QUANTech #21: Solid, new tech and US privacy

by QICT_master


Digital information technology is increasingly becoming entrenched into the fabric of our society, and it will not be long before we all permanently connect via the Internet. As the extensive digitisation of society is set to radically change practically all aspects of our lives, QUANTech (#QTech) aims at helping you stay in the know about the rapidly changing landscape of both organisations and society alike in the digital age.

#QTech is brought to you by Denys Malengreau (@D_MLG), digital advisor to QUANT.

Reading time: 5-7 minutes

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Solid, new tech and US privacy

This week’s notable story is the article dedicated to Tim Berners-Lee by Vanity Fair. Between the appropriation of the Web by a few technological conglomerates, the siphoning of personal data for commercial purposes, mass surveillance or even disinformation and political propaganda, the observation made by the founder of the World Wide Web (WWW) is bitter.

Katrina Brooker, the author of the article, puts it this way: « The power of the Web wasn’t taken or stolen. We, collectively, by the billions, gave it away with every signed user agreement and intimate moment shared with technology. »

Observation made, the article tells us that Tim Berners-Lee has been working on his great new creation dubbed « Solid. » The idea is simple: re-decentralise the Web. Reading recommended.

The Next Web also published an interesting article about 12 fast-rising technologies this week. These include blockchain, 5G, IoT and quantum computing to name a few. On a personal note, I would consider five technologies to be potentially truly transformative: artificial intelligence, genetic sequencing, blockchain, quantum computing and 5G. These technologies pertain to robotics, IoT and big data, among others. They are worth monitoring closely.

We have also learned this week that California unanimously passed historic privacy bill to better protect user’s personal data online. The news broke just a few days before The Wall Street Journal reported about app developers sifting through Gmail content. Google hastened to react to avoid another privacy-related backlash.

IN SHORT (reading time)

 I took a phone call from the Google Assistant. (3-4m)
 AI beats human doctors in neuroimaging recognition contest in China. (4-5m)
 China set to become largest 5G market by 2025. (1-2m)
 Tesla hits Model 3 manufacturing milestone, hours after deadline. (5-6m)
 LinkedIn introduces QR codes to make connections easier. (2-3m)
 No, Facebook did not patent secretly turning your phone mics on when it hears your TV. (6-8m)
 Facebook introduces a new info and ads section on pages. (2-3m)
 Russia blocking Telegram showed us how fragile the Internet is. (7-8m)
 What we’re using: Getting back on the smart bike saddle. (4-5m)

IN CONTEXT: future of transportation

Is the future of car transportation about access rather than ownership? Is there any technological determinism? I did highlight an article from The Next Web mentioning a study which considers that « owning a car will be more expensive than relying exclusively on ride-sharing apps for transportation by 2027 » in QUANTech’s 12th edition. This week, the same site published a new article on the topic that got me thinking.

Even though car « owners spend tens of thousands of dollars purchasing and maintaining machines which remain dormant 95 percent of the time », we must acknowledge that « trying to replace people’s cars won’t work » based on the current situation as car ownership is embedded in our culture, the author recalls. In other words, the switch from car ownership to access is unlikely to come in large part from those who got used to owning one. Like most societal changes, we will not switch models overnight. Societal changes always happen gradually. The old model lives on as the new one takes place. Like two tectonic plates, the new one lifts the old one until it becomes the standard. Do you see the new one lifting beneath?

As long as it will cost more to access a car than owning one, the status quo is to persist. But given « its beginning to look like an economical certainty that driverless cars are coming » as the author puts it, it is most likely that accessing cars will become highly appealing for (at least) two reasons: the price as drivers removed from the equation makes it cheaper to access, and convenience as you can access a car using an app rather than having to maintain yours daily. Saving lives, freeing up space in cities and fostering well-being are other reasons to discuss the societal benefits of a move from car ownership to access.

Then, who will challenge the status quo? « If it becomes considerably cheaper to ride in a driverless car than to own a regular one, there’s a pretty strong chance that millennials and future generations will happily leave the driving up to computers … Driverless car manufacturers aren’t going to be focused on getting their products in your garage, but rather on your phone. »

Is driving the new hand-writing?

Talk soon!

Denys Malengreau