Broadcasting and Emerging Technologies: A Global Revolution Is Underway
We are saturated with information in all directions about current technologies, to the point of arousing a form of anxiety, whether professionally or personally: the fear of being overwhelmed. But not all innovations are equal and do not have the same potential to touch our lives.
What do you think are the major and really fundamental current technological transitions – especially for the audiovisual sector?
What surprised me first in the last three years was not so much new technologies (in reality there have been very few in the last ten years) but digital transformations and changes in digital behavior users. Think, for example, of the massive use of remote meeting tools.
So, of course, the pandemic has accelerated technology adoption in businesses, homes, and around the world, almost overnight.
We think that the adoption of the cloud for example (the fact of being able to upload your files not on your computer’s hard drive but online, on Microsoft’s or Amazon’s servers for example) or video conferencing has made a leap from five to ten years in just a few months. We have changed.
The second current breakthrough is that investors have recently realized this: the goldmine of web or mobile applications, as we know them today, will soon run out. Aside from TikTok, almost all of the most used apps are over ten years old – an eternity in technology.
They have therefore started to invest elsewhere, in new things and not necessarily yet very convincing, such as “decentralized” architectures such as “cryptocurrencies”, “metaverses”, “NFTs” (non-fungible tokens), “DeFi” (decentralized finance), Web 3.0, etc., which we will have to talk about later.
In the world of investing, it’s not about being right; it is about being the one who will be less wrong than the others, hence the massive and all-out investments.
The third trend is less encouraging but just as important for society: it is the cyber threat. It has simply exploded in recent years. Ransomware attacks, where your computer is held hostage until you pay a ransom, are accelerating and paralyzing entire sections of society.
The hackers are no longer teenagers in search of adventure – we even give “hacking” courses at the university – but more or less secret militarized sections, as we see at the moment in Ukraine. This strong trend alone can decide both our technological choices and the adoption of new technologies.
According to the famous “law of Amara”, we tend to over-expect technology in the short term and underestimate it in the long term. When it comes to the much talked about “metaverses”, the technology is probably major, but not for the reasons one thinks.
For the record, the “metaverse” boils down to the idea of creating complete virtual universes, in particular thanks to connected headsets which allow immersion in computer worlds where one can play, watch concerts… South Korea is coming to invest 7 billion there.
According to analysts at Grand View Research, this market will experience phenomenal growth of 39.4% annually between 2022 and 2030. What do you think are the short-term reasons why the metaverse is interesting, and what is the potential for this?
technology in the long term, in particular for the audiovisual professions? We can imagine that this is a very vague idea and a small and limited market of opportunities.
The idea of virtual reality is not new and experiments began in the 1960s in the cinema with the famous Sensorama, a kind of giant helmet that offered an immersive and multi-sensory experience.
Augmented reality experiences (like the “Heads-up display” in airplanes and now in our cars, or 3D cinema), virtual reality (like the defunct Second Life in the 2000s) or mixed reality (which allows for example to add virtual characters in televised games) are not lacking during the last fifty years.
What is interesting in this new wave are both the arrival of massive funds as indicated before and the integration of new technologies like cryptos and NFTs. This is what will change the game… if it changes.
In fact, you should know that there are two very different types of metaverse, which develop at the same time.
The best known is the family of closed-system metaverses, such as those offered by Marc Zuckerberg or hyper-popular games like Fortnite or Roblox: the experience is managed from start to finish by the creator and by the developers who follow a set of specifications. very precise and predetermined objectives.
Giant concerts are now organized on Fortnite and attract tens of millions of spectators; Hollywood routinely screens world premiere trailers there; Manchester City plans to build a football stadium there where our avatars can change places as they wish, or even find themselves on the virtual field of a match in progress in real life.
And in the face of this, open-system metaverses are developing very quickly, where developers from all over the world are called upon to evolve the platform as they wish (for example by creating new universes inside the metaverses).
Users themselves are more involved, can buy land and properties in this universe, especially with cryptocurrencies, and prove undeniably, with NFT technology, that they own virtual objects.
Media outlets like Warner Music Group are building music venues in these universes and paying hefty sums to access land with virtual beach views, like on The Sandbox. This strong tendency to reconstruct the real world in metaverses and to offer an unimaginable experience in the real world, that’s new.
