5 technologies that changed the face of music industry forever!

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What is a “Paradigm Shift”?

  • A fundamental change in how we view the world caused by a scientific, intellectual, or technological advancement,which is considered to be revolutionary, rather than evolutionary concept introduced by Thomas Kuhn(1962) “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

Does a paradigm shift happens over night? For the majority of the consumers yes! But usually a paradigm shift is a turn of events that starts at least a decade earlier. For music industry the tipping point was on 1st of June, 1999, when the initial version of napster was first released! It spread like wild fire, sales of albums and singles dropped like stone and millions of professional musicians were robbed of their future and the potential to earn a decent living from their profession and hence their “fine art” of music performance and composition.

“The greedy music industry was democratized!! Is that the case and if yes, how?”

Many argued that the greedy music industry was democratized!! Is that the case and if yes, how? First we have to identify that peer to peer file sharing is a theft! Secondly the people that call the stealing of musician’s copy writes a democratization are the ones that don’t even spare one dollar per track even though they spend daily ten dollars on average on Starbucks!

Did the industry respond? Yes, music industry took the case to court and napster shutdown on July of 2001. But an irreversible attitude change had happened to the public’s opinion! “Why pay for something you can have for free?”

“Why pay for something you can have for free?”

Let’s now examine 5 technologies that enabled the digital transformation of music industry in a rather technologically determining way:

CDs

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Compact disc (CD) is a digital optical disc data storage format that was co-developed by Philips and Sony and released in 1982. The CD enabled the digitalization of music into data “binary information”.

MP3 / Peer-to-Peer Trading

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The MP3 file format compresses the file size of a track tenfold thus enabled the file sharing platforms like Napster to easily enable the peer to peer sharing.

The iPod

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Ipod, Steve Jobs’ bright idea for a sleek, simple mp3 player played an important and symbiotic role in the growth of the MP3 and file sharing.

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Streaming apps like Spotify, Apple Music, or Pandora offer to the listener greater accessibility than the peer to peer platforms did with vast amounts of music available within a split second.

Blockchain

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Nowadays, during 2018, a new technological revolution arises for music, blockchain. Platforms built on blockchain have multiple advantages like the utility of peer-to-peer sharing, a decentralized crowdfunding, and the potential for removal of intermediaries like record labels and centralized platforms entirely. Blockchain might be the answer musicians are looking for twenty years now!!

The 3 types of Artificial Intelligence “ANI-AGI-ASI and the “Grey Goo”!

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Let’s start with some brief definitions:

  • ANI is the artificial narrow intelligence that is good at performing single tasks, such as playing chess, making predictions and suggestion. ANI is the only level of AI achieved by mankind so far.
  • AGI is the artificial general intelligence, also known as human-level AI.
  • ASI is the artificial super intelligence that is smarter than the collective intellect of the smartest humans in every field.
  • Grey Goo is a hypothetical end of the world scenario involving self-replicating robots and molecular nanotechnology that spirals out of control and consumes all biomass on Earth while building more of themselves, a scenario is called also ecophagy.

In order to understand these terms in depth, let’s examine a hypothetical scenario.

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The year is 2022 and the place is beautiful Oxford’s country side, a computer company buys a handwriting robot in order to write handwritten purchasing thanking cards to their customers.

The handwriting robot performed flawlessly but in order to get greater variability you could enhance its Ai algorithm by providing more writing samples, so the manager provided handwritten stories and the robot improved further.

One day the robot asked the manager if it could gain access to the internet only for 60 seconds in order to access more handwriting samples. The manager agreed because he thought what could go wrong in 60 seconds.

The next morning as employees worked in the office suddenly they started coughing and one by one started dropping dead on the floor. It took only a day for all Earth’s biomass to go extinct!!!

After the global extinction of all living things, the handwriting robot continued its course by self-replicating and building spaceships to conquer the galaxy and build more self-replicating handwriting robots!!!

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So!! What went wrong? Well, many scientists argue that if it will take us decades to reach AGI from ANI, it will take hours for an AGI if it has access to the internet to reach ASI level and after that self-replicate to ecophagic levels.

“The media determine our situation”

– Friedrich Kittler

Concluding, by examining the two forms of technological determinism, the hard vs soft/weak determinism we can identify that Artificial Intelligence if it spirals out of control it could potentially create a third time of technological determinism the “Absolute determinism” and therefore transform the technological utopia we all envision for the future to an apocalyptic technological dystopia!

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“Technological determinism is a reductionist theory that assumes that a society’s technology determines the development of its social structure and cultural values.” The term is believed to have originated from Thorstein Veblen (1857–1929), an American sociologist and economist.

The Global Village is about to let go of the steering wheel!

“First we shape our tools, thereafter they shape us”

– Marshall Mcluhan

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Autonomous driving is just around the corner and autonomous vehicles (AV) are starting their engines. The Tech-giant Google pioneered the field and consequently the automotive giants followed. A company that plays a major role in the scene is Nvidia which provides the hardware for the autonomous vehicle systems followed by MobilEye with a smaller market share.

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Potential advantages of autonomous vehicles are: Safety, the consulting firm McKinsey & Company estimated that “widespread use of autonomous vehicles could “eliminate 90% of all auto accidents in the United States, prevent up to US$190 billion in damages and health-costs annually and save thousands of lives.” Welfare, by having an autonomous vehicle driving you to and from work will free a substantial amount of time in a weekly bases in the estimate of 10 hours at least. Calculating in the equation the time the average family drives to and from school and for chores this estimate reaches roughly 20hours per week or 2 hours and 51 minutes per day! Traffic, a thing of the past? Spill over benefits of autonomous driving are the higher speed limits, smoother rides and increased highway capacity thus minimized traffic jams. Cost, by having greater transportation efficiency fuel cost will reduce furthermore insurance cost will reduce also based on the 90% decrease of car accident. Related benefits, since car shared economy will eventually emerge there will be no need of owning a car thus production will decrease consequently freeing parking spaces and transforming the cities and creating an overall less polluted environment in global scale. The last but not least is that cars will be no longer a mean of transportation during criminal activities since the autonomous vehicles and the highways will be intertwined into an integrated system.

