Amy Webb, a quantitative futurist and founder of the strategic foresight firm Future Today Institute, thinks the world can, indeed, get worse.
In her most recent book “2020 Tech Trend Report: Strategic Trends that Will Influence Business, Government, Education, Media and Society in the Coming Year,” Webb examines the companies – and the people who run them – that will make the future either a utopia or a new hell.
Webb’s major idea centers around how the G-MAFIA (an invective and acronym of Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, IBM and Apple) and its Chinese counterpart in BAT (Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent) are becoming increasingly interwoven in our lives.
Digital innovations – from artificial intelligence to payments architectures – are not in themselves dangerous. But decisions made today to serve political or shareholder interests, rather than the public good, could destabilize our shared future.
She’s not the only one who sees a dystopian AI arising , nor the only person to think the G-MAFIA and BAT exert outsized influence over . However, despite technological revolts and regulatory hamstringing, she admits these companies are not going anywhere.
CoinDesk corresponded with Webb over email. The conversation has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
What do you suppose will happen to the “G-MAFIA” in a decade? Will they continue to consolidate power and if so, what happens to the rest of the internet?
The G-MAFIA will continue to consolidate power. Even if antitrust measures pass in the United States, and that’s a big if, it’s unlikely the companies will accept the findings of the investigations and agree to be broken apart.
So the question is really about how do the G-MAFIA evolve? Amazon, Google and Apple are making bold, decisive moves into health care. From Amazon’s Halo wristband to Apple Fitness+ to Google’s acquisition of Fitbit, big tech players are working now to collect and analyze our health data.