accepted but then ignored Knowing-doing gap!
  17. 17. @dw2 Page 17 Scientific method Open society 1st Industrial Revolution Steam, mechanisation 1760… 2nd Industrial Revolution Electricity, chemicals, mass production 1880… 3rd Industrial Revolution Computers, electronics 1960… 4th Industrial Revolution NBIC convergence 2010… Technological change +120 years +80 years +50 years
  18. 18. @dw2 Page 18 BN CI NBIC Convergence The 4th Industrial Revolution
  19. 19. @dw2 Page 19 Atoms Genes Bits Neurons Bio- Tech Nano- Tech Cogno- Tech Info- Tech Software Hardware BiologyPhysical New machines New algorithms New minds New life
  20. 20. @dw2 Page 20 B: Biotech: Genetic editing Stem cell therapies Lab-grown meat Enhanced pets The abolition of aging N: Nanotech: Molecular manufacturing 3D & 4D printing Nanobots & nanosensors Next gen Green Energy Quantum computers I: Infotech: Machine learning -> AGI Artificial creativity Affective computing (EQ) Wearable computers Augmented Reality C: Cognotech: Brain Computer Interfaces Next gen Virtual Reality Nootropics (smart drugs) Mind suspension (cryonics) Consciousness engineering Socialtech: Finance Ledgers Clouds Laws Markets Regulations Privacy Security Politics Planetary tech: Hyperloop Drone swarms Geo-engineering Asteroid mining Space habitation
  21. 21. @dw2 Page 21 Beyond smartphones? • 1990s: Basic phones -> Feature phones • 2000s: PDAs -> Smartphones (phase 1) • 2010s: Smartphones -> Superphones • 2020s: ? – Smart glasses (wearable computers) – Superphones in which AI is the leading app – SHAs: Smart Human Augmenters
  22. 22. @dw2 Page 22 SHAs that: (1) Keep an eye on us • Observe what we’re doing (not just what we type) – Listening to us, and to what we’re listening to – Seeing us, and what we’re seeing – Feeling what we’re feeling • Utilising – Speech recognition (and other sound recognition) – Computer vision (recognise objects, facial micro-expressions) – Information from IDs and sensors embedded in the environment – Communications within the IoT – Contextual knowledge – Computer general common sense more accurately than our own senses => The IoAI: Internet of AIs
  23. 23. @dw2 Page 23 The Guardian, 21st May 2015 “Computers will have developed ‘common sense’ within a decade and we could be counting them among our friends not long afterwards” Geoffrey Hinton University of Toronto “Godfather of deep learning”
  24. 24. @dw2 Page 24 SHAs that: (2) Act as our guardian angel • Prevent us doing things against our better interest – Especially when we may be vulnerable – Impulse purchases – Actions likely to be injurious to our health – When we’re about to be socially engineered – Impulse votes or petition signatures – People to spend time with or fall in love with • Utilising – Knowledge about us, the environment, and general knowledge “Don’t type your password into that screen” The evolution of our spam filters and our newsfeeds
  25. 25. @dw2 Page 25 Augmented Reality (AR) via smart glasses
  26. 26. @dw2 Page 26 SHAs that: (3) Augment our understanding • Provide us key real-time info about the real-world – Smart glasses, whisperers, nudgers, voice of God – While attending to work tasks – When we’re touring or sight-seeing – While interacting with speakers of foreign languages – While learning new skills (or hobbies) – In social settings (who exactly is this person?) – While watching TV or browsing online – Providing instant, personalised fact-checking
  27. 27. @dw2 Page 27 SHAs that: (4) Transact for us • Execute our intent, even without our direct involvement – With increasing degrees of delegated authority – Finding the best deals for us for goods we purchase – Recommending books or films or restaurants – Purchasing shares that match our investment interests – Steering us towards the best companions at social events – Rearranging our schedules and booking us into best parties – Sending tailored versions of our CV to job opportunities – Negotiating with the online AIs serving other humans The evolution of comparison websites
  28. 28. @dw2 Page 28 SHAs that: (5) Become our best friends • Engage us in conversations that enrich and enhance us – The evolution of present-day chatbots – Know us better than we know ourselves – Know the best time to broach various subjects – Know the best style of interaction for us – Avoid annoying us or boring us, or appearing to nag – Know the subjects that most intrigue us – Act as fascinating, enlightening conversationalists – Connect to our innermost self – Steering us towards important personal realisations
  29. 29. @dw2 Page 29 Online AIsSHAs Provided we solve the issues of security, collective human interaction design, etc Get the socialtech right
  30. 30. @dw2 Page 30