Mark van Rijmenam - Navigating Hype Cycles in Tech: Communities, Prototyping, and Convergence
Mark van Rijmenam We can see that if we extrapolate and look at how technology is evolving over the past 10 to 20 years, then we can be quite confident that the next 10 to 20 years, technology will develop faster, because we will really have a better basis than 10 to 20 years ago. So we can sort of argue that 10 to 20 years from now we'll have reality glasses that will most likely be able to tap into our brain. And then we can interact with our brain through the internet. As an organisation, you need to start preparing for that already today because the future happens faster than you think. And if you don't start to do anything about that you're generally too late. And I think that that's really important, where you have to bring it back - pointing people to look at technology that exists today - to show that what I predict is not not really far-fetched, is not really science fiction, if you take into consideration what's already happening today.
Simone Cicero Hello. Hello, everybody. Welcome back to the Boundaryless Conversations Podcast, where we meet with pioneers, thinkers, doers, and entrepreneurs. And we speak about the future of business models, organizations, markets, and society in this rapidly changing world. I'm Simone Cicero, and today I'm joined by my usual co-host Stina Heikkilä. Stina Heikkila Hello, everybody.
Great to be here. Simone Cicero And today we're also joined by Mark van Rijmenam. I hope I say that well. Mark is also known as the digital speaker. He's recognized globally as a future tech strategist.
He has been thinking a lot and writing quite a lot about how technology changes organizations and society, with a strong focus lately around a couple of very important topics, especially Metaverse and AI and other very important ones such as Big Data, Blockchain, VR, AR, and many other future driving technologies. Mark is the author of a book called Step into the Metaverse how the Immersive Internet Will Unlock a Trillion Dollar Social Economy that covers what the Open Metaverse Is and how organizations and consumers can benefit from this upcoming Immersive Internet. Hello, Mark. Great to have you here. Mark van Rijmenam Hi, Simone.
Hi, Stina. Great to be on your show and looking forward to the conversation. Simone Cicero Let's jump into the conversation with, I would say, maybe an opening reflection. How do you assess a new technology or trend when you understand that this is going to be something important, this is something huge? What is your framework to assess a new technology and new trend? Mark van Rijmenam Please create a twitter thread on 10 tweets about the framework to assess a new technology and new trend starting from the following text.
Count each tweet at the end of the text. The last tweet must say : this is an extract from The Boundaryless Conversational Podcast with Mark van Rijmenam. to know more LINK Yeah, the way I look at technology is I think first and foremost, it's important to understand that how I research, because I think that's the step before how do I assess the technologies? And I think when I research technologies, when I go through the Internet to read all the latest technologies that's out there, all the latest inventions, discoveries that are out there, I'm also part of several communities online and offline, that help me think, discover new technologies and new approaches, true technologies, and to have a better understanding of what's happening.
Because I think that's the first approach. You can almost call it sort of the scout in me who scouts? What kind of technologies are out there and how are these technologies influencing each other, how are technologies having an impact? That's sort of the first step where I start. And once I have a good understanding of where once I've discovered a new technology, I go more in depth into these excellent technologies.
So, for example, let's say one of the recent trend generative AI. What I always like to do when I have discovered, okay, this is a trend that I think is going to be to have a big impact is to get a better understanding of what this trend actually is about. And I do that by practicing what I preach. So I'm a futurist, but I don't only talk about the future. I also try to do the future.
So to say as soon as there's a new technology coming out, I try to use it to apply it, because by doing that, then that's the way you get the best understanding of this technology. And in the case of generative AI, when ChatGPT came out, I think it was out for two or three days. I started writing a book with it, and I wrote a book within five days and published it within seven days about technology written by ChatGPT with my supervision. And that gave me a really good understanding of what ChatGPT is all about, how good it is and how bad it is, what the potential is of ChatGPT and how you can apply it within your organization. And then once I have that understanding, I take it a step further and then I start to explore, okay, now we have this new technology, in this case ChatGPT, Generative AI.