So today, of course, it can make you smile: the quality of the animations does not seem to have really evolved since 2005, when the Second Life virtual reality software was popular; chatting with strangers who have unicorn faces or hop around like rabbits doesn’t necessarily inspire confidence.
And wearing those big virtual headsets for more than twenty minutes is just unbearable. Moreover, we have already tried with 3D glasses or Google Glasses ten years ago, it’s impressive, everyone tries them, then one day we put them away in a box. It is the use that decides, and not the projects of the engineers. Ergonomics rules technology.
But the law of Amara invites us to think in the long term. Think of version 5.0 rather than version 1.0 which is currently in development. To “look over the hill”, as Sun Tzu said in The Art of War. A little further than the tip of his nose.
What would be the possibilities if technology became almost invisible, with digital lenses or glasses as discreet as those we wear today? What possibilities could inspire near-real-life graphics, or if a virtual gaze conveyed hyper-complex emotions?
Can the famous “sixth sense”, intuitive, become reality so that we can be informed in an imperceptible way of a look, a presence, an event (it’s a real project of Meta) ? Could useful information, superimposed in real time on everything around us, transform the way we interact and consume?
We can also imagine that the world of the metaverse is based on the world of television and evolves in such a way that instead of watching a film, we can move in the film, with and around the actors, live the actions with them. The virtual world, fascinating and terrifying at the same time, offered in Ready Player One no longer seems so distant.
Except, of course, it seems like science fiction today. Two currents of thought clash: on the one hand, entrepreneurs of the “physical” world, like Elon Musk, do not hide their skepticism for the metaverses; on the other hand, the innovators of the purely digital world, like Marc Zuckerberg, see in it the future of our ways of interacting, of educating ourselves, and even of working.
One thing is certain for the world of media and entertainment: the potential is in theory immense, and it will be a question of carefully monitoring the evolution of the metaverses
Observers of the technological world insist that we are moving from a universe where the few have power to one where this power is shared. This is the famous “uberization”. Everything is decentralized. Everyone becomes an actor.
Regarding the so-called decentralization offered by innovative technologies, such as the mysterious “blockchain”, can you simply explain the basic principle? Is it true that decentralization is possible knowing that the new platforms themselves create new forms of centralization? In reality is the blockchain really decentralized and uncontrollable?
When Satoshi Nakamoto launched Bitcoin in 2009, he introduced an entirely new technology, the potential of which would take more than two years for developers to realize: this technology is blockchain. Before the blockchain, engineers had all failed on the same problem:
how to transfer a digital object (like a photo, document, title deed or digital currency) from one person to another, without making a copy of it. , without trusting any company or intermediary and without anyone being able to prevent this transaction or deny that it took place?
It sounds silly, but before blockchain technology, we didn’t know how to do it: when you send a photo, for example, you always send a copy of this photo, never the digital object itself, which, in the case of a virtual currency, was obviously very problematic.
The secret ? A copy of the database and software is installed on any computer in the world that wants it, all of which participate in validating the veracity of the data present on the blockchain.
Except there is a catch. Everything I have just said is true, and the possibilities are indeed immense, including in the world of the media, except that we realize that the intermediaries… there are still some.
There are even new ones! In the case of bitcoin for example, it is true that anyone can propose code changes, but only four developers in the world accept or refuse these changes (and fortunately!).
To avoid bitcoin’s exorbitant expenditure of energy, new protocols called “Proof of Stake” only allow certain users, sometimes gathered in a “pool” to have more power, to participate in the system. .
Or again, new applications and new services that are created on top of blockchains, such as exchanges, digital wallets or certain “DeFi” applications, form new platforms that are certainly useful, and even essential, but we are still moving a little away from the dream of “totally decentralized”.
The classic rules of network effect, need for quality of service and user support or compliance with regulations will always continue to create concentrations of services and data, and therefore concentrations of power for new stakeholders.
But let’s be clear: this takes absolutely nothing away from the technological revolution that the blockchain represents!
Although total decentralization is probably unrealistic, this technology relies on decentralization in the sense that a single company or individual effectively no longer has centralized power, thereby giving users more power over their data, for example their currency. digital, or their title deeds.