What Comes Next?

Andy posted this fascinating Playboy interview with Nick Denton on usv.com yesterday. I read it this morning over a Cortado at Kava. I loved every bit of it. Nick is opinionated, intelligent, and interesting.

Here is one part of the interview that got me thinking.

PLAYBOY: What will be the life-changing or society-changing technologies that we’re just starting to see now?

DENTON: The internet is it for this century, maybe the next one too. People ask what comes next too quickly. To the extent there is some kind of message in the valuation that the market has given Twitter, it is that communication, information and media are at the heart of this phase, this cycle, and it’s a long, long cycle that could last 50 or 100 years. When you have an innovation as profound as the networking of sentient beings.… Those delusional futurists who talked about Gaia, the planetwide intelligence? They were spot-on. It’s totally happening, and everything else comes out of that.

PLAYBOY: By “everything else,” do you mean wearable computing, self-driving cars and that stuff?

DENTON: Who gives a fuck about wearable computing? That’s just a detail. I mean improvement in biotech, curing cancer, efficient travel into orbit, better device storage, solving carbon emissions. All these other problems will be solved by the internet by harnessing the collective intelligence. Everything else will fall out with that.

PLAYBOY: That definitely sounds utopian. To be clear, you just said the internet is going to solve global warming, correct?

DENTON: Yeah. Intelligence connected to human beings will achieve rates of technological progress that would have been impossible in previous eras. Of course we’ll solve problems more quickly.

I wake up most mornings thinking “what comes next?”. That is the business we are in. We’ve gotten it more or less right on social networking, mobile, crowdfunding, and maybe bitcoin.

But, as Nick points out, these are not the “next things”. These are just the ongoing evolution of the Internet and all that it opens up in terms of innovation. And Nick goes on to suggest that the way our society will solve cancer, space travel, and environmental issues is “intelligence connected to human beings”. Collective intelligence at work. That’s a big assertion but he may well be right.

At USV, we don’t invest in health care, but we are certainly, and increasingly, interested in the way networked humans can impact health care. We don’t invest in clean tech either. But we are certainly, and increasingly, interested in the way networked humans can impact the environment.

I hope Nick is right that “the Internet is it for this century, and maybe the next one too”. That means our investment strategy has a lot of legs.

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Comments (Archived):

  1. JimHirshfield

    “intelligence connected to human beings”Sounds like this community on most days.The acceleration of tech due to better human communication (with each other) predates the internet. Faster now than in days of telegraph… telephone… So I agree with his point.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      It’s mostly about resource management and distribution. As people have been able to pool more resources and more resources have become available, then more happens. People being more connected to resources, other people being included, the more efficient everything can become.We’re pretty efficient (though destructive in some areas) gathering resources, though access to them is difficult still – in the sense that getting resources to the people who will best use them is still not all that great IMHO.Or maybe it’s working perfectly how it should, though I see flaws within the system – or capitalism if we want to put a name to the umbrella of the organizational structures and systems that’s lead to these resource allocation efficiencies.I made a comment on HN the other day which relates to this idea, in response to a comment in this thread – https://news.ycombinator.co… :The “rich” were smart enough to find a way to be able to pool resources, or “lucky” enough to have been born into a situation. The problem is we need to be investing in everyone, equally, until they prove they can use resources better than others and then allot them more resources. The first trick is doing it in a way that is fair, and the second trick is doing this while in transition from the old systems.

      1. SubstrateUndertow

        Tall order1- making fair2- finding incrementally workable transition pathand let us add3- doing it all before resource depletion amplifies the food fight

        1. Matt A. Myers

          All possible, assuming enough people are reasonable and not being driven by and overly reacting with fear.

    2. JamesHRH

      It actually makes no sense at all.Nick may be interesting, but he’s a tabloid hack with a big mouth and poor manners.At this point, there is no indication that machine learning or AI are contributing anything to the problems he is listing.Fred, as usual, is right on point: networked human beings (with the time saving, space closing & data mgmt capabilities of the web to support them) are far more interesting.And, really, what kind of goober gets interviewed by Playboy in 2014?

      1. JimHirshfield

        Goober… haven’t heard that one in a while. 😀

        1. pointsnfigures

          Playboy just like the fact he dissed anything wearable.

          1. Donna Brewington White


      2. Dave W Baldwin

        “At this point, there is no indication that machine learning or AI are contributing anything to the problems he is listing.”Machine Learning is in its infancy along with AI, but they do contribute to the evolution of networking.Currently Google does have the best working the large data (as is IBM) and will evolve the Machine Learning to Machine Understanding. Per your slam on AI, I would take (talking present) a networked batch of specialists vs. the entire ignorance of strings of Twitter/Facebook. Push forward 24 months -each of those specialists will have even better interface with evolving AI to achieve needed steps faster in curing cancer, blindness and so on. I’ll let Fred speak for himself, but if he thinks between now and 2020 that the social network will accomplish more than AI/Human network… he’s wrong.

        1. JamesHRH

          Dave, We may be close to agreeing. Social nets are highly valuable, but not in this sense.Denton is talking ignorantly, however.Your point that human researchers tapping vast quantities of data that is consumed, organized and filters via AI is what I am saying.However, the tertiary nature of the human neural circuit is vastly superior – when it comes to insight / pattern matching / impact prediction.The digital binary circuit makes data ( distribution, management, comma) the digital juggernaut.The two together – which is what Fred likes (networks of people on top of mountains of networked data) – are uber powerful.A computer never comes up with penicillin, for a variety of reasons. Can AI & ML help us find these solutions faster? Absolutely.

          1. SubstrateUndertow

            Maybe if social networking, attached to the internet of things(sensors), can feed the computers a big-enough well-focused data set the computers can perform cluster analysis that mimics human inductive thinking or at least aid humans by highlighting high quality inductive discovery candidates ?

          2. Dave W Baldwin

            Technically that is happening/developing.

          3. JamesHRH

            Noone, and I know some people with deep AI cred, has been able to mimic human ideation.It cannot be explained yet, which means it cannot be modelled yet, which means it cannot be automated.End of story. Next topic please.

          4. SubstrateUndertow

            Heya bunch of cells managed to stumble into the that magic cognitive mojoare we not men !:-) OK next topic

          5. Dave W Baldwin

            It is not end of story. I’m glad there are those like yourself who try to put the reality into the story. Remember, I’m the one who wants (at this point) for AI to stand for Artificial Ignorance rather than Asinine Intelligence…..

          6. Dave W Baldwin

            Knob and Tube is Knob and Tube…. Where you are wrong is presuming everything is made and all things are today looking back. The cure for cancer will be the add in of self thinking machines in tandum with the human brain working the nano/femto related to bio.Per the binary, that will change to… it should by about 2020 where the tertiary will begin to advance in the machine. At least at this point the emergence of the parallel abilities starting to take off is a step forward. I must say I love Ng’s going after reducing the cost of a crazy project utilizing the autonomous from $1 million to $20 thousand and reducing error. That ‘cat’ project represents how a stubborn human can make something accelerate.

          7. JamesHRH

            dave, feel free to give me a list on insight that were generated by AI or ML.Self thinking machines are never never land. Machines don’t ‘think’ because the basic circuit does not allow the variance to do so.People are wired differently, making us better at some things and weaker at others (already listed).

          8. SubstrateUndertow

            Never ever say:never neverIn the long run the machines have the “BORG FACTOR” on their side.

          9. ShanaC

            There are actually a couple of experimental proteins developed this way

          10. Timothy Meade

            Humans didn’t come up with it either for a very long time. It’s one our greatest failings as a species.Look at the Darwin Chip, I think we are severely underestimating the ability of emergent circuits to solve problems of inference, but in a way that can’t be predicted or designed a priori by human programmers.

