I have been delving deeper into crowd-sourced behaviors and the impacts of social media on society in response to a book I have been reading by Daniel Suarez. During my digging, I discovered a couple of interesting facts about social media that made me start to think about the impact it has on everyday life. For example, on Twitter, each day enough words are tweeted to fill a 10 million page book. Granted, that would be a pretty boring read, and I am not sure if emojis count as words, but 10 million pages a day is a pretty significant number. Likewise, it is estimated that it would take just a shade over 1,000 years to watch all the YouTube videos currently posted. Facebook recently shutdown one of its AI engines because it was starting to communicate in ways that Facebook didn’t intend.
When you compare those types of numbers to numbers of movies released in a year or prolific authors, etc., you see pretty quickly that the technology of social media has become the great equalizer in our society. The specialty niches of book, music and media publishing and sales have now been moved from the hands of specific publishing houses/management companies to the hands of anyone with decent equipment and good bandwidth. Not too many years ago, self-publishing was an arduous and questionable endeavor due to the lack of sales venues, however, today, you have your choices of where to publish your manuscript and the price you want for it. Have a song? You can publish and sell it through a number of music sites. Want to develop video content? Just get a good camera and get started. Not sure what you are doing? There is probably a YouTube video to show you exactly what to do.
The availability and the power of the tools we have at our disposal today makes it easy to disrupt an established business, but it also makes it hard to not get disrupted. My personal opinion is that we will see many more industries disrupted as technology continues to expand into new fields, such as predictive analytics, quantum computing and biosynthetics/human-machine augmentation. With that jobs will be lost and new jobs will be created. Garry Kasparov, the former World Chess Champion, who defeated Deep Blue and then was beaten 2 years later by Deep Blue, held several chess tournaments allowing chess players to use any computer software/hardware to help them in the tournaments and had some fascinating insights. He said they noticed that good players with good software tended to defeat great players with good software because good players tended to utilize the strengths of the software, while great players tended to try to force the computer into their line of thinking. Now, before you say, not me, let me ask, have you ever ignored your GPS because you “knew better”? We all do it in areas where we believe ourselves to be experts vs the machines. The point Kasparov was making was that we need to embrace the concept of working with expert systems and trusting them now to allow us to more quickly move to the next new economy and more quickly enjoy the benefits of the technology boom.
Anyway, his talk was fascinating and he has written a new book on it that I recommend to anyone interested in how technology and expert systems are starting to permit human augmentation and enable growth in new areas. In the meantime, I will try to get a little better at trusting my GPS…