FUTURE REPORT - Schibsted Future Report

Page created by Joseph Vasquez
FUTURE REPORT - Schibsted Future Report
FUTURE REPORT - Schibsted Future Report



                                                                                            04 The true superpowers                      42 Batteries are taking off               76 News media grows strong
                                                                                            The online world is ruled by Big Tech        Electric aircraft are starting to take    After decades of challenges and
                                                                                            – and their influence is felt in the real    off – literally. Airlines have invested   change, Schibsted’s news media
                                                                                            world as well. Is it too late to force the   in trials, and are aiming for short-      stands strong. Now there are six
                                                                                            companies to start prioritising public       range commercial flights to launch        battles to win to leverage success.
                                                                                            good over profit?                            somewhere within the next decade.

Welcome to our outlook on trends we find interesting within tech, people and business.
­Schibsted Future Report is written by our own people and inspired by our media heritage.
If you want to share the content – you can find it on futurereport.schibsted.com.
FUTURE REPORT - Schibsted Future Report


                                         n 1839 Christian Schibsted started a small printing business. Two decades later, he
                                         founded the newspaper Aftenposten to branch out, which became Schibsted’s first
                                         example of rethinking its business.
                                            Today, after 180 years of entrepreneurship, innovation and investments,
                                         Schibsted has grown into a family of strong brands ranging from media houses to
                                         online marketplaces, digital growth businesses, and start-up investors. We still car-
                                         ry with us both the values of our media heritage and that desire to branch out, go
                                         for growth, rethink and reinvent ourselves.
                                      Our media heritage also inspires the Schibsted Future Report. This annual outlook on
                                   trends within tech, people and business is written by our own people and we truly believe
                                   that sharing ideas and being transparent is a foundation for democracy.
                                      In the past year, our willingness to go for change and growth has given us the opportu-
Kristin                            nity to consolidate the Nordic classifieds market, by acquiring the Danish classifieds mar-
                                   ketplaces DBA and Bilbasen, and welcoming them into the Schibsted family. We believe
Skogen Lund                        this puts us in an even better position to deliver on our mission; to empower people in
                                   their daily lives.

Years in Schibsted: 3 as CEO              o keep growing, Schibsted (and everyone else) will have to deal with the fact that
and 6 as Commercial Director and          the world is at a crossroads. The digitalisation of society has taken leaps during the
CEO of Aftenposten 2004–2010              pandemic, and everyone is racing to build and maintain a digital relationship with
                                          their customers. To succeed, they will need developers, UX-experts, engineers and
                                          technologists. The problem is that there are too few to go around as it is.
                                      According to Gartner’s Emerging Risks Survey 2021, global talent shortage is now the
                                   top emerging risk for all organisations. Korn Ferry estimates a worldwide deficit of 4.3
                                   million tech-skilled workers by 2023, of which 1.5 million in Europe alone.
                                      On top of that, studies carried out by Microsoft, among others, show that a high per-
                                   centage of the workforce want the option of working remotely and are willing to change
                                   jobs to do so. What is more; remote job postings on Linkedin have increased five times
                                   since the pandemic outbreak.
                                      In other words: we are witnessing two fundamental changes in the labour force simul-
                                   taneously. First, a global shortage of tech people, which has already been named “the
                                   war for talent”. Second, a global talent migration in a border-free, post-pandemic labour
                                   market, often referred to as “the great reshuffle”.
                                      There’s no easy way for employers to counter any of these fundamental changes.
                                   Competing on compensation and benefits alone, for instance, may prove to be diffi-
                                   cult when the global giants have seemingly bottomless war chests in the war for talent.
                                   However; one can compete on culture – offering a better place to work, and one can com-
                                   pete on purpose – offering a more meaningful place to work.

                                      think we are facing an unprecedented moment in the history of work, where we all
                                      need to rethink not just how we work, but why we work. More people will be doing
                                      work they love at companies they feel passionate about. And this presents opportu-
                                      nities to organisations who engage their employees, offering trust and purpose.
                                         I also think it is a good idea to showcase the talented people already working at the
                                   company, letting their ideas and voices be heard. And that is exactly what we do with the
                                   Schibsted Future report.

FUTURE REPORT - Schibsted Future Report



12 Get ready for the metaverse             18 Medicine is getting artificial 36 Working remote for 10 years
It’s more than just video conferencing     Neural prosthetics, protein-folding AI,   Virtual collaboration is old practice for
in virtual reality. The loosely defined    and machine-learning disease control.     Schibsted Tech Polska. The employees
metaverse is taking its first steps, and   These are just a few of the areas where   in Poland have been parts of teams
this is story of why you should start      new tech is helping doctors be faster     distributed over multiple countries
caring.                                    and smarter.                              since the tech hub’s inception.
FUTURE REPORT - Schibsted Future Report

STUCK IN                                                                                                    le Peninsula


OF BIG TECH                                                                   Cap

                                                                                          Itunes Ato

It’s been a rough few years for a handful of US tech companies, due                wa

to a seemingly endless stream of scandals and harsh criticism from
politicians on both sides of the Atlantic. The result? “Big Tech” is bigger
than ever. But what if they have only started to flex their muscles?

4                                                                                                                          5
FUTURE REPORT - Schibsted Future Report
Joint Empire of Facebook                                                                                                                                               Gulf of

                                                                                                             f In
                                                                                                   King                                                                                                                                                       Whatsapp

                                      everal executives reacted with shock, according     people posted. Critics would say that Facebook has been           years. In 2018, it was revealed that the company Cambridge        damning investigation showing that the company, including
                                      to the people in the room. The proposal meant       doing this all along, letting its algorithms prioritise what is   Analytica had harvested data from 87 million Facebook             Mark Zuckerberg, was very aware of the harm the platform
                                      crossing a line, unleashing a hitherto unused       presented to users. What shows up in the News Feed is what        users, data that had been used in Donald Trump’s pres-            was causing. The company’s own researchers identified
                                      weapon. The code name was “Project Amplify”,        people perceive as important, a form of personal truth for        idential campaign. The revelation not only tarnished              problems in report after report, but the company chose not
                                      and it was a new strategy that social media behe-   every individual.                                                 Facebook’s reputation, but it also had real financial conse-      to fix them, despite public vows to do so.

