THE POST-CORONA-SOCIETY, Part 2C: The Decade When Technology Once And For All Took Full Command
In earlier sections of this year’s digital trend spotting, we’ve seen how we can look back on a dynamic decade with a totally changed balance of power, where politics loses more and more power, and as a result, people and companies take more and more space with both new power and new goals. But what has been driving this process, and how come we still have seen such a huge development in the middle of all this turbulence in the last decade?
1) The decade when knowledge became both more fragile and more important
Yes, of course it is about the foundations of all humanity’s development ever since birth millions of years ago, where learning has been at the forefront of what makes us what we are — and together with our bigger brains have taken us from monkeys to hunters and farmers, and later from the industrialists we have been, to the digitalists we are becoming.
Put in its context, the last decade we’ve seen, on the one hand, a completely insane development of humanity’s knowledge in general and its applications in technology in all its forms in particular. At the same time, we’ve experienced a decade when knowledge was hard-earned from the earlier mentioned circus by politicians, with both Russian and Turkish censorship, history revisionism as well as fake news, deep fakes, and fake eds etc.
All with a crescendo in the new US president’s fake accusationswith 15 incorrect tweets / day, as well as the refusal to follow the constitution and let his democratic overturning be reviewed by “we the people” in the people’s House of Representatives.
2) The decade when technology has taken on the leadership role in the world
And this broad front attack on knowledge from politics is perhaps explainable, for this is also the decade when knowledge became increasingly important to create a total turnaround to realize the potential of entire peoples and continents, at the same time as the basis for both citizens and companies to develop the technologies required to take on more and more space on the geopolitical stage. With the development of technologies that completely turned upside down which companies, countries and citizens rule the world today.
And of course, technology has always played a central role in human development, ever since the ax and fire of over a million years ago, clothing 200k years ago, pottery 25k BC, bow 9k BC, the plow and the wheel 4k, writing 3.5k, letterpress art in the 1400s, the steam engine and the telephone in the 17th and 19th centuries, as well as the car, aircraft, electricity, radio and television, contraceptives, computers and the internet in the 1900s.
But as a means of power in the world, technology has constantly competed with other important hubs such as fuel, distribution, heavy industry and finance — and even though all these areas are often still superior in terms of turnover or assets, it is technology that wins by far in value and also rubs off on its founder.
Today, of the world’s six highest-rated companies, each is a digital tech company (Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Alphabet, Facebook, Tencent), together worth $ 4,200 billion (and we still talk about half a dozen companies that have a lot of “future” discounted, and measured as turnover does not even cut into place 90 in the world).
And, as I said, it rubs off on its founders. Cause this is partly a decade when inclusion is getting a real bang, where it has become a common knowledge how eight men today own more than the 3.6 billion people who make up the poorest half of the world’s population, while the 1% richest have more than twice as much as 6,9 billion people. But it’s also the decade when most of these rich men, more specifically 6 of the 10 richest people in the world, not only donated record sums to do good — but managed to earn such donations through tech companies where they nearly tripled their wealth from $ 170 billion to $ 490 billion.
We can simply conclude that this is the decade when tech totally took over as a means of power in the world.
3) The really big disruptor of the 2010–2020
And most people who know their change management understand that if you want to fill the glass, it must first be emptied. And during this decade, the technical glasses where finally emptied, where not only offline things like the last typewriter plant, VCR and Betamax factories finally closed, but also online relics like AltaVista and Yahoo as well as AOL IM and Adobe Flash were finally shut down.
And certain other things have since been born, such as the drone seriously making its entrance. The genetic engineering taking a giant step forward. The quantum computer getting its first breakthrough. The solar energy and wind power reaching the next level. Thoe wanting to travel climate smart on earth finally getting their Tesla, while those wanting to leave it getting their SpaceX and Falcon 9 and more.
But still, it is something completely different that has meant the most radical change for just about every human being this decade. And people usually do not even remember (!), do not even understand how totally pervasive it has been.
Ten years ago, social media was still an isolated college gadget, most people still watched their favorite shows on a TV set with deadlines, and CDs were still purchased to listen to the artists they loved. Gaming was still done on strange devices that were connected to the TV, shopping the majority still did offline in the stores. People still used taxis, and still found their dates in a variety of places like school, workplace, gym and among friends.
All this has changed this decade. And that depends on one single thing.
At the beginning of this decade, the smartphone was barely there, the mobile phones were super expensive and Nokia still dominated before being crushed in favor of Apple, Samsung and towards the end of the decade Huawei.
So while ten years ago there was only an elite of 1/10 of the world’s population who had access to mobile phones, since then mobile sales have more than quadrupled where now more than every other person in the world has a smartphone.
On the one hand, this has contributed immensely to the more than doubled internet penetration to 60% in the world, at the same time as it has totally changed the behavior of the birth of the apps, one of the world’s largest consumer businesses, which is now downloaded at the end of the decade 200 billion a year and withdraws $ 100 billion.
And while gaming here accounts for the largest share of money (74%), social media is by far the most frequent use with 7 out of 10 most downloaded apps, and the by far most time spent.
So gaming has become the world’s largest public amusement, while social media has become the most frequent way to both inform and socialize for “everyone” in the world. And, yes, “everyone”, because while the mobile connection today is “only” half the population (52%) but with such extreme growth (+ 10%) that it is actually a matter of time before it gets to just “everyone” .
