I was asked a provocative question recently whose answer turns out to be the perfect way to end an amazing, challenging, tumultuous, momentous, exhausting year: How will the time we’re in right now be remembered from a technological perspective?
In hindsight, computing trends have followed clearly defined, highly discrete eras. The mainframe computer begat client-server software running on PCs, which led to the age of the Internet (and the Web), which fostered the smartphone epoch we’re in today. I doubt it was completely clear what was going on in the middle of these transitions—it took a bit of time to appreciate what the iPhone had wrought, for example—any more than we know today.
Yet a few things are clear. Voice is emerging as the next way of commanding computers. Augmented and virtual reality are making their bids to be the next computing user interface. Autonomous vehicles grab the headlines and the investment dollars. Cryptocurrencies are the most overhyped and yet potentially revolutionary factor in the word today.
But each of these trends is in its earliest practical stages. Amazon’s Alexa is fantastic but obviously a “1.0” product. AR and VR are on the cusp but still are clunky and fringe. Self-driving anything is a curiosity rather than a staple. Bitcoins are tulips until proven innocent.
No, the line that runs through these developments and promises to be the one thing our time is remembered for is artificial intelligence. It’s the underpinning trend that everything else that matters will be based on. As we power down 2017, welcome to the age of AI. You’re living in it.
Two quick pieces to share … The Wall Street Journal’s keen China observer Li Yuan comes right out and declares the state of open warfare between Tencent and Alibaba. Meanwhile, Lauren Silva Laughlin, a longtime writer for Fortune, has a startlingly interesting take at Reuters Breakingviews on how Dominos, the pizza company, is an unexpected player in technology.
2017 is a wrap. I want to wish every Data Sheet reader a merry Christmas and a joyous New Year. Thank you for your attention, your interest, and (always) your feedback. Data Sheet returns on Jan. 2nd. I’ll be back Jan. 8th with a preview of Fortune’s exciting CES lineup.
…’Cause it’s Friday, you ain’t got no job. Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt will step down as executive chairman of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, in January. He’ll remain a technical adviser.
After this Friday, the neighborhood will never be the same. Goldman Sachs plans to establish a trading desk for digital currencies such as Bitcoin by June. It makes Goldman the first major Wall Street firm to make markets in cryptocurrencies.
I don’t know if I can handle another damn Friday. ADT, the home security company, files for an IPO that would value it at $15 billion. The news comes after ADT spent more than a year as a private company courtesy of a leveraged buyout.
You kids keep your noses clean, you understand? Facebook and Universal Music Group strike a global, multiyear licensing agreement. UMG is the first of the music majors to license its work for video and other uses to Facebook, Instagram, and Oculus.
So you’re in my body, and I’m in your body. Huawei and Baidu sign a strategic deal to build an open, mobile artificial intelligence ecosystem. The deal covers platforms, tech, services, and content.
Can you live in that moment as best you can, with clear eyes, and love in your heart, with joy in your heart? The Winklevoss twins reflect on their winding road to becoming some of the first Bitcoin billionaires.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
How will the GOP tax bill affect tech innovation? Luke Stangel, writing in the Silicon Valley Business Journal, takes a look. Sure, the U.S. corporate tax rate drops. But a key provision in the bill awaiting President Donald Trump’s signature has ramifications for intellectual property. “Economists watching the tax bill say it doesn’t include a way for companies like Apple to bring internationally-held patents back into the U.S. without being taxed,” he writes, “hobbling the incentive.” Read his analysis here.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Q&A with Airbnb’s Joe Gebbia on How ‘Dog Fooding’ Leads to Great Design, by Leigh Gallagher
Has Apple Lost Its Design Mojo? By Rick Tetzeli
Amazon Is Shuttering Its Music Storage Service, by Don Reisinger
BEFORE YOU GO
Wondering what all those strange slugs in the “Newsworthy” section of today’s newsletter were? It’s simple: They’re all quotes from movies about Friday: Friday, Next Friday, Friday After Next, Friday the 13th, Freaky Friday, and Friday Night Lights. We hope you enjoyed the references.
And finally: As we head into the long winter holiday stretch, suggestions from some of our favorite CEOs on how they unplug. Watch the video—then power down, of course. Happy holidays from your friends at Fortune.