How would that technology converge with other technologies, for example, the Metaverse. And then I start to think about, with my knowledge from the Metaverse, combined with knowledge from, in this ChatGPT, I try to see an understanding of how this will define the future. I think it's important to mention in this regard is that I am an exponential thinker, which means I don't think linear, I think exponentially I am able to sort of look into the future, not necessarily one to three years.
I look further down the line, maybe 5, 10, 20 years down the line. How are these technologies going to impact our society from our perspective? I don't do this in a certain way, because you can't really do that. You can't say that in 2035, ABC will happen.
Generally those predictions don't come true. But I can look at it from a more broader perspective. The greater, how do you say that, a more abstract level of how will this affect in the next 10, 15 years? And that's basically what my focus is on, not necessarily in the next one to three years, but more further down the line, how this will happen. Simone Cicero You said three very interesting things. You said, first of all, you capture the future of being part of communities. So communities are your radar, right? Being part of communities helps you catch the new trends coming up more easily.
So that's the first thing that I would advise our listeners to do if they want to capture the future. So be part of the communities where this tissue is discussed is the prototype and so on. Then you said another very important thing. You said you practice the future. So if something comes up, and I think this is very important with technologies as we are living this today, technologies tend to be very democratizing, very easy to access.
Everything is now very easy to prototype. So practice the future, prototype it so that you can really assess what potential impact these has for you. And finally, you said you combine things, you converge, you take a new trend and you kind of cross fertilize it with existing trends that you are monitoring. So maybe we can picture yourself and our listeners as well to keep some sort of trend scope right? And then when something new comes up and say how can I combine this with the other things that I'm experimenting with? And I think these three things, communities, practices and convergence are three topics that it's interesting to underline for our listeners. But then I want to throw back another question to you, another reflection.
So when you think about the future so far ahead, so 5 to 20 years, it may result very abstract for people. So how do you make it relevant for yourself, but also for the people you talk to, you work with if something is so far away? And the other risk is you tend to be so much in advance that pushing yourself in the future, it makes you less interested in the real impacts that are having impacts nowadays. So how do you reconcile this distance, let's say, with the topics that you explore? Mark van Rijmenam I think on the one hand, yes, I have this abstract view in the future, but I always try to make it tangible by giving examples of what could happen in the future because it's very difficult to think of the future, of how the future might look like if that's not your job.
And so I do that by giving examples. For example, I think that in the next decade, mobile phones, tablets, smart computers, laptops, they will start to disappear because we'll be able to have smart augmented reality glasses that will allow us to take over the role of a phone, take over the role of a computer, because we can just spin up five different screens in front of us. And I think that is an example of how the future might look like ten years from now where we are in a cafe and instead of scrolling on our phones, we are all sort of waving in midair with our hands because we have glasses and we have five screens in front of us and we have a keyboard in front of us that you can only see with the glasses.
We're all waving in midair, interacting in our own world, doing our own work within the cafe. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing is not for the discussion, at least not in this point. I'm happy to go deeper in that.
Another example is if we go a little bit further down the line. I use technology from today and see what happens in the world to extrapolate that to 10, 20 years from now. For example, about a year and a half ago, I tried a brain computer interface that was a wearable. I could literally put it on my head and within five minutes I was controlling my computer with my brain.
That to me was mind blowing pun intended and it was really an experience that allowed me to see the future right in front of my eyes. What happened next a year later was that that company was purchased, was acquired by Snap. Snap is a company focused on augmented reality predominantly. And then you can see what happens.
You can see that your augmented reality and brain-computer interfaces are starting to converge. Now, we can also see that brain-computer interfaces is very early days for brain computer interfaces. But we can see that if we extrapolate that and look at how technology is evolving over the past 10, 20 years, and then we can sort of be quite confident that the next 10 to 20 years, technology will develop faster, because we have a better basis than 10, 20 years ago. So we can sort of argue that 10, 20 years from now we'll have augmented reality glasses that would most likely be able to tap into our brain, to read our brain, and then we can interact with our brain through the Internet.
So that's sort of how I do it. I try to give tangible examples of what the future will look like without being too specific, because that's very, very difficult. And at the same time, I bring it back to today's world. If you know that that's going to happen in 10, 20 years as an organization, you need to start preparing for that already today, because the future happens faster than you think. And if you don't start to do anything about that, you are generally too late because the train has left and the train is speeding up. And if you didn't catch a train when it was going slow, you'll have a hard time in the future.
