In light of our upcoming eBook launch, we sat down with Michael Kamleitner, CEO of Die Socialisten and Product Manager at Swat.io, to learn how technology is changing the way we interact and communicate with each other. Michael also shed light on the future of social media in the context of VR and AI, and explains why education plays an important part in how people relate to new technologies.
Beaglecat: In the context of technology advancements happening at a fast pace, please tell us 3 benefits and 3 downsides of this phenomenon.
Michael Kamleitner: One of the greatest benefits we’ve seen during the last 10-15 years in regards to the communication technology is the possibility to easily talk to anyone on planet Earth. The barrier of getting into communication with someone you don’t know yet is getting lower and lower. From a business perspective, many of the technological advancements enabled us to create new businesses in a very fast and cost-effective way. If you compare what it was like to launch a website or a product 20 years ago, it was extremely expensive and complicated, whereas 10 years ago, it was already bearable. Nowadays everybody can start a business on the Web.
Then, there are all the advantages that come with measuring and doing business in a more scientific way. That, of course, is something that’s specific to the technology of the Web itself. You can measure things and learn from customer behavior, and raise the stakes on a step by step basis. To sum it up, the main benefit is the possibility to start new businesses thanks to new technologies.
We’re not quite there yet, but many of the technologies could change the lives of people, like people with an illness or people who are at a disadvantage in any other way just because they were born in a different place on Earth and are not as gifted as we are. Because of this, I believe that technology has the potential to level the playfield for people with disadvantages of different kinds. We’re not there yet because there are still more people without internet access than people with a connection to the Web. There are great advantages in prosthetics, but the technology is very expensive, and it’s not available to everybody, so this is just the beginning, as we still have a lot of work to do. So the downside is that we haven’t realized this technology’s potential yet, and maybe also because of economic reasons, not everyone in need is able to access such solutions.
We are overburdened with the ways of communication that are coming to us, and the more tools and channels become available, the less we’re able to stay atop of all that noise in our lives. This overflow in communication is a downside that we, or at least many of us haven’t learned to manage yet. That’s a valid point both for business and personal use. In the last few years, communication has moved away from e-mail towards chat and messenger-type interfaces that have many advantages because they are very direct and immediate, yet put a lot of pressure on the individual to respond immediately. We still have to learn how to make good use of all these technologies.
BC: Given that Swat.io is a Social Media Management tool, you must be very connected to everything that happens in and around social media. Where do you see Social Media heading in 5 to 10 years, especially in the context of Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence? Maybe we’ll have robots managing our Social Media presence, commenting and everything.
M.K: Nobody on Earth can give predictions on that time frame – 5 to 10 years – because it’s hard enough to look one to 3 years into the future and that’s what I’m going to try and describe here. There’s no one big trend here, but rather several trends, several new developments that play together. There is, of course, this whole trend of moving all communication to a messenger-type interface, which will affect not only personal communication but is already affecting business communication or communication between businesses and consumers. There’s also a move to more private communication channels, not necessarily one-to-one, but more private, such as groups chats between a specific number of people.
That’s connected to trends that we’ve already seen in the past few years, so it’s nothing new. Though the whole shift to mobile is a boring topic to talk about in 2016, many companies are just starting to realize now the effect of this move to mobile. The move has already happened, we’ve been talking about it for the last five years or longer, but now it has become obvious and that’s why messenger-type interfaces are so popular nowadays.
That’s again connected to another topic you’ve mentioned, which is AI. I don’t believe that this will play a major role in the next one to three years, as we’re not even halfway there. Until this will affect us in the fields of consumer electronics and products, it will take a few years.
As for AR and VR, which are hot topics right now, it might take a few years until we get to use Social Media on them, too. However, we had Google Glass which went nowhere and headsets such as Oculus Rift that are getting more affordable, so there’s a good chance these technologies might combine at some point, but I think that it will take some time.
BC: It is said that robots and connected devices will reduce human effort to a minimum in the future. Monkey work will be performed by robots. If you were to think about it, is this a good thing or a bad thing?
M.K: People are always afraid of how such things could turn up, but every time a major shift or technological breakthrough happened, people were afraid of losing their jobs, like when the steam engine was invented, and again when factory lines were invented. All these technological breakthroughs definitely eliminate some jobs, but they obviously create new ones. It will be similar with robotics or AI, although there is this belief that in 10-20-30 years we’ll live in a society where there aren’t enough jobs for everyone anymore. Maybe that’s still a possible scenario, but I don’t think that it’s necessarily tied to the success or the breakthrough of robotics or AI. If that’s the way society goes, I think it will happen anyway.
BC: The rapid advancements in technology will pose some great challenges, starting with security and maybe ending with the disappearance of in-person human interactions. Will telepresence robots have an impact on real human relationships?
M.K: This is already happening, and sometimes it’s a good thing, as you may not want to meet everybody in person. It will never replace human interaction completely, though, but there might be a shift that’s already happening, or has happened for the last 5 years or maybe longer.
BC: Do you think that technology has made us more superficial? In public places, you see people who are sitting at the same table, but they’re not talking to each other. Everybody is on their mobile phone.
M.K: This goes back to the first question, as this is definitely one of the downsides. I see a lack of education on how to use tools and not make it a bad habit. I think you’re right, but that’s already happening.
BC: Imagine that you’re walking down the street in 2030. What do you see around you and how does the world look like?
M.K: I’d be happy if I still lived in 2030. I’d be happy if we learned how to use our technology and technological advancements to preserve what we have in terms of nature, society, and not let this go down the drain. That would be my hope!
Michael Kamleitner is the CEO & Co-Founder of Die Socialisten. This Vienna-based Social Software company is listed in Facebook’s “Preferred Marketing Developer Program (PMD)” in the “Apps & Pages” category, and runs the social media services Swat.io & Walls.io. In 2012, Michael’s book titled “Facebook Programming” was published by Galileo Computing, Germany. When he’s not blogging about tech trends and developments, Michael speaks at conferences such as the AllFacebook.de MarketingCon, OMCap, or Uberall.
Swat.io is a Social Media Management solution that’s helping companies improve their customer support & content management on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, WhatsApp, and more. Swat.io is currently used by companies such as 3Österreich, Hitradio Ö3, ÖBB, Focus Online and Burda Intermedia.