Throw away lines that change the way you see the future

Written by on April 3, 2017 in Opinion with 0 Comments


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Recently, in interviews, bars and conferences, people have dropped lines into the conversation that have – quite radically – changed the way I think about the future.

The first was during an interview with Simon Montford, Edinburgh based entrepreneur and IoT enthusiast.

We were talking about how the IoT will evolve and I was busy being wind swept and interesting and saying that it is becoming the Internet of Education, Medicine, Oil, you name it. It will be how arenas evolve and will determine the roles that various entities play in each.

All true, if not the most interesting thing in the world.

Then we talked about automation and he thought dark factories would make an enormous impact on our lives.

About two minutes later, I did that ‘wait, what, back up a second’ thing.

With automated factories, of course, you do not need light, or heat. Or people – they just pop in to make sure everything is OK. And, frankly, that is only to keep someone employed for a little while longer, until they let robots do it.

Imagine the cost savings involved if [insert name of huge car/ship/bus manufacturer] switched to dark, cold factories. Apart from, quite possibly, solving our energy needs, and putting electricity companies out of business, presumably almost everything will cost the consumer a lot less.

The next ‘wait, what, back up a second’ moment came by email, delivered by a company called ParcelHero. It was about drones and the future of deliveries.

Drones, another way of automating humanity out of jobs, are great. They can deliver stuff faster and more efficiently. It all sounds good.

Except ParcelHero points out one flaw that I simply hadn’t considered, at least not to its fullest extent. If you have drones delivering physical goods, they are vulnerable to attack by highwaymen. As David Jinks of ParcelHero says, ‘UK internet retail sales are now worth over £133bn a year. If these deliveries become largely automated and just 1% of items are waylaid using new technology, that’s over £1bn of goods stolen a year. The traditional highwayman was reliant on a speedy horse to intercept the mail coach; but today Dick Whittington’s Black Bess will be replaced by scrambling and jamming equipment aimed at intercepting or diverting deliveries’.

A scary thought.

The rise and rise of voice controls also gives rise to some unexpected ‘didn’t think of that’ moments. The most show stopping was delivered at the recent #DataFest17 conference in Edinburgh, by Costi Perricos of Deloitte.

Simply put, and very relevant in the context of the Google/Facebook advertising fiasco, ‘in a voice controlled world, where do you put the adverts?’

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About the Author

About the Author: Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet. He is publisher of DisruptiveViews and previously BillingViews. .


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