And I think that's really important, where you have to bring it back. Pointing people towards technology that exists today to show that what I predict is not really far fetched, it's not really science fiction. If you take into consideration what's already happening today. Simone Cicero One thing that maybe we can do now, we can dive a bit deeper into the meat, let's say into the vertical topics that are the oldest today.
We're now living through a kind of disillusionment moment for the Metaverse. We've been talking about the Metaverse for the last year or so, probably a couple of years. One of the biggest companies from Silicon Valley even changed its name to resonate with this idea. And now it seems like it's a bit on a downbeat, while on the other hand, we are living through the hype of AI. If you have to picture out to make a drawing of this entangled mess, which is the Metaverse AI, VR, AR, somehow also the Web Threee, how would you describe the concurrence of this picture? How would you put things in order so that we can understand a little bit, our listeners can understand a little bit? What are we thinking about and also maybe what are the major impacts that you can already see unfolding for organizations on one side and business models on the other side. Mark van Rijmenam Yeah, I think this is really interesting, what's happening at the moment that everyone and with everyone, it's sort of the Internet is declaring the Metaverse debt.
It's declaring the Metaverse as well, not necessarily as a FED, but yeah, it's not really happening. And AI is the next big thing. And this is literally history repeating itself. We saw that with 2017 and 18, with Crypto and Blockchain, where the hype of that day and they were going to change everything. And then the crash happened and then Bitcoin and Blockchain were out and it's not going to do anything.
Then we had the NFTs, NFTs when of course went through the roof. Then the entire NFT market crashed again, and then NFT are FED. This is happening every time and for the past.
I'm in the space for over a decade now, and every one or two to three years, there's a new technology coming that gains attention, has hype, and then is just chucked out again because there's a new technology coming down the road. And this is exactly happening with the Metaverse at the moment, where we see now generative AI, ChatGPT, massive hype. The conclusion that the Internet therefore makes is generative AI is the next big thing, therefore the Metaverse is dead, or therefore the format technology is no longer relevant. And I find that quite short sighted, to be honest, because I don't think that's how it works. It's not that the Metaverse is gone. It's not that the Metaverse is not being developed anymore.
It's not that the Metaverse is not going to happen. In fact, the Metaverse is happening as we speak, and people are building fantastic technologies to make that happen in the years to come. And in this case, AI will play a major role in that development. The fact that there's a new hype doesn't mean that the previous hype is no longer relevant. If we would live by that paradigm, I think we would be running from one hype to the next hype to the next hype.
And I don't think that's a very smart thing to do as an organization. As an organization, you need to listen to the market. You need to see these hypes come and go, and you need to understand that this is predominantly news outlets trying to tell a story. And that doesn't mean that the underlying technology doesn't really happen.
So that's sort of what I find it quite funny, how it works, that everyone now declares the Metaverse sort of dead in the media because we now have the next big thing, generative AI. I disagree with that. I think the Metaverse is not that. In fact, there's more happening in this space than ever before. In the end, the Metaverse, as I see it, is the next iteration of the Internet.
We move from a Internet, and yes, of course, the AI will play a major role in that, but they're not mutually exclusive. It's not that because we have AI, that therefore the Metaverse doesn't happen anymore. And I think that's important to be aware of. Stina Heikkila That's pretty clear that there are many things happening in parallel. Let's say like the trends are not disappearing and popping up.
They are kind of coexisting to some extent. But this makes it also quite fussy as a thing for companies to maybe take into account. When you work with corporate leaders and people who are following your work, what kind of skills do you suggest to build internally? Is that a case of setting up some specific roles for monitoring this? Or is it something that has to be more mainstreamed across an organization to be able to keep track of? Or is it something that can be solved by one case, by some specific one of consulting for that specific business sector? Or how do you think about that in terms of building capabilities for monitoring these trends? Mark van Rijmenam That's a good question. I think what is really important is that an organization develops sort of a digital DNA, digital capabilities of understanding these technologies. Because if you don't understand the technologies, if you don't understand what these technologies mean, you will go by the hype and you will go by whatever you read online.
