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Tech Futurist at SXSW Predicts Gloomy Future

At South By South West 2022, Amy Webb, CEO of Future Today Institute, released their 15th Annual Tech Trends Report looking into a huge variety of trends over 668 pages. She talked about the future of Artificial Intelligence (AI), metaverses and decentralisation and synthetic biology. She presented scenarios – either gloomy or positive – on each area and guess what won in most cases?

On AI. AI systems won’t need our faces anymore to recognise us. It can recognise us by our unique heart beat, by our unique breathing patterns or our unique gait: silhouette, height, speed, and walking characteristics. 5 years ahead, Amy Webb points to two scenarios on AI.
The good scenery is that we’ve all gone total transparent on AI, so we know how it is generated. The catastrophic scenario is that we are facing massive fake news, no transparency, we cannot tell the difference between AI generated stuff and human-generated. Our data is being held by third parties, it is impossible to be anonymous and we wear swords hiding our heat beat to block AI from recognising us. So, what is most likely, she asked and answered: 20% chance on the good scenario and 80% chance on the catastrophic.

One important conclusion from Amy Webb here was that we have to make it mandatory to disclose if something or someone is AI generated. One good example is AI created videos from Synthesia which you can make today and it is hard to tell the difference between AI and human.

On Metaverses and Decentralisation. The next Internet, Web 3, will become more embodied and sensory, and data will make it all work. We will use more of ourselves and create synthetic replikas. Today, our avatars in Facebook’s Horizon metaverse and in the competitor Decentraland are pretty bad, but you can make a much more realistic avatars, believable real-time digital humans, with the Human Creator from Unreal Engine or (editor note). Webb believes we will create multiple digital versions of ourselves, because there are not protocols in the various metaverses, so you cannot port yourself between them. However, others are working on creating a digital ID such as Canadian SecureKey where you an protect your privacy.
With decentralisation and 5G, you can rent out your phone’s capacity when not using it – or your computers’ and other tech devices’ and you’ll be paid in crypto.
The positive scenario 2032: We went all in on trust, using zero-knowledge, practised radical inclusivity, got the unbanked people access to banks and have interoperability and trust. Likelyhood: 30%.
The catastrophic scenario 2032: We have dozens iterations of ourselves, there is no way to understand who is where or what, online dating is a lie. Likelyhood: 70%.

Meat in the future is synthetic. From The 15th Annual Tech Trend Report

On Synthetic Biology. This is 15 years ahead. Computers and biology are becoming one. We manufacture synthetic DNA, tech is used to alter, use and extend lives. Already today we can ask who owns most DNA? 1) China, 2) 23andMe, 3), according to Amy Web.
“100 years ago, it took 3 months to grow a chicken. Today, they grow to full maturity in 7 weeks and are huge.
What if we had cultured chicken in stead? We actually see it in Singapore; lab growned chicked in stead of commercially farmed hormone chickens,”
she said.
Her 2037 optimistic scenario: Death is more optional, everything is genetically modified, we know how our food is made, we have regulation, and we are eating tons of healthy, synthetic meat. Likelyho0d: 50%
The catastrophic scenery: We failed to use tech to plan the future, there was a breach at the private DNA companies and now hackers are biologically doxing us. Famous peoples’ DNAs are sold on actions. 50% probability.

You can see Amy Webbs talk here. Photo: screenshot from her talk