Digital Renaissance was meant to be a nonfiction essay on some of the changes our society is going through. Digital Transformation is a term very much used in business to address how the Internet, computers and mobile have blown everything to bits, and disrupted entire industries.
There are plenty of examples of large companies taken by the digital storm.
Digital photos took over film, and now smartphones are quickly eroding the market of compact digital camera makers that either create new categories, as GoPro did, or extinguish. Change is disrupting even the disruptors. Microsoft is no longer the company that powers most computer gear, also because computers now fit in the palm of your hand. Blackberry went from leader to laggard at fast as it rose in the first place. It is it not only industries and companies that have transformed. Our society is under huge change.
Social media changed how people discover things, how they share what they like, complain or fight for a cause. Narrow-agenda movements like vegans, animal welfare or even separatist and radicalism move faster than ever with social media echo chambers helping them create polarized viewpoints. With an amount of information that overwhelms people, complex issues are oversimplified. To make it worse, Media does not help with headlines that seek traffic and audience rather than truth. Conspiracy theories are easier to frame and fake news spread in a post-truth politics world.
With the rise of sensors, wearables and the Internet of Things, more data is generated than ever before, which make us more traceable and predictable. In two days we now generate as much data as all that was generated by humankind up to 2012.
Robots are coming, though not in the humanoid shape of sci-fi movies, but in the invisible shape of driverless cars or digital assistants in your phone or smartwatch. It is not a coincidence that Android gives name to the software behind so many of those invisible robots.
The key role of algorithms, machine learning and artificial intelligence in shaping our future is not yet fully grasped.
The future was not as we imagined it and the future won’t be as we imagine it now, yet we must imagine it in order to build it.
Digital Renaissance was drafted by end 2011 and it was meant to showcase through the eyes of a millennial the powerful changes that technology is bringing to our society. It takes some of the key elements that still today are the driving forces behind the society of the 21st century.
Through the eyes of a millennial we explore different angles and implications of technology changes and of the values that could lead us to a new cultural Renaissance of prosperity and arts, or to a nightmare in which inequality breeds populism and unpredictable consequences.
• Open-source Vs. patent protection (or over-protection)
• General interest Vs. corporate greed
• Long tail power Vs. winner-takes-all due to the network effect
• AI/robots/algorithms for the benefit of all Vs. for the profits of a few
• Stand up for your ideals Vs. go with the flow
This story is about all those elements that are part of the everyday debate among the people that are creating startups, putting ideas together, and that share values that will shape how our future will be.
It is about the nature of jobs, of intellectual property, about the role of startups and the role of money. And especially it is about the impact that each of our decisions play in the society we want to create.