          11. JamesHRH

            If we had left the ‘discovery’ of penicillin to AI or ML. we would not have it now and we would never get it.I have never had any AI person win the following two challenges:1) Give me a list of AI or ML insights2) ‘Have a conversation with a computer for 15 mins.’The variables and context are still too unbounded – and that situation is never going to change.Why did the Palm Pilot teach people how to write one way? BEcause the machines could not handle the unbounded variability of human handwriting (and yet people do that everyday).

          12. Dave W Baldwin

            1) Insights- that will take time. 2) Conversation- sooner than you think, but the first step needs to happen which many in the AI community are missing as they try to grab the gold… sort of like saying you can start at Step C without doing Step A.I’m glad the tools to achieve (2) are starting to get in my reach…

          13. JamesHRH

            Dave, I am not anti-AI/ML inasmuch as I am anti thinking machines.Algorithms operate at ridiculously higher speeds / higher certainty than human beings. They are awesome, but they have limitations.The argument for thinking machines is that a sheer volume of binary comparisons will match human ideation / insight.I see no basis for that argument & a solid basis that would undermine it.

          14. Dave W Baldwin

            I know and appreciate where you hold the bar.You’re correct that the speed of processing data does not make the machine smart, it is knowing what to do with it and want to find more.As a closer on this round, I have to say I’m excited by the discovery of the part of the brain that may be the conscience reported by Cambridge (I think). This ‘part’ is what questions right or wrong (leading us into higher social behavior which saved our ass), followed by why is it right or wrong (enhancing our search for adventure/discovery). It will take the tertiary as you say and I will never dispute that.

        2. SubstrateUndertow

          but if he thinks between now and 2020 that the social network will accomplish more than AI/Human network… he’s wrong.Are those to things mutually exclusive ?I’m thinking it’s the clever dovetailing of those to things that will drive our accelerated collective-intelligence mojo?Isn’t “AI/Human network” really just a subset flavor of social networking?

          1. Dave W Baldwin

            You are right. I was just responding to other comments that pan what the machine is evolving in to (is that supposed to be 2 o’s?). What will be great is the next step in evolution where the “scanning” of the media truly pulls what the user is interested in and/or thinking about.

          2. SubstrateUndertow

            I’m a little nervous about the on going acceleration of intelligently automated personal context.Yesterday, long after the bar was closed, I commented to William MougayarAt some point doesn’t the process of automating context get pushed too far thus flipping it from tool into impediment. It gets to the point where the user starts to forfeit autonomous/creative control over their own contextual realty.For most people, most of the time, their contextual needs are fairly simple. The average user has already largely saturating most of their core personal contextual needs. This endless push to monetize around commercially over-extended context surely leads to user burnout and backlash at some point?To me the future is about the organically complex, harder to reach, high hanging fruit. It is about our collective contextual visualization/control over corporate, political and financial governance/steerage.To me that is the real contemporary instantiation of the medium is the (social) message. William commented back this morningI agree with that, but that doesn’t negate more contextual smartness. I think both needs are compatible.We haven’t seen apps interact with each other too much.The most contextual intelligence we have so far is a) around geo-location – it knows you’re here, b) your friends – it knows who your friends are.Now, imagine the smartphone as a sensing device for your body, or even your daily work, and let it spit back some intelligence to you.I agree with everything in William’s comment but still all that accelerated intelligently-automated personal-context is an extension of my personal space/autonomy. It needs to be implemented in ways that keep the data and the AI automated personal contextual processes under my local ownership and control, sharing it only as my public/private discretionary needs dictate.I know that is a big ask but so are the long term consequences of relinquishing control over your automated-personal-context to the nonitization whims of the commercial marketplace !Intelligently automating/accelerating our collective political/commercial contextual realities needs to be done in the public computing space but personal contextual automation, not so much?It seem to me that those two process are being reversed in the commercial market place.Our personal-contextual-space is being openly monitized for commercial gain while our collective-contextual-space is being silo-ed into commercial corporate lockdown.

          3. Dave W Baldwin

            You and @wmoug:disqus are both right.I’m a believer in the ownership of your assistant set up. The hard part is it would require developing the phone/tab where your assistant is yours and then you/it let the apps flow. BUT, that would take away skimming your data from the big boys.Don’t make things too “bio vs. artificial”. The two do work hand in hand.

        3. Donna Brewington White

          I respect your opinion on this topic and was glad to see you weigh in. But I would point out that not all social is created equal. And even within social platforms you have different levels and quality of interaction. I think we have barely skimmed the surface of the potential of social. But social is probably too narrow a term…at least in the way it is sometimes trivialized…the larger concept is networked human intelligence…and experience. Which I believe is also in its infancy and holds inordinate power.

          1. Dave W Baldwin

            You make good point. My responses are just trying to put a little reality in. The social will evolve also. It is just a matter of the greater population will not see a network that is asking questions toward diagnosis among younger professionals as ‘social’ since they see ‘social’ as Fb, Twitter, Linkdn and so on.What is funny is the big companies are using deep learning to scan all their social platforms to produce data/analysis for marketing.

  2. William Mougayar

    100% yes. McLuhan said “The Future of the Future is the Present”.This means, we use the future to solve the present issues we have,- cancer, healthcare, environment, etc.I’d like to see more “collective intelligence” at work, like HumanDx, Figure1, etc.

  3. andyswan

    Also never liked the passive tone of “what’s next?”We’re making it mothafucka!!

    1. SubstrateUndertow

      . . . comments from the cyberspace peanut galleryYup!On the last leg of the journey from single cells to human intelligence the cellular participants were just along for the ride, swept along by the sheer statistical probabilities that drive the under lying causal necessities of the material substrate.On this leg of the journeyWe’re making it mothafucka!!implies some seriously collective responsibility in designing that evolutionary substrate(platform/medium). We have become our own abstracted-causal-substrate this time round.This time around we are required to building out our own atomic-table of network-effect building blocks all the while constantly redefining that platform’s network-effect components, as informed by experience, on the fly.Danger. . . Will Robinson. . . Danger !localized volitional malfeasance (unstable network-effect atomic-table elements) may undermine the operational dependability of the cyberspace substrate?The fundamental design characteristics we incorporate into our atonic-table of globally-reusable network-effects, along with their networking valence rules, will define/constrain the reach of our abstracted collective-organizational-intelligence.That proactiveWe’re making it mothafucka!!may at this juncture warrant some sobering collectively-self-referential reflection and design-constraint steerage(we miss you Steve) around the implementation of that global network-effect-substrate.Hopefully the have-at-it free-for-all of the marketplace is still capable of pulling order out of chaos at this level of self-referencially abstracted-causal-substrate.Where is the GitHub for collective cross-disciplinary network-effect atomic-table design?Are we simply running up against evolution’s self-referencial hull-speed ?A “fools-rush-in” version of the “singularity” could be our “Waterloo” ?the primal substrate of causal necessitybegetsfiltering via interactive probabilitiesbegetssynchronicitybegetscomplexitybegetsconsciousnessbegetsa viral colonizing cascade <—– (we are here – maybe?)begetsan all engulfing mutually aware singularitybegetsa universal process that has been pushed to farbegetsgods mind’s eyeflippingfrom active materializationback intoa universal black hole of silent holographic meditationbreath inbreath outstep and repeateverything is one

  4. Tom Labus

    I like his take on “wearable”.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      Wearables are really only exciting because they’re toys for people. Sure, some medical uses will come out of the entertainment and what not, though they’re not really needed in most use cases I have seen so far.

    2. Tyler Hayes

      Me too. Though mostly only as an emotional reaction to how overplayed they are right now. I think I’d expect to see a lot of convergence before we start to see real utility and bigger adoption: http://noblepioneer.com/pos

  5. JimHirshfield

    I guess it’s true. @aweissman does “read” Playboy just for the articles.

    1. aweissman

      they have good music reviews 😉

      1. Matt A. Myers


    2. Andrew Kennedy


  6. Matt A. Myers

    He’s very frank, blunt in his answers, and he’s correct – so that makes for powerful statements. 🙂

    1. fredwilson


  7. Andrew Kennedy

    My favorite part:”DENTON: Who gives a fuck about wearable computing? That’s just a detail. I mean improvement in biotech, curing cancer, efficient travel into orbit, better device storage, solving carbon emissions. All these other problems will be solved by the internet by harnessing the collective intelligence.”

