They say you shouldn’t believe everything you see on the big screen.
However, in the case of science fiction, the human imagination has gotten a few things right—especially when it comes to futuristic forecasts. Today, the artificial intelligence (AI) revolution is transforming everything, but it turns out we had a hunch about it all along.
When AI Comes to Life
Today’s infographic from Noodle.ai takes a look at how some movie and television predictions for AI’s capabilities have taken hold in the real world.
Many early “predictions” about future technologies certainly missed the mark—but it seems science fiction was able to accurately forecast a thing or two about AI.
AI Basics: Making Life Better
Artificial intelligence is all about equipping machines with the ability to mimic human decision-making processes. It has a wide range of applications, from basic automation to advanced machine learning models.
AI has proliferated into virtually every aspect of life, and in the graphic, it’s clear that several sci-fi-turned-real inventions are aimed at making things more convenient for us humans.
|Sci Fi Prediction||AI in Reality|
|1962: The Jetsons cartoon shows video calls on a tv screen, and a robot maid.||2002: iRobot Roomba is the first robotic vacuum.
2018: Facebook Portal is a video-calling smart display.
2019: Moley robotic kitchen is able to prep meals from scratch and clean up afterwards.
|1966: Star Trek inspired several tech innovations that have become commonplace.||Examples include: Bluetooth headsets, voice assistants, cellphones, and automatic sliding doors.|
|1989: Back to the Future features smart glasses for television and phone calls, and a smart watch which can precisely predict weather.||2012: The Dark Sky app provides custom alerts on the weather to the minute.
2013: Google Glass is able to make calls, send texts, display photos, and provide directions.
2015: Apple Watch comes enabled with WiFi, Bluetooth, a GPS, and even a heart sensor.
|1999: Smart House showcases a fully automated house that is able to respond to verbal requests, cook and clean, and control thermostat settings.||2019: A HGTV contest lets people win a WiFi connected smart house, complete with voice-enabled thermostat and security systems.|
Of course, these have had varying degrees of success. While Google Glass didn’t initially resonate with the wider public, the augmented reality smart glasses have now proved useful in businesses such as manufacturing.
Elsewhere, sci-fi-inspired advances in industries like healthtech are providing a new lease of life for many patients—and continuously reinventing the frontier of what we think is possible.
Sci-Fi Helps Us Push Boundaries
One monumental event in AI history occurred in 1997, when IBM’s Deep Blue beat a chess master at his own game. This event shook the world when we realized what AI could truly be capable of—even though sci-fi had in fact anticipated it 20 years prior.
But as the graphic shows, not all is rosy in science fiction’s likeness of AI. It’s often depicted as something to fear, and certain predictions have proved to be eerily accurate.
|Sci Fi Prediction||AI in Reality|
|1977: K9, a robotic dog in Doctor Who, beats its master at a chess game.||1997: IBM’s Deep Blue computer beats a Russian chess master, Garry Kasparov.|
|1984: Skynet from Terminator, a self-aware AI program, attempts to extinguish humanity.||2019: The U.S. Army creates an autonomous system to “acquire, identify, and target threats” (ATLAS AI).|
|2011: AI monitors surveillance cameras and predicts future criminals in Person of Interest.||2018: The National Data Analytics Solution (NDAS)|
While not all of these are causes for alarm, they clearly demonstrate that sci-fi has the capacity to influence the breakthrough technology we could end up seeing a few years down the line. However, turning reel to real can raise some curious dilemmas.
Rights for Robots?
Last year, the European Parliament debated an interesting question: do robots qualify as people?
The resolution considered granting “personhood” to sophisticated, autonomous robots. However, over 150 AI experts strongly warned against this proposal, arguing it would “blur the relation between man and machine” in a way that is too unethical.
Nevertheless, this thought experiment proves that artificial intelligence is matching our wildest imagined predictions for it.
AI is whatever hasn’t been done yet.
As we move ever closer towards a world where AI is inextricably linked with the everyday, how else could science fiction shape our expectations of the future?
Here’s What Happens Every Minute on the Internet in 2020
A lot can happen in an internet minute. This graphic looks at the enormous numbers behind the online services billions use every day.
What Happens Every Minute on the Internet in 2020
In 2020, an unfathomable amount of digital activity is occurring at any given moment. This ongoing explosion in activity is the aggregate output of 4.5 billion internet users today, a number that’s projected to increase even further in coming years.
This powerful visual from Domo helps capture what happens each minute in today’s hyper-connected internet era, and it’s actually the eighth edition produced since the year 2012.
What can we learn from the evolution of what happens in an internet minute?
How Times Have Changed
Over its relatively short history, the internet has been a catalyst for both the rise and demise of new companies and platforms.
By looking at which brands have appeared in the graphic in earlier years, we can roughly chart the prominence of certain tech segments, as well as observe brands with the most staying power.
As you can see above, platforms like Tumblr, Flickr, and Foursquare showed some promise, but eventually got omitted from the graphic as they dropped off in relevance.
Meanwhile, tech companies like Facebook, Amazon, and Google have had impressive staying power, evolving to become some of the biggest companies in the world. In the process, they’ve caught up to longer-standing titans like Apple and Microsoft at the top of the food chain.
The New “New Thing”
Not surprisingly, much of the internet landscape looks different in 2020. Here are a few of the digital hot spots today.
Nearly $240,000 worth of transactions occur on Venmo per minute. This has served as a catalyst for parent company PayPal, which evolved along successfully with fintech trends. PayPal’s stock now trades at near all-time highs.
