Predictions for 2020

By Addy Satija (, @huginnmuninn), Andreas Weigend (, @aweigend) , Pao Jirakulpattana (, and  Rhampapacht Vorapatchaiyanont,

Starting 2011. November 8th will be the annual Wold Social Data Day. This date coincides with the day of the speech "Social Data is the New Oil" that  Andreas Weigend is invited to give to the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York. In preparation for World Social Data Day,  the Social Data Lab has come up with a set of predictions about how data innovations will change our lives in 2020. For the rest of the year 2011, every week, starting with the address to the General Assembly on 08 Nov 2011, we will tweet one of predictions for the world. Each prediction is short and to the points, fitting on one screen. Our goal is to reach the largest audiences possible and spark some discussion around what we consider absolutely crucial issues about he future. 
We have ten years to see if these actually come true. In the meanwhile, we want to challenge some of the assumptions l provide fuel for stimulating conversation, , and help create a vision. We invite your feedback here on the site and/or as email to the authors, given above. 

The "Web" is dead

posted Nov 15, 2011, 12:16 AM by   [ updated Nov 15, 2011, 3:43 PM by Addy Satija ]

This is credited to Ryan Mason, at the Social Data Revolution reunion 2011 at Stanford GSB.

Ryan Mason at the Social Data Revolution Reunion 2011

The "web" as we know it will be extinct. There will be a frictionless way to connect to a data network rather than us having to connect a computer or a smartphone to an infrastructure network explicitly. Today, the Amazon Kindle Keyboard and Touch already offer devices with lifelong, world-wide 3G data connectivity. These devices abstract out the network infrastructure for the user. This will be extended to more and more devices as different applications become web enabled and different demographics start using the internet. 

Imagine just using the web - not connecting to it - and having frictionless access.

The web will be dead, access will be frictionless. We won't necessarily know how our device does it but it will be able to access all data and information in a seamless way.

You don't own data: the network does.

posted Aug 15, 2011, 8:25 PM by ‎(Admin)‎ Social Data Lab   [ updated Nov 7, 2011, 10:34 PM by Addy Satija ]

Today, we worry a lot about our data and how its availability can be used. We try to hide what we don't like about ourselves and share what we do. However, increasingly, the data that would be relevant to those we hide and show our data to - entities like governments and corporations - will cease to be static data. They will be more interested in our interactions and our relationships. To decide who 'owns' that data will be a very difficult question to answer. 

At some point, we will realize that the data is on the network. The value of any of 'our' data diminishes sharply in isolation from the network. Ergo, the network will 'own' the data. We will only be able to curate it to suit our preference.

The focus of data access will move from data ownership to data curation.

No more Games: Just life!

posted Aug 15, 2011, 8:24 PM by ‎(Admin)‎ Social Data Lab   [ updated Nov 7, 2011, 10:35 PM by Addy Satija ]

Due to constant exchanges of personal data, we can enable quick feedback loops in the area of health and energy consumption. These applications can be extended to many other walks of life. Today we use a system of virtual rewards and punishments in the games we play to help us achieve long term objectives. Once everything we do is measured and made public, we can replace these virtual rewards and punishments with real stumuli. 

Imagine our health insurance premium going down as the company knows that you are becoming more regular with your gym habit. Imagine your electricity rates going down if you lower your consumption during peak hours.

You will be able to earn real, tangible rewards for making better choices - and make real losses for bad ones.

The machine will learn how to work with you

posted Aug 15, 2011, 8:23 PM by ‎(Admin)‎ Social Data Lab   [ updated Nov 7, 2011, 10:35 PM by Addy Satija ]

Today, corporations spend a lot of capital training workers on how to use machines. This is equivalent to modifying humans to suit the machines. With customized design, we have learnt to modify machines to make it easier for people to learn how to use them. On the other hand, we have also started using an increased amount of robotics on assembly lines and other jobs where they don't interact with humans.

The time has come to build this intelligence into machines that humans use. Machines will be able to use a person's shared data as a learning dataset to train themselves on how best to work with her. For example, if you visited a dentist earlier in the morning, wouldn't it be great if the toaster knew you won't be able to bite into a hard-as-usual piece of toast and adjusted itself?

We will have machines that will use data we share about ourselves to enhance user experience.

From apathy towards extreme empathy

posted Aug 15, 2011, 8:21 PM by ‎(Admin)‎ Social Data Lab   [ updated Nov 7, 2011, 10:36 PM by Addy Satija ]

Wittgenstein said "The limits of my language are the limits of my world."
As of today, most data that we share is either a textual or an audio-visual stimulus. However, we are moving towards a way to digitize data about our feelings and experiences. Heart-beat and skin resistivity sensors have long been used in lie-detectors. Ultimately, data about a person's DNA will be able to be shared and made available as a part of libraries. Every aspect of our lives will be connected to some form of measurable stimulus. That is as close as we can get to telepathy with existing technology.