    1. fredwilson

      yeah. me too

    2. JamesHRH

      Nick seems a lovely guy.

      1. JimHirshfield

        Make up your mind. Nice guy or goober?

        1. JamesHRH

          I don’t know what the shortcut is for deep irony / sarcasm. The punctuation version of 😉 that indicates arched eyebrow.Goober.

          1. JimHirshfield


          2. Matt A. Myers

            Gym knows his emoticons – he must regularly give his brain a workout!

          3. JimHirshfield

            Ha… strenuous

          4. Donna Brewington White

            James, the sarcasm was evident.

          5. JamesHRH

            I thought so, but I appreciate Jim being thorough!

    3. jason wright

      …by harnessing the collective intelligence… to overcome the thing that still holds us back….the vestigial selfish gene that lurks deep inside each of us. united we progress, divided we war.

    4. kenberger

      “gives a fuck”: reminding us that it’s Playboy.

    5. William Mougayar

      I disagree with that statement if applied on a broad basis. Maybe he was singling out Google Glass, but for healthcare, wearable/intelligent sensors and computing gizmos ARE essential.

    6. ShanaC

      I’m not sure if it is collective intelligence as much as collective data. You by yourself are boring. You with other people is interesting from a statistics point of you

      1. Cam MacRae

        Agree that collective intelligence is in this sense a misnomer. Actually, even when the term is deployed in its proper context I call bullshit — it’s just old fashioned mob rule.

  8. awaldstein

    “Who gives a fuck about wearable computing? That’s just a detail. I mean improvement in biotech, curing cancer, efficient travel into orbit, better device storage, solving carbon emissions. All these other problems will be solved by the internet by harnessing the collective intelligence.Just read this on my phone on a CitiBike en route back from buying lox at Russ & Daughters.Great thought soon to be celebrated with great lox.

    1. JimHirshfield

      You bike and use your phone at the same time?

      1. awaldstein

        Stopped at a light.So cool early in LES doing shopping and meandering home.

        1. JimHirshfield

          OK. Glad you’re playing it safe on the quiet streets.

          1. awaldstein

            New format is really mobile friendly to read.

          2. fredwilson


          3. awaldstein

            It’s a big deal Fred and works so much better.I still am not that comfortable commenting but you will see a bunch of typo ridden comments over the next few weeks as I decide to only use mobile for this site as an experiment.

          4. Donna Brewington White

            In part because I was traveling and in larger part due to the new design I have only opened AVC on my laptop once in the past week. The mobile experience has become satisfying.

          5. JimHirshfield

            Were you not on mobile at home?

          6. awaldstein

            Nope laptop at home on the roof this morning, mobile while out and about prepping for my mom’s visit today.

          7. JimHirshfield


          8. awaldstein

            Will do–son and family in town and my mom is really amazing at 94. Multigenerational connections are truly a gift.

          9. LE

            Post a picture of the three of you if you can.

          10. Donna Brewington White

            What a happy thought. Relishing this day with you. Photos please.

          11. awaldstein

            I share them in different ways in different places.Truly wonder–generational, fantastic weather and vistas. Lox and Bialys, a bottle of old Tissot La Mailloche and now easing into the evening on the roof with some natural bubbles.

    2. fredwilson

      so many things to like about this comment. citibike, russ & daughters, lox, reading on your phone

    3. William Mougayar

      so no more snow on the streets of NY? we have enough snow to last until May probably this year.

      1. awaldstein

        So beautiful today. Warm, melting stuff but sweatshirt weather.Will hang outside with the family and brunch.

        1. pointsnfigures

          Next polar vortex shaping up. I am thinking I want Joe Willie Namath’s coat more and more.

          1. awaldstein

            #polarvortex was one of the most tags terms on Instagram this winter in NY.Never knew what it meant before.

          2. pointsnfigures

            Me neither. We just called it an Alberta Clipper or being cold. I dislike the “naming” of winter storms too.

        2. LE

          If you had a car you’d be washing it today to get all the salt off.

  9. pointsnfigures

    I loved a lot of the interview, but looked on this comment as a double edged sword: “There are stupid pictures or sex pictures of pretty much everybody. And if those things are leaked or deliberately shared, I think the effect is to change the institutions rather than to damage the individuals.”-There is some stuff that could be lies that are shared, doctored photos, or stupid photos taken out of context. Could ruin a persons life

  10. vruz

    The vision has legs. Insisting on economies of scale *only*, under the traditional startup model, following the logic of the dinosaur corporation, doesn’t.

  11. Twain Twain

    The question would be is it Google or Facebook that is technologically best positioned to tap into this “collective intelligence”?FB is the world’s largest social network.Google is building up its AI to understand everything we’ve uploaded onto the Web (aka “Global Brain”).* http://www.theguardian.com/

    1. fredwilson

      those two companies are engaged in a talent war in the AI/machine learning field right now that is nuts. paying ungodly sums of money for talent right now

      1. William Mougayar

        The robots are coming.

      2. Twain Twain

        And yet none of those AI experts have had the epiphany yet that the machines can’t parse the meaning of words and sentences because:(1.) the semantic structures in the algorithms are inadequate;(2.) the sentiment classifications provided by both W3C and the reference lexical databases aren’t accurate, comprehensive nor coherent enough;(3.) probabilistic and statistical reasoning is appropriate for us, our brains and the machines that are trying to mimic that functional ability to correlate data sets of a quantitative dimension (e.g. product dimensions, price, socio-demographics, place geo-latitude-longitude, process metrics including funnels and virality, proof of the how many clicks, likes, #tweets).However, probabilistic and statistical reasoning is NOT the tool by which we naturally absorb, process, understand, apply and transform language.To create tools that could mimic that functionality of our intelligence would require innovation at the very roots of mathematics and language themselves.Innovation akin to Newton/Liebniz inventing Calculus, Pascal-Fermat inventing Probability and Dr Johnson structuring the English language in his dictionary.So Nick Denton’s comment, “Who gives a fuck about wearable computing?” is spot on.The moonshots are all to do with our intelligence, understanding that and then modeling the AI to work and deal with information in the same way as our minds can.

      3. LE

        talent war in the AI/machine learning field right now that is nuts. paying ungodly sums of moneyYou can only be as honest as your competition. What ever happened to the days of smoke filled rooms in the Poconos where they carved up the market? Or rigged bidding?Related fork of the day (thanks for the opening I’ve been meaning to say this):It’s nice that Zuck spent all that time cultivating a friendship [1] with Jan Khoum so he could have the privilege of buying a 55 person company for 19 billion. You know get close to him. Would never seem odd to a guy like Khoum the reason why Zuckerberg would have enough free time to hike with him.Anyway ha ha god knows what he would have paid if he wasn’t dealing with a friend. He might have missed out on the deal.Khoum is no doubt a street smart guy. It’s obvious to me that the friendship benefited Khoum (and he played it) much better than the asperatic [2] Zuckerberg. Zuckerberg overpaid because of that relationship. Greatly. Don’t care what is reported about what Google was willing to do.Why? Because spending so much time with someone it would be the person with aspergers that would be less likely to be able to pick up on cues and put together the true situation, that is that someone was full of shit when they wouldn’t sell their company for a lesser amount (you know the same way a good cop can tell if someone is lying by asking them 2 days worth of questions and interpreting signals).[1] “The two became friends, meeting frequently for dinners and hiking together. “http://www.bloomberg.com/ne…[2] http://guardianlv.com/2013/

    2. jason wright

      collective intelligence and facebook in one sentence, i never thought i would read that.

  12. jacopogio

    Reading Denton interview part about transparency and thinking that Dave Eggers’ The Circle will arrive sooner than thought!

    1. Elia Freedman

      God help us all if The Circle is the best the internet can offer.

