Today was the day of the PHD talk with Wired co-founder Kevin Kelly, and I’m delighted to say it was one of the best and most informative talks I went to. Kevin’s knowledge on all that is tech is astonishing and I left feeling really excited for the future with all the advances that are coming in the world of Virtual Reality (VR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
VR, in particular, has been a massive talking point this year at Cannes and you can tell that the whole industry is bristling with excitement at the potential of this new medium. Everyone is still at pains to state that we’re still very much at the beginning of the VR journey (my favourite analogy being that we are at the Nokia 3310 stage) but Kevin outlined in his talk is that VR is going to move us from the age of ‘Internet for information’ to the age of ‘Internet for experiences’, which I found fascinating and in line with so much of the insight we see in the around millennials valuing experiences over and above material possessions.
AI is also increasingly part of conversations, and prior to the talk, I must admit that it has made me feel fairly uneasy; I’ve had visions of a dystopian future in which humans are essentially defunct and our jobs have been replaced with smarter, more capable robots. Kevin’s view was much more positive and plausible; that robots will take over work in which efficiency is paramount, but will not replace us in tasks where efficiency is less of a priority; such as science, innovation, art and experiences. The big changes on the horizon will be in seeing how all our everyday objects morph before our eyes to become smarter. The next wave of new start-ups will be of the same formula; take X, add AI, see what you create!
He finished off his talk with a line I loved; “the future is always hard to believe”, which is amazingly true. If you’d told me about smartphones 20 years ago, I would have thought you were mad (although my focus, aged 10, was admittedly more on Take That). One thing’s for sure…. our lives are going to look very different in 2036.