The Hunt for Authenticity

What are the tech implications of this top predicted trend?

What are the hottest trends coming in technology in the next five years? This billion dollar question was the topic of discussion at the Churchill Club’s popular Top 10 Tech Trends event May 22 in Burlingame California. This was the 20th year of this annual event, and Infogain staff and their guests were honored to be audience participants.

The Churchill Club

Churchill Club is Silicon Valley's top independent thought leadership forum, with the mission to encourage innovation, economic growth, and societal benefit. It is well known for hosting forums global leaders, senior business and tech professional, investors, entrepreneurs, academics, and press/media. Its first meeting was Nov. 12, 1985 with featured keynote speaker Robert Noyce, inventor of the integrated circuit and founder of Fairchild and Intel. One of the predications from that first meeting was that mobile devices would become ubiquitous. (Noyce certainly got this right.)

Top 10 Tech Trends Panelists

In collaboration with the Forbes Midas list, this year’s event brought together partners from Silicon Valley’s top tech venture capital firms:

David Cowan of Bessemer Venture Partners
Sarah Guo of Greylock Partners
Nicole Quinn of Lightspeed Venture Partners
Tomasz Tunguz of Redpoint Ventures
Mike Vernal of Sequoia Capital

Panelists first voted on each other’s predictions, displaying green or red paddles for a thumbs up or down. With the help of polling partner, Poll Everywhere, the nearly 500 audience members used their mobile voting system to agree or disagree with the panel’s predictions.

The Top 10 Trends, 2018

This year’s trends, ranked by percentage of audience agreement are:

1. The Hunt for Authenticity
Deep learning enables computers to synthesize voice indistinguishable from humans and generate photographs that look real. Plus, computers enable disinformation at greater scale than ever (election, net neutrality debate). Determining authenticity will be an important growth area.
Tomasz Tunguz, Redpoint Ventures

2. China Accelerates Past the U.S. in Key Technology Areas
If you want to have an MRI read today, you might want to fly to China. Deep learning can help radiologists better diagnose cancers, but it'll be years before that technology is widespread in the US. It's already deployed and scaling in China. The strong alignment between the Chinese government and technology ecosystem, combined with a national focus on key technologies such as AI and autonomous vehicles, means that China will become the global leader in these core technologies.
Mike Vernal, Sequoia Capital

3. Robotics Goes Mainstream Because of the AV Gold Rush
Thousands of engineers and billions of dollars are being poured into the race for an autonomous passenger vehicle. That investment will (a) massively drive down the price of key sensors and actuators, (b) 100x the pool of engineers trained in perception and planning, and (c) inspire tons of entrepreneurs in adjacent industries (trucking, construction, warehouse management, etc.). We will see a surge in autonomous robots replacing dangerous or laborious jobs across industries.
Mike Vernal, Sequoia Capital

4. The All-Seeing Eye
Cheap and smart cameras with computer vision algorithms are blanketing the world. New smart camera apps, from your face unlocking your phone to Amazon Go stores, will delight consumers. But this tracking of our every move will also remake expectations and regulation around surveillance.
Sarah Guo, Greylock Partners

5. Move Fast and Change Everything
From self-driving trucks to electric scooters, every segment of the multi trillion-dollar transportation industry is being invented or reinvented, and the unexpected impact on our infrastructure and our lives will be massive.
Sarah Guo, Greylock Partners

6. Voice First Will Open Up Internet to the World
We are trying to bring the world online. However, 25% of the adult population are illiterate so the way to bring them online will be voice first.
Nicole Quinn, Lightspeed Venture Partners

7. Decentralization of Data
Today, all of our data is centralized in clouds controlled by a handful of data oligarchs. In the future, users will exert more control over their personal data and use a technology like the blockchain to do it. commerce
Tomasz Tunguz, Redpoint Ventures

8. The New Space Stack Will Enable Extraterrestrial Commerce
After holding back Moore’s Law for 50 years, the space industry is being turned upside down by a new ecosystem of startups developing microsat constellations that replace mainframe-like systems at 1% of the cost, with planetary coverage and higher resilience. Companies in tourism, mining, communications, manufacturing, agriculture, energy, defense, media and more will buy the tech and services they need off-the-shelf to operate extraterrestrial fleets.
David Cowan, Bessemer Venture Partners

9. High-Density AI Promises Conversational Bots Smart Enough to Disrupt Mobile Commerce
High-density AI will break up NLP into narrow domains that neural networks can master, enabling a generation of conversational bots that can reliably satisfy consumer needs without human intervention. With intuitiveness and immediacy, these bots will displace mobile apps as the dominant UI for computing, disrupting the entire consumer internet economy.
David Cowan, Bessemer Venture Partners

10. People Will No Longer Distinguish Between Online and Offline Worlds
We’ve seen e-commerce and retail come together into omnichannel and experiential retail. We’ll see the same for social, dating, media, fitness and everything else.
Nicole Quinn, Lightspeed Venture Partners

The Hunt for Authenticity and the implications for tech

The top-rated trend, Tomasz Tunguz’s “The Hunt for Authenticity” garnered agreement among a majority of the audience. We interviewed Cathy Chandhok, Infogain’s VP of Marketing, to get her thoughts on this trend.

Comments and Tech Implications – The Hunt for Authenticity

About 400 people in the room agreed that “The Hunt for Authenticity” is a non-obvious trend that will see explosive growth. I agree with this assessment as well, although the growth may occur beyond the five-year window specified by the competition organizers.

@TTunguz gave several vivid examples of how easy it is to create faked content with potentially devastating consequences (e.g. faked smears in politics and faked video documentation of adultery). How do we operate in a world in which we don’t know whom to trust, who said what, what videos are real or not?

Software innovations to promote authenticity

I can see a variety of software product innovations that will emanate from this trend. I expect that products such as Docusign and DocHub may develop expanded functionality to authenticate things such as presence in videos, being the verified author of a given text or the verified speaker in a podcast.

This could also apply to students completing their homework. The day may come when only documents with the author’s unique Docusign / DocHub signature will be trusted as authentic.

In a higher-level authentication scenario, the content development in an authenticated setting will potentially look like an online proctored exam:

  • An author will sign in
  • An externally placed web cam will view the author and his screen
  • The final document will be published with both a Docusign key and a secure video confirming the author personally created the content.

At Infogain, we’re excited about the possibilities of promising tech trends like this. We help our clients stay on top of trends that affect leading software companies and Fortune 500 companies.

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