  13. William Mougayar

    Let’s not trivialize this statement “Who gives a fuck about wearable computing? “Without the fucking data that’s being pried from your body, how else will we gather the collective intelligence needed to solve the healthcare problems?

    1. JimHirshfield

      I’m not sure that limiting the data set to just “fucking data” will get you there.

      1. William Mougayar

        Well, these wearable devices were the spark that ignited the realization that now we can extract better collective intelligence. It was the missing piece in the computation and data spectrum.

        1. JimHirshfield

          No doubt. And no doubt my humor was lost on you. 😉

          1. William Mougayar

            It was. I’ll look for it in other threads 🙂

          2. JimHirshfield

            I’ll be here all week.

        2. Timothy Meade

          What collective intelligence have we extracted from wearable devices so far? I could see Google’s Project Tango expanding our systems knowledge of the real world in massive leaps, but I’m not seeing a general benefit of current wearable technologies.Watches are used to indicate a message has been received, but not yet to respond to it. Possibly they can be used to mediate a phone call over Bluetooth headsets, with the handset still driving the network connection. Other than that, they are advanced iPod Shuffles with network driven audio (Spotify, Pandora, etc.)Google Glass is a passable first generation, and I do believe that glasses/sunglasses/sport google HUD will be come commonplace in a few years, but it will be a seamless addition to currently available designer options, not a new clunky hardware. It also will either be a small few-color display overlayed on the glasses, or a 3D immersive experience depending on what the user is trying to do. I do not believe that the current monocular implementation will be popular, because by the time the hardware can be scaled down to a market acceptable size the cost of a second projector will be negligible. In human systems symmetry always wins and aesthetic considerations drive consumer behavior to a degree few ‘technologists’ appreciate. There is a reason these things have been living in the MIT AI lab for decades.I’m not sure we can predict the future, but we can anticipate niches and build technology to fill them. We can translate Maslow almost directly into an investment thesis. Trends are not really relevant, what pre-teens of today expect as they enter adulthood is really all that matters. We can build cars, mobile devices, apps for these devices, better communication-driven networks that fit those use cases and help theme develop meaningful engagement. We can chase what a page-view company thinks is worth x billion dollars, or we can find out what the best of breed technology will offer in five years and build it today. I choose the latter.

          1. William Mougayar

            It’s still early days I think, but there are niche segments where lots of data is being collected.

          2. Timothy Meade

            I don’t doubt that massive quantities of information on heart rates and the like are being collected, I just don’t see how we get actionable information out of that. There’s an entity in Maryland that has the same problem, too much information and still fail at their primary mission because they can’t derive actionable intelligence. Yes you can get a salinity measurement from a deluge, but it doesn’t tell you much about the ocean.All the speculation about an Apple ‘smart’ watch is interesting, because appears they are building sensors into they headphones instead. Makes sense, gathering heart rate information acoustically from the ear.The current issue in the UK with health information is the one to watch, it appears people in general aren’t ready for even ‘anonymous’ collection of real health data, and the methods used to protect privacy aren’t effective. There is life saving information there to be sure, but the political problems and practical problems have to be solved first.Over the years, the leading edge of technology has always been heralded with applications for healthcare and education, but the market usually sees it when it comes to consumer applications, years later than the proponents suggest, and in entirely different fields. Wireless networks talk about the life saving applications of telemedicine, or remote monitoring of pacemakers. They devote R&D to clunky interfaces, J2ME apps, and the like to this end. We see PR pieces about doctors out in the jungle performing life saving surgery from an office in a first world country, using some advanced robotics or sensors. We feel good about the technology we are developing, but the economic realities set in. The same doctor makes millions more doing cosmetic surgery right in her office.

          3. Dave W Baldwin

            Here’s a different take Timothy. The problem with trying to talk of things that are here/now is they are not truly tested. For an acoustic device to record heart rate would be open to a lot of error over the length of time we’re talking about. I’d leave Apple out because Google is about to truly slam.What Google is doing is in AI that I’ll correct another commenter (he lives in today and wants to appear smart) is showing the next level for now thru 2017. The treasure trove of data (all media and e-mails and tweets and….) that is consumed at a much faster rate than humans can will do more in the sooner time frame. The next level of ML entering Machine Understanding will be the “big thing” since the awkwardness in human/machine interface will be lessened and the machine thinking about what you’re saying as you converse to find the answer will have impact.

          4. JamesHRH

            Consuming data faster is an advantage, but only if you have the ability to create insight from the consumption.Many AI people come up with a formula that says that X trillion calculations = creativity.Noone can make it happen.My argument is that it is not the nature of digital machines to do so.

          5. Cam MacRae

            I don’t think it’s so much the digital nature of the machines but rather the underpinning normative models.

          6. William Mougayar

            It’s coming. There will be gimmicks of course, but also more serious ones.

          7. sigmaalgebra

            The path from data to informationto action is often not simple.

          8. Michael Elling

            Just got Jawbone UP 2/1, so less than a month. Their comments reflecting both my sleep and activity relative to others around me are great. They are doing it.

      2. pointsnfigures

        7 minutes in New Mexico.

        1. JimHirshfield

          Are you bragging?

          1. pointsnfigures

            I am in Chicago, according to Buzzfeed it’s only 2-3 minutes here. Maybe that’s the real Chicago Machine.

    2. SubstrateUndertow

      Don’t forget data being pried from our toilets!

    3. sigmaalgebra

      You are addressing a question aboutwhat is important in medical research.The potential of wearable computingfor medical research is a serious issueof medical research methodology. Yes,no doubt there will be some roles,likely already are, for such data gathering and even control (e.g.,heart pacemakers), but a good responseto the serious issue promises not tobe obvious or trivial.

  14. Twain Twain

    To me, wearable is simply a sub-category of mobile just as vehicles are.The two main distribution platforms so far are web and mobile.The next distribution platform would be about our skins, possibly as some type of derma implant or with Band Aid type plasters containing nano processor circuits.

    1. JimHirshfield

      A bandaid solution, literally. Hmm.

      1. Twain Twain

        Haha, Jim. Originally I was going to write “like tattoo transfers” but I realized men wouldn’t be able to relate to those so I used Band Aid instead.You see, in the makeup section of department stores they sell transferrable tattoos so, instead of regular tattooing which goes under the skin, they get applied onto the skin.Now imagine if instead of the tattoo it was a sequence of nano processors that are appliqued onto our skins and could connect us to the Internet.

        1. JimHirshfield

          Now you’re just getting under my skin.But seriously, in the age of all natural and organic products, do you think there’s a mass market for non-medically indicated tech that’s in or on the body?

          1. Twain Twain

            I’m not persuaded by tech that’s in or on the body and certainly not in its current forms.By way of background, I’m aware that Ray Kurzweil of Google has thought about tech so small it can be in our blood capillaries and control our brains, and I know Microsoft is sponsoring this “on the skin” technology:* http://www.marketplace.org/…* http://www.youtube.com/watc…So when I write what I do, it’s within the context of these frames of reference to what other technologists are doing for “What Comes Next?”In the mass market there are enough technical challenges with even simple things like how to get content displayed consistently across multiple browsers, that the “What comes next” is often focussed around those immediate to-solves rather than any under the skin or on the skin solutions.My observation is just that Web, mobile and skin could be the three primary distribution categories.And, actually, instead of skin it’s probably BIO.

          2. Timothy Meade

            There’s a huge market for plastic beads integrated into cosmetic products, sold as exfoliate or otherwise. Of course, the Dolphin/Tuna moment might be coming, but the draw of these products seems to be overwhelming any ‘environmental’ push-back at the moment.

  15. jason wright

    what comes next? Earth node joins the galactic network and we then really start to see innovation on this small planet.

    1. JimHirshfield

      Everything comes next.

      1. jason wright

        yes. i just hope we don’t forget who we are as we go through it. it’s exciting but disconcerting too. lots of adjustments required.

