Welcome to the summer DIGIGRAM of 2021. California is well on its way to waving bye-bye to COVID: Over 70% of the population is fully vaccinated and San Francisco is close to being the first major city to achieve herd immunity. (“Moo!”)
Silicon Valley is heading back to offices and cubicles after the summer break, and while many things will be the same, some won’t. Some changes and habits enabled by COVID and digital technologies are here to stay. This DIGIGRAM highlights technologies and trends how digital transformation and our behavior influence each other: How the shift to streaming TV is playing out with new alliances and consolidation on the supply side. How we find new ways to conquer new markets. And how we improve our bodies with transhumanism – which is much closer than you may think.
Transhumanism? Yes, of the Cyberdyne Systems Model T-800 a.k.a. Terminator kind. Provocative and intriguing, no doubt. And what could possibly go wrong? What do you think? Read below and write to me with your opinions about this emerging topic.
In this edition of DIGIGRAM:
#1: The shapeshifting of entertainment ecosystems: So many of us have switched to watching TV with a streaming subscription that we forced the industry to reshuffle its assets. AT&T sold WarnerMedia to merge with Discovery, to present “the Food Channel dines with Queen Daenerys.” Amazon beefed up their PRIME TV menu by buying MGM, adding over 4,000 movies and 17,000 TV shows, to create “James Bond spies on the Handmaids.” And Netflix is moving into the physical world by introducing its own merchandise store that sells $45 baseball caps like only Disney could before – the same Disney that launched their own TV subscription service to compete with Netflix in the digital world. Which entertainment ecosystem design will prevail?
#2: Design thinking about geographic expansion: I’ve launched a personal project, the USA Launching Pad. It’s a methodical program to help foreign companies be more successful, faster, in the U.S. We test and iterate quickly in five strategic areas to determine market fit, supported by a team of experienced U.S. company builders. We’re delighted with the results from our first three customers!
#3: The coming of transhumanism: Technology has enhanced human bodies for decades. One example: hearing aids have been implanted since the 1970s. But more recently, technological advances allow for more provocative enhancements. Insert electrodes into the brain to stop it from malfunctioning? Certainly, it’s improving people’s lives. Implant bionic parts into the body to withstand the nine-month space trip to Mars? Sure, it’s only for a select few anyway. Editing human genes to fix a disease? Globally forbidden! But a Chinese scientist did it anyway – because the technology was there and he could. Rena Seiler wrote a paper that explored how much we should do out of all that we could do—and the questions that we should answer before we proceed. I am curious what your opinion is on Transhumanism – write to me.
Happy reading and enjoy the reopening. As always, I love to hear from you and what you think about the topics in this DIGIGRAM edition.
Till soon, Gert
Top of the Month
An AI bot helps sailboats fly better!
Yes, that’s right. Sailboats at the tip of this sport’s technology fly over the water nowadays. They’re held up by hydrodynamically optimized foils in the water that support the aerodynamically optimized hull in the air.
For the designers, it means they have to optimize for both environments. For the teams, it means the cost to build prototypes is going through the roof. Unless… you succeed in simulating the boat and its interactions with the water and wind, and the sailors’ inputs on sails, rudder, and foils.
The New Zealand team together with McKinsey set out to do exactly this. They created an AI model and were able to train it to the point where it outsailed the sailors on the water. Then, they ran thousands of designs for thousands of races to determine the best one with high accuracy. Team New Zealand went on to win and successfully defend the America’s Cup. Let’s welcome sailing to the age of AI!
Meet me here
My fall 2021 class at UC Berkeley is “Amazoogle – Creating Data-Driven Startups”
I’m excited about applying Amazon’s and Google’s principles of using data to create unfair advantages for new startup ideas. Shomit Ghose developed the class and in this edition, our students will apply Google and Amazon’s recipes to find solutions to support the United Nations’ 17 sustainable development goals.
The class is already fully booked with a waiting list. Let me know if you have a project that you’d like to propose to our students.