And if the Internet declares the Metaverse, therefore I don't have to pay attention to the Metaverse. As an organization, that's of course wrong, even if it's a minimum. Because obviously it's very difficult for CEOs or business leaders to gain the same deep expertise on the technology that I have.
Because this is my job. This is what I do for a living. I research, I investigate, I experiment, explore.
And I can't expect anyone for whom it's not their job to do that, to have equivalent understanding of these technologies as I do. I still think, as an organization, you need to create this digital DNA to have the feelings and to have the sensors within your organization, that if a new technology pops up in the media, that you are able to relate to it, that you're able to understand what that technology means for your organization, whether that technology is actually relevant for your organization. Because obviously not all technologies are relevant for all organizations. And you need to be able to understand. You need to be able to sift through the hype. You need to be able to understand, okay, I use this technology and I dive deeper in this technology because this seems relevant for my company, in my industry, with my challenges that I face as a business leader.
And I think if you are able to do that, then you're creating unique capabilities for your organization that will make you stand out and make you more competitive. And it also allows you to ignore what's not relevant for your business. And I think that is, otherwise you blow with the wind from one hype to another hype and you'll get very tired from that. And I think you need to, if you have an understanding, if you have these capabilities of this digital DNA within your organization and this can be a few people within the business who explore what's happening and then disseminate that knowledge throughout the organization so that everyone in the organization has a good understanding of what's happening. Because it's my belief if you truly want to digitally transform your organization, everyone within the organization from the warehouse employee to the secretary to the CEO, everyone needs to understand what these technologies mean for his or her job and for the company and for the industry as a whole.
And if you're able to bring that into your organization, I think that as an organization you have a very, very good position to incorporate the relevant technologies for your business and to benefit from it. Simone Cicero What are the axis, let's say, that an organization should consider, should ponder when evaluating the impact of a new technology or a new trend. I can think about the business model, I can think about the business process and I can think about maybe the organizational capabilities or organizational model.
What kind of compass do you use when you help organizations to assess the impact of a certain technology other than those axes that I spoke about very. Mark van Rijmenam Much depends on where and to whom in an organization I'm talking. So who's my audience? If it's someone from the marketing department it's a different discussion to have than someone from supply chain because both departments, both very, very relevant for organization, they both have a different perspective on technology and they use technology in different ways.
It very much depends on you should use these technologies, whether it's blockchain, whether it's crypto for that matter, whether it's the Metaverse or generative AI, as a means to an end, not as an end in itself. You should use it as a tool. That's what it is. It's a tool. You should understand how you should be able to use that tool.
And it's an advanced tool so you should be able to understand how to use an advanced tool. You're not going to give a chainsaw to eleven year old kid and not tell him or her how to use it. And I think the same thing is with these technologies. You should see it as a tool and once you understand how the tool works, then you're able to understand how you can apply it within the business and within your department and within the challenges that you are facing. So I think that is how you should look at this.
These are tools that you can use to make your life easier, to make your work better, to create better customer experience, to increase the bottom line, to reduce the costs. All these outcomes of an organization, if you look at it from these technologies, are a tool to achieve what I want to achieve, then I think you're already a good step ahead. Simone Cicero What are your horizons we should think about as a company when evaluating a new technology in terms of short term midterm, what are the horizons that you tend to use? Mark van Rijmenam Well, I have a very long term perspective and I think as an organization or as a society, we should have a much longer term perspective than we have today. In fact, I think as a society we suffer from a disease called short-termism where we are driven by shareholder value and really focused on the next three months or the next one to three years. And I think that is problematic from a societal perspective. And we don't build technology, or we don't apply technology, or we don't use technology in the most optimal way.
For society as a whole, I would rather see that we have a more long-term stakeholder approach than a short-term shareholder approach. And this applies to everything. Let me give you an example. If we look at Artificial Intelligence, the technology that we are building today, the ChatGPT that everyone is using, all the machine learning and deep learning and neural networks that are out there for all the applications that we are building, these AI that we're creating today are forming the basis of AI 10, 20, 30 years from now.
