It has been a very interesting year so far. If the two to three weeks of this year have taught us anything from across the world, it is that character is important. It can make you win, and it can be judged even better when you lose. The two examples came to us from the 2 ends of the world, one from Australia and the other from the Not so United States of America. Firstly, it is difficult to ignore the attack on the US Capitol, not because of anything but for the highly publicised way it showed how Dictatorships take over. In the dictatorships of Africa and The Middle East to some extent you do not have such a rich history of democracy coupled with such a strong first world developed human rights agenda and such intense media scrutiny. America and the rest of the world must understand that it is not leadership or systems only which prevent a dictatorship, but rather the present of extremely rich in-country media and education about democracy. The police didn’t stop the Capitol takeover. The real blow to the dictator’s army came when Facebook and Twitter blocked his voice.
The second example of character came from the cricket series between India and Australia. It is by far one of the best examples of character that sport has seen in recent years. When you have some five or six players injured and you still compete intensely, it is that it is a team that knows how to survive and never to give up. The Indian cricket team, literally gave blood and sweat to draw the match and what pleased me the most was the number of people commenting on social media. The beauty of the series showed that test cricket will live on and probably be the format that would be the most watched as long as the pitches make sense.
But my first series of 2021 is a mixed bag. We start with what we should expect from 2021 and we end with what would be the technological drivers of this decade and will it be better than the slow decade that 2020 was. In between there are two beautiful articles, one about the Future and one about the past. I would leave it up to you to decide whether you are more fascinated by the Future of AI or the past of the humble “PDF” Document.
So here we go !
1. 2021 would be an open market in many different ways because the “the new normal” would be about reinvention and new perspectives. A host of new champions would emerge but a lot of old champions will try their hands at new areas. As flexi-working space becomes a crucial part of the economy, will Airbnb step into the co-working space. Will residential real estate boom and commercial real estate dive or will the new normal be almost the same as the old one. Will the rise of Tesla continue as Elon Musk proves that genuine innovation is a much better bet than finding another ad driven model in the internet world. Prof Galloway has a history of making good predictions and he is always candid about the ones he gets wrong. So this is your crash course on what to expect from 2021.
2. A simple theory of intelligence in a sense is that it is a skill of having perspective. And perspective is about using those neural networks to connect words that are never used together. Let’s talk about AI. In the past I have talked about the problems of AI adopting our biases towards gender, race etc. Now honestly I have always looked for a solution but the complexity in the system is that your biases enter the design. Which is why I think this solution this so elegant and so out of the box. Religion in its purest sense was made to unite, was made to be universal, then why shouldn’t AI learn from religion. It is so surreal to find the solutions to the problems of cutting edge tech in age old documents.
3. As you read more and more, very rarely do you come across such gems that make you smile. So here we are. The story of the only technology that has withstood time. It is the PDF. The story of the most useful technology that has been around for 3 decades and has still not been disrupted. It has the usual hits of starting off in a garage and how Xerox started off a generation of entrepreneurs who today have helped form the internet world we live in. But it is in my opinion a story of one of the first platforms in the world. The PDF team saw well in advance that to be successful you have to work across platforms. Today it may seem commonplace but I can imagine that some decades back, such thoughts would be revolutionary. This is also a masterclass in branding and how brand associations play. I for one, had no idea that Adobe no longer owns the PDF format. This is one of the articles that you shouldn’t afford to miss.
4. This is what I think of the technological innovation of the last two decades. As Peter Thiel put it wonderfully, a majority of the innovation and the best minds behind them were working on how to make people click on ads. Now the problem is that the technological innovation before that was very different. Whether the Ford Model T, or the assembly line of Toyota or the iPhone, these innovations made breakthrough progress in human productivity. And the chart works such, that as people grow, GDP/Wealth/Prosperity grows, but for one generation to be more prosperous than the previous one, the productivity per person must grow, that is you must be producing more value than the generation before you. In the last 10 years that didn’t happen. Now the next ten years look much more promising. If you are interested in the future of tech and how it would change our lives while also changing the way all of us work, then this one is a must for you.
Hope you had fun reading!