Benedict Evans – The s-curve of innovation

I really enjoyed this talk from Benedict Evans of Andreessen Horowitz, sharing some long views of innovation and discussing an s-shaped curve for the adoption of new technologies. For a technology (mobile, for example, or machine learning) he describes an initial phase where people are just trying to make it work, a period of fast development and uptake, followed by commoditisation where more and more uses are found for that technology. He talks about several examples, and places AI / machine learning, crypto-currency, mixed reality (augmented reality is a part of this) and other technologies on the curve to help us understand where they are in their lifecycle.

The key growth technology he is calling out now is machine learning. The technology works, and is available. The number of potential applications is proliferating and there are lots of examples of value being delivered. He talks about 3 aspects of this:

  • Automating existing activities, the most discussed but maybe least interesting
  • Discovering new things from existing data
  • Understanding new sorts of data, such as speech or video

It isn’t a long talk and I would recommend anyone looking for some interesting discussion of innovation, especially in connection with AI, machine learning or robotics, to watch it soon.