Startling smells of the future at Emerce EDAY 2022

Last week we visited Emerce EDAY in Amsterdam. Some inspiring talks gave us some things to consider! In this post I will take you along some highlights.

Seb van Deursen

Manya Koetse on stage Eday
Foto: Peter Boer

In Manya Behind's flawless and perfectly timed presentation on 'the great firewall; the digital era of China's Lucky generation', Manya Koetse made us all feel technologically humble. The Chinese keep going fast! A completely new generation of digital entrepreneurs is taking up the torch from pioneers such as Jack Ma and making it clear that their ambitions extend far beyond China.

It was already clear to me that young people, born after 1990 and called the Golden Generation in China, have embraced digital technology en masse. But it was a surprise that the smartphone is already an integral part of the lives of most Chinese seniors. The elderly are helped in all kinds of ways and encouraged to make up for any digital disadvantages through courses offered by the government. More about Chinese tech and social trends on Manya’s website.

The digital afterlife of your personal data

Elaine Kasket sharpens the case: if Facebook still existed in 2050, the number of accounts of deceased people would exceed that of still living people! We don't realize that data and content from deceased people is already everywhere. Think, for example, of reviews issued; these will not disappear from the internet any time soon. Just like organizing your retirement, arranging what to do with your online accounts when you die is clearly not one of our first priorities.

Contrary to what many people think, the ownership of the accounts does not automatically pass to the heirs. But leaving your account details to your relatives and granting them access to all your personal information after your death is also not a very reassuring solution for everyone. Elaine sees it as a duty for designers and developers of digital platforms not only think about the onboarding but also about what should happen in the event of death. What options can be given to the user to ensure that data is stored in the desired way (as a memorial), destroyed, or remains accessible to a select number of people?

Emerce foto van Peter Boer
Foto: Peter Boer

Some sobriety is in order: digital data is not forever too. Digital platforms will ever disappear, think about MySpace or Hyves. So, what you really want to leave behind to your posterity, you better do it in some physical form! Discover more about digital afterlife.

Bas Haring & Artificial intelligence

I was prepared for warnings from an ethical point of view from one of my favorite philosophers, but none of that: Bas Haring makes a case for just getting started with AI! He starts his talk with a story about when he was forced to assemble his own central heating system out of necessity. Don't let thoughts that it's all too complicated hold you back, just get on with it!
He tries to take away the listeners' fear of computers that become too smart by stating that a computer is no more than a lightning-fast calculator with an almost infinite number of 'drawers' in which the calculation rules are stored. Get started with AI but… do the right thing! Take your responsibility as a builder of intelligence, but make sure you apply the intelligence for the right thing. I totally agree Bas! I'm just afraid the Xi Jinpings, Kim Jong-Uns, Trumps and Putins of this world would also agree.

More AI!

Laurens Vreekamp was not the only one to talk about AI on Emerce EDAY, but he was the one who did it in the most dizzling way. Where we are all still massively amazed by the insane AI images that arise from DALL-E-2, Laurens showed us applications that write complete stories for you or videos based on basic text input, called prompts. AI technology will offer many more unimaginable possibilities in the field of creation in the coming years. There will certainly be applications that will create an infinite number of state of the art web designs, songs, films, buildings, stories or scenarios, all based on several descriptive keywords or outlines.
What role will creatives still play in the near future? Laurens prefers to see AI as that fascinating new colleague that will help you to make great work. In addition, new ‘prompt’ jobs will emerge for those who know exactly which prompts to use to get desired results.

Mark Rutte voor een presentatie
Foto: Peter Boer

I would like to close with some AI prose. This is what generated when I instructed to rewrite the headline of this article: ‘The familiar smells of the future wafted through the air at Emerce EDAY 2022, each one of them familiar, but each one of them also a fresh and unique experience.’

Seb van Deursen (Stategist at Fabrique).