Reality is making a comeback

Reality is making a comeback

Welcome to the fourth edition of Schibsted Future Report. This is our outlook on trends within tech, people, society and business. It’s a report from Schibsted people, from our different companies all over the world, who are sharing their knowledge and thoughts. We have also invited some of our friends, who we’ve worked closely with, to participate. We believe in openness, sharing ideas and starting conversations. I hope we will enjoy it! This is the highlights of this year’s report:

As machines know more and more about us, the need to express our humanity and responsibility increases, whether it is taking a stand for independent journalism, riding a bike into the future or shopping ­secondhand and speed up circular economy. It is more important than ever to have and to tell a true, genuine and consistent story. That’s how you succeed as a business – whether you’re a newspaper created by war heroes, or a global digital brand. A strong purpose, a truly good life is what we are looking for. In this year’s report, we present some of our own brands and their stories.

“Is it OK to be mean to a robot?”

2018 is also the year when we are entering the world of artificial intelligence on a broader scale. AI is now powering our everyday life. It’s part of almost all the technological solutions and services we’re using, and it’s getting more advanced by the minute: we learn to talk to machines, machines learn not only to understand but to interpret humans – even though chatting with your favorite bot still leaves room for improvement. Future Report takes on AI in a tech story comparing the progress of AI to the arrival of electricity, a change so big we can’t see the full effect yet. It will bring fundamental changes and create new industries and new solutions that we can’t even imagine. AI software is already used in such disparate areas as improving customer service, predicting disease or detecting faults in equipment. And soon our homes will be equipped with voice AI devices facilitating our daily life, voice might even be the new over all interface – and it will provide unseen new business opportunities.

This will also be the year when we see more and more robots. But with humanlike robots come existential questions like: what does it really mean to be human? And how do we behave towards them? Is it OK to be mean to a robot? The answer is no for most people.

As tech and science evolve, these questions will be high on the agenda.

So. Reality is real. Intelligence is artificial. Robots are like people. And The Future is now. Welcome to our world.

Trends in tech

Trends in tech

Augmented reality has started to pick up speed with new tools and autonomous cars have gone from future technology to early adoption. This is a quick guide to some more tech trends.

Virtual furniture is only the beginning

The last ten years have evolved around the shift from big screens (desktops) to smaller screens (mobile). We are currently in the early stages of a journey beyond screens and into more immersive user experiences. Augmented reality (AR) is in the driver’s seat for this blurring of boundaries between the digital and physical world.

Simply stated, AR adds computer-generated images on top of the real world, either through a dedicated device (e.g. Google Glass) or a screen device such as your mobile phone. It has been around for years, but recently AR has started to pick up speed due to two key improvements. First, processing power and camera improvements are making mobile phones great AR tools. They also happen to be the easiest accessible digital layer to place between people and the real world. Second, recent advancements in artificial intelligence and image recognition capabilities have made machines much better at understanding their environment.

The most famous and widely adopted use cases of AR are Pokémon Go and the Snapchat filters that adapt to your face. These applications are quite simple and only have a basic understanding of their environment, but were still expensive and time-consuming to build. That changed this summer with the release of AR developer kits from Apple and Google. Think of these kits as a bag full of “Lego bricks” in different shapes and colors that allow you to start building great stuff in no time. More than 500 million iOS and Android devices can now use AR apps built with these tool kits.

Experiments flourish, with one of the most remarkable being “Ikea Place”. It allows customers to test how Ikea products would look in their home (size, color etc.) We know from experience that strong visuals drive buying engagement and this will no doubt be a game changer in online retail. It took Ikea only seven weeks to build the app using these new developer kits.

AR as an interface is in its infancy, and we can expect to see a lot more use cases emerge in the coming months and years. And, will we even need a phone in the future, when we could have a digital contact lens between ourselves and the world?

/Marius Olsen, VP Product Strategy Office.

Blockchain popularity is surging

At the start of 2016 the total market value of publically tradable (most of them are) blockchains was seven billion USD. In Q3 2017 that figure is fluctuating around 150 billion dollars – that is 20 percent of Apple’s total valuation. The space is seeing a surge in value as the technology is in a positive spiral with mainstream attention and because more and more people are experimenting (and speculating) on what “programmable money” could do. Blockchain is the technology behind Bitcoin, which can create trust between two unknown parties on the internet, without a central third party. This is an innovation with massive implications; blockchains will do to trust what the Internet did to information.

/Fredrik Haga, Investment Manager.