                                      moth Facebook hatched in a meeting in ear-             “Project Amplify” would mean something entirely new.           quences. When the story broke in March 2018, Facebook’s
                                      ly 2021, as reported by the New York Times. The     By actively promoting positive news stories about the com-        stock tanked. In July the same year, Facebook announced                rom the company’s perspective, its strategy has been
                                      mission: to improve Facebook’s image by using       pany, “truth” is now the same as “what makes Facebook             that growth had slowed down due to the scandal. The stock              a success. Advertising revenues have continued to rise
Andreas                  the site’s News Feed-function to promote stories that put        look good”.                                                       fell 20 percent in one day. In a few months, 200 billion USD of        and in autumn 2021, Facebook’s stock market value

                         the company in a positive light.                                    Silicon Valley veteran and social media-critic Jaron           the company’s market capitalisation was wiped out.                     broke one trillion USD, double of what it was before
                            The potential impact is enormous. News Feed is                Lanier referred to the major social media networks as                Facebook’s reaction can be summarised as follows: we                Cambridge Analytica. The same can be said of the oth-
                         Facebook’s most valuable asset. It’s the algorithm that          “gigantic manipulation machines”, possessing the power to         are sorry and promise to do better. This has been repeat-         er tech giants. Companies including Google, Amazon and
Columnist,               decides what is shown to users when they log in to the site.     alter emotions and political views among billions of people       ed every time new, negative stories about the company             Apple have been at the crosshairs of public debate for years,
Aftonbladet              In essence, it is the “window to the world” for their users,     by pulling digital levers. Now Facebook has decided to use        emerge, such as the spread of disinformation, the nega-           both for alleged abuse of their dominant market positions
Years in Schibsted:
                         who, totalling nearly three billion, constitute more than a      its machine for its own purpose.                                  tive impact Facebook’s product has on the mental health of        and for the negative effect their products and business
10 years at SvD (2007–
                         third of all humans on planet Earth.                                We will return to the implications of this, but first, it      young people, and how the network was used to instigate           models can have on people and society.
2017), at Aftonbladet
from December 2021          For many years Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg               is important to understand why Facebook and Mark                  genocide in Myanmar, among other things.                            But if the stock market is a reliable gauge of the future,
                         defended the company’s policy on free speech with the            Zuckerberg would want to do this. It is no bold assertion            But behind the many apologies it seems Facebook has            and it often is, the conclusion is clear: these companies
                         mantra that the social network should not be the “arbiter        to say that Facebook’s public image is in acute need of a         continued with business as usual. In September 2021, the          are untouchable. Despite a storm of criticism, court cases
                         of truth” online, i.e., they would not censor content that       facelift. The company has been plagued by scandals for            Wall Street Journal published “The Facebook Files”, a             and billion-dollar fines, stocks have continued to propel

6                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             7
FUTURE REPORT - Schibsted Future Report
                                                                                                                                                                                                To the Tumblr Fandoms

                                                                ever upwards. How is this possible? Let’s start with break-     conducted an experiment among
                                                                ing down the different ways Big Tech dominates the world        700,000 users to see if their states
                                                                today.                                                          of mind could be altered by changes in
                                                                  When discussing this topic, parallels are often drawn         News Feed. The answer was yes.
                                                                to the influential corporations of the late 1800s and early
                                                                1900s, Standard Oil for example. These comparisons are          THE INFRASTRUCTURE SUPERPOWERS
                                                                misleading. Standard Oil and its owner John D. Rockefeller      In December 2020, Google went down, meaning users
                                                                could never dream of the amount of power that rests in the      could not access Gmail, Google Docs or Youtube. Although

        t of                                                    hands of the Silicon Valley-titans of the 2020s.                the outage only lasted 45 minutes, it made headlines all
    Poin Sale                                                   THE NEW ECONOMIC SUPERPOWER
                                                                                                                                over the globe. The same thing happened to Facebook in
                                                                                                                                October 2021. As an expert said to CNN: “For many people
                                                                In 2010, the total market cap of Apple, Google, Microsoft,      Facebook is the same as internet”. After the 2008 financial
                                                                Facebook and Amazon was more than 700 billion USD. That         crisis it was clear that a small number of banks were “sys-
                                                                was equivalent to the GDP of the Netherlands. The ascent        temically important”. This is now very true for Big Tech.
                                                                had been amazingly fast; at this point Amazon was 16 years      Serious disruptions in their services would quickly have
                                                                old, Google twelve and Facebook only six. In autumn 2021,       severe and costly consequences.

                             The Forgotten Isles
                                                                their combined value had reached 9,500 billion USD, more
                                                                than the GDP for Japan and Germany combined. The total          THE POLITICAL SUPERPOWERS
                                                   of M         annual revenue for these five corporations is north of one      Big Tech has surpassed Big Oil as the biggest spenders on
                                                            e   trillion dollars, more than the defence budgets of USA,
                                                                China, and Russia combined.
                                                                                                                                lobbying in Washington D.C., with an increase in spend-
                                                                                                                                ing from 20 to 124 million USD between 2010 and 2020.
                                                                                                                                In the election cycle of 2020, a total of 2.1 billion USD was
                                                                THE MARKET SUPERPOWERS                                          spent on political ads on Facebook and Google. In a mani-
                                                                Facebook owns four of the five largest social media net-        fest published in 2017, Mark Zuckerberg noted that in elec-
                                                                works in the world. Google, owner of the second largest         tions across the world “the candidate with the largest and
                                                                (Youtube), has a 92 percent market share on search. Apple’s     most engaged following on Facebook usually wins”. In other
                                                                and Google’s operating systems, IOS and Android, con-           words: use us or you lose.
                                                                trol 99 percent of the global smart phone market outside
                                                                of China. Apple takes in 65 percent of the global revenue       THE CAPITAL MARKETS SUPERPOWERS
                                                                on mobile apps, and Amazon has 50 percent of the e-com-         It could be argued that the stock market has become the
                                                                merce market in the US, as well as 32 percent of the glob-      most important gauge for global decision-makers. It takes
                                                                al market for cloud services, followed by Microsoft. The list   decades to make them do anything to combat climate
                                                                goes on. This not only creates huge profits but also creates    change, but if stocks drop dramatically, decisive action
                                                                an enormous asset in form of the 21st century’s most valua-     from politicians and central banks are delivered within days
                                                                ble commodity: data.                                            or even hours. This was last seen in early 2020, when fears
                                                                                                                                of the economic impact of the pandemic brought the Dow
                                                                THE INNOVATION SUPERPOWERS                                      Jones down by 13 percent in one day. The direction of the
                                                                Up to 50 percent of the venture capital raised by start-ups     stock market is, in turn, more and more intertwined with
                                                                circles back to Google and Facebook in the form of advertis-    that of Big Tech. Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon and
                                                                ing, almost as a “tax on innovation”. If new, competing ser-    Microsoft constitute a quarter of the S&P 500 index.
                                                                vices emerge, Big Tech can either try to buy them or launch
                                                                                                                                THE AI SUPERPOWERS

                                                                competing products. Their headway in terms of resources
                                                                and user base makes it extremely difficult – if not impossi-    “Dark patterns”. That is what scientists call the tricks that
                                                                ble – to pose a real threat.                                    digital companies deploy to manipulate users. Sometimes
                                                                                                                                the purpose can be quite trivial, like making people sign