Or at least “everyone” who even has a chance to buy. But once that level is reached, one of all the disruptive “emergers” (see chapters to come) will come up with a solution for free smartphones to the one who chooses to be exposed to advertising or contribute in any way to all communities etc.
But still, the really big thing is not only that this access to information is now with “everyone”, but that it is not only information but, above all, interaction that is now globally available.  That is not just a few people with PCs and laptops, and not just sometimes when sitting by them, but with a smartphone that is with “everyone” all the time.
4) The digital consequences
So when this interaction is now with “everyone”, gaming has thus become the whole nation opium, where such giants as Candy crush earns $ 700M, and together with Clash of Clans, Minecraft and Pokemon Go completely has taken over people’s pathological need to not invest time and energin in finding their raison d’être and “ikigai” but instead “escape from freedom” and “kill” time.
Social media, in turn, has completely taken over from traditional media, where 3.3 out of the world’s 3.5 billion social media users primarily use the mobile phone and also grow by +10% per year. Where this decade we have gained giants like Instagram and most recently TikTok, which in just three years has taken the world by storm as the world’s fastest growing albeit with low retention and deadly market spend. All these social media, together with Facebook, Youtube and WeChat, are now so large that most of the world’s news distribution and conversation takes place on them.
At the same time the medium has become even more effective. Wherever we are, animated media has taken over from static, with Youtube having 1.9 billion users — again where 70% prefer the mobile — and Netflix has 160 million paying subscribers. Music is now easily consumed by 250 million people at Spotify, 3 times more than Apple, while 100 million people listen to podcasts at Acast.
During the decade, we went all in to the shopping through not only eCom but now also mCom, to the extent that giants like Amazon and Alibaba are getting retail shake in their foundations. We started a sharing economy via ride-hailing as Uber, still valued at a respectable $ 40B, aggressively followed by companies such as Lyft, Grab and Gojek, while 150 million use housing swaps via Airbnb, which now sell for $ 8 billion and with black numbers now valued to $ 38 billion.
On the financial level, we received a number of innovations, but perhaps most of all, a cryptobubble, where we names like BTC and Ethereum came into each man’s mouth. On the professional front, we went ever further towards a gig economy that grows three times faster than the normal economy and is implemented through platforms such as Fiverr, Upwork and SolidGigs.
Even love is now completely governed by digital interaction, where in addition to Zuck’s Tinder killer, the alternatives to Tinder to find love are few, with 70 million users in 190 countries.
And in all this interaction, we’ve gone from keyboards via mobile thumbs to superior speech recognition, with innovations like Siri and Google Assistant, Echo and Alexa, and have already got the taste of tomorrow’s interaction through AR-tools like Hololens and Oculus.
5) But even the strongest tools need fuel
And behind it all, during this decade it finally crept out what was the most important fuel for achieving success in all its digital and mobile innovations. No, I am not talking about charging time, connection speed or UX, I talk about the raw material behind the it all — i.e. the data, the new oil. The “new oil” which is really so much more than that, because it does not just infuse itself with such facilities as transporting materials and people, it stands for everything.
It is data that now chooses which path to take, chooses which products to buy, identifies what information you should get. It is data that decides what entertainment you should enjoy, finds what education to take, what food to buy and what recipes to follow. Data that affects which politician you should vote for, choose which buddy you should be most exposed to, and choose who your new love should be. And it is the data that, today, manages humans.
The only thing your data so far does not choose is how your children should look and be, but even there, biotech is on the rise with the first cloned designer babies
This is simply the decade when data came to play the most important role in society, and not only at the individual level, but also at the highest political level. For this is the decade when Snowden released the data from one of the world’s two great powers. And this is the decade when the other of our two great powers simultaneously took full control of each of its citizens’s data with the help of not only full Internet surveillance online, but also half a billion cameras with face recognition offline — which has already denied citizens 27 million times train and airline tickets because their “social credit score” were too low, while the counter from the people is the gray market where you can buy and upgrade your scores.
It is the decade when Watson, Azure and Deepmind were invented, and created the possibility of brutal precision in prediction models based on data. And this is the decade when two over-intelligent Swedes — no, not even I attribute those qualities to myself (that is, not this decade, but who knows what will happen in the 2020s :-D), but Nick Boström and Max Tegmark — not only showing on the high probability without both the dangers and the possibilities of a super-intelligent AI who becomes the next generation smarter than we humans are — where Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking and Musk all filled in.
But still, it’s the decade that’s just waiting for the next real revolution of AI around the corner. But first some stuff on the leadership turning upside down and the markets turning inside out ;)
Rufus Lidman, Fil. Lic.
Rufus Lidman is one of the worlds’ top 100 tech influencers with 50.000 followers for input with emerging technology within emerging markets. As such he draws his insights from a broad tech experience as a serial entrepreneur with 6 ventures and 2–3 ok exits, background within PhD-studies within change processes, 5 books on the subject of digital strategy, and honoured to be member of the exclusive group of 0,1% companies that has developed apps with more than 10 million downloads. His latest venture is called AIAR, based in Singapore, reinventing learning for emerging markets in general and emerging Asia in particular.
 Apart from some states censoring the global interaction, such as Saudi, China, Iran etc