The waves of the Digital Age and the beginning of Cyberlife

The Digital Age (also known as the Information Age or Digital Revolution) started after the Industrial Revolution and in its first stage or wave it was characterized by the introduction of computers in our lives, and cybernetics was the word of the day, then. This wave was divided into two phases: the first with the introduction of mainframes in large organisations, and later, thanks to Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, its widespread adoption in companies and homes via personal computers.

The second wave, which begun around 1995, was characterised by the connection of these computers through the Internet and the emergence of cyberspace. Also, we verified two phases here, the 1.0 with the web and the widespread popularity of electronic commerce giving rise to companies like Amazon, and creating giants like Dell (a company with which I had the pleasure of working exactly in this phase) and the 2.0 web, with social networks (and with the emergence of new hi-tech giants). This second phase started about 10 years ago.

Now we perceive the beginning of a third wave, an extremely powerful phase which I call cyberlife.

It is the moment when the power of computers is added to the power of social networks and we have the emergence of cloud computing, widespread adoption of Artificial Intelligence, social analytics, machine learning, blockchain, among other innovations. This makes possible significant developments in different areas of economy, from genetic engineering to smart cities; from shared economy to autonomous vehicles. And, unfortunately, we also start to witness the growing risks of cyberwar.

Like all rapidly evolving technology, the technical challenges of cyberlife will be resolved before social and ethical challenges. We are living times of accelerated change, and the decisions of the future are played now. Will we know how to play this game well?