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9 massive predictions for how tech will impact ‘the next billion’

Quartz held an impressive event this week with speakers from Uber, frog, and EVRYTHING to name but a few. Titled “The Next Billion”, the conference focused on the challenges and the opportunities society faces with the “new world” we are fast seeing emerge.

With a heavy vein of mobile and emerging markets peppered throughout, the morning was packed with insight and data on the opportunities the next billion people who come online will pose – some only emerging in the last few months based on new coding and political technology barriers being removed.

I spoke with several of the speakers about their hopes for the next billion, specifically what they would fix if they could wave a magic wand – whilst the answers varied, it is clear the next billion will need keyboards – large and small.

For more information and images from the event review the hashtag results.

Cat Jones, Product Director at Unruly:

Many advertisers marketing to the next billion don’t yet think social – or even digital – when creating video content for use online. This is a problem for consumers because it tends to leave them with interruptive TV-style ads (ads they have to watch to get to something they want to watch) rather than emotional, engaging content that they enjoy watching. It’s a problem for advertisers because they miss out on a big opportunity to build relationships with their consumers; social video increases brand favourability by 40%, brand association by 49%, and purchase intent by 50%. My magic wand would give all advertisers creating videos for the next billion an understanding (via Unruly’s research!) of how to create and distribute shareable content for viewers in emerging markets.

Niall Murphy, CEO of EVRYTHNG:

Broadband mobile internet access as a universal service right.

Ian Drew, EVP of ARM Holdings:

“Technology can create opportunity for all and connecting a billion more people will unlock a better future for a significant proportion of underserved communities. This is about delivering real social impact; providing young people in particular with better access to education tools and health services, and plugging them into a digital economy that will help lift everyone up.”

Joyce Kim, Executive Director of Stellar:

Safe, low-cost financial access for all. I believe people work hard to make their own lives better. Financial access is a great amplifier. You need the ability to save and send money if you want to pay for education, healthcare, housing or clean water. The poorer you are, the more you pay for fInancial services — and that inhibits social progress.

Yonatan Raz-Fridman, Co-Founder & CEO of Kano:

We live in a world where technology is ubiquitous. For the next billion, I’d like to provide them with the ability to understand the fundamentals of making with technology and code in a playful way. This would allow the opportunity for anyone, anywhere to create together and provide a fair and open playing field for the future.

Leila Janah, Founder & CEO of SamaGroup:

The problem I’d solve would be extreme poverty and the unnecessary suffering it causes. I’m not talking about inequality — let’s celebrate the billionaires! — but rather the lack of a floor. My magic wand would ensure that everyone has the minimum income necessary to achieve what Martin Luther King, Jr. defined as the baseline: “three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits.” Lifting people out of poverty would instantly end human trafficking, child slavery, and a large number of social evils.

Denise Gershbein, Executive Creative Director of frog design:

“Clearly the biggest problem I’d like to see solved for the next billion is equal access. Everyone, regardless of their social, geographic or economic status, needs equal access – to the network, to information, if they are to have a voice in technological development that will benefit all kinds of communities, rather than just the few with the power and money to create it for themselves.”

Ted Rogers, Chief Strategy Officer of Xapo:

“I would say a universal digital currency that the banked and unbanked could access for a store of value, method of payment and unit of account but we already have that in bitcoin. Therefore, my less interesting answer is I would like to see a regulatory approach to bitcoin similar to that taken with the Internet (mostly self-regulatory) so that the next billion can receive the full benefits of bitcoin and the blockchain.”

Jambu Palaniappan, GM, Middle East & Africa of Uber:

I would like to make the need for car ownership a thing of the past. Cars are expensive, they create emissions and more often than not they are under-utilised.

Uber is evolving the way the world moves, seamlessly connecting riders to drivers through smartphone technology. Uber’s mission is nothing less than a revolution in the way citizens of the world move, work and live. It aspires to transform the way people connect with their communities and to bring reliability, convenience and opportunity to transport systems. The Uber network is now available in 300 cities across 60 countries and 6 continents.

Author | Paul Armstrong

Paul Armstrong
Paul Armstrong runs HERE/FORTH an advisory that helps business leaders decide how to best use rapidly changing and emerging technologies. More
  • Eva Gantz

    ” You need the ability to save and send money if you want to pay for education, healthcare, housing or clean water.”

    Joyce Kim (executive director of Stellar, where I’m community manager) has an excellent point that being able to send and save money is the basic foundation for other issues that determine health and quality of life.

    One project attempting to make saving and sending more accessible to all is Vumi, an app that lets young girls in South Africa save money/airtime minutes on their phones.

    Looking forward to more innovations and exciting projects from all the folks listed here! http://www.technologyreview.com/news/535271/bitcoin-inspired-digital-currency-to-power-mobile-savings-app/

  • kordless

    Advertising is a cloud market segment. Has been for a good while now. The cloud, and the software it runs, is eating the world and these next billion are being pulled in. It’s important we start building trusted, decentralized solutions to host their data, given the lessons we’ve learned the hard way over the last few years. Cryptocurrencies like Stellar will help pave the way to data sovereignty for the next billion and the billions to come after that. Denise is really onto something when she talks about ‘equal’ access. When your views of reality are being sculpted by groups of people who want your eyeballs, where will we draw the line?

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