                                                                THE PERCEPTION SUPERPOWERS                                      up for a newsletter or share their email. The point is that
                                                                Twenty years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, one in 16        you as a user do something that you didn’t intend to do.
                                                                Americans believe the US government knew about the              With artificial intelligence these tools become more and
                                                                attacks and let them happen. Conspiracy theories and dis-       more powerful and potentially deceptive. The more data
                                                                information have become the new normal, and research            an AI-algorithm can use to train on, the more effective it
                                                                has shown social media plays an important role. What            becomes. This places Big Tech in a unique position to use
                                                                Google and Facebook choose to allow, or not allow, on their     these techniques. The problem with this is best summed up
                                                                platforms shapes our view of the world. In 2012, Facebook       by Meredith Whittaker, a former Google engineer and now

8                                                                                                                                                                                                             9
FUTURE REPORT - Schibsted Future Report
Tech                                                                                                                                                                                                         Tech

                                                                         head of the AI Now Institute at New York University: “You          Google eliminated negative news stories about Google
                                                                         never see these companies picking ethics over revenue.”            from searches, or they monitored Gmail and Google Docs
                                                                            In all the ways mentioned above, the power of Big Tech          to stop whistle-blowers or investigative reporters? What if
                yo                                                       is growing bigger every day. It is important to say that not       Facebook took down the accounts of politicians who are
                  fA                                                     everybody thinks this is a problem. However, it seems like         critical of Big Tech? What if Youtube only recommended
                    ds                                                   there is a consensus among democratically-elected leaders          documentaries that showed how fantastic Silicon Valley is
                                                                         in both the U.S. and Europe that the influence of these com-       for humanity?
                                                                         panies must be reined in. The U.S. and the European Union             This might all seem rather dystopian, but the question
                                                                         recently agreed to take a more unified approach in regulat-        must be asked. After all, anything that can be done with tech-
                                                                         ing big technology firms. In fact, even the people who work        nology tends to be done. With Facebooks “Project Amplify”,
                                                                         in the industry share this view. In a survey of 1,578 tech         this is already inching towards reality. Most importantly,
                                                                         employees made by Protocol, 78 percent said that Big Tech          what could anyone do to prevent this? The answer is: noth-

                         Mountains of Gmail
                                                                         is too powerful.                                                   ing. As things stand now, Facebook and Google are con-
                                                                             So, what can be done? A variety of options are already on      trolled by Mark Zuckerberg and Larry Page/Sergey Brin who
                                                                         the table, from forcing companies to break up to altering          own more than 50 percent of the voting power. An American
                                                                         laws that give social media companies a free pass compared         president can be thrown out of office, but no one can sack
                                                                         to traditional media. If the New York Times publishes hate         Mark Zuckerberg. And the reality is that Big Tech can use the
                                                                         speech they are liable, when Facebook does the same, they          power of their platforms for more or less any purpose they
                                                                         are not. In the US, this legislation is referred to as “Section    please.

                                                                         230”, and there is a debate around whether to change it. At
                                                                         the same time, numerous lawsuits have been filed around                     s Facebook whistle-blower Frances Haugen told
                                                                         the world against the Big Tech-companies on anti-trust                      CBS 60 minutes: “The thing I saw at Facebook over

                                                                         issues. The stock market has sent the message that the idea                 and over again was there were conflicts of interest

                                                                         that any of these measures could seriously harm these com-                  between what was good for the public and what
                                                                         panies is simply unfounded. And that view could very well                   was good for Facebook, and Facebook over and over
                                                                         be justified. There are several reasons why Big Tech-titans        again chose to optimise for its own interests, like making
                                                                         can sleep well at night. Let’s run through some of them.           more money.”
                                                                                                                                               Here we arrive at the crux of the problem. Silicon Valley’s
                                                                         BREAKING UP IS ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE                                   algorithms govern the world, but these giants are in turn
                                                                         The businesses of Big Tech are deeply interconnected. It           governed by an even more powerful algorithm: the para-
                                                                         would take years of litigation to make such a decision a real-     digm that is called shareholder value. To satisfy Wall Street,
                                                                         ity. With 300 billion dollars of annual profits, the legal cof-    Big Tech-giants must deliver constant growth and more
                                                                         fers of Silicon Valley are limitless.                              profits every year. And in the choice between ethics and
                                                                                                                                            profit, the answer is, more often than not, profits.
                                                                         FINES WOULD HAVE TO BE ASTRONOMICAL                                   Silicon Valley author and entrepreneur Tim O’Reilly
                                                                         TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE                                               has called Big Tech “slaves under a super-AI that has gone
                                                                         Between 2017 and 2019, the EU slammed Google with a total          rogue” – meaning the financial markets. Breaking out of
                                                                         of eight billion USD in fines. That is less than seven percent     this cycle is easier said than done. Companies like Apple,
                                              Google+                    of the company’s pre-tax profit during those three years. As       Google and Facebook use their stock to pay their employ-
                                                                         the stock market often regards fines as a “one-off”, it is not     ees, which means they are highly dependent on stock prices
                                                                         clear if even larger fines would hurt the market cap at all.       rising. But bad ethics also runs the risk of alienating these

                                                   Google Wave           TOO DRASTIC OF MEASURES COULD TRIG-
                                                                                                                                            same employees. Internal protests have rocked Google,
                                                                                                                                            Amazon, and Microsoft in recent years.
                                                                         GER A STOCK CRASH                                                     Hurt society or hurt the stock price? Lose staff over
                                                                         In theory, politicians could of course make new laws that          scandals or over bad pay? These are the dilemmas that
                                                          Google Buzz    severely hurt Big Tech. This would very likely lead to correc-     the most powerful companies in history face. Whether
                                                                         tion of their stock prices, which in turn would weigh heavi-       Big Tech has really become too-big-to-stop remains to be
                                                                         ly on the start-up ecosystem and the economy at-large. To          seen. Ultimately the power rests with you. Without the bil-

                                                          Google Glass   have voters lose trillions of dollars, or even worse their jobs,
                                                                         is not a price any politician is willing to pay.
                                                                                                                                            lions of daily users, Silicon Valley’s influence amounts to
                                                                                                                                            exactly zero.
                                                                                                                                               So, if your kids or grandkids one day ask how a few indi-
                                                                         THE COMPANIES COULD FIGHT BACK                                     viduals acquired so much wealth and power, the answer is
                                                                         This is the most underestimated scenario of all. What if           simple: we gave it to them.

10                                                                                                                                                                                                             11
FUTURE REPORT - Schibsted Future Report

                               ME ERSE
Investment analyst
in New Models Team.
Years in Schibsted:
1. I look forward to:
These shades actually
making me faster.
        Foto: Edward Louis

                              ENTER THE
                                          Facebook is hiring 10,000 people
                                          to work on it. The Metaverse is
                                          no longer science fiction – some
                                          say it’s the next Internet.

