Take the virtual world serious, for our youth it is more than a game

Alexander van Wijnen, researcher at FreedomLab Thinktank, wrote an article for Het Financieele Dagblad about virtual worlds that increasingly resemble the ‘real’ world. 

In the article, Van Wijnen shows that videogames have become much more than games. Although parents still regard videogames as a waste of time, youngsters have turned them into social meeting places. The newest virtual worlds are also sources of creativity, live entertainment and e-commerce. Recently, more than 10 million young people visited a live concert in the videogame Fortnite. Haptic technology will even transport our bodies to virtual worlds, which means that the difference between the virtual and the ‘real’ world will blur for future generations.

Looking ahead, concerns will grow as more people will become addicted, virtual worlds become sources of political conflict, and social cohesion may even suffer. But we should also be optimistic as virtual worlds will become places for new types of entertainment, education and even labor.

Van Wijnen also illustrates a scenario in which companies will try to build a ‘metaverse’ – a virtual world that connects multiple virtual worlds. By doing so, companies ranging from Facebook and Alphabet to Sony, Microsoft and Electronic Arts will try to build a radical alternative to the current dominant digital platforms.

Read the full text in Dutch (register to read)

Rare earth materials are none of Tencent’s and Alibaba’s business

Alibaba and Tencent are not investing inraw materials. As far as Alibaba is concerned, the comparison ends with the 4,456 ‘raw earth metals’that can be found for shopping on Alibaba.com.

The implementation of 5G is important for the upgrade of Alibaba & Tencent’s services

5G is the next generation of ultra-fast wireless technology, offering faster data rates, reduced latency, energy savings, cost reductions, higher system capacity, and massive device connectivity. It is expected to power industrial applications such as smarty city infrastructure and the industrial internet, but can also impact consumer services. For example, 5G will enable Tencent’s gamers to seamlessly stream PC and console-quality games on their smartphones without sacrificing processing power or battery life. For Alibaba’s short-video platform Youku, a 5G connection would mean that users can send high-resolution 4K video within a few seconds.

In fear of dependency on Western hardware, Alibaba has set up a semiconductor division

Resembling the States’concern, both Ma’s have outspoken their fear of western depencency when it comes to core technologies:

Alibaba’s Ma:

If we do not master the core technologies, we will be building roofs on other people’s walls and planting vegetables in other people’s yards.

Tencent’s Ma:

[China]’s digital economy will be a high-rise built on sand and hard to sustain if we don’t continue to work hard on basic research and key knowledge, not to mention the transformation from old to new forms of drivers or high-quality development.

In reaction, Alibaba’s R&D arm DAMO (Academy for Discovery, Adventure, Momentum, and Outlook) has set up its own semiconductor manufacturing business and unveiled its chip in July 2019. The chip is designed to process AI tasks such as image, video and voice analysis and will be used for tasks such as autonomous driving, smart cities and smart logistics.