        1. Donna Brewington White

          Who are we?

          1. jason wright

            me, you, him, her, and anyone else old enough to remember friends and relatives ‘schooled’ in a social culture being digitally disintegrated at a rapid rate. we are living on the fault line between this old way that evolved super slowly over centuries from village to town to city, to this new way which is rising up almost overnight.I cite the film Forbidden Planet. The Krell forgot who they were.

          2. jason wright

            me, you, him, her. we’re all in it together. from village, to town, to city took a long time. It’s our collective heritage. digital disintegrates it. we need to remember our heritage to survive.I cite the film Forbidden Planet. The Krell forgot who they were. It ended badly for them.

          3. Donna Brewington White

            So would you say that identity requires a history? And if no past, then no future?

          4. jason wright

            identity is but a single word. its meanings are many.a past is from where we curate the many bits that could contribute to form our present identity. the future is where we have the potential to create news bits.

          5. Donna Brewington White

            We have to go pubbing some day, Jason. 🙂

  16. lisa hickey

    “Who gives a f*ck about wearable computing?” I do. Here’swhy.Every new communication device — every new form of connecting to the internet and connecting to other people, changed the way I think. It allowed me and everyone I know to actually become more intelligent.Google, just for the obvious example, allowed me to think in different ways because I was able to get answers immediately to things I had previously guessed at. It helped me become more intelligent not just because I had a bigger knowledge base, but because I was able to incorporate facts and objective truths into my own thought process in close to real time. Google gave me “guess and check” on steroids. Twitter, likewise, changed the way I thought because it connected me with thousands of people I had never met before, ordinary people, with rapid-fire things to say. Whereas Google changed the way I acquired information, Twitter changed the way I put that information out in the world and got feedback. It taught me to share and teach as well as to learn. I could give you similar stories of how texting, laptops, mapping technology and almost every other technology/communication device changed the way I think.It’s not so much about collective intelligence as it is about collective evolving intelligence. That is why the interviewer puts a little snark into “to be clear, you just said the internet is going to solve global warming, correct?” It’s because he, the interviewer, doesn’t have the intelligence at this moment to time to solve global warming. Fair enough. Neither do I. So how could it be possible? How can you even see it as possible? But the part that is left out is that, yes, not only are there some individuals who probably have the knowledge to solve it (but don’t have the resources), and yes, not only will the collective ideas become stronger and smarter than the individual ideas. But I truly think that the individuals themselves will become smarter, better idea creators, better problem solvers, and better able to see how to create a world where global warming doesn’t happen or can be reversed. And—almost as importantly—technology will help mobilize people who can act on that information. Yes, we need the information, but we also need people who are smart enough and brave enough to make that happen. And we don’t have that yet. Collective evolving intelligence as opposed to collective intelligence is what is so exciting about the future. That is the only answer I care about to “what’s next?”Wearable computing? I don’t know how it’s going to change my brain. I’m not smart enough yet. But I’m gonna bet that it will.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      Well said.

    2. SubstrateUndertow

      You sure nailed that !Intelligence by definition is a collectively emergent property.atoms did itthen cells did itand now its our turn

    3. sigmaalgebra

      Global warming: A big problem is that weknow quite well what to do but also knowquite well that we can’t come within a moonshot of doing it.We know essentially all there is to know aboutthe ‘first principles’ of the atmosphere. The first principles are nearly all in physics; somemore are in chemistry; and some are in biology.Those are the first principles, and to say whatthe atmosphere will do tomorrow, next week,or next century, we have to build on those –they are both necessary and sufficient.Or we are interested in the ‘climate’ in, say,100 years. Okay. But from the first principles,we have no solid way to say what the ‘climate’will be short of saying what the weather willbe, that is, doing a global weather forecastfor 100 years. But as we know too well, westruggle, with techniques not really from firstprinciples, to predict the weather for more thanfive days. To address global warming over100 years, we need to do accurate weatherprediction from first principles for 100 years.For some of the first of the physics, wewill have to calculate the flows in the atmosphere.That is, to know what the flows in the atmosphereare over the next 100 years, we have to calculatestarting now. The calculation has to go forwardsmall fractions of a second at a time for the whole100 years — that’s all the physics tells us. That is,the physics doesn’t give us a royal road to knowwhat happens otherwise. Okay, we do know howto calculate the flows: It’s just the Navier-Stokesequations. But, we also know something else:The Navier-Stokes equations, on the scale ofthe earth, are way beyond what we can hope todo, just for the basic computing, for a very longtime. Moreover it is not so clear how to makeour calculations stable over long periods of time.The times I worked with the Navier-Stokes equations, we were struggling to calculate theflows around a perfect sphere. We knewthat once we got to some turbulence we wouldhave to give up.Then, as changes do develop over time, due tohuman activity or not, we will have to modelhow the ‘biosphere’ responds. Likely we don’tknow quite enough about the biology.Oh, by the way, we also have to consider theoceans. There likely we don’t have the required’initial conditions’, that is, all the data onsalt concentrations, temperatures, heat intoand out of the water, and the flows.For the atmosphere, we have to include quitea lot of ‘photo chemistry’ and not just theNavier-Stokes equations.Yes, I know; I know: For a simpler approach,we could take several cases of a reasonableinitial climate and weather, add some quantityof CO2, and run the detailed calculations forward for each of the cases for, say, 50years and see what the effects would be and ifthe effects are similar for all the cases. Well,that approach would be less solid, and it’s still very much too difficult to do.Basically we just have no solid way to calculatethe ‘climate’ except to calculate the ‘weather’one cubic millimeter or smaller over the wholeearth over time, and we can’t do that calculationbecause our computers are not nearly powerfulenough.Again, we do have the fundamentals and doknow what to do but also know we can’t do it.That’s some of what we face trying to do science for ‘global warming’. Net, so far wedon’t have even a weak little tiny clue of ahollow hint what the climate will be likein 5, 10, 50, or 100 years or any really solidway to tell other than just to say the climatewill behave much like it seemed to in the past,from what data, say, from ice cores, we dohave.. Sorry ’bout that!

  17. feargallkenny

    Interesting implied concept in the article: A glassdoor for employees and company leadership. It would certainly be a step up from LinkedIn recommendations and endorsements!

    1. Drew Meyers

      doesn’t glassdoor already handle that?

      1. feargallkenny

        Not That I am aware of for real reviews of the workers. It gives real reviews of employers

        1. Drew Meyers

          gotcha. Totally agree. Real reviews of workers, by people who have been confirmed as co-workers would be valuable. Many many people on LI have left me recommendations….and never worked with me. The way LI does it, it just reinforces what others have already voted but recommendations from people I have never worked with or even know in person mean absolutely nothing.Quality, not quantity (LI)

          1. pointsnfigures

            want to see a really neat startup platform doing stuff for performance in the workplace, check out juvodhr.com

          2. LE

            Is this one of your investments? If so you may want to strongly encourage them to change their name to something better than “Juvod HR”.

  18. Elia Freedman

    I started in the old, disconnected software world and have migrated to the new, connected app and web services world. This has been an occasionally painful but enlightening transition for me and I feel like I am finally thinking natively.One conclusion I’ve come to is that it was the internet that really forced this change, not software or App Stores or anything else. The mobile app market didn’t arise until the devices it ran on suddenly became connected all the time.Another conclusion I’ve come to is that mobile is really not a unique thing as hardware itself. Yes, it is new and new possibilities have come about because of its size and connectivity and portability, but it is really the shrinking of PCs which begat the shrinking of microcomputers which begat the shrinking of mainframes. Wearables may very well be the shrinking of mobile.I don’t feel like I said this well so hopefully you understand what I mean. Maybe this is better: I used to see mobile as its own solar system, just like PCs. But I’ve changed my mind. Mobile is just another planet, along with PCs, in one solar system. The internet is the sun within this solar system.

