Global captains of Technology and Telecommunications on a unity ticket @MWC
At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this year, the sense that civilisation is on the cusp of what is now coming to be known as the ‘fourth industrial revolution’ is palpable. Over 100,000 delegates, business and political leaders, and leaders from across the technological spectrum are here. Jitters about Brexit, declining oil prices, a slowing China and volatile global stock markets are nowhere to be seen. The future is bright, hyperconnected, super-fast and sometimes augmented, with the relationship between machines and humans never stronger.
The big themes this year are innovations set to disrupt universally, some already are; the internet of things, artificial intelligence, cognitive computing, self-driving cars, virtual reality, drones and robotics. We are entering a Cambrian moment of sorts where ideas (lots), skills (brilliant), technology (ready) and costs (low) are making all of these real, infinitely possible and really exciting.
To provide but one example, Intel’s CEO showed off one of their new devices. It’s about the size of a 50 cent piece – has the computing power of an entire PC from just a few short years ago, built-in wireless connectivity and sensors that can measure temperature, speed, pressure, humidity and about 10 other things. Cost? Under $10. The applications are endless.
Technology is doing things it’s never been able to do before.
Self-driving cars reducing collisions, congestion and emissions. Connected water (yes, that’s right) optimising use, quality and storage. Augmented reality-enabled insurance claim processing. Drone-powered logistics and supply chains. Hyper-connected farms. The only limit is imagination and the extent to which the problem has been identified and understood.
The opportunities for business, government and individuals to solve problems in new and innovative ways has never been better. Endless options, balancing innovation and regulation. New friction points will emerge, and be solved. The global captains of the Technology and Telecommunications industry are on a unity ticket.
Enter Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. Not too long back at work after taking 2 months paternity leave.
What I saw was a kid. One with hopes and dreams and who makes mistakes like most do. He was humble, soft spoken and judging by his visible perspiration clearly not that comfortable on the stage and would rather be hanging out with a group of his coders.
Zuckerberg talked a lot about the interesting things Facebook is doing – particularly in the virtual reality and video streaming space. But he quite deliberately swam against the tide of other technology leaders @MWC who are highly focused on the next wave of faster, smaller, cheaper, more powerful – and in particular the benefits of connecting over 50 billion “things” to the internet.
Zuckerberg’s counter point was clear “hang on guys, we still have over 4 billion people who cannot access the internet at all – let’s finish the job “. It’s a great reminder. When people, societies, and countries have access to the internet knowledge, transparency, democracy, education, equality, opportunity, openness and humanity thrive.
It’s not just talk from Zuckerberg either.
Facebook’s internet.org initiative is spending billions and driving some incredible innovations. He talked about one that will be live soon involving a solar powered drone – with the wing span of a 747, only weighing the same as a normal car and with the ability to stay airborne, several kilometres in the sky, for a few months at a time. Oh yes, it will have the ability to beam down a laser with the equivalent accuracy of being able to hit a 10 cent piece sitting on top of the Empire State Building. The vision is that this laser-firing, solar-powered, light-weight drone will provide free internet access to millions in remote and under privileged areas such as South America. There’s also an upcoming launch of a satellite over Africa to provide free internet to those who cannot access it there.
Whilst in Australia we don’t have millions of under privileged people without access to the internet, we do have a substantial “digital divide” – with thousands of people and businesses across a range of demographics and geographies not having access to what they should have in 2016.
So, in our pursuit to propel the fourth industrial revolution forward – which will no doubt provide opportunity and benefits we haven’t imagined, let’s not forget those who haven’t experienced what many of us have now been taking for granted for nearly 20 years.
It’s a good reminder that advances in technology should provide benefits to us all.
Sent whilst mobile on a KPMG hand-held device whilst at Mobile World Congress 2016 in Barcelona #MWC16.