                                                     hroughout the last few decades, much of what
                                                     we previously considered science fiction has
                                                     become more science than fiction. We may not
                                                     have flying cars yet but asking your fridge to cre-
                                                     ate a grocery list is an everyday occurrence. And
                                                     – as has been stated so many times before – our
                                                     precious smartphones have more processing
                                                     power than NASA did when it sent Neil Armstrong
                                          and Buzz Aldrin to the moon. So it shouldn’t come as a sur-
                                          prise to us when terms like “the metaverse” are no longer
                                          constrained to The Matrix and Ready Player One. But before
                                          we look at how the metaverse will impact our future, let’s
                                          understand it.
                                            The term “metaverse” was coined by author Neal
                                          Stephenson in his 1992 novel “Snow Crash”. He used the

FUTURE REPORT - Schibsted Future Report

                    term to refer to a 3D virtual world inhabited by avatars of        2D websites. The Verge has broken down the parts of the              team meetings remotely via VR
                    real people. The term comes from “meta” (beyond) and               metaverse that most excite the tech industry right now,              setups, sitting on our couches at
                    “verse” (from universe), and it is typically used to describe      things like “real-time 3D computer graphics and person-              home while appearing at a confer-
                    a futuristic virtual world on the internet in some form. Still,    alised avatars,” and “a variety of person-to-person social           ence table in a virtual space with
                    the term, as it pertains to an actual, real-world phenome-         interactions that are less competitive and goal-oriented             our colleagues.
                    non, doesn’t really have a universally accepted definition.        than stereotypical games.”                                              Independent       tech     analyst

                       Venture capitalist and author of “The Metaverse Primer”,                                                                             Benedict Evans explained the cur-
                    Matthew Ball, writes that “The Metaverse is best under-                   reviously mentioned author Matthew Ball believes              rent discourse around the metaverse
Camilla             stood as ‘a quasi-successor state to the mobile internet’”.               that the metaverse will have as big of an impact on our       like “standing in front of a whiteboard

                    This is to say, it’s a technology that will completely change             daily lives as the electricity revolution and the mobile      in the early 1990s and writing words like
                    how we operate in the world but also take a long time to                  internet. It’s also an interaction of the same kind – the     interactive TV, hypertext, broadband, AOL,
                    develop based on many different, secondary innovations                    internet (and its iterative version, the mobile internet)     multimedia, and maybe video and games,
Advisor Editorial   and inventions.                                                    couldn’t have happened without the electricity revolution,           and then drawing a box around them all and
Content                Since metaverse is not a completely developed term with         and the metaverse couldn’t happen without the internet.              labelling the box ‘information superhighway’”.
Years in
                    a clear definition, it’s tricky to pin down, but I’ll give it my      Ball writes that the “metaverse iterates further by placing       Essentially, we’re merging tech and concepts such
Schibsted: 1.5
                    best shot. Currently, as far as we can define it, the metaverse    everyone inside an ‘embodied’, or ‘virtual’ or ‘3D’ version of       as augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reali-
                    looks like a successor to the internet in which its users are      the internet and on a nearly unending basis. In other words,         ty, gaming, cryptocurrencies, non-fungible tokens and
                    more tangibly connected to the virtual experiences taking          we will constantly be ‘within’ the internet, rather than have        more, under one umbrella.

                    place there. That could be via everything from voice inter-        access to it, and within the billions of interconnected com-
                    faces, to VR headsets and haptic wearables.                        puters around us, rather than occasionally reach for them,               ’ve started thinking about the theory of the metaverse
                       In the long run, it is believed that all of these experi-       and alongside all other users and real-time”. Facebook CEO               like electricity. The idea is that we’ll be using it so natu-
                    ences will be connected and collected in the metaverse,            Mark Zuckerberg, who is a big proponent of the metaverse,                rally in our daily lives, when swapping our glasses for AR      be a merging of
                    just like the internet is the collection of a vast universe of     has described it as “an embodied internet”.                              glasses with interactive screen overlays, that we don’t         the two needs.
                                                                                          His plan is to shift Facebook from a social media compa-              even think about it unless it goes down. As I mentioned           The major challenge
                                                                                       ny to a metaverse company, and he’s already put this plan            before, we already use an extended internet, in which our           with this, of course, is that not

 e’re already unlocking our
                                                                                       in motion. The company will change its name – the social             physical bodies, voices and gestures are connected to our           everyone has access to the tech fuelling this
                                                                                       network will keep Facebook but the parent company will               devices (think face scans, voice assistants, and VR). The           development – a lot of people don’t even have access to
                                                                                       be renamed, much like Google’s approach with its parent              metaverse is the extension of this. Perhaps we’ll all have          a reliable internet connection. Just as the smartphone

phones via facial recognition
                                                                                       company Alphabet. This could be to avoid the less than stel-         virtual avatars representing ourselves online, for which we         accelerated the mobile internet, other personal devices
                                                                                       lar reputation linked to Facebook, but it also symbolises            buy virtual designer clothes and virtual bespoke art pieces         will be the driving forces of the hypothetical metaverse.
                                                                                       the shift in course. Zuckerberg plans to employ 10,000 new           with non-fungible tokens.                                           The smartphone is relatively accessible for the majority of
                                                                                       workers in Europe to join the company’s components and                  The key difference between that and what we have today           people today, but that wasn’t the case when ideas about a

and buying digital art via                                                             create this metaverse.
                                                                                          Now, that all sounds very sci-fi. But it’s really just the next
                                                                                       step in the development of things we already take for grant-
                                                                                                                                                            is connectivity – between ourselves and the virtual world,
                                                                                                                                                            and between the many different existing virtual worlds.
                                                                                                                                                            Especially following the giant disruptor that is the Covid-19
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                mobile internet arose. Just like all other technical develop-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                ments throughout history, the metaverse will surely devel-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                op into something completely different than how we first

non-fungible tokens.                                                                   ed. We’re already unlocking our phones via facial recognition
                                                                                       and buying digital art via non-fungible tokens. Admittedly,
                                                                                       it feels more far more far-fetched that we’ll be having our
                                                                                                                                                            pandemic, the need to physically engage with other people
                                                                                                                                                            is huge, but so is the need to connect with people over vast
                                                                                                                                                            distances in just a matter of seconds. The metaverse could
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                imagine it now. But until then, I’ll look forward to meeting
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                your avatar form in my virtual palace filled with non-tangi-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                ble art in the near future.

