20/20 vision is used to express normal visual acuity (the clarity of vision) measured at a distance of 20 feet. With 20/20 vision, you can see clearly at 20 feet what should normally be seen at that distance. Having 20/20 vision does not necessarily mean you have perfect vision — it provides an indicator of clarity of vision at a certain distance.

Disney made a splash in SXSW 2019 by hosting an interactive movie poster. Visitors were treated to AI: the demo used the facial expressions of the viewer to display the corresponding content from the movie Dumbo. While this may be the first example of such customization and personalization, I’m sure that this will not be the last used by the likes of Disney and other brands for their marketing efforts in 2020 and new decades ahead.

With facial detection, verification, recognition, and body identification becoming more commonplace, I believe we are entering an age where our physical features will increasingly become machine-readable (and eventually machine responsive).

Our bodies will become our unique personal signature — seamlessly traversing between physical and digital identities when we are in the real world; in this new world, all transactions can be (and will be) biometric-enabled. This means that online clickstream based personalization could now extend to the physical world and hyper-personalization of content, products, and services will become the new reality.

Imagine the juice bar on the second floor of the shopping center knowing when you are coming out of the gym located on the floor above (you got that post-workout glow which the solar-powered IP camera pointing at the gym exit can identify) and offer a promotional price for a smoothie just at that time when you step off the escalators. With more societies steadily becoming cashless, we will not be dumb if we speculate that you will pay for that smoothie using your eye-movement and there will be automated revenue reconciliation between the gym, the juice bar, and the shopping center and a loyalty token mined for your future use. To make this entire experience guilt-free, the smoothie will be served in an edible pack with a commitment to up-cycling the squashed fruit fibers into a tensile fabric that can go into your gym shoe sole.

Imagining advanced cognitive technology-enabled ecosystems and implementing them at scale with a focus on data privacy, upcycling, while staying carbon-neutral will be challenging.

Though there is a commitment to the planet over profit (purpose) in the entire business flow, this ecosystem will immediately set off alarm bells for anti-AI activists who would ask for transparency into the algorithms and models that go into deciding when and who gets such promotions. This will drive protests from data-privacy experts who will rightfully worry and try to understand how the data is collected, stored, and traded and what happens when there is a breach. This could be perceived as a way to “monetize” your “presence” and the companies trying to “contextualize your experiences can be tagged on social media for being dehumanizing. All of them are right in their own asks as this new future is almost here and many-many of us don’t know how to deal with it responsibly.

Get ready for 20/20 — the decade where we will see more of such pervasive solutions and concerns. Imagining and building such risk-laden ambitious solutions around scenarios like the one I wrote above is not an easy endeavor. A complicated business model needs willful participation from multiple and diverse stakeholders and an ethical framework that provides the essential trustfulness necessary for the ecosystem to thrive for all the participants. It’s imperative that we gear up to provide improved clarity to these concerns while building technology that reduces human-machine boundaries for better.

The last decade has been focused on making the boundaries thinner between AI algorithms and humans and I would expect that to continue in 2020 at a faster pace whereby AI would play a more pivotal role in shaping human experiences and context. This would mean we have to become ultra conscious and wary of the possible pitfalls within the business ecosystems and stay committed to privacy-first principles while building any new AI-enabled product/service from the ground up. To be compliant with local laws and respectful of human sensitivities will become an existential imperative.

At RealValue, we are building solutions that help understand humans and their behaviors better in physical spaces. As we step into the new decade starting in 2020, we are sharpening our focus to bring clarity to our privacy and security concerns as our physical selves become digital agents.

Polymath: dad, husband, co-founder, strategist, Computer Vision enthusiast, visual thinker and dog lover.