If we start measuring our eye-movement, our blood pressure, our tone of voice etc. and sharing it, this ambient data will balloon quickly and account for close to 99% of all new generated data. This will lead to a much richer instrumentation of interaction. We won't have to guess how someone is feeling because there will be a way to sense it. 

We will have a way to convey our feelings and experiences in at least one non-visual, non-auditory form.

Data defines Culture

posted Aug 15, 2011, 8:21 PM by ‎(Admin)‎ Social Data Lab   [ updated Nov 7, 2011, 10:36 PM by Addy Satija ]

Our concept of nationhood today comes from geographically, linguistically and culturally contiguous landmasses. Increasingly, innovations in the data industry will erase the relevance of our differences in geography and language. Today, on Skype, we can talk to someone in Singapore, Johannesburg, London and Vancouver at the same time. In 2020, we will be able to understand exactly what someone is feeling with an advanced communications technology. Real-time language translation will be ubiquitous.
However, the individual's attitude to the ownership, curation and privacy of data will be a large indicator of her culture. Today, we live in islands when it comes to privacy rights. In Canada and Europe, we have laws that prohibit our data from being traced back to us. However, in the UK and Australia, the governments openly use cameras and have access to immense intelligence and surveillance data about their citizens. As we grow up in these societies with starly different attitudes towards data, this attitude will become an aspect of culture. If cultures lead to nationhood, the current concept of a geographically and linguistically contiguous landmass will be irrelevant.
Our culture will be defined strongly by our attitude towards data rights.

The corporation will be born naked: just like you.

posted Aug 15, 2011, 8:20 PM by ‎(Admin)‎ Social Data Lab   [ updated Nov 7, 2011, 10:36 PM by Addy Satija ]

Today, a lot of businesses are agencies. That is to say that their business models are based on asymmetries of information. From the literary agents that know exactly what publishers are looking for to Hollywood agents that know which producers are looking to cast which characters - they all have a job because their customers haven't figured out how to eliminate the middleman. The advent of Craigslist has made New York Real Estate Agents obsolete in many neighborhoods in Downtown Manhattan and in Brooklyn by eliminating the information asymmetry that they depended upon.

This revolution will continue to move from the consumer world to the corporations. The modern corporation will be forced to shed its cloak of inaccessibility in favour of an open marketplace where everyone will be increasingly aware of their choices.

In the era of freely accessible, freely share-able data, these middlemen of information will not be able to stand a chance.

Cats have nine lives: you can have just one

posted Aug 15, 2011, 8:19 PM by ‎(Admin)‎ Social Data Lab   [ updated Nov 7, 2011, 10:37 PM by Addy Satija ]

Today people worry a lot about keeping their 'personal' and 'professional' lives separate online. Increasingly, however, identity will be socially constructed thereby blurring the boundary between physical and digital. This socially constructed identity could become more important in people's lives than their paper identity documents. Unlike a passport, the socially constructed identity will be stored on the network. To fake a passport is difficult but to fake an entire network is really difficult. It is easier to forge a digital document than it is to forge a set of relationships between multiple digital documents.

Those who insist on anonymity online will find it increasingly difficult to be taken seriously. in addition to getting a lower quality of service, they will also get a higher level of skepticism from those who chose to share their identity.

FacebookConnect and Google are major providers of pervasive digital identity today. However, it is easy to trace the link between someone's multiple digital identities based on the networks and relationships. 

We will no longer try to have multiple online identities and instead, have a single socially constructed identity.

From conspicuous consumption to pretentious production

posted Aug 15, 2011, 8:18 PM by ‎(Admin)‎ Social Data Lab   [ updated Nov 7, 2011, 10:37 PM by Addy Satija ]

Have you noticed that the new models of mobile devices have a camera that faces the user instead of facing away from her? This is in response to an increasing trend of younger people photographing themselves. If they needed a picture of a landmark, they would find it online. Assuming 100 people photograph St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican every day, more than 350,000 pictures of the landmark will be taken this year! 

At some point, we will realize that everything else other than ourselves has already been photographed multiple times at multiple angles and been archived in a machine searchable form. The only people we will need to photograph is ourselves. This trend is the premise of websites like Dailybooth.

We will take photographs to archive our memories and experiences only as long as we are in the pictures ourselves!

The end of remembering (and forgetting)

posted Aug 15, 2011, 8:05 PM by ‎(Admin)‎ Social Data Lab   [ updated Nov 14, 2011, 11:03 AM by Andreas Weigend ]

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