14                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              15

UNLOCKING                                      SERVING ADS                                  “IT’S ABOUT
THE SCHIBSTED                                  WITHOUT USING                                  PROTECTING
UNIVERSE                                       TRACKING                                       SOCIETY”
With more than three million users logged
in every day, Schibsted Account is a play-
er you can count on. The service is used to
log in to Schibsted’s newspapers, market-
places and other digital services, and it
has become the way that most end users
engage with the Schibsted brand.
   Ida Kristine Norddal’s product team and
related engineering and UX teams, all with-
in the User Foundation unit, are growing
rapidly to keep up with user needs and to      Data is what makes Armin Catovic tick.       The number of cyber-attacks has
further develop the service and experience.    It’s also one of the reasons why he          increased dramatically in the last ten to
   “We want to step up our game, to make       joined Schibsted – in addition to the fact   five years. Today everyone is a target.
sure the users understand who Schibsted is     that he now can use it to do good.               “Like many others, we really need to
and that they can trust us with their infor-      His team has developed a contextu-        improve in this area”, says Ralph Benton.
mation,” she explains.                         al advertising product, which uses data          As CISO he has initiated a cyber secu-
   Schibsted Account’s most obvious task       models to identify specific content in       rity program to improve information
is to enable Schibsted users to prove who      articles on Schibsted’s news sites.          and IT security, how Schibsted detect
they are, and by doing so, they get access        “This makes it possible to offer ad       and respond to cyber attacks and to
to our products and services, it also ena-     segments to our customers, based on          educate all employees on security risks.
bles subscription offers. But the poten-       news content alone. We don’t need to             “It’s about protecting yourself, your
tial and future ambitions point towards so     use cookies or tracking”, Armin explains.    colleagues, Schibsted – and in the end
much more – Schibsted Account is on its           More specifically, it means that adver-   the whole society.”
way to becoming an important key to the        tisers can pinpoint certain keywords to          That last thing is particularly valid for
Schibsted universe.                            which they want to be connected. The         a company with media outlets. Except
   “We also want users to be able to discov-   data models find those words in articles     attacks where someone’s trying to steal
er and explore all the different things that   on Schibsted’s news sites, and an ad can     customer information, or ransomware
we offer”, adds Ida Kristine.                  be placed there.                             attacks where someone brings a site
   She describes this as Schibsted’s hidden       Recently, Armin and the team devel-       or service down – in the fake news era,
treasure – news, buying and selling, order-    oped a more advanced model that can          news sites are facing risks that their con-
ing breakfast, finding a handyman and a lot    identify broader contexts.                   tent might be manipulated.
more – services that the users can access         “For instance, bicycle retailers would        As an individual, you should protect
with their Schibsted account.                  typically want to be connected to            your digital identity.
   “Our ambition is to simplify the whole      cycling or Tour de France. Now they can          “When possible, use multifactor
user experience, making it easy to go          have a wider perspective and choose to       authentication – like Bankid or OKTA
between our different services, using the      be seen in stories about climate change,     – when not possible, use strong and
same log-in and, when needed, the same         since bikers often cycle to reduce their     unique passwords, and do not use the
account information”, says Ida Kristine.       environmental impact.”                       same password everywhere”, urges
   No doubt, her team has a lot to do – and       And the advertisers are happy about it.   Ralph.
many treasures yet to reveal. In between,         “Feedback from both our own prod-             The good news is that in Schibsted we
they also communicate with all these users.    uct specialists and the advertisers has      have already learned a lot.
Every month they send out more than            been very positive, and we’ve now                “When we sent out the last fake phish-
three million emails, another reason why       reached a monthly revenue target of          ing attack, a lot of employees reported
Schibsted Account is the Schibsted brand’s     1 million SEK/NOK.”                          it to the IT Service Desk and that is really
most important ambassador.                                                                  good”.

Ida Kristine Norddal                           Armin Catovic                                Ralph Benton
Product Lead, Schibsted account                Senior Data Scientist & Tech Lead            Chief Information Security Officer
Years in Schibsted: Almost 4                   Years in Schibsted: Almost 1                 Years in Schibsted: 2.5

       MINDS   LIVESWe are entering a new era of medicine,
                    where AI will revolutionise healthcare
                    and treatment. It might also lead to more
                    empathetic doctors.

Tech                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Tech

                                                                                                                                                                                                The first implantable pacemaker
                                                                                                                                                                                               – a Swedish invention from 1958 –
                                                                                                                                                                                            contained two transistors. A modern
                                                                                                                                                                                           pacemaker contains anywhere from
                                                                                                                                                                                               10,000 to 100,000 transistors.

                                      ancho was 20 years old when he was paralysed            and part of an AI revolution in medicine and health care.          significantly reducing development timelines for drugs
                                      and lost his ability to speak. He was a Mexican-           The AI research field was conceived at Dartmouth College        and vaccines. For instance, during the Covid-19 pan-
                                      born amateur football player and a field work-          in 1956, a year when James Dean ruled the silver screen            demic, Alphafold’s predictions were used to map out the
                                      er in the California vineyards, until one summer        and Elvis Presley had his first number one hit, Heartbreak         proteins of the virus.
                                      Sunday after a match, he was in a car crash. After      Hotel. Since then, AI has had its ups and downs, exaggerat-           Currently, AlphaFold is being used to help develop new
                                      surgery, he suffered a stroke and his life changed.     ed expectations followed by troughs of disillusionment. The        drugs for tropical diseases. It has already helped scientists
                                         When he woke up from his coma, he tried to           term “AI winter” was coined specifically to denote periods of      find a safe drug for treating sleeping sickness, replacing a
                                      move. He couldn’t. He tried to talk and discov-         disenchantment, when investment in AI dried out and the            previous drug that is highly toxic.
Sam                       ered he couldn’t form a word. Then he started to cry, but he        pace of progress slowed.                                              Other areas where AI is currently being used include:

                          couldn’t make a sound.
                             At that point he wished he hadn’t come back from the                    ince Pancho’s accident in 2003, however, AI has made        MEDICAL IMAGING
                          coma at all, he recently told a New York Times reporter.                   great strides thanks to the advent of artificial neural     Interpretation of visual data is key in fields such as derma-     and have proven themselves useful in diagnosing a vast
Freelance writer,         Pancho felt like his life was over.                                        networks. The theory behind it had been established         tology and radiology, and fertile ground for machine learn-       range of diseases, relying on techniques such as image
Svenska Dagbladet            Fifteen years later, his life would change again, when a                decades earlier, the idea that software networks mim-       ing algorithms. Tech companies, hospitals and universities        recognition, symptom evaluation and natural language
Years in Schibsted: 2.5
                          group of American scientists implanted a chip with 128                     icking the arrangement of neurons in the human brain        around the world have developed machine learning algo-            processing.
                          electrodes into his brain, plugged a cable into his skull and       would provide an important step in the evolution of think-         rithms that surpass human experts at detection of various
                          trained deep learning software to read his mind. Today,             ing computers. But it wasn’t until the 2000s that it bore fruit,   skin conditions, cancers and other abnormalities. While           DISEASE CONTROL
                          Pancho can speak again. When he thinks of words, the soft-          when processor speeds, storage capacity and data availabil-        human specialists can be highly skilled at examining rashes       On December 31, 2019, the Canadian medtech company
                          ware decodes the signals from his brain and his words are           ity finally reached a tipping point in which it became feasi-      and reading x-ray plates, they require years of training and      Blue Dot alerted its clients about a new flu-like virus spread-
                          spoken in a gravelly, synthetic voice.                              ble to train large neural networks on vast amounts of data,        they are a scarce resource. AI speeds up the process, makes       ing in Wuhan, China. They were a week ahead of the World
                             Interpreting his brain signals and translating them into         quickly leading to improvements in image recognition, auto-        these skills more accessible and can, in some cases, detect       Health Organisation and the Centers for Disease Control,
                          words is only possible thanks to an artificial neural network       matic translation, and other domains.                              anomalies that human doctors cannot.                              thanks to their use of machine learning algorithms that were
                          interacting with Pancho’s organic one. The AI software was             Notably, AI systems have defeated humans at games like                                                                            processing 100,000 news items and disease reports in 65
                          trained on his thoughts during 50 sessions in which Pancho          go, Dota and Jeopardy. Social media corporations have              HEALTH RECORDS ANALYSIS                                           languages every day. AI-supported systems such as the Blue
                          was trying to speak words, until it recognised the patterns         used machine learning to find the best methods to keep             Electronic health records create new opportunities for            Dot platform can monitor the spread of new diseases, but
                          of brain signals that corresponded to certain words. (Thanks        us refreshing our feeds in endless loops of distraction, and       machine learning algorithms to find previously unknown            also predict future trajectory based on data such as travel
                          to his new ability to speak, the patient has expressed that         self-driving cars are inching ever closer to arriving on our       patterns in symptoms, diagnoses, medications and treat-           patterns, hospital admittance, historical data from previous
                          Pancho is the nickname he prefers, to protect his privacy.)         streets. But only in the last few years has medical AI start-      ment effects. Researchers in Uruguay have developed a             epidemics and mathematical models.
                             Pancho’s AI-assisted rehabilitation may seem like the stuff      ed taking off in a big way. And if you think hooking a cable to    system that analyses the text a doctor enters in a health
                          of science fiction. It is all the more remarkable for being real,   Pancho’s skull and reading his mind is something of a mira-        record and pulls up similar cases that may contain valuable       DRUG INTERACTIONS
                                                                                              cle, well, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.                     insights. Spanish researchers have created a system that          For patients taking a large number of medications, drug
                                                                                                 Alphabet’s AI research company Deepmind is perhaps              analyses a patient’s health record, and predicts risks for        interactions can be potentially harmful as well as hard
                                                                                              best known to the public for creating Alphago, the go-play-        diseases based on their historical data along with data from      to track by individual physicians. Spanish and Chinese

Notably, AI systems have
                                                                                              ing AI that runs circles around human go masters. But their        their family’s health records. As health record data grows at     researchers have shown that machine learning algorithms
                                                                                              work on Alphago has turned out to be useful in another             a rapid pace, human physicians cannot keep up, but they           can scan databases, medical literature and electronic
                                                                                              domain as well. In 2020, Deepmind entered their tweaked            can learn from the analysis performed by AI systems.              health records and find patterns indicating adverse reac-

defeated humans at games
                                                                                              AI, Alphafold, in a contest to solve the problem of pro-                                                                             tions to drug combinations.
                                                                                              tein folding. To nobody’s surprise, Alphafold crushed the          DIAGNOSIS
                                                                                              competition.                                                       Symbolic AI was first tailored to diagnose disease in the         DRUG DISCOVERY

like go, Dota and Jeopardy.
                                                                                                 Biologists have hailed Alphafold’s success as the first         1970s, using rules-based decision trees to create “expert         AI has proven its ability to speed up drug discovery dra-
                                                                                              time AI has solved a significant scientific problem. An            systems” to assist professionals in their decision making.        matically. It is useful in several ways, such as predicting
                                                                                              improved understanding of protein folding is already               Recent methods instead rely on artificial neural networks         the 3D structure of target proteins, predicting drug-protein

20                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     21
Tech                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Tech

                                                                                                                                           A SUPERPOSITION
       interactions and toxicity risks, designing biospecific            and death. As evidence of AI’s potential continues to grow,
       drug molecules as well as assessing drug activity. While          odds are that privacy advocates will be fighting a lost cause.
       Deepmind has turned its attention to neglected tropical           After all, no government would prioritise privacy over a cure
       diseases, British medtec start-up Exscientia and Japanese         for cancer or prevention of the next pandemic.

       pharmaceutical firm Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma used

                                                                                                                                           TO CHANGE
       AI to create a treatment for obsessive-compulsive disor-                     ill friendly and competent doctors be replaced
       der. Development took only twelve months (compared to                        then, by robodocs with superior diagnostic skills
       the expected timeline of five years) and the drug is now                     and knowledge of drug interactions? Well, not so
       in human trials. Many other research teams around the                        fast. If there is one domain where humans are irre-
       world are currently using AI to find new drugs, and Andrew                   placeable, it’s emotional work. No algorithm will
       Hopkins, CEO of Exscientia, recently predicted that all new       feel genuinely sympathetic about your knee pain. If you want
       drugs will be created with the help of AI by 2030.                cold, hard facts, go see Dr Alphacure. If you want someone

                                                                         who can relate to your problems, go see someone made of
       NEURAL PROSTHETICS                                                the same stuff as you: flesh, blood, bone.
       With machine learning, Swiss researchers have trained                Sometimes, you see your doctor just to get your prescrip-
       algorithms to interpret the muscle signals of an amputee,         tion renewed. But often, when you go because of a new ail-
       to control a prosthetic hand. The task is complex because         ment or injury, you are not only hoping for an intelligent
       muscle signals are noisy and traditional approaches have          analysis of your symptoms. You want to be taken care of,
       yielded clumsy results. Machine learning changes the game,        by someone who understands – from the inside – what it is
       and the AI-powered prosthetic is more precise and quicker         to have your body starting to fail. You want someone who
       to react than previous prostheses. Advances in this field are     knows what it is like to wake up at 4 a.m., chest pounding,
       bearing fruit in many research labs and Pancho’s new ability      fearing that your expanding mole might be a mark of death.
       to talk is another example of this approach, called a speech      In time, AI could be taught to simulate these emotional skills.
       neuroprosthesis.                                                  But fake empathy, in the end, is just manipulation.
          As Pancho’s example and all the ongoing research                  While human expertise can be replaced by AI, empathy
       demonstrates, we are entering a new era of medicine where         cannot. But as AI unburdens medical practitioners from
       machines can read the signals of our bodies, unfold ami-          many of the mechanical tasks of the profession, physicians
       no acid molecules, replace lost abilities and tailor drugs to     may have greater opportunity to develop their human-to-
       the protein structure of specific viruses. There will be dis-     human skills. In this way, medtech AI will not only revolution-
       putes over privacy and security, as AI systems crave massive      ise drug research, give voice to the speechless and improve
       amounts of data to further increase their capabilities. But       diagnostic accuracy. It may just lead to more empathetic
       the technology is so powerful and the stakes are literally life   doctors, too.
                                                                                                                                           Is quantum computing the next major revolution in                                         Many will be familiar with Moore’s Law
                                                                                                                                           computer science or will it remain a dream scenario for                                   describing the increase in processing
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     power. It states that the number of tran-
                                                                                                                                           the foreseeable future? Sven Størmer Thaulow, EVP Chief                                   sistors on a chip will double every oth-
                                                                                                                                           Data and Technology Officer, looks into an area that is still                             er year. It’s hotly debated, but for some
                                                                                                                                           surrounded by myths.                                                                      years now, many have claimed that
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Moore’s Law will soon be dead and that