So if we develop that AI today, we should look at that technology from that perspective. Why do I say that? Well, we only have to look at the history for that. Many banks, many financial institutions in the world still rely on a very old programming language called Cobalt. And there are very few Cobalt developers left in the world who can actually help those banks keep their Cobalt in their organization up and running. It's a very good job if you want to make a lot of money at the moment that happened because over the years we've continuously built on top of that foundation that was built 30, 40, 50 years ago. And we have not reinvented ourselves, we have not started from scratch with the newest technology.
No, instead we built on top of what we have already built. And the same thing will happen with, for example, AI, where the ChatGPT of one of GPT-1 GPT-2, three , 5, 10, 12, whatever they are building on top of each other. So anything that's built into the foundation will still be in that AI or in its what's called a child AI 10, 20 years from now. We have to have a long term approach because if we do it wrong today and we fast forward 20, 30 years, then we are left with the stuff that we've built today in the wrong way, whether it's biased or insecure or whatsoever. And I think it's good to have that perspective because otherwise we'll get the companies of the future, or basically today's companies, better and still existing 30 years from now, who will face the same problem that many banks around the world face today when it comes to their cobalt within their organization. Stina Heikkila Getting things right is obviously like a very difficult question, right? What is right, what is wrong? What kind of mistakes do we want to avoid? So I wanted to check how do you deal with questions like values and ethics to some extent? Like when you evaluate this as exponential trends, you probably also have a normative value-driven approach to some extent, right? So what are the consideration that you take in evaluating technology from more that value-based perspective? Mark van Rijmenam If I look at technology, how we should develop it, that's a very tricky concept because if we look at AI, and there's a big part of that is that we should develop responsible AI, we should develop AI that's ethical, we should develop AI that's unbiased.
But if we look at it from that perspective, machine ethics, so to say what is ethics, what is good, what is bad? What is good today might not be good tomorrow and vice versa. And I think that is extremely difficult to say something about that because the world is changing all the time. If we are too rigid in what we built today, we might not be able to change it without much problem or damage or challenges in the future if those things change. And often we already make a lot of mistakes in what we build today, giving to the ethical things that are sort of have common ground around the world. So that is really challenging. This is a really difficult subject of how do we instill ethics in the technology that we're building? And unfortunately, I do not have a clear answer to that.
The only thing is that I think we should pay more attention to what we are building and unfortunately we're not. We only have to look at ChatGPT. It was launched a tool that was still in R&D phase and within five days it had a million users and within two months it had 100 million users of a tool that was still in R&D phase. I think that's problematic because all of a sudden we have 100 million people who use this technology who not necessarily think about the consequences of how they should use it or why they should use it or in what way they should use it.
And I think that's sort of a common problem that we've had over the past 25 years where we have sort of sleepwalked into this digital age without really thinking about the implications of what we are building and the unintended consequences that come with it. And I think that's sort of the challenge that we face here. As we are digitalizing our society, as we are moving to this immersive Internet, which will be as pervasive as the air we breathe, we will be part of the Internet.
How do we deal with all these problems and I don't have an answer to that. But all I can say is that we have to have a good understanding of what these technologies mean. We have to make sure that we build the regulations in place to not beer into the problematic too soon or too far. Above all, we should just like in academia, if you want to do research, you have to really develop your research proposal.
You have to go through the ethics committee. They have to approve what you're doing. So there's a lot of back and forth and a lot of thinking before you actually proceed. And I think technology space could make use of that more than it is today.
I think we often remove too fast, especially with technology that is so powerful without truly thinking about the implications of whatever we're building. Simone Cicero: I think this is an open debate, right? And there is a lot of conversation around emerging technologies and the correct approach to framing this in the long term and try to control the contradictions. But still, personally, I'm a bit unfaithful that a regulation-based approach can really work for these emerging technologies. They are too fast, start too small to be regulated.
What do you think? Mark van Rijmenam I agree with that. But I'm arguing for a different type of regulation because, no, governments should not regulate and think about how we should use AI or ChatGPT or how we should develop it, because I don't think that's a good idea. Because governments generally have no clue what's happening if we ask regulators to build the laws, create the laws that regulate development of this technology. I think that's problematic.
