How did Kevin Kelly judge the future trend at BFA’s sub-forum on digital economy?

On April 9, at the Sub-Forum on Digital Economy during the Boao Forum for Asia, experts had gathered to discuss the topic of “Digital Economy: The Value of Wisdom”. Kevin Kelly (founding editor-in-chief of Wired magazine), Ge Qi (Managing Partner of Diligence Capital), Jeffrey Wernick (independent investor focused on the digital economy and sharing economy), John D. Maatta (CEO of Wizard World), Harry Kloor (expert in the field of robot and artificial intelligence), Bennett Pozil (Executive Vice President of East West Bank), Miao Bulin (CEO of Beijing CNLive Culture Media Inc.),Liu Dahong (founder of Beijing Lingzhu Technology Limited), Lin Ning (founder & CEO of Beijing Weiying Technology Co., Ltd.), Wu Peng (founder of Yuanben Blockchain Limited), Ren Feng (founder of Digital Economy Collaboration Innovation Laboratory (DECIL)), Gao Dongliang (President of Beijing Yunchuang Angel Technology Limited), and other experts in the field of blockchain attended the forum and delivered speeches.

This paper shall explore the trend of digital economy on the basis of the contents in the speech delivered by KK (Kevin Kelly).

It is well-known that KK is an old friend of China, a futurologist, a preacher of information technology and a bestselling author. His futuristic trilogy Out of Control, What Science & Technology Want, and Inevitable, have been in the top-selling list. In his writings, the “popular wisdom, virtual reality, collaboration, symbiosis, co-evolution, network community, network economy” that have been raised are gradually coming into reality. It is no exaggeration to say that his ideas were 10 years ahead of current developments.

In the recent years, new industrial forms based on computer technology and represented by digital technique, have leapt onto the stage of development. Along with the rapid increase in the value of data and the continual innovation in technology, the previous national industries have gradually merged into these new industrial forms, thus creating new characteristics and new trends in the new economic era that are different from the past. As a new economic form, digital economy has become the main source of power for economic growth, an important driving force for the transformation and upgrading, and also the commanding point of the new round of global industrial competition.

Within this context, KK expressed his views on virtual reality and future science and technology development. He believed that some science and technology will merge with reality around the year 2020, thus changing our lives significantly.

Let us share KK’s 5 main ideas together.

Artificial Intelligence: Collaboration between Humans and Machines

Unlike some of the experts who are wary of artificial intelligence (AI), KK has always believed that AI is an important leap in the history of mankind. Iti represents a boon and not a bane to mankind. AI will merge with humans to form collaborative work rather than replace human. Even if AI is set to replace some of humanity’s jobs, it will create even more jobs. He raised the example of precision agriculture where AI machines allow each seedling of cereal crops to be accurately fertilized and irrigated, thus saving time and labor cost of humans significantly. AI aims at performing tasks that human beings are incapable of.

It is expected that after year 2020, such collaboration shall appear on a large scale including cars without drivers, robots caring for the elderly, MRI capable of reading the brain and so on. These collaborations shall emerge in large numbers and enter daily lives, hence changing our working mode and economic style etc.

Interaction: Integration of the Real World with the Virtual World

The core of interaction is that human beings have gradually created the virtual world represented by information technology, and human beings need to interact with the virtual world frequently to enter another world. Using automatic driving as an example, humans enter the automatic driving cabin through interaction with the interface. Humans are able to operate the unmanned car whilst in the drive cabin and the experience is equivalent to having another virtual, movable new home. In addition, along with the development of wearable devices and the gradual realization of virtual reality, humans can experience the other world of virtual reality with the combination of the two. (Editor’s note: with regards to virtual reality, one can watch the latest and popular movie “Ready Player One”).

Similarly, it is expected that virtual reality will enter the education and medical fields after year 2025. In the virtual world, human beings will experience scenes which are different from the real life. Virtual reality will also gradually merge with reality and become a part of real life. In the future, there might probably be roads specially built for driverless cars.

Sharing: Promoting the Emergence of Large-scale Collaboration

The appearance of the cloud and Internet of Things has made sharing possible. To share is to create interconnection that keeps information at your fingertips. Beyond such basic sharing, there will be large-scale collaborative sharing. For example, WeChat and Facebook have made information-sharing and interaction between millions of people a reality today. In the future there will be more large-scale collaboration. Such collaboration will be based entirely on technology and network aspects and not on real-life ones.

It is estimated that after 2020, every member of the world will be achieving interconnection and large-scale collaboration will emerge further. At the same time, the emergence of blockchain will make it possible to track and assign the workload of everyone from a technical point of view, which will also serve as a driving force.

Acquisition: To Use Without Possessing

Acquisition is another manifestation of the sharing economy and the concept revolve around the core of “to use without possessing”. The emergence of sharing platforms such as car-sharing and bicycle-sharing etc. are current examples of sharing economy, and such economic form shall become increasingly prevalent in the future. Another example is the use of clothing in the manner of “subscription” and returning after use. While such practices allow users to save money and enjoy the latest fashion, it requires the fulfillment of certain prerequisites, for example, having a sufficiently wide range to satisfy most demands and seamless logistics flow that ensures “subscribed” products are delivered to the home of the “subscriber” within an hour.

As a result, people’s lifestyles will change dramatically. From E-books, games and other similar products, to the basic necessities of clothing, automobiles, cups, computers, and even mobile phones, it will be possible for users to obtain access to any of them for a certain period of time in the manner of “subscription”, without the need to acquire their ownerships. Therefore, changing the city and the environment at the same time.

Tracking: Omnipresent Data

Tracking is in fact, the analysis and application of large data. As data is omnipresent, it is possible to continuously collect, collate and analyze information on one dimensionality, and this represents the meaning of tracking. For example, data of vital signs throughout one’s life, traces of one’s behavior on public transportation, one’s appearance and expression on-screen etc. These are all part of data “tracking”.

With such “tracking”, it is possible to provide new technical means and ideas to solve problems. In fact, big data has already found application in advertising, marketing and other similar sectors. In the future world, along with the richness of the virtual world, data tracking shall enter a brand-new field.

From the guests’ speeches during the forum, we can see that the new technologies represented by cloud computing, big data, Internet of Things and blockchain are affecting the lifestyle and production mode of mankind and displaying their charm through digital economy. It is believed that KK’s five major judgments on future trends will help us ponder about the presentation and prospects of the digital economy.

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