    1. Tyler Hayes

      <3 the solar system analogyApples Newton can be Pluto, excommunicated

    2. ShanaC

      Then when do we learn about relativity in this system

      1. Elia Freedman

        We need an Einstein.Or we could learn that we are just the guts of a marble played with by aliens.

    3. sigmaalgebra

      Your last paragraph is okay, especially forthe basic technology, but that analogy, ascorrect as it is for the technology, may notin some important cases describe very wellthe view of users, the markets, the products,the marketing, or the uses.

  19. obarthelemy

    What comes next is probably more wars for resources maquerading as ideological or religious hooplah ?

    1. Matt A. Myers

      Unless we use the internet to organize people, make them realize this, and facilitate a better system that counters and leads to the old systems disappearing.

      1. obarthelemy

        Did paper, radio, or TV really move us that much forward ?The ballot box is the most important tool, and it is being misused and neglected.

        1. Matt A. Myers

          I can easily connect both of your phrases there.Paper, radio and TV easily influence people to determine how they vote at the ballot box – whether filled with lies someone running for election is spouting themselves or in attempts to defame someone in opposition to their views/their position on items.Now, did that move us forward? It did, though the misuse of it has not yet been adequately countered yet. How do you counteract liars? By building deep relationship and trust with people.We’re also very disconnected with accountability. Imagine if you went to jail if you said you’d do one thing once elected but you did something else? You certainly would want o 100% be sure of your decision beforehand. So the accountability or punishment for lying is non-existent.How to combat that? Being better than the liars. Showing accountability, building trust, etc.. The problem when you have a large population who don’t have the time to think through to solve these problems for themselves, to know the best answer and not a default position like “we need more jobs! [because jobs means money for us, which means food/shelter/security – right?]” – this is a separate problem though, however I think I’ve solved on how to manage this.

          1. obarthelemy

            My point is, technology is neither the problem nor its solution. People are. Technology is a tool, not a magic wand.And the Internet will not be any better at deepening thinking and catalyzing action than press, radio and TV have been. If anything, it will isolate and fragment like-minded people in their own little ivory towers, with only the least common denominator (Bieber ?) crossing lines, thus guaranteeing no cause however worthy ever reaches critical mass.

  20. leigh

    The most brilliant thinker that I’ve worked with is still Derrick De Kerckove. The Skin of Culture is a life altering book written in 1998. Working and co-authoring with Mcluhan for 10 yrs. Derrick has a way of not ever missing the forrest for the trees and will change the way you think about everything.http://www.amazon.ca/The-Sk

    1. Matt A. Myers

      Convincing. Added to books to read list. 🙂

    2. William Mougayar

      I remember him, and have the book. Good suggestion. Even McLuhan’s stuff is priceless and timeless:www.marshallmcluhanspeaks.com

  21. Guest

    Nice.When he says “that’s just a detail”, it doesn’t mean it’s not useful, but it’s really just an extension of the enabling platforms.It’s the same with the “Internet of Things”; it’s always been an internet of things. Just more things are internet enabled, simply an extension, with occasional earthquake-worthy extensions and couplings, like when Handspring merged cell phones with internet to create mobile internet (though crudely).But the key (for a lot of us it appears) is about enabling collective intelligence. I’d add that it’s collective intelligence without the traditional institutional barriers to collaboration. Scientists at a government lab can learn from hobbyists who can learn from the kids working on the Intel contest, who can learn from anyone.Put them together, and yes, maybe we can solve the big problems, specifically because networks enable the crossing of those institutional obstacles.Stack is a great platform for that type of collaboration, as were the original BBs, as were early science conferences, as were fire circles.

  22. Salt Shaker

    Hardly sounds like a futurist. I found his comments to be somewhat obvious, not relevatory. Yes, collective intelligence will help expedite practical and potentially life saving solutions, and the internet is here to stay.

  23. jason wright

    is playboy a popular read for the web tech community? i would never have thought of looking there for anything or cerebral.

    1. Salt Shaker

      Had a meeting w/ Christie Hefner a few years ago when she was still running Playboy. Nasty lady, who obviously had a very charmed upbringing. Her staff was obviously fearful about contributing to the conversation for fear of bearing her wrath. Hardly a progressive or community like atmosphere. Not surprising the brand is dead in the water, sans the playboy silhouette deodorizers that still hang from many rear view mirrors.

      1. pointsnfigures

        Interesting you say that. They told us what to think and shouted it with a megaphone. Legacy of the 60-80’s when you could do that. They should have switched their model and added crowdsourced material to it-bet they would be more relevant today than they ever were.

        1. LE

          They should have switched their model and added crowdsourced materialYou say that as if it would actually have been possible to not only time that but to re engineer a media organization with a certain cost structure to deal in a world where there is literally an unlimited amount of free porn to be had. (How many newspapers have done that? Do you think it’s a simple as saying “ok let’s just shift” when you have the idea?”)Not to mention that their strategy has been (as I read not an Playboy expert) licensing and by going the crowd-source way they definitely would most likely cheapen the licensing avenue.Playboy is still an important brand in the world. Local media celebrity gets engaged to a local sales woman in our area. And every time it’s mentioned in the paper they tell of how she was in Playboy in the 90’s. Every single time. They call her a “Playboy Playmate who works now in sales”. (She sold me carpet a few times and was in Playboy 20 years ago.)

          1. Salt Shaker

            This company has been dead for many years and is now almost solely dependent on licensing revenue. Their credit rating has been reduced to junk and in all likelihood the company will file for bankruptcy in ’14. Sure, there’s some value in their IP, but it will be acquired for a modest amount.

          2. Timothy Meade

            Like how Atari is a T-Shirt company?

          3. Salt Shaker

            Ha, but there’s something cooly retro about Atari, no?

          4. Timothy Meade

            Same concept different demo. Girls buy Playboy-branded merchandise, it’s essentially a rite of passage.I don’t think Commodore would do as well, there’s also the existence of the band Ataris.

          5. LE

            Company essentially invented something and stayed “alive” for 60 years. Survived much longer than any competition.Product was best of, um, breed. Who was next, Hustler? Beaver?They as close to created the wave they didn’t just ride it.By the way the reason things like this happen much more often than they don’t is that organizations are people. And as people age their needs and priorities and drive level change (as a group). So while it’s easy for any upstart company to say “we’re different it won’t be that way for us” most likely it will. Especially in a business where you have essentially a lock and near cash cow status. You don’t wake up in the AM hungry because you aren’t hungry. People age they slow down, they have kids and all of that.

      2. LE

        Nasty lady, who obviously had a very charmed upbringing. Her staff was obviously fearful about contributing to the conversation for fear of bearing her wrath.Look at it this way. It’s your job. As I have said “we all eat shit we just eat at different tables”.I’ve told stories here of various “abuse” (in the eyes of others) that have been suffered by both myself and my ex wife in the name of getting business.To me I see it differently. To me there is opportunities to be had with assholes. [1] Because the other guy/gal is scared off by that. So you have it wide open.Look everybody has a different level of what they can tolerate. (I do it just might be different than yours). And if you can’t tolerate the asshole you don’t work for the asshole. Or do business with them. Your choice. It’s not about you and your feelings it’s about making a living. This isn’t human rights or anything.My guess is that there is more to gain from working with an irascible Christie Hefner than there is at some shit mediocre company that nobody has heard of in Chicago (like a small law office) career wise. And if you can do just as well elsewhere sure go for the nice boss who respects your feelings and treats you nicely for sure. But if you can do much better financially in that situation, and tolerate it, stay in the game and learn to deal with it.[1] My dad bought many buildings by being the only person who could deal with the local neighborhood nut job who everyone else got scared away by.

  24. Matt A. Myers

    Just would like to bring people’s attention of the “what’s next” question – and note that part of the answer is governance of the ecosystem(s).The interesting observation that’s been evolving with me is that we can have relatively large amounts of inefficiency and still be surviving. If we can make all systems that can reach their 100% efficiency then that allows for the inefficiencies that are inherent to learning and creativity.

    1. pointsnfigures

      the invisible hand works better than centrally planned regulation.

