I like to start some of my ponderings with a quote from movies, and in this case, it will be no different. I recall Morpheus, from The Matrix, talking to Neo as he woke up after choosing the Red pill, “Welcome, to the real world” he told him, implying his prior life was not real, an illusion from which he had just woken up and been born from.
Having spent my entire career in the digital world, and most of personal life fascinated by technology, I can still recall my professional beginnings when working for tech startups in the year 2000 was something bizarre, to say the least, where none in my family and friends circles would really understand it; and where the ONLINE topic was something intangible, not a true reality, and for many, some kind of a passing trend.
On my last trip to the US, many moments brought up scenes from past movies similar to the latter I just mentioned, as our civilization is getting closer to the brink of a new era, if has not yet started it; an era where technology is not for just a group of individuals, but really and mainly for the masses on a omnipresent way, literally EVERYWHERE.
This particular trip had a few purposes, of which, was to learn about our new products whose DNA included machine learning capabilities, machines having vision skills to fathom humans from images and videos and understand some key info from them.
For decades, the detachment between the physical or OFFLINE world and its ONLINE counterpart was very distinct, defined, and it had a very thick line in between. The online, where everything was digital, connected and in real-time, versus the OFFLINE, analog, disconnected, and who knows at what pace.
Today, many of the concepts are starting to dissipate the meanings they carried for the past two decades and are being questioned to the very pillars of their essence. What is e-commerce, what defines it, how much different is it today from just commerce? What is online and offline? What is digital and analog?
On our way back home, we stopped in Houston International airport, and we witnessed a scene not too far from one of those movies I mentioned previously. There was an army of ipads (8,000) deployed in certain terminals (C, E, B) with a sole purpose, bringing technology much closer to humans so that the offline barrier to the digital world was eliminated once and for all.
This initiative represented a very strategic move from United Airlines and OTG, by which they opened up the doors to “On The Ground” digital commerce, including entertainment, payment, food, advertising, and if you think about it a bit more deeply, it could pave the way towards automated robotic serving, human analytics traffic ranging from people moving around, sitting, average time eating, expression tracking, conversation monitoring, and a whole new world in terms of “human to machine” (HTM) proximity dynamics.
Not so long ago, when humans were in the presence of machines, the latter were inanimated, inertial basically sitting there serving a purpose without proactive drives, but today this is becoming a standard from the moment when machines start to think, feel and react to whatever is around them, being humans considered within the “whatever” spectrum.
With the above in mind, I would like to close up with a rhetorical question to you all: What is the Real World for you?