Playful future thinking

11 februari 2016

As part of the STT-foresight project on Big Data, stakeholders came together in a so called LAB-session (Live Action Brainstorming, a form of serious gaming) to think about possible future products using big data. After a short “Theatersport”-based warming-up, all participants took on a different identity and entered the roleplay. One of the participants took on the role of journalist and wrote the following news item.

New kid on the block

Officially released, or born as its developers lovingly say, on the 9th of February 2036, the AI-infused Big Data system Datamore will now rapidly learn more about our world. And when I say rapidly, I mean rapidly. Datamore is the first of its kind, with an artificial cognitive system that is unprecedented in its computational power and algorithmic accuracy. Its developers claim that while starting off only as smart as a baby at birth, it has the potential to absorb all human knowledge and outsmart humanity.

Brainstorm session

In fact, the developers expect Datamore to be able to render its first information products before the end of the year.  What products these will be, is yet unknown. Representatives of the CIRCLE (companies, investors, researchers, government, and society) are involved to determine how Datamore is to be raised: what data should we feed an AI-system, what ethical rules and values should be programmed, how should Datamore be applied, and what should such a system not do? That is why after the celebration of Datamore’s birth, a circle of 15 representatives came together in a brainstorming session.

Numerous trends

Looking back at Big Data trends since 2016, numerous trends were uncovered: life determination applications based on genetic information, personalised everything including music, books and even laws, AI-systems gaining creative capability and smart partner-matching systems to optimize wellbeing in society.  In the product development session it was proposed that Datamore would include a service that allows you to find and (partly) delete any and all online information about yourself, and a service that saves you from the hassle of finding the right destination, accommodation and transport for your holidays. Datamore does it all for you, making sure it fits your preferences and past experiences perfectly. If you want, Datamore can even make sure you will be joined by the right companion(s) on your holidays. Just pack your bags and go!

Datamore Pro

Another, slightly more complicated yet very attractive, new product could be the Datamore Pro, which allows you to become a professional in basically anything by just putting a device in your brain. The device continuously streams all the information you need to be very good at something. Be it understanding string theory or having the hand-eye coordination needed for playing golf, the piano or making a painting.

Lot of questions

Not surprisingly, reactions to many ideas were not just positive. A lot of questions regarding privacy, equality, safety, finances and other matters were raised. Serious protest can be expected from citizens and other stakeholders if these products are developed. Quite possibly the products will never be. Definitely not if it is up to the investors present at the meeting. They were very clear in their expectations of the future: soon technology will allow every person to keep their information to themselves and big data will become a thing of the past. There is no room for more data in the future, the trend will be ‘data less’.

Be ready!

After that was said, something unexpected happened. The power went out and when it came back on, it turned out Datamore had adjusted the outcome of the session. The new kid on the block seems to be adamant to stay. Be ready for it!