ces 2020 Technology

Privacy, ‘anticipatory homes’, food tech and more: How CES 2020 was geared towards ‘practical futurism’


This year’s Consumer Electronics Show lived up to its slogan of ‘global stage for innovation’. Here are the main new conversations and gadget highlights from the international trade show

If there is one thing to say about technology in the 2010s, it is that the industry went through an identity evolution. This was reflected in the annual United States-based CES, hosted and organised by Consumer Technology Association. Though CES 2020 (January 7 to January 10) took place across three geographical areas: Tech East, Tech West and Tech South in Las Vegas, the rest of the world is never left out, thanks to the live-streams.

Since its first show in 1967 in New York, the innovations got weirder, but there was a purposefulness in even the most indulgent exhibitions. And this year’s expo was no different. Already making headlines, are a 5G PC from Lenovo, humanoid robots, alien-esque cars from Mercedes-Benz and Byton Ltd, the far reach of 5G, and increasingly immersive gaming gear.

Like the eye-catching gadgetry on show, the Supersessions (discussions) around what the world could expect — in not just 2020 but the next decade, too — drew attention. That said, the interest around CES lies in the fact that, unlike most tech expos, CES sees perspectives from both enthusiasts and sceptics.

Privacy, ‘anticipatory homes’, food tech and more: How CES 2020 was geared towards ‘practical futurism’

Drive to be ‘good’

The ongoing Fourth Industrial Revolution we live in raises a lot of questions around ethical technology, and one cannot only allude to the right implementation and consumption of technology, but also research and development of smart infrastructure.

Privacy, ‘anticipatory homes’, food tech and more: How CES 2020 was geared towards ‘practical futurism’

At a fireside chat titled ‘What’s Next for the Fourth Industrial Revolution?’, Barbara Humpton, CEO of Siemens USA, suggested that rather than waiting for regulatory practices to be enforced, tech companies can be ahead of the curve and integrate that behaviour from the get-go to establish the norm.

These practices, adds Humpton, can be applied to largely societal and sustainable goals — food practices, climate change, philanthropy, etc — for corporations across the spectrum in any given geography. On the floor, the advent of faux pork by Impossible Foods played into this.

Privacy by design

The horror stories around smart homes have been prevalent, and tech giants Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple were placed in the hot seat.

Google introduced two new voice commands — ‘Hey Google, that wasn’t for you’ and ‘Hey Google, are you saving my audio data?’ — which claim to have a tighter grip on privacy control. Upon these commands, the user can adjust privacy setting or simply know what the deal is.

Privacy, ‘anticipatory homes’, food tech and more: How CES 2020 was geared towards ‘practical futurism’

A January 7 panel titled ‘Chief Privacy Officer Roundtable: What Do Consumers Want?’ featured Jane Horvath, Apple’s senior director of global privacy, alongside Erin Egan, Facebook’s vice president of public policy and chief privacy officer, Susan Shook, global privacy officer at The Procter & Gamble Company, as well as Rebecca Slaughter, commissioner at the Federal Trade Commission, the US watchdog agency that imposed a $5 billion penalty on Facebook over privacy breaches.

All the panellists agreed that enough can never be done in the realm of privacy. Slaughter added that what needs to be done cannot be generalised; potential actions taken are industry-specific and company-specific, and that the whole conundrum is a “solvable problem” on a policy level.

Egan announced Facebook’s updated their Privacy Checkup tool; a move they claim will promise better transparency... but the world has learned that everything Facebook says should be taken with a bucket of salt.

One of the biggest concerns in the 2010s was targeted advertising, to which Shook revealed P&G’s focus is now on a “consumer-centric privacy framework.”

Unfortunately, in response, many audience members bemoaned that the epiphany of information sovereignty has come too late, and that it is time for these corporations to walk the talk.

The era of anticipation

CES always hints that many of these technologies which initially sat on the fringes would become the norm someday — which can be exciting and unnerving.

A CNET Next Big Thing talk titled ‘IoT: Moving Into An Anticipatory Tech World’ addressed how, in the next few years, technology “will make things happen [for consumers] before they ask for them to happen.”

Privacy, ‘anticipatory homes’, food tech and more: How CES 2020 was geared towards ‘practical futurism’

The talk had experts such as Cindy Cohn, executive director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Rana El Kaliouby, co-founder and CEO of Affectiva, Doug Clinton, managing partner at Loup Ventures, and Michele Turner, senior director of Google Smart Home Ecosystem.

The home and wellness sectors will see far more automation and more control from the consumer, says Lindsey Turrentine, senior vice president of CBS Interactive Tech. In other words, leave the terminology of ‘smart’ behind, the more becoming term being ‘anticipatory’.

The latest television launches from Samsung, LG and other big names, which play into the growing 8K ecosystem, are a testament to this advancement.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 7:25:36 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/ces-consumer-electronics-show-2020-las-vegas-geared-towards-practical-futurism/article30558067.ece

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