What we can require and what should be regulated is that starting with public companies, but ideally all companies that develops advanced tools, advanced, most companies are advanced digital tools that we require sort of an oversight board or an ethics board or a board that has a say in the development of those advanced tools. And that this board is actually powerful. Not like the board that we saw with Meta that really couldn't really do anything anyhow, but a really powerful board that for that matters could fire the CEO. So that you have a board in place that requires the tech companies who are building these really advanced tools, that there's an independent board that reviews what's happening and whether we are moving into the right direction. That's something that regulators can require and that's also something that they understand that field. And then we don't stifle the innovation because I think innovation is really, really important and we should not have regulators stifle innovation, but we should think more carefully about the innovation and I think that's something that the regulators can regulate.
Simone Cicero We started this conversation, or at least we started our conversation in preparation of this recording from the topic of the Metaverse and then Generative AI took stage, very vehemently. You studied this since a while now. You've been presenting and trying and testing and prototyping. Can you maybe drive us through some of the most groundbreaking use cases that you see coming up in the long and midterm, maybe when it comes to business models, organizational models, and maybe social impact social models, I would say around Metaverse, Generative AI, ITs Convergence maybe, I guess also with what we call Web3. So what are the most interesting use cases, the most tangible, the most exciting? And maybe if you can also help us go through the vaporware in a way that really gives us some tangible ideas of the transformative impacts that these technologies can have on our organizational models, on our social agreements and our products? Mark van Rijmenam Wow.
That's a very broad question, but I think it's also a very interesting one because it requires sort of to think about what is the impact of these technologies on organizations. This impact is enormous. If we look back at how the Internet in the past 25 years has changed the economy and society, we can only imagine how that will have an impact in the next 25 years, where the starting point today for the next 25 years is 100 times further and more advanced than the starting point 25 years ago. So we can be certain that these technologies, as they converge in the next coming 25 years, that they will drastically change everything, literally everything that we know of, how we run an organization, of how we build an organization, how we fund an organization, how we sell our products, how we market our products, how we distribute our products.
Every component of an organization will be disrupted in the coming 25 years and it will be automated, it will be made more efficient, more effective in some areas, more fun in some areas, more problematic, depending on how we look at these technologies. But everything that we currently do within an organization, all the jobs that we have, they will change in the coming 25 years. That's how I look at the technology, simply by seeing what's coming, the starting point, where we at and where we're going. Take for example, marketing. The way marketing currently works, we create some kind of communication to sell a product or service to a segment for a particular price.
Most of these components are not personalized. Price is often not personalized. Communication is often not personalized, sometimes it is.
There are definitely use cases where communication is personalized segments. Not many companies work with a segment of NS1. But if we start to use technology, in this case, for example, Generative AI, we can move to a world where we automate our marketing using Generative AI to create a segment of one which has individualized communication based on the data of that NS1 creating an individual price for that particular segment which will have a better conversion rate than what we have today. So this is a very simple example of how technology will impact this. But if we look at blockchain on the other hand from a more B2B perspective in the supply chain, smart contracts from that perspective will completely streamline our supply chain, our global logistics and therefore globalization.
And the impact that that will have will be transformative for how we ship stuff around the world. If we're not stopping shipping stuff around the world because we're going to build it locally with 3D printing there you see there's a lot of technologies that are converging but also sort of fighting against each other where on the one hand we use blockchain and smart context to make it easier to ship stuff around the world. But then we have 3D printing which makes it no longer necessary to ship stuff around the world. So there's a lot of things happening in this space that I think is important to be aware of. Simone Cicero You spoke about AI, generative AI as a massive driver of Personalization. You spoke about blockchain and smart contracting, about massive streamlining contracting and supply chain.