      1. Matt A. Myers

        Reference to proof please?The problem with current regulation is corruption. I feel capitalism actually has the answer within it though, with people “voting with their dollars.”

      2. SubstrateUndertow

        Maybe at the cellular level but at some point in evolution cognitive self-awareness put us in charge of regulating our own self-made cognitively-abstracted social-substrate.Not to mention the evolutionary STRANGE-LOOP power of human cognitive volition which has empowering us to literally reconfigure even our own physical substrate(platform) conditions.- agriculture- irrigation- transportationand the biggies . . . .- genetic engineering- mobile internet synchronized everythingSure there is still a place for “the hidden hand” but as everything becomes evermore mutually aware and evermore responsively adaptive to everything else then that “hidden hand” quickly transitions into a distributively synchronizing organizational-dynamic that continues to iteratively reenforce it own organizationally synchronizing behaviour.At some point you come full circle to where that “hidden hand” becomes our unifying social organizing principle. It become a well understood formal construct available for centralized human debate and manipulation.Isn’t that the history of science and technology. Translating one “hidden hand” after another into comprehended controllable phenomena.So why should we presume that social and economic phenomena are forever beyond the reach of effective scientific modelling.

        1. pointsnfigures

          Markets are controlled by everyone interacting in their own self interest. That’s what controls them. It’s possible to put constraints and floors, subsidies and taxes into markets-but that injects dead weight loss into markets. With the proliferation of mobile devices and the internet-it will be possible to have more transparent markets, which will allow for less arbitrage, and the invisible hand will work faster. Synchronization will happen faster, and assets will go to where they need to go without the redistribution of government. Coase on steroids.

          1. SubstrateUndertow

            Yes Yes ! – More like conventional wisdom on steroids.That theoretical frictionless market does not exist nor did it ever exist.If it did you would not have the distorted distribution of wealth and opportunity that are presently posing an existential challenge to the American economy, every economy for that matter.If that theoretical frictionless market did exist, or anything close to it, we would not be wasting massive human productive on built in obsolescence.We would not have such a large % of the worlds population sitting on the sidelines as wasted unrecoverable permanently lost productivity in the midst of massive world wide human needs.Most people do not even have the necessary knowledge or fact required to effectively represent their own interests in a world of complex opaque markets.The fundamental nature of human cognitive/volitional behaviour makes such theoretical frictionless markets laughable.Where in history can you point to social realities that did not feature an oligarchic topdown food-fight class-struggle.Sure you can make the argument that all those people at the shitty end of that distributional pyramid deserved their lot, but surely not with a straight face.Mobile devices and the internet will not in and of themselves produce some magical frictionless market. It will probable help at the margins but lets not be naive, those entitled by wealth, power, education or control will simple utilize the power of networks to amplify their advantage.The internet may over time reduce educational friction to the point where the majority of citizens can force through political and economic frameworks that leverage the synchronicities of the internet to constrain malfeasant political and economic behaviours.The pretence of a frictionless market without any proactive political regulate, without any collective social-contract in place is a comforting rationalization for the entitled economic classes.Sure its a matter of fine tuning the tipping point between a centralized social contract and market forces but that formal centralized regulation in essential to social stability with or without the synchronizing power of the internet.The internet needs a formal framework, a global network-economy based social contract. You can call them open standard protocols, open public-utility based big-data-silos or federated APIs if you like but they are really just emergent new internet base social-contracts.Nothing complex works without some degree of central planing and control.Would you take that big yellow idealogical pill that turns off that big bad central control over your nervous system ?

  25. $94070303

    listen to starseeds, they are here to tell you what comes next…

  26. Matt Zagaja

    It was an interesting interview. One thing that stuck out to me:”This country, even in the tech sector, is full of people who are on this merry-go-round, who know the right headhunters and basically pass each other jobs as if they were a trade union with the sole rights to these positions in which they demand $500,000 a year. They move around from start-up flip to start-up flip. They’re not incompetent; they’re just not that good. These are the midlevel scandals.”As I get older I notice this more and more. People choose not to listen to the data or adopt the new technology and yet when push comes to shove people at the top of organizations are too trigger shy at letting the dead weight go.I think Nick misses the bullseye on newspapers. New York Times already has a great recommendation engine and people reading print newspapers do not want a Kindle. I have an iPad Air and I still read WIRED magazine in print because I got a really great deal on the print subscription that beat the digital only price, but also because the WIRED iPad app has a terrible user experience even if it looks good and WIRED magazine looks beautiful in print. This is not to say I couldn’t be swayed: Glenn Fleishman does a great job with The Magazine and Vox Media web articles are awesome on tablets. WIRED could go that way if they wanted. The New York Times has also innovated in the data visualization space when they hired Mike Bostock and sponsored some of his work with D3.js which is hot shit right now.

    1. Salt Shaker

      It seems like the NYT has turned the corner a bit, but they need to introduce new, digital “flanker” brands (e.g., lifestyle) to complement their core property. Also, alt rev streams, like conferences, will continue to grow in importance. Yes, some still prefer to read newspapers and magazines in print, but the model is sustainably dead and anyone who thinks otherwise is in complete denial.

      1. LE

        but the model is sustainably deadWhile the model is dead it is still a benefit to physically print a newspaper even at a loss.Why? Physical things have impact that totally digital things can’t always duplicate branding and exposure wise.Archer Daniels Midland corp. has a market cap of 26.4 billion vs. Starbucks vs. Starbucks at about 2x (55 billion).Yet most people have never heard of ADM and everbody knows of Starbucks because it’s in your face everywhere all the time. The most ADM gets is an ad on Sunday morning TV or in the WSJ. “Supermarket to the World”.So my point is there is an intangible benefit (and perhaps I haven’t given the best example actually) of having a physical print paper vs an online only property because legacy print newspapers do still have clout and something physical and tangible that means something.To me giving up physical print (unless it’s a huge money hole to print the paper and knowing what I know about printing that’s not the case) would be a big mistake. (Note that the costs of the operation aren’t because of the printing labor paper and ink but because of the structure of the organization and support to put together the material).Agree with the alt revenue streams obviously. I just think keeping the print newspaper even at low distribution is of benefit in gaining those alt revenue streams. (After all 1 super bowl ad is millions and having your logo everywhere as a newspaper and having that mouthpiece has to be worth quite a bit).

        1. Salt Shaker

          5-7 years ago I would have agreed w/ you 100%, but so many newspapers/mags are hemorrhaging too severely w/ the precipitous decline of ad revenue. Further, many have not made a successful migration to digital and/or were extremely late in doing so. It’s not uncommon for print properties to lose money on subscriptions, which are used to drive circulation and monetized via paid advertising. That model just doesn’t work anymore, particularly w/ rising print, paper and distribution costs. Some properties will survive in a print format, most won’t. Bundling and strategic partnerships are the new paradigm, for sheer survival if nothing else. For example, USA Today has a digital initiative w/ MLBAM, the digital arm of Major League Baseball. Sports Illustrated just announced a digital partnership w/ all the pro leagues, sans the NFL. Many legacy brands will survive, they have way too much brand equity, but w/ a diff biz and operating strategy.

    2. Donna Brewington White

      I love the irony of reading Wired in print. And it is beautiful. Not to mislead, I am an occasional reader.

  27. bobmonsour

    I think that a large part of the length of the cycle that Nick refers to has to do with the fact that only about 2.5 billion people out of a world population of 7 billion now use the internet in any way at all. With the networked spread of education and information, the collective power continues to grow over the cycle, potentially leading to new minds from new places with more new ideas for solving large problems.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      New minds from new places… what an intriguing and exciting thought. Although I am not naive enough to think this won’t also create some problems. But maybe good problems…in the longer run.

      1. bobmonsour

        I think that when more people get connected, there can only be good problems.