                                                                                                                                                       Sven                             processing traditionally operates via a
                                                                                                                                                                                        digital computer language; everything
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     we have reached the limit for how many
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     transistors can be packed into a chip.
                                                                                                                                                       Størmer                          – images, sounds, text, etc – is broken
                                                                                                                                                                                        down into 1s and 0s. When I write “S”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     We’re currently down to three nano-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     metres between the transistors, with
                                                                                                                                                       Thaulow                          using my keyboard, it represented as
                                                                                                                                                                                        “01010011” – the ASCII character code
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     the standard distance on your Iphone
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     chip being five nanometres. Attempts to
                                                                                                                                           EVP Chief Data and Technology Officer        in binary format. This is done by feed-      remedy this are being made by designing

                                                                                                                                           Years in Schibsted: 2.5                      ing current into eight “transistors” in a    processors in 3D and other techniques.
                                                                                                                                                                                        processor (or chip), with different volt-       However, increased computing pow-
                                                                                                                                                    he fields of quantum mechan-        age levels representing the binary states    er is not just about the number of tran-
                                                                                                                                                    ics and quantum computing           of “1” or “0”. A thing inside the computer   sistors on a single chip; today we buy
                                                                                                                                                    are difficult to understand,        reads this and displays “S” on my screen.    vast amounts of computing power in the
                                                                                                                                                    even for people who have stud-         In data processing, building more         cloud and no longer have to rely on hav-
                                                                                                                                                    ied them at university level. But   powerful computers has largely been a        ing our own computers in-house. This
                                                                                                                                                    what are they, and what makes       matter of packing as many transistors as     means that we can all easily access vast
                                                                                                                                                    their application in computer       possible into a chip and getting the clock   resources to solve computing problems
                                                                                                                                                    science so interesting?             frequency (the speed at which the com-       precisely when needed, no more, no less.
                                                                                                                                            First we need to take a step back. Data     puter computes) as high as possible.            Demand for such computing power

22                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          23
Tech                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Tech

The bigger and more complex the
                                                                                          (such as Google and IBM) have launched         seemingly endless list of constraints
                                                                                          separate research programmes. Venture          and variables.
                                                                                          capital firms are investing in quantum       ◌ Classification tasks using machine

optimisation task, the greater the
                                                                                          startups. The first exclusively quantum        learning. A typical example of a clas-
                                                                                          companies have gone public. National           sification task involves putting labels
                                                                                          authorities are investing strategically in     on images, for example: “dog”, “tree”

need for computing capacity.
                                                                                          the defence sector, among others, after        and “street”. Quantum computing has
                                                                                          having financed basic research over sev-       proven to be more efficient at per-
                                                                                          eral decades.                                  forming complex classification tasks.
                                                                                             Yet we’re still lagging behind when       ◌ Simulation of nature, such as in molec-
                                                                                          it comes to application. We’ve not yet         ular modelling. Modelling anything
                                                                                          reached the point of “quantum advan-           other than the most basic chemical
                                                                                          tage”, at which a quantum computer             reactions is mathematically impossi-
has grown especially rapidly due to the       quantum computers and con­ventional         can solve a problem faster than a com-         ble for conventional computers, but
need to train machine learning algo-          processors is how computing power is        puter using conventional data process-         with a quantum computer this may
rithms on large datasets. These algo-         scaled. To double the computing power       ing. Researchers expect the first case         be doable. Development of medicines
rithms try to find an optimum in a            in a conventional processor, you essen-     of quantum advantage will be achieved          and batteries are two practical exam-
system with a large number of dimen-          tially need to double the number of tran-   some time in the next three to five years.     ples of potential areas of application.

sions (for example, housing prices)           sistors. In a quantum computer, the            The aim of quantum computers is to
– a big mathematical problem. Just            computing power is doubled with every       perform computations that no conven-                 he key point here is that when or
imagine how many variables that influ-        additional qubit. This means that the       tional computers can realistically man-              if quantum computers become
ence the price of a house. The bigger and     computing power in a quantum comput-        age. A major task that lies ahead will be            commercially available, they will
more complex the optimisation task, the       er grows exponentially when the proces-     to explore their applications. And to do             serve as a supplement to con-
greater the need for computing capaci-        sor is scaled.                              this we need to think differently. New               ventional data processing. State
ty – a need it will be difficult to keep up      Combined, this enables quantum           computational strategies must be devel-      authorities, hyperscalers (Big Tech com-
with using conventional data processing       computers to perform multiple comput-       oped to take full advantage of these         panies) and large universities are expect-
techniques. Even today, tasks already         ing operations simultaneously, churning     totally new devices. The mathematics         ed to be the early adopters of quantum
exist that are so complex that running        their way through computations which        and the algorithms underlying the tasks      computers due to the fact that they will
them on even the world’s biggest com-         today’s biggest supercomputers would        to be performed will be fundamentally        probably need to operate at extremely
puter cluster is inconceivable. This is       take thousands of years to complete.        different.                                   low temperatures in dedicated facilities.

where quantum computing is emerging                                                          Researchers and innovators often          So the number of quantum computers
as a promising technology.                           his sounds incredible, but at what   miss the mark when getting to grips          will likely be small initially – that is, given
   Quantum computing is about using                  stage are we at in the develop-      with new innovations: Thomas Edison          today’s technological constraints.
quantum mechanics – the theory of how                ment of quantum computing?           thought that the phonograph he invent-          That said, quantum computers will
things interact at small scale – to cre-                Well, the theory of quantum       ed would be used primarily for language      more extensively be offered as a cloud-
ate a computer that is insanely faster at            computing is more than 40 years      learning; the developers behind text         based service, on par with conven-
solving certain problems than a conven-       old; in 1981 the American physicist and     messaging thought it would primarily be      tional data resources, and be made
tional binary computer. A quantum com-        Nobel laureate Richard Feynman said:        used by courier companies to notify their    available using much simpler user inter-
puter does not have bits (no 0s or 1s) but    “Nature isn’t classical, dammit, and if     customers of parcel deliveries. So what      faces (high-level programming lan-
rather qubits, i.e. bits with more states     you want to make a simulation of nature,    do we think quantum computers will be        guage) than those we have today, where
than just 0 or 1. Qubits draw on two          you’d better make it quantum mechan-        used for? Three likely areas stand out:      developers in reality need to understand
properties that distinguish them from         ical, and by golly it’s a wonderful prob-   ◌ Large-scale optimisation problems          quantum mechanics in order to program
regular bits: first, they can be put into     lem, because it doesn’t look so easy”.         where the task is to maximise an out-     the machines.
a “superposition state” that represents          In many ways it can look as if we’ve        put based on an inconceivably vast           So what does this mean for Schibsted?
both 1 and 0 simultaneously. Second,          reached the same point in solving that         number of variables simultaneous-         We will monitor developments, but will
multiple qubits can be entangled, mean-       problem as the internet had in the early       ly. Some practical examples of appli-     probably wait a few years before we start
ing that states in pairs of quibits can be    1990s. Most work is currently being run        cation are in the transport sector, for   experimenting with the technology –
changed immediately.                          in labs, though industry is beginning to       finding optimal routes, or in finance     and when that day comes, we will do it
   Another important difference be­tween      grasp its potential. Big Tech companies        for optimising profit based on a          using cloud-based quantum computing.              The quantum computers that exist today
                                                                                                                                                                                              typically look like large chandeliers,
                                                                                                                                                                                           hanging from the roofs of science labs.

