Fri, 13 Dec 2019

By Amit KhannaNew Delhi [India], Nov 13 (ANI): I have often said that in the digital age MediaEntertainment is one of the businesses which has changed and continues to do so at a breakneck speed. Most of the remnants of the analogue era are almost forgotten or replaced with alternatives. There are no radio sets, tape recorders or film cameras, phonographs, cassette or DVD players or celluloid films. Terrestrial TV is now the medium of last resort. In the next ten years, we will see almost all media be customised. The print will exist but as an ancillary edition of an online version. News aggregators will give way to personalised news. The linear broadcast has a shelf life of another decade. However exponential growth will happen online. News will, for the most part, be reported and disseminated online. Personalised and hyper-local news will gain popularity. Immediacy and relevance will determine the hierarchy of news. Newspapers, wire services even individual reporters will be the source of validation of news broken on social media. Streaming services (OTTs) will be the main medium of audience attention by 2030. The future is about personalized content delivered on-demand on different devices. Curation of content and services using AI is already happening and will become the norm by 2024. We will be spending up to six hours in front of a device, handheld or otherwise. Cinema theatres will become the go-to place for a day out and event films. A few cinemas will morph into a home of alternate films. There may be a limited change in content even as it gets more relevant to a younger demographic and gets divided into large screen extravaganzas and the niche films. All entertainment and most media will be on-demand and focused on individual needs. Conversely, there will be a rise in live entertainment and other engaging options like plays, concerts, heritage walks, food festivals and amusement parks.

There are several other technologies that will go beyond concepts or experiments. Quantum computing and bionic chips, for example, will unravel an entirely new world of possibilities. Superconductivity, molecular materials, nanotech, self-healing and sustainable materials with 3D printing will change the way we create many products. Biodegradable and recyclable materials will become the cornerstone of new manufacturing. Food science especially synthetic foods will help banish hunger. Although there is a debate about genetically modified plants, we should be able to get a clearer picture of any adverse impact, if any, on humans in particular and ecology at large. Better food processing and change in cropping patterns will help us save and thus eat more food around the globe. Remember almost 30 per cent of all food is wasted. While Hydrocarbons will remain the major source of energy in the world, the share of alternative sources especially solar and wind will increase sharply. In 10 years between 25% to 30 % of all energy used will be renewable. We should in years to come also see an improvement in the air we breathe and the water we drink. This will be partly due to new environmental protocols and partly by the improved technology of pollution control. Climate change though will remain a major concern in the foreseeable future.

Of course, there will be other changes some even geopolitical in nature. However, there are some concerns for which we need to still figure out definitive solutions. One of the primary concerns is security. In a hyperconnected world where almost everyone will be using digital services, especially the Internet, cybersecurity is critical. We have seen how in recent years hackers and others have managed to breach the most secure of websites and even national security organizations. As the global economy transfers entirely into a paperless mode with all data stored in the cloud even an accidental loss or lapse in security will have a far-reaching impact. Another concern is of National security. Suddenly every nation wants to localize data storage and regulate the Internet. According to a report by the University of California, Berkeley Centre for Long-Term Cybersecurity (CLTC) and CNA's Institute for Public Research, "the discourse about digital technology and security is now deeply "nationalized" and has become even more so in the context of our scenarios. As recently as three years ago, a "free and open internet" narrative that placed governments squarely in the background of the digital environment was still robust. "Suddenly nations and governments no longer trust each other." The report goes on to add, "The cybersecurity challenge of protecting networks and datasets from sovereign and criminal thieves is morphing into a challenge of protection from devious manipulation. Brute force attacks remain on the agenda, but there is a broad assumption that the sophistication of attacks is set to rise through some of these more insidious channels, such as adversarial machine learning, subtle deep fakes, or small changes in training set data that intentionally bias algorithms." The world needs to devise an institution like the WTO and arrive at GATS like agreement on cyber laws. Already a Quantum Non-Proliferation Treaty (QNPT) has been proposed.

As we move to IoT, automation and smart homes and cities and eventually to quantum computing we not only have to configure new encryption technology but also global framework of operation even as national and personal security concerns are met. Finger, retina and facial scan and now even deep vein identification are very safe for now but what about the future? However with over 50 billion Internet-connected devices by 2030 and everything from the defence, finance, health, governance, industry and various services depending on the net we will have to come up with a scalable smart failsafe encrypted digital universe or face massive catastrophe in case of breach or failure. The second important issue is individual freedom and piracy. We have to understand that now it's important to have a digital identity for various purposes which in many cases offer us convenience, for communication, transactions and regulatory compliance. Protecting this identity is different from guarding your privacy. Digital Privacy encompasses three domains: information privacy, communication privacy, and individual privacy.

Every day we hear of incidents of data leaks and sharing by social media and other websites. While this is true in many cases what is forgotten that often it is our own carelessness which results in such breaches of trust. The fact that over 3 billion people use social media regularly creates a peculiar situation. Firstly, all of us are using these websites and services by choice and knowingly accept various terms and conditions. Invariably these service providers are commercial enterprises and like most businesses, it involves customer responsibility too. Yes, there is trust involved and trust must be respected. Yet most of us who complain continue to use the same sites knowing well that we are leaving indelible digital footprints in cloud space. Obviously we are also dependent on various web-based services and online transactions. If you use a social media site there is a certain amount inherent risk you take by sharing information on public platforms even when there are certain safeguards. There is a trade-off between riding the reach of social media to communicate with others versus your individual data. Somewhere a median will be drawn to balance both. Data beyond your basic identification (so that others may know who is saying what) other information will have to firewall. We will need to segregate confidential information from our basic information. Clear differentiation between secret and private will emerge.

The days of an absolutely free anarchic Internet are over. Some regulation and some restraint and some business compulsion will alter the rules of the game. We will see in future better firewalls and transparency online. It will be one in which consumers are more educated about the issues and will not wait until the next embarrassing data breach to take steps to safeguard their personal data. In any case, the future of the Internet is collaborative so there will be more proactive cooperation between consumers and service providers, platforms and devices. According to Amara's Law, we tend to overestimate the effect of technology in the short term and underestimate it in the long run. Surveillance, espionage, data theft have existed in the analogue world since time immemorial. In fact in future technology will make this much more difficult. Nothing in this world is ever going to be 100% safe. There is a chance that there will abuse, theft or destruction of your digital information in the future too but in reality, such occurrences will be far lesser than what we have seen since the beginning of human history.

It is the social changes that I more worried about. We are getting so submerged in a sea of data on all kinds of screens and devices that the anxiety levels are higher. Recognition, affirmation, anger, hatred, applause, devotion, abuse, love, bonding, ideology and politics are all instant. There is alienation among families, friends, and people at large. Massive reskilling is required in the next 10 years to save hundreds of millions of people from losing employment or in some cases self-esteem in the virtual world of tomorrow. While voice cognition and AI will drastically reduce illiteracy there will be new challenges as language, lifestyle and occupations get altered in the always-on world. Submerged in a sea of connected devices our time and space will need to be preserved by self-discipline rather than regulation. Communication addiction is a malaise we need to be prepared to battle. However, several millennia of human existence is evidence that ultimately human spirit and nature helps us to overcome challenges of cataclysmic change.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this column are strictly those of the author. (ANI)

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