Brain Food 16

shift 2020 Brain Food #16 – Conversational Commerce

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Welcome to the shift 2020 Brain Food #16 newsletter with news on my activities, insights and links to must read articles on the technological transformations in business and society, carefully curated by yours truly.

Conversational Commerce

My first real experience with conversational commerce was on a trip to Mexico last month where I did the entire checkin and boarding with KLM via the Facebook Messenger app. Just ticking a box to “receive updates via Messenger” when booking the ticket and all other actions happened from within the chat client, flawless and seamless. The experience was just so great that any other checkin or boarding experience with another airline feels slow and inconvenient. I only want to fly KLM now 😉

This simple example shows the power of conversational commerce. Conversational commerce is about delivering convenience, personalisation, and decision support while people are on the go, with only partial attention to spare. I wrote about the topic in the Brain Food #11 newsletter and the rise of the digital assistants.

Conversational Commerce was first coined by Chris Messina early 2015 and earlier this year he called 2016 the year of conversational commerce.

“These and related innovations suggest that “conversational commerce” is growing, and concierge-style services may become the primary way in which people transact on their mobile devices. No more tapping and swiping — it’s easier to just hand-off to someone with a computer that’s set up for complex information tasks like online shopping or research.”

But this week’s tech highlight was the world-first live Viv demo Siri co-founder and CEO Dag Kittlaus did at TechCrunch Disrupt. The company has been quietly working on a much-anticipated voice assistant powered by artificial intelligence, machine learning and integrations with third-party services.

Viv aims to become THE single interface of the future. The software uses ‘dynamic program generation’ to write or rewrite new code, learning from itself in 10 milliseconds. Developers can create complex experiences on top of Viv’s platform. Dag showcased 4 commercial orders in less than 2 minutes live on stage (sending flowers, book a room, a car, …). The platform will go public by the end of this year.

It’s an absolute must-watch video, one of the best pitches I’ve seen in recent years that shows the power of Viv.

Also interesting to watch is the interview with Mike George, Amazon’s Vice President of Echo, Alexa and Appstore discussing the past and future of Amazon Echo

Smart Cities World

This year I’ve been advising on strategy and content direction for a new dynamic online platform called Smart Cities World. The publication, a new initiative from SJP Business Media, aims at providing b2b users with a centralised source of intelligence about the infrastructure unpinning smart communities.

The launch feature has lots of great content on Smart London and guest contributors examine the particular problems that London has and how these can be overcome. Read my advice for the new Mayor on making London smart(er) and guest posts by Londoners Tony Fish, James Ghani and Lawrence Ampofo.

On the website, you’ll find daily fresh quality news articles, opinions and special reports related to the infrastructure underpinning smart cities with a focus on Energy, Buildings, Transport, Connectivity, Data and Governance and all in one place.

If you’re an expert in one of these area’s and you would like to contribute as a regular guest blogger, please get in touch.

Related: 10 Things To Expect At Google’s City Of The Future: Project Sidewalk

New Socratic Design Workshops

Learn how to (re)connect to your core values and learn how to (re)design your life, your professional future, or the future business of your company and join us for one one of our next Socratic Design Workshops we organise in Cadaques on May 27-28 and June 19-21. Get insights about the world we’re moving into rapidly, and learn how to transform and adapt your business to prepare for the perpetual technological changes ahead. In good company, in a unique atmosphere.

Check out the quotes from some participants to our latest Socratic Design Workshop.

“It’s such a spoiling experience to attend the Socratic Design Workshop at the incredibly beautiful Cadaques. Rarely do I have the opportunity to explore deep philosophical topics with the world’s best thinkers in such an amazing environment. Both the ideas and format are unique, thought provoking and mind blowing, not to mention the food.” – Sam Liang – former lead architect for Google’s locations platform / former CEO & Co-Founder of Alohar Mobile Inc. (acquired by Alibaba) / currently Co-Founder of a Stealth Mode Mobile Startup.