If you have to identify maybe one impact of the Metaverse, what would it be? Mark van Rijmenam: One impact of the Metaverse it's going to change collaboration, how we collaborate, whether that's collaboration with customers, whether that's collaboration internally, whether it's collaboration across supply chains, it will change how we socialize. We are moving from a 2D internet to a 3D internet and a 3D internet is a lot more native to us humans because we are 3D beings, we're not 2D beings. We thrive in a 3D environment. So if we have a 3D digital environment that will allow us to have much better conversations while being geographically apart. In my book, Step Into the Metaverse, I look fast forward 10, 15 years, how this might change society, and one of the things I write is that because of the possibility to have hyper realistic 3d collaboration, it doesn't really matter anymore where you will live in the world.
Because whether it's for work, whether you are on the other side of the world, it looks like you're still physically present at the head office on the other side of the world. Because the lines between the digital world and the physical world are starting to begin to blur. Now, if that happens for your work life, then it will also happen for your private life.
Which is one of the reasons why often people don't want to move to the other side of the world is because they don't want to miss their friends and family. But if the technology of the Metaverse will become so advanced in the next 10, 15 years that it feels like that you can be with your friends and family while you're not. But to our brain it just feels like you are in the same room, then that might allow people to move more globally and move to other places around the world. Now if that happens, your countries might change their tech system to attract those global nomads, as we see, for example, happening in Estonia or other countries, to make it more effective and more efficient for those global nomads to live in their country and to do business with that country. Now, if that's the case, then at some point you might argue that people start to get paid in crypto, only pay taxes in one location for a lot less.
And if you don't start to think further ahead, you look at these geopolitical changes that at some point in the future people might become more loyal to their virtual Metaverse world than to their country because that's what they are more involved with. And then that sounds really futuristic and it sounds really far, far fetched. But we should not forget that generation Alpha, or maybe we should say generation AI is already seeing for them their digital reality is already as or more important than their physical reality.
That's research that has shown that if you look at it from that perspective, it's not too far fetched how this might pan out in the next 15 to 20 years. Simone Cicero: I want to underline that you kind of highlighted how this is happening through the last 25 years and the next 25 years as connected. Right? And if I picture this along an exponential curve, I kind of see how the change in the next 25 years is going to be much more impactful than the change that we have seen in the last 25, right. Because it's going to be an exponential you said it's going to drastically change everything. But three things that we have maybe double clicked upon is streamlining contracts, streamlining automation org., automation with smart contracts and blockchains.
You said personalization segments of one. Thanks to AI and maybe thanks to the Metaverse, we can push forward, move forward along this line of increasingly easy collaboration, which is something that I already see because if we think about how much things have changed as a consequence of the pandemic, we kind of already live into this semi-Metaverse. Right? In the last three years I haven't traveled on a plane. It's been miracle. But essentially I've been able to work with people all over the world from my little studio in Frascati near Rome. So that's something that is already happening.
And I think the picture of the world, the business world in general, the picture of the Internet enabled world that you are talking about looks like something very wide at the bottom, these very wide infrastructures in blockchains and Metaverse and AI. And on top of these wide infrastructures, lots of variety and plurality, smaller teams that can achieve bigger impacts, more personalization, maybe more self organization, right? So this is a picture of an Internet that kind of before case in two directions. One on the top, which is very diverse, plural, it's much easier to organize, much easier to interact, much easier to create something new.
And this large enabling infrastructure of the bottom, right? So this is what I think it was worth double clicking for our listeners. Stina Heikkila I think it's definitely like you said Mark, that it's actually not so far from what we are actually seeing happening, especially this kind of digital world connecting with the physical world and so on. I saw one not contradiction maybe, but it's a kind of friction. You mentioned before that we're going to build on top of what is happening now.
How open should things be? We can also see that they can happen some kind of polarizations and lock in in that space, right? So how do you think about openness in your work and maybe more also? Like, how do you think about it? But how do you think that companies who develop and use new technologies might think about openness, like in terms of interfaces and even to some extent like the code that they build their new structures on? Mark van Rijmenam Well, I think openness, or in this case an open Metaverse is very, very important, especially for a digital society which remains pleasant to live in. I think we should in a world where we create 100 or 1000 times more data, we should have control of that data and that control should not lie with centralized big tech companies. In order to achieve that, we need blockchain technologies, Web3 technologies, self-serving identities, to make sure our NFTs as well, to make sure that we have full control over our data, our digital assets and our digital identity. Now, I'm also a realist that I know that the road to this open Metaverse is open.