React while campaigns are running

Programmatic advertising is taking a big step forward, using data to understand user behavior. The Advertising strategic accounts team in Schibsted Spain is creating new attribution models that are taking this into account. Today digital campaigns are measured based on last post, clicks and impressions. But with more user data and new models, you can now define, identify and cluster much more specific user groups and reach them by programmatic buying. It also means that you can measure what perception and affinity users have towards a product or service, and their buying predisposition. This in turn, allows a much more efficient monitoring of behavior changes and reactions during the campaigns.

/Future Report

Clear road ahead for robot cars

Since last year’s Future Report, autonomous vehicles have gone from future technology to early adoption. Several real world tests are ongoing from the likes of Uber, Didi and Volvo.
Although the technology is increasingly likely to mature in time for general availability in 2021, challenges remain, such as regulation and insurance. New, behavioral issues are also being raised: Will self-driving cars clog roads instead of reducing traffic? That might be the case if cost conscious car owners let cars cruise the free roads instead of paying for parking. But, if there is a will there is a way, even for robo cars. Governments are starting to move, such as when the UK announced they aim “to be at the forefront”.

/Dan Ouchterlony, Investment Manager

How to make friends with robots

How to make friends with robots

Imagine. It’s 2025, and you’re slowly waking up. The robot next to your bed is beaming artificial sunlight in sync with the natural sunlight outside your curtains. It’s projecting today’s most important headlines on the ceiling above your bed and as your eyes flick through the news, you hear the shower turning on, coffee dripping and the stove working its magic.

A perfectly suited outfit is laid out on your bed. Your robot hands you your coffee and breakfast tailored to your flavor. A driverless car swings up, ready to take you to work. But perhaps you skip the ride, and rather put your VR headset on and lean back as a 3D digital office unfolds in front of your eyes. If you’re a sci-fi geek, none of these scenarios will seem particularly far-out. But how likely are we to experience a future in which these scenarios no longer belong to fiction, but are as a natural part of our day as smartphones? And is this a future we want?

“What kind of future do we want?”

Japan has always been a frontrunner in technology. Erica, a semi-autonomous android, resembles a human; modeling a plastic skull and silicone skin with wires connecting her to AI software systems that bring her to life. She is the result of one of the most funded scientific projects in Japan, and a collaboration between Osaka and Kyoto universities and the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International. Her creators, Hiroshi Ishiguro and Dylan Glas, claim Erica is “living” proof that the future might be closer than we think. Using sensors and microphones, she is able to pick up what people are saying to her, and through AI software, she can respond convincingly. Erica works as a receptionist at their laboratory.

It makes sense to emulate humans

The tech-industry knows that humans are inherently wired to recognize and interact with other humans. So from a behavioral adoption point of view, it makes sense to develop robots emulating the human body. They do rely on our adaptation – fueling their machine learning minds in order to make them smarter – or more human. And the only way to achieve this would be to stimulate frequent, continuous and human-like interaction over time. Research also shows that we tend to find robots endearing as long as they resemble something non-human, like animals. The ­moment we encounter robots that resemble humans we find them troubling.

That said, we are capable of developing feelings for robots. Multiple studies have been conducted, in which the results clearly imply that we subconsciously start treating machines around us like social beings – ­given the right context. Several studies have shown participants feeling grief and remorse when either requested to abuse or witness a robot being abused. In one study observers could watch how participants found it nearly impossible to push a button that indirectly would destruct a friendly-looking robot if it misbehaved, while it begged to be forgiven. Technology has consistently functioned as a catalyst to a more efficient, healthy and sustainable world. For example, in the healthcare sector we’re seeing huge advances with life-saving techniques leveraging AI to aid doctors with disease diagnosis.

It ‘s up to us

Robots, created in both hardware and software, will inevitably shape our future. How we let them do that, is up to us. Robots of the kind depicted by Erica will not be ubiquitous in the next few years. To give you a picture of the magnitude of complexity required to design the interplay between the software and hardware that keeps a bot on its feet, it typically takes more than 500,000 lines of code to put one foot in front of the other. Then again, this is an ability that took hundreds and thousands of years of human evolution for humans to perfect.

Perhaps our concerns with humanoid robots will never materialize. Considering the pace at which humans are integrating closer with technology, through enhancements of the sorts like BCI (Brain Computer Interfaces), exoskeletons and eventually nanobots streaming through our body, maybe the question should not be whether robots should resemble humans. Perhaps the integration of human and technology will redefine what it means to be human. Together as consumers we have more power than robotic scientists. Technology has to adapt to us, because we can’t adapt to it fast enough. At this point in time, we should be asking ourselves what kind of future we want. And the most important question remains to be answered: Which ethical standards, values and goals do we choose to pass on to our mechanical companions?