“The Socratic Design Workshop presents a unique opportunity to focus one’s mind and thought processes into the communal task of predicting the future evolution of any given topic. It brings forth an invaluable tool for igniting creativity and fellowship amongst the participants and guarantees that, for a couple of days, our minds and intents will disconnect from everything else, growing in creativity and the expansion of our attitudes” – Inma Martinez – Technologist, Behavioural Learning Scientist, Qual-Researcher – ‎Preadly

“A necessary software update for your brain in this era of exponential technological dominance. The Socratic Design Workshops are a life changer. Don’t hesitate to go!” – Eli Calderón-Morin, Founder & Curator MoMo Silicon Beach – Expert in Technology Innovation & Startup Growth

“For something completely unique and original, sign up for a Socratic Design workshop. Expect unique insights and a fresh approach to various challenging technological issues of our time. The Socratic Design Workshop will leave you feeling refreshed and reconnected through connecting with like minded souls” – Ina O’ Murchu – New Technologies Educator, Business Innovation Centre, NUI Galway.

To join one of these unique workshops as a Brain Food reader, follow the links below to benefit a 50% exceptional discount.

Socratic Design Workshop Cadaques May 2016
Socratic Design Workshop Cadaques June 2016

And now for some more Brain Food!



Friend and colleague Gerd Leonhard’s excellent new short film on exponential change and digital transformation. Are you driving change or are you being driven by it?

Interview with Adam Cheyer on The Origin of, Apple Siri and Viv. How to use collective intelligence to solve the world’s urgent problems

Future of Work and Society

When Economic Growth Doesn’t Make Countries Happier. It’s not a foregone conclusion that growing the economy will make for a happier people.


French railways invest in 700mph inter-city super-tube which could make HS2 obsolete.

Self-driving taxis from General Motors and Lyft will hit the road within a year

Self-driving cars could hit roads within five years, the head of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said Friday, days after the company announced an alliance with Google parent Alphabet.


Ethereum to Enable the Community Energy Market Sharing Economy

Solar Power Is Ready to Dominate Energy Thanks to New Tech. A recently discovered material called perovskite promises massive implications for the future of energy and society.


As Digital Fatigue Sets In, Readers are Waking Up to Newspapers. Must read article on the state of online vs print publishing:

“By now you’ve read the stats: the number of people using ad blocking software has grown 41 percent year over year, and the estimated loss of global revenue due to blocked advertising during 2015 was almost $22 billion. According to an Adobe and Pagefair report, findings showed that ad blocking users grew from 21 million in 2010 to 181 million in 2015.”


AI doctors will become ‘as ubiquitous as stethoscopes’. The role of an AI doctor isn’t intended to replace the human component, but rather complement it:

“It’s about augmenting or complementing; the role of the human doctor is in building the relationship. It’s the skills that humans have – the compassion, the ability to abstract, to generalise, to have common sense, to have morals. These are all key aspects. Technology should be used to improve these relationships, not make them harder.”

Battle of the Health Data Ecosystems. With the announcement that Finland-based Nokia acquired France-HQ’d Withings in late April 2016, the tipping point for a new era of health data ecosystems began.

Google’s artificial intelligence company hits back in row over data-sharing agreement for medical records after New Scientist revealed that Google DeepMind’s collaboration with the NHS goes far beyond what it has publicly announced.

A DNA Sequencer in Every Pocket. A biotech company is building devices that will allow people to decipher genes in remote jungles, at sea, or even in space—and they say they’re just getting started.

Meet the Nanomachines That Could Drive a Medical Revolution


Rise of the Robots Is Sparking an Investment Boom. Global influx of machines set to open hot new tech market.

Imagine Discovering That Your Teaching Assistant Really Is a Robot.

Rich and powerful warn robots are coming for your jobs.

Tufts Roboticist Calls for Machine Morals: Robots Must “Disobey in Order to Obey”

ArtificiaI Intelligence

Bots versus humans – Inside Intercom

Is Big Data Taking Us Closer to the Deeper Questions in Artificial Intelligence? 

The next AI is no AI

The Last Frontiers of AI: Can Scientists Design Creativity and Self-Awareness?

Crowdfunding sense

uHoo: Most Advanced Indoor Air Toxin Sensor

Know your Classics

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Huxley vs Orwell

That’s it for this week.

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I’m delighted and grateful to be able to do what I love and share these wonderful stories and knowledge with you. How about you?

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Be kind to yourself and your loved ones.


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