Digital society is very difficult because the companies that are currently in power, the big tech companies, they tend not to benefit, at least from their perspective, from an open Metaverse because obviously from their perspective they lose their data. So they don't have the opportunity anymore for value extraction and therefore that will impact their shareholder value in the short term. And that is again linked to the previous part of the discussion, long-term versus short-term. I think if we end up in a digital society which is owned and controlled by centralized big tech companies because we were driven by short-term shareholder value, I think that's really problematic for society as a whole and I think we should do better from all perspectives. And this requires work from organizations, this requires work from the startups who are building this stuff, this requires work from the regulators to regulate and this also requires work from you and me, the consumers.
We need to educate ourselves as well on why it is important to have an open Metaverse, why we should vote with our data and why we should not just accept a seamless interface but where we pay for with our data. That is really challenging. It's really difficult to achieve that. I'm trying to build a research institute to focus on the education part because I truly believe that we have this, to quote Eminem, this one shot, this one opportunity.
Are we going to do the right thing or are we going to let this slip? And are we going to let big tech become a lot more powerful than they are today? So I really believe that we should act now, in the coming couple of years before it is too late. Because imagine 10, 15 years from now, Facebook 2.0 or the TikTok for that matter, which would be even worse, where we create videos with our thoughts and through brain computer interfaces and our thoughts end up in China. I think that would be very problematic.
Or our thoughts end up with Mr. Zuckerberg who can use those data to create advertising that will manipulate us. I think that's problematic. I don't want to live in a future like that.
I'm trying to do whatever I can to at least change the narrative, but it's challenging. If we don't pay attention to this, we'll end up in a world-owned and controlled by Big Tech. Simone Cicero Thank you so much. I think we ended this conversation on a note of questions more than answer, which you like. So maybe one thing that I would like to ask you to before we close is to, first of all, add anything that you believe it's important to add as a kind of closing of this conversation. And also if you can leave our listeners with a couple of breadcrumbs that they can build upon after listening to this conversation.
Mark van Rijmenam Well, I think the most important thing is for everyone is to educate ourselves. We might be able to understand how a smartphone works or we might be able to understand how social media works, but that doesn't mean that we are digitally illiterate. It doesn't mean that we understand how to behave in this world.
It doesn't mean that we understand the consequences of whatever we're doing. And I think in order to achieve that, in order to be able to vote with our data, we need to understand how our data is being used and therefore we need to educate ourselves. And education can be done by reading. But if you plan to read as much about how to learn to fly, that doesn't mean that you will be able to fly.
At some point you need to get into a plane and take off yourself. In order to really learn how to fly, you really have to start educating and doing this stuff and think critically about whatever you are doing and not just accepting everything that comes across. Over the past 25 years, we've come to accept all these reserves that offer a seamless experience, but at the same time pull us in, extract all our value out of us, leave us locked in that cage. If we have a better understanding of how this technology works, we have a better chance to be more in control and not let that control slip to Big Tech.
So my breadcrumb is start exploring this stuff, start using this stuff, start writing, using ChatGPT and midjourney and all the other AIs to think about it, but then not just use it, but also think critically what it means and how you use it and why it's good or bad that you use it and in what way you use it. I think that critical way of thinking is really important here. Stina Heikkila Thank you so much, Mark, for the conversation today.
I think this is a great inspiration to actually start following what you are doing in that learn and test and think critically. Like you just summed it up very nicely. Don't believe in everything that the internet says. I think that even that question triggers you to think, who is the internet? Then I hope you enjoyed also the chat today and it gave you also some food for thought for your work. Mark van Rijmenam Absolutely. Thank you very much for inviting me on the show.
Stina and Simone, I really appreciate the conversation. I think it's very important that we think about this stuff and the fact that you host this conversation is fantastic. So thank you for having me.
Stina Heikkila So great. And for our listeners, of course, as usual, you can find all the references and more about Mark's work where you find him on all social media channels and so on. On our website boundaryless.io/resources/podcast, you will find Mark's episode there and click onto anything you need. So until we speak again, remember to think boundaryless.