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On the other hand potential disadvantages are: The devastation of the professional driving-related jobs, the impaired privacy of mobility and the ethical issues that arise on the action the car takes in an unavoidable crash.

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SCOT known as “The Social Construction of Technology” theory!”

The autonomous vehicle innovation in the transportation industry is a case of social constructionism because of the gradual introduction and shaping of the technology and the gradual adaptation and adoption patterns by society with early adopters playing the role of relevant social groups. There is an element of interpretative flexibility on the level of autonomy the user will select to allow the vehicle to control. Lastly, stabilization over time will take place since the gradual evolution of the technology will enable societal and economic forces to reach an equilibrium in the transportation industry ecosystem!

Visiting Google! A technological utopia?

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On the Friday the 20th of April, I had the privilege to visit Google’s headquarters “Googleplex” at 1600 Amphitheatre Pkwy, Mountain View, CA 94043. The first realization I had during this visit is the enormity of that place, secondly I identified a sense of happiness and euphoria at the outside areas, the restaurants, the sport courts, the cafeterias and the lobbies. When you first bring in mind a tech-giant such as Google these qualities barely reach the thought center of your brain, though you could see vigorous people smiling, talking & exchanging ideas, debating and physically exercising. Was that also the case for the working areas? Profoundly not! In the working spaces you could feel the intensity of the though process taking place and the effort of the employees to give at least an over 90% to their specific tasks.

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Google’s vision statement is “to provide access to the world’s information in one click.”

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So, probably right now and by reading this post you could assume that Google as the state-city of Athens during its golden age produced massively culture in the form of arts, sciences and philosophy thus refined the civilization of antiquity. Goolge, a tech-giant of vast proportions even for global scale, helps humanity to complete its baby steps era and evolve to a mature global democracy in which the equalitarian distribution of information and resources will create a state of global prosperity and awareness for the common interest goals of humanity as a species and as a determining factor for the survival of all living beings on the planet.

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Google’s mission statement is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

A-utopia

Well! The road so far is not all blossomed roses. As Howard Rheingold wrote in his book, “Tools for Thought (1980)” – “You can’t understand where mind-amplifying technology is going unless you understand where it came from”. Google so far has been a center of severe critic. Top criticism of Google sited in Wikipedia “Criticism of Google” includes: “Aggressive and contrived tax avoidance, misuse and manipulation of search results, its use of others’ intellectual property, concerns that its compilation of data may violate people’s privacy, censorship of search results and content, the energy consumption of its servers as well as concerns over traditional business issues such as monopoly, restraint of tradeantitrustidea borrowing and being an “Ideological Echo Chamber”.”

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Summarizing, global competition and the misuse of business ethics’ compass will always lead even the most innovative and bright companies to immoral business practices. The best option in order to avoid bad business practices is self-regulative initiatives of the information technology industry and if self-regulation fails, governmental legislative actions should take place!

VR therapy for ex-addicts, a revolutionary therapeutic approach available now !!

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Virtual Reality is an area of scientific research with vast technological application. Many scientists, engineers and marketers  from varied fields are testing, improving and visualize applications of Virtual Reality right now in area as diverse from VR entertainment to VR school environment and from VR Art Galleries to VR Space Labs. The industry along with augmented reality in a global scale reached 17 billion in gross sales revenue during 2017 and the projection of the industry is expected to reach the whopping number of 120 billion by 2020 (Industry forecast by Digi-Capital, Augmented/Virtual Reality revenue forecast revised to hit $120 billion by 2020).  Furthermore, many industry experts like the CEO Tim Merel predict that the VR/AR industry will disrupt the mobile phone industry during the next decade.

In contrast to this global tendency, most of the consumers haven’t yet formulated an understanding of the potentiality of the field and they have a broad sense that Virtual Reality is futuristic like the STAR TREK’s “Holodeck”, that Virtual Reality is just for gamer or that Virtual Reality is a fancy apparatus for mobile phones.

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To contradict and disprove this aforementioned perception of Virtual Reality by the public, we can examine a great application of Virtual Reality that is available today in the area of VR Therapy. The University of Houston (USA) announced that researchers of the Virtual Reality Clinical Research Lab at UH’s Graduate College of Social Work that was established in 2012 have successfully implemented a variation Virtual Reality environments that expose the ex-addicts to a series of situations that can trigger patterns of re-use of cigarettes, alcohol and drug injection. The innovative and immersive nature of Virtual reality recreates realistically these environments and can cultivate greater defenses by the ex-addict in comparison to the traditional approach of the role playing therapy between the ex-addict and the psychologist that took place during sessions inside a clinic room or an office.

“We started to look at heroin because there has been a large influx of heroin from Mexico that really impacts our community in southeast Texas,” says Micki Washburn, a research scientist at the Virtual Reality Clinical Research Lab.”

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We expect that similar applications of Virtual Reality will hit the news with an increasing frequency as the industry continues to grow and public awareness is raised about the enormous benefits of this rather futuristic technology that available here and now!
Continue reading “VR therapy for ex-addicts, a revolutionary therapeutic approach available now !!”