    2. Michael Elling

      FB paying ~$19bn for WhatsApp supports this. Nonetheless, the value will only be realized when there is fundamental disruption to the service provider stack. Problem is that Google, Apple, FB, MSFT are all attacking it individually instead of the addressing the primary problem going forward: low cost, reliable access everywhere.

  28. Emil Sotirov

    “I came to this country because I thought it was something, you know? And yet I’m more in love with the idea of the United States than I am with the reality.” – me too.But hopefully:”The web is a deeply American idea. The web is saving the United States from sclerosis.”

  29. $94070303

    most people on this planet are genetically limited to a level that their thinking and behavior can only operate in the third-dimension of reality. this limitation makes it hard for them to predict the near future. the greatest shift will not come from the web (the web only assists the change), it is coming because of massive universal changes (for more go to http://www.esayas.com) which will change our consciousness and help us to make decisions based on our emotions and feelings rather than our mind. the future is not a question of being intelligent, the future is about behaving according to the pattern of the universe. people will re-discover free-energy in their hands and the power of consciousness will actually replace the web as the highest form of communication and the exchange of information will happen in the forth-dimension of reality which is again based on consciousness. if you will, higher-dimension of consciousness will be the future version of the web. your experts and futurists can not even guess that, because it’s beyond the predictable and beyond their awareness.

  30. sigmaalgebra

    What’s important for the next 100 years?I thought that we all knew!We already know what everyone wants in the famousone word answer, “More”.Well, we don’t have very much: Right out ofcollege, my father got a job and bought a house. Sofar I’ve never been able to buy a house, or havekids, or take care of my sick wife in her longillness.Our birth rate is so low that we are going extinct,and the main reason is people without enough moneyfor good family formation and, there, not enoughmoney for a house.In Silicon Valley, what fraction of employees canqualify for a mortgage on a house within 20 minutesdriving from the office?We are no longer a wealthy country — e.g., we’retoo poor to form good families.So, what’s the solution? Sure: More.How to get more? Sure: Basically there’s only oneway — higher economic productivity. E.g., it wouldhelp to have $1 a gallon gasoline, Diesel oil, andhome heating oil. How to get that? Sure: Usenuclear power, water, and coal, say, from the seammaybe 30′ thick over much of Utah.Why don’t we? Because the people in power don’tgive a sh*t. Why? Because the mass media leads thevoters round by the nose with nonsense.Nonsense? Sure: The scream goes, “Global warmingfrom evil humans!”. It’s a flim-flam, fraud moralityplay, scare the hell out of everyone and then passthe offering plate to collect the money. Denton?He’s part of the flim-flam fraud.Even more important for more in economicproductivity would be more in automation — machinesworking, humans thinking, being happy, etc. Or, weneed humans managing computers managing computers… managing computers doing the work. Really, wedon’t really want humans doing the work byinteracting with computers but want mostly computersinteracting with computers.E.g., for a new factory, we should be able to designthe thing, get the costs, capacities, and schedule,then push a button and have the factory built andrun with nearly no additional human input.Same for houses and cars. Same for restaurantcooking. Same for nearly everything in our economy.But for this future for the next 100 years, “Whatcomes next”? Well, the Internet of things shouldhelp some of what needs to be done. E.g., beforethe commercial Internet caught on, GM had a factoryautomation communications ‘architecture’ roughly asambitious as the Internet. Likely now the internetof things could do that job.E.g., Wal-Mart has some severe shelf stockingproblems. So, clearly they are not good at gettingautomation for their ‘supply chain’. E.g., go toWal-Mart and look for a DVD might like? No easyway. Solution? Sure: Some good automation. Heck,in Sam’s Club, where the heck are the yellowmustard, the cheap glass cleaner, and some sparespray bottles? Solution: Ask people? Heck no.Instead, get some good automation. How about asimple store ‘index’ guys?We want much more economic productivity foreverything we need in our economy and lives. Themain solution is more in computer driven automation,yes, often with the internet of things. That’s gotto be the main important activity of the next 100years.

  31. Balu Chandrasekaran

    Fred, I loved this post, except for the last sentence which was totally anti-climactic.

  32. Julien Pache

    Will Internet really remain the WorldWideWeb, connecting people and things globally? Not sure.Some countries like Germany or Brazil are considering to carve out of the Internet (article on the topic in the Guardian: http://bit.ly/18wWqoo) and some nations already do (China).Imagine a world with fragemented networks where local search engines would rule the global Google? “Internet fragmentation will bring about a paradoxical de-globalisation of the world, as communications within national borders among governmental bodies and large national companies become increasingly localised”. @fredwilson:disqus maybe one more parameter to take into account

    1. Michael Elling

      The only way they can succeed is if they provide a new protocol stack that exceeds the current one (dominated by IP and ethernet) in terms of price (based on marginal cost) and performance. With companies like Google and Netflix constantly driving the marginal cost down from their advantageous control layer positions, it is tough to imagine a foreign govt led approach that would be successful. And those that attempt to break away without a clear, better plan, will suffer economically. It will be interesting to see if the wireless carriers can break/hijack the internet model with their IPX exchanges, supported by their access monopolies. Don’t hold your breath.

  33. Alex Wolf

    Where is the talk about how we will learn better and faster because of the internet? Where is the learning systems simplifying the time it takes to connect the dots? Or is this more evidence of the educational black hole we are in?

    1. sigmaalgebra

      > the talkFor most of what a high end universityintends for a college education or, really,any of their courses, heavily the situationis simple and tough to improve on: Getthe course materials, especially the textbooks, and dig in. The hard part, thebottleneck, is the last part, digging in.For some courses, some lectures areimportant, e.g., see the Eric Lander lectures on genetics.For more, there are some ‘MOOCs’,but, still, for some significant learningof what high end universities intend,even with a MOOC with really goodlectures, and I have yet to see one,the bottleneck is the work the studentdoes, alone, in a quiet room, away from the computer.For how to do a brake job on an oldChevy, how to build a Web site, howto cook Chinese food at home, theremay be some good on-line resources,but I have yet to see any. If you wantto develop several such lessons asvideos and put them on YouTube,go ahead. Maybe you will get enoughviews to make some money — maybe.

  34. Joe Mordetsky

    Love this stuff. There was an odd brain firing that occurred in me when I realized “Denton” was talking about a global intelligence powered by AI and I was immediately taken to childhood memories of playing Deus Ex (http://en.wikipedia.org/wik…. If you haven’t played, it is set in a dystopian future where the protagonist (oddly enough named Denton), a nanotech augmented hero chooses the fate of world. One of the possible outcomes of the game is to assist an AI named Helios to “infect” the population of the world with a nanotech virus that wires every human mind into the AI, thus creating the most flawless/perfect democracy ever conceived of. This blew me away at the time as the idea of sharing thoughts and experiences in realtime with others was via a technological bridge was foreign to me. But potentially, the social feed of 200 years from now comes right from our brains.

  35. paramendra

    The Internet Of Things will solve global warming. But there is grave danger in thinking the Internet is the next big thing for the next 100 years. The Internet in 10 years will be unrecognizable to what we have today. The Internet that collects and makes sense of biotech and nanoscale Big Data will be a fundamentally different creature to what we have today.

  36. Prokofy

    Who says “massive collective intelligence” can solve problems? When has it ever done that? Usually “massive collective intelligence” can only do things like “like” Gangnam Style and make it go viral. What has “massive collective intelligence” done for YOU lately?I think problems will be solved by people who can think in solitude, and maybe sometimes choose one or two or three people to collaborate with of likemindedness. The Internet is not always a place to find the likeminded.These people who buck the collective tide need to be funded properly by solid private and public institutions.The collectivization of the Internet will only produce starvation.

  37. Emily Merkle

    Would be great to better enable the collective intelligence to collect. A lot of dangerous stupid out there. The interwebs are vast. Everyone has their own hideouts and hangouts and networks. Enabling all or some of those micro-societies to find one another more easily would go a long way toward Nick’s vision.



    1. uCHOOZE.com

      Me #Orange #Sheep because CAN!!! 😀 #baa