Even before COVID-19 resulted in shuttered storefronts and surging online orders, e-commerce was a booming industry. It’s now estimated that $1 million is now spent per minute online. Amazon ships an astounding 6,659 packages every minute to keep up with this demand.
In a predominantly remote-working environment, tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams host 208,333 and 52,083 users each minute respectively. Particularly in the pandemic era, it seems that this trend is here to stay.
The accelerated world we are in today means that many companies do not sustain a competitive advantage for as long. Social media companies have dwindled as observed above, and this is similarly reflected in the average lifespan of an S&P 500 company.
A typical company’s tenure on the S&P 500 is expected to shrink rapidly in the next few years:
- 1964: 33 years
- 2016: 24 years
- 2027E: 12 years
Companies are shaving anywhere between 15-20 years off those highs, with estimates of further declines. This metric symbolizes the rapid evolution of the business landscape.
What Lies Ahead
It’s seemingly easy to forget mankind is still very early in the developments when it comes to the internet. But in this short period, its rise to prominence and the broad digitization of the world has left us with a very eventful timeline.
If the last decade serves as a reference point, one can expect further and intensifying competition among tech companies. After all, the reward—winning in today’s digital economy—reaps much greater value.
All signs point to internet activity advancing to further heights, if not because of 5G and its associated breakthroughs, then perhaps due to the steady rise in people gaining internet access.
Ranked: The Most Popular Websites Since 1993
This animation provides an interesting overview of the websites with the highest traffic over the last few decades, and how the rankings have changed.
The Most Popular Websites Since 1993
The internet has become an increasingly important part of our everyday lives.
While it’s hard to imagine modern life without Google or YouTube, it’s interesting to reflect on how much the web has changed over the last few decades.
This animation by Captain Gizmo provides a historical rundown of the most popular websites since 1993, showing how much the internet has evolved since the early ’90s.
The Top Websites
While the web has changed drastically over the years, the top-ranking websites have remained relatively consistent. Here’s a look at the websites with the most traffic since 1993, and when each site held the number one spot:
|Date Range||Top Ranking Website||Highest Number of Monthly Visits|
|Jan 1993 - Jun 2000||AOL||405,000,000
|Jul 2000 - May 2006||Yahoo||5,500,000,000
|Jun 2006 - Jul 2008||8,300,000,000
|Aug 2008 - Jun 2010||Yahoo||11,600,000,000
|Jul 2010 - current||81,000,000,000
*Note: Numbers rounded for clarity.
AOL was one of the first major web portals, back in the era of CD-ROMs and dial-up modems. In its heyday, the company dominated the market, largely due to an aggressive free trial campaign that cost millions (possibly even billions) of dollars to execute.
Despite the large investment, the campaign worked—at its peak, AOL had over 30 million users, and a market cap of over $200 billion. It was the most popular website online until the early 2000s, when broadband started to replace dial-up. As the sands shifted, AOL struggled to stay relevant and was eventually sold to Verizon for just $4.4 billion.
Following AOL’s downfall, Yahoo became the next internet giant.
Starting off as a web directory, Yahoo was the first website to offer localized indexes for major cities. At Yahoo’s zenith, it was worth $125 billion, but a series of missed opportunities and failed acquisitions meant that it could not keep up. Like AOL, Yahoo is now also owned by Verizon, but remains a top 10 website globally.
It’s no surprise that Google currently comes in at number one. It started out in the early ’90s as a university research project. Today, it’s become virtually synonymous with the internet, which makes sense, considering 90% of all internet searches are made on Google-owned properties.
Old School Search Engines
Prior to Google’s success, there were several other go-to search engines that paved the way for Google in many ways:
- WebCrawler: One of the earlier search engines, WebCrawler was the first search engine to enable full-text search. At one point, the website was so popular, it’s server would constantly crash, making it virtually unusable during peak hours.
- Lycos: This was another pivotal search engine, created in 1994 (a year before Yahoo). Lycos was the first of its kind to incorporate relevance retrieval, prefix matching, and word proximity.
- Infoseek: As Netscape’s default search engine, Infoseek was popular during the web browser’s heyday. Eventually, Infoseek was purchased by Disney and rebranded to go.com.
Unlike Infoseek, Lycos and WebCrawler have somehow managed to stick around—both companies still exist today. Of course, they’re nowhere near comparable to Google in terms of revenue or daily search volume.
The Evolution of Social Media
Unless you are a Gen Zer, you probably remember MySpace. Like Lycos and WebCrawler, MySpace technically still exists, although it’s certainly not the high traffic site it used to be.
Created in 2004, MySpace became a hub for musicians and music fans on the web. In just a year, the website saw massive growth, and by 2005, it was acquired by News Corp. MySpace continued to dominate the social media landscape until 2008, when Facebook took over as the internet’s most popular social media platform.
Facebook’s story is well-known at this point. The Zuckerberg-led creation was a social networking site that was exclusive to Harvard students, but it soon opened up to dozens of other universities and then finally the general public in 2006. Just two years later, and the site had 100 million active users, rising to the top of the social media spectrum.
Although Facebook often finds itself mired in controversy today, the site remains the world’s most popular social media platform on the internet with close to 3 billion users.
It’s hard to predict what the future holds for Facebook, or for any of the other websites currently dominating the web.
If anything is clear from the above animation, it’s that the list of the world’s most popular websites is constantly shifting—and only time will tell what the next few decades will bring.
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