In 1995, Bill Gates made these predictions about streaming movies and fake news on the internet

Today, pretty much everyone regularly uses the internet to read breaking news and stream the latest blockbuster films. But in 1995, the internet was still in its infancy, and many Americans weren’t even online yet.

Bill Gates — as the co-founder of Microsoft (which made Internet Explorer, one of the first web browsers) — likely knew as much about the potential of internet technology as anyone in the mid-90s, however. So it’s not shocking that in 1995 Gates would be asked for his predictions on what the internet might look like a couple of decades into the future.

That’s exactly what happened when Gates sat down with author and journalist Terry Pratchett for an interview that appeared in the July 1995 edition of GQ magazine’s UK version. At the time, Gates was 39 and the world’s richest person with a net worth of $12.9 billion (he’s now second to Jeff Bezo with a $99.6 billion net worth, according to Forbes).

Gates’ conversation with Pratchett recently resurfaced online when writer Marc Burrows, who is working on a biography of Pratchett, tweeted two screenshots of the magazine interview (Gates is identified in the interview screenshots as “BG” and Pratchett is “TP”).

Not surprisingly, Gates had a couple of predictions for the future of the internet — one of which would turn out to be eerily prescient, while the other one seems to have come up short.

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Streaming movies

One prediction that Gates nailed was that the internet would forever change the way we consume entertainment, like movies and television shows. At the time, most people’s idea of a home entertainment system was a television hooked up to a VCR (electronic devices that played VHS tapes for anyone too young to remember), though video discs like DVDs were beginning to be introduced by the mid-90s.

In the interview, Pratchett is astounded when Gates tells him that “VCRs will be obsolete within ten years.”

“What? Completely obsolete?” asks Pratchett, who then asks if discs will be the primary home video format.

“Oh, they’ll be replaced by a disc player within four or five years,” Gates says. “I’m talking about access to media across the network.”

In other words, Gates is describing our ability to watch movies, TV shows and other streaming videos online. Gates, who complained that VCRs had “the world’s worst user interface,” went on to explain: “Everything we’re talking about will have screens to guide you and when you pause there’ll be a built-in personality that’ll immediately jump in and help you.”

Gates’ prediction ended up being pretty much on the money, as online video technology continued to improve over the next decade to the point where the now-ubiquitous video streaming platform YouTube was founded in 2005, 10 years after this interview took place. In 2007, Netflix announced plans to start streaming full movies and shows online. Today, Netflix has nearly 150 million streaming subscribers around the world, while more than two billion people watch videos on YouTube every month.

Pratchett also wanted to know if Gates thought that the internet would eventually make it easier to spread misinformation to large groups of people.

“There’s a kind of parity of esteem of information on the Net,” Pratchett remarked to Gates in the interview. “It’s all there: there’s no way of finding out whether this stuff has any bottom to it or whether someone just made it up.”

As an example, Pratchett proposed a hypothetical situation where someone purporting to be an expert promoted a theory online claiming that the Holocaust never happened. That theory, Pratchett argued, could be propped up on the internet and “available on the same terms as any piece of historical research which has undergone peer review and so on.”

While Pratchett’s biographer, Burrows, argued on Twitter this week that Pratchett had “accurately predicted how the internet would propagate and legitimise fake news,” Gates’ response is worth noting for the fact that the Microsoft co-founder failed to foresee the same negative effects of online misinformation.

Gates agreed with Pratchett that misinformation could be spread online, but “not for long,” the billionaire reasoned. For instance, Gates argued, the internet could contain fake news, but it would also create more opportunities for information to be verified and supported by appropriate authorities, from actual experts to journalists and consumer reports.

“The whole way that you can check somebody’s reputation will be so much more sophisticated on the Net than it is in print today,” Gates tells Pratchett.

Of course, we know now that many online platforms — from social media sites like Facebook to online video sites like YouTube — have struggled to squash the spread of misinformation and fake news on the internet. Even Gates himself says today that he’s concerned about the spread of misinformation online, admitting that “it’s turned out to be more of a problem than I, or many others, would have expected.”

But Gates also said, in a 2018 interview with Quartz, that he remains optimistic that the internet will continue to become more sophisticated as an information source over time, and that the benefits of having access to such a wealth of information on the internet will eventually outweigh the “challenges” of separating fact from fiction online.

[“source=cnbc”]

Dawn of Chatbots: FB Messenger opens gates to developers

Dawn of Chatbots: FB Messenger opens gates to developers

Facebook Inc said on Tuesday it has opened up its Messenger app to developers to create “chatbots,” hoping that by simulating one-on-one conversations between users and companies it will expand its reach in customer service and enterprise transactions.

Chatbots are automated programs that help users communicate with businesses and carry out tasks such as online purchases. While chatbots have existed in some form for years, they have recently become a hot topic in the tech business as advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning make them far more capable and potentially able to assume a key role in the way customers communicate with businesses.

Facebook launched chatbots on Tuesday with a handful of partners, including Shopify, an ecommerce site, and cable TV news network CNN.

The chatbots are part of Facebook’s effort to build out its Messenger instant messaging app as the go-to place for customers to contact businesses – a strategy that threatens traditional call centers and may cut personnel costs for some businesses.

“You’ll never have to call 1-800-Flowers again,” Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said during the company’s annual developer conference in San Francisco.

Though messaging platforms including Kik, Slack and Telegram already have chatbots, Facebook is seen having several distinct advantages.

For one, Facebook commands a vast trove of data on the estimated 1.6 billion people who use the main service and the 900 million who use Messenger. That allows developers to create chatbots that can personalize tasks, such as making an airline booking or a restaurant reservation.

“From the enterprise or developer perspective, access to those 1.6 billion people is very exciting,” said Lauren Kunze, principal at Pandorabots, which has been building and deploying chatbots for companies since 2002.

“People like a personalized experience and when the chatbot can remember personal details and follow up,” she said.

CNN’s bot, for example, can learn users’ news preferences and recommend articles and summaries accordingly. For a shopping site, users could input price ranges and other preferences before receiving suggestions from the bot.

Tech companies will have to approach chatbots more carefully, however, after an experimental Microsoft Corp bot, called Tay, unleashed a barrage of racist and sexist tweets after being manipulated by Twitter users last month. The company quickly pulled Tay from the Internet.

A PLACE FOR BUSINESS

Facebook has been steadily adding features to Messenger since it was spun off as a separate app in 2014.

Last year, it partnered with Uber [UBER.UL] and Lyft so that users can order a car without having to go through the ride-sharing apps. It also recently partnered with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines so that customers can receive flight updates and booking confirmations through Messenger.

Chatbots could eventually automate such interactions and eliminate customer service calls.

“You’re offloading the pain of navigating those phone systems,” said Chris Fohlin, director of client strategy at consulting agency Engine Digital.

Last year, Facebook partnered with online shopping sites Zulily and Everlane to send customer receipts and order updates through Messenger. It now sees 1 billion messages sent between users and businesses every month, said Seth Rosenberg, Messenger’s product manager. That prompted the company to begin experimenting with chatbots.

“Our goal is to make personalization available at scale for businesses,” Seth Rosenberg, Messenger’s product manager, said in an interview. “It’s giving them ways to deeply engage with their consumers as everything becomes more competitive.”

By making Messenger the go-to place for business-to-person interactions, Facebook hopes people will spend even more time using the app and increasingly rely on it for day-to-day tasks.

Facebook’s chatbots could also threaten businesses’ individual apps. Although there are millions of apps, users spend nearly 90 percent of their time on five apps, according to research firm Forrester. In the United States, two of those apps are typically Facebook and Messenger.

[Source:- Intoday]