Horizons newsletter – Week 47 // 2017
Horizons is a bi-monthly Dasym Research initiative to show you how the Dasym themes have been in the news. We publish the Horizons on our website and as an email newsletter. If you wish to receive the email, please contact Investor Relations.
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Asian superpowers shape new trade patterns
In addition to China’s increasingly familiar Belt and Road Initiative (“BRI”) that aims to create a vast trading bloc between Asia and Europe, a second, less well-known, but highly ambitious trade initiative is emerging. In May, the governments of India and Japan launched the so-called Asia Africa Growth Corridor (“AAGC”) with further details of the project to be be disclosed shortly. Although infrastructure is one of its four pillars, AAGC differs from the BRI by focusing more on soft dimensions: enhancing capabilities and skills, strengthening bottom-up people-to-people partnerships, achieving sustainable development goals and stimulating inclusive growth. Another difference is geographical. Whereas China’s BRI also has a maritime leg, its largest projects relate to infrastructure on the Eurasian landmass. The AAGC, by contrast, centers on the Indian Ocean, connecting Asia with Africa. Since China, Japan and India are Asia’s three largest economies, these two initiatives will have a large economic impact. In particular the countries where they overlap – in Southeast Asia and East Africa – are well positioned to benefit from these trade initiatives.
The power of voice
Asking out loud what happened in the world today, might be the future way of news consumption. Last week Juniper Research reported that by 2022 55% of U.S. households will have a smart speaker installed. According to Mary Meeker, 20% of all Google search commands are activated through voice (instead of typing). In addition, we see many developments in the field of smart-speaker compatible content, such as (niche) podcasts, including Hearst’s “listenables” and BBC’s Alexa-powered interactive audio drama. This growing importance of audio is changing news and media consumption behavior. Similar to the shift from newspapers to websites, the shift to speech means an increasingly friction-free way of media consumption. Through developments in AI, Amazon’s Alexa now recognizes individual voices and is able to give you the latest updates on the topics you are interested in from a greater variety of sources. These developments lead to a more personalized media offer, which arguably might create even bigger filter bubbles, but also paves the way for a more efficient and rapid expansion of knowledge on specific topics.
On November 16th, Dasym and FreedomLab launched Future Affairs, a series of panel discussions to reflect on emerging technology trends. The event aims to go beyond blind optimism or scaremongering regarding new technology, and to gain a deeper understanding of how technology is changing our lives. For the first edition, FreedomLab invited tech-journalist Wouter van Noort (NRC Handelsblad), Head of the FreedomLab Think-Tank Haroon Sheikh, and innovation scientist Sjoerd Bakker. The speakers reflected on the looming crackdown on the monopolies of tech-giants, the emerging wave of decentralization through technologies like blockchain, and the rapid development of artificial intelligence (AI). While we are far away from AI replacing humans entirely, the panel explored if people could already be inferior in certain aspects. For instance, AI systems can now identify criminals just by screening someone’s facial features. Discussing the implications of AI once more highlighted the fact that technology will always raise new questions about our position as humans and the way technology affects us. More of these questions will be explored in next editions of Future Affairs.