Tech                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Tech

                                                                                                                                                  This hearing aid dates back to the later half                                                      This example is from the
                                                                                                                                                  of the 19th century, and now resides in the                                                        1950s, but similar models
                                                                                                                                                  collection of the Museum of Medical History                                                        are still used to this day.
                                                                                                                                                  in Uppsala, Sweden.

                                                                                                                                                                                           An early electrical
                                                                                                                                                                                             model, with a
                                                                                                                                                                                               single earpiece,
                                                                                                                                                                                                 dating back to
                                                                                                                                                                                                   the 1930s.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Here is the Phonak
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Audéo Paradise, the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        model the author of this
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        article is currently using.

Last fall I became a cyborg. Now, when I tap twice on my                                      default mode today. But all this time I still   my audiologist Heidi to call me when any                            setting a timer, jotting down a to-do,           way cheaper than my Phonaks (which
                                                                                              felt handicapped, and I didn’t like that        great leaps were made on functionality.                             sending a simple text message, etc. A            are hovering around 1,400 USD in
left ear, I answer a phone call or hang up. If I tap twice on my                              they were visible – so I kept my hair long.         Then came the breakthrough. Heidi                               few times I’ve asked questions like “who         Norway).
right ear, I activate Siri. My new hearing aids make me feel                                  Being a vocalist in a band was a good           called me in November 2020, asking me                               is xx”, but what you can do with this new      ◌ “Invisible Airpods” will be the prima-
superpowered. Improving our senses and bodies will be the                                     combination.                                    to come over. She handed me a hear-                                 audio interface is limited to the intelli-       ry audio interface toward the internet.

future for all of us, says Sven Størmer Thaulow.                                                       round 2014, the first mobile con-
                                                                                                                                              ing device called Phonak from the Swiss
                                                                                                                                              company Sonova Group. And now, after
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  gence of Siri and not to the content or the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  value chain, which is super smooth.  
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   It’s always on you and it’s personal –
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   so why bother with Google Home?
Sven Størmer Thaulow                           the future and numerous smart glasses
                                               with AR have been tested. But now I’m
                                                                                                       nected hearing aid entered the
                                                                                                       scene. It was connected to the
                                                                                                                                              15 years with hearing aids – I have offi-
                                                                                                                                              cially become a cyborg. I don’t feel like
                                                                                                                                                                                                                     For 17 of the 24 hours in a day, I am
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  connected to the internet – inside my
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 ◌ Siri will become a lot smarter and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   tailored towards “non-screen” com-

                                               convinced that it’s within the audio space              mobile through Bluetooth, not          I have a handicap anymore. I feel super-                            brain practically. It saves me loads of          munication. This means you won’t
        s a kid I handled the fact that I      that things will take off. Superpowered                 only in an app, but into the operat-   powered. Privileged. And I am sure this is                          friction during the day; I probably pick         need to pick up your phone to browse
        was born with a reduced hearing        hearing aids will become consumer elec-        ing system IOS. The hearing aids worked         the future for all humans.                                          up the phone 40–50 percent less. I don’t         through what Siri has found on the
        by compensating with lip-read-         tronics – filling the missing link in the      like headphones and the voice audio was             I can use the aids as I do airpods when                         need to charge or look for my airpods            Internet when asking her a question.
        ing and being seated in the first      audio interface ecosystem.                     excellent – but they didn’t have a micro-       I talk on the phone. It’s almost a problem                          either.                                          Just imagine you are about to have a

        row in the classroom. Later, in the        But the road to make me a cyborg has       phone. I had to hold up the phone to my         as people don’t have any visual cue that                                                                             meeting with someone and you’d like
army and at university – exposed to the        been long.                                     mouth when speaking. You could also             I am on a call. The audio quality is also                               n my view, the true breakthrough             to get some information about them.
myriads of Norwegian accents and most             It all started with “in ear”-aids, devic-   control different programs and the vol-         close to the quality from airpods. I have                               of connected humans will come                Siri will be able to provide that, direct-
likely some effects of playing in bands – it   es that practically plugged my ears so         ume, either through an app or directly in       now used these hearing aids for about                                   from medtech. And it starts here,            ly into your ear.
became more tiresome to compensate,            that no natural sound could enter. In          the control centre on Iphone. I could also      twelve months, and I haven’t used my air-                               with audio. And while I’m walk-            ◌ App providers will build in Siri support
so I started using hearing aids.               the mid-90s, I got the first programma-        stream music from my Iphone – but the           pods at all. And I am listening to a lot of                             ing around with some fellow hear-            on loads of functions so that it’s possi-
   Until last fall it has been a varied        ble devices that could amplify sound           sound was optimised for voice, so it was        music.                                                              ing-impaired cyborgs, waiting for my             ble to use functionality inside the apps
experience. They serve as an important         on six different frequency bands. Then,        treble-crap. But this started to become             But what’s probably the coolest thing                           audiologist, Heidi, to reveal yet another        without picking up the phone. Today
support, but they lack in refinement           in the early 2000s, came the tiny aids         cool. So, I cut my hair.                        about my new hearing aids is that they                              breakthrough – here are some predic-             there are very few apps that have
– and always make me acutely aware             that hung behind my ear and that had a            Still, the potential was so much great-      are gesture activated. If I tap twice on my                         tions about the soon-to-come future of           implemented functions towards Siri,
of my handicap. But then something             speaker connected by a fairly invisible        er. When could I drop my airpods? Why           left ear, I answer a phone call or hang up.                         the audio interface:                             which is why “she” has limited reach
happened.                                      chord. At that time, the buds stuck into       weren’t the hearing aids truly connect-         If I tap twice on my right ear, I activate Siri                     ◌ In five years from now you will be able        on our phones.
   For years we´ve talked about cyborgs        my ear were full of holes, and amplifica-      ed two-ways so I could talk in them,            and can ask whatever I want – hoping she                               to buy “Invisible Airpods” from Apple
and wearables, while techies implant-          tion was much better, resulting in a more      talk to Siri, and get answers? I kept ask-      will understand. I use it mostly for con-                              or equivalent. They will be the prici-      I can’t wait for the next innovation in this
ed RFID chips under their skin to demo         natural sound picture. These are still the     ing every year for innovations and I told       trolling Spotify, beefing up the volume,                               est Airpods you can get hold of, but        space!

26                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        27
You can also read