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97 | The impact of converging tech: Ethics, understanding and strategy

53 min listen

This week on the podcast, we're joined by Walter Pasquerelli, advisor and researcher for The Economist Impact.

 We discuss what future trends Walter is excited about, as well as what approach businesses should take to the convergence of tech. Tune in to hear more about:

  • The convergence of technologies: generative AI, virtual reality, and the metaverse
  • Ethical considerations:  data privacy, cybersecurity, and the impact of AI personas on human relationships are discussed.
  • Impact of AI and Metaverse Tech:  potential increase in productivity, job satisfaction, and positive impacts on various industries
  • Understanding new technologies: not everything that shines is transformative, and it's crucial to understand technology at a conceptual level
  • Strategic Application: apply emerging technologies strategically. Align with company goals and advance business strategy by scaling gradually 

Have a burning question we've not answered? Send us a note at and we'll answer it on the next episode!


View the full transcript here

97 | The impact of converging tech: Ethics, understanding and strategy

Jon Busby: So welcome back to another episode of the Tech Marketing podcast. I'm very pleased to be joined by Walter here, who's advisor and researcher for the E Economist Impact. So Walter, pleasure to have you joining us here on the Tech Marketing

Walter Pasquarelli: Podcast. Yeah, thank you so much for having me. Really good to be here.

Jon Busby: And of course, I've got my partner in crime when it comes to innovation, Jonathan. So Jonathan, say hello to all of our

Jonathan Sedger: Hello listeners. It's lovely to be back. As always, happy to be back.

Jon Busby: Walter to, before we jump into things, tell us a bit about your role at The Economist Impact, like of, what is it?

Yeah, of course. What does it involve?

Walter Pasquarelli: Of course. Economist Impact is the research and analysis arm of the Economist group. So there's the newspaper that everybody knows about, and then there's economist Impact, which does. Essentially long reports where we really go in depth in a particular topic and we really try to untangle it through quantitative research, qualitative research, say economic forecasting.

And one of the topics that we've been particularly interested in is of course technology and innovation. And that's where my role has been really in working on these projects, leading some editorial programs on particular kinds of research programs that answer some of the

Jon Busby: most pressing questions.

A lot of our, the CMOs we're talking to at the moment are all asking, we've gone through probably the. The biggest amount of disruption this year Yeah. I've ever seen in technology. And they're all asking, how do we, how do they stay ahead of some of these trends? Now, that's part of your role is to do that.

Like what tips? Yeah. What tips would you give them to stay ahead of 'em?

Walter Pasquarelli: My intuitive answer is to read The Economist, but that's a pretty bad plug right here. But I think there is a. There is a real question that I'm seeing out in both the corporate as well as government world, which is about how to deal with the new Yep.

And when something new comes out, how do we treat it? How do we relate it back to us as a business and as people? And the first thing is to say that not everything that shines has actual substance. Not everything that shines is immediately going to transform our lives. But as we see in the field of, for example, the metaverse or AI applications, there are some real.

Deep impacts that I think we can expect. My main advice when I hear people asking these kinds of questions is it should start with, first of all, really understanding the technology. And I'm still surprised that sometimes I get People reaching out and they're just like we don't even understand technology, but we've heard it everywhere.

And I would say like really doing the research, reading up on how a technology works is probably really the way to start. The second thing is to understand the use cases. Yeah. And that's basically asking the what if. What if we were to bring a particular kind of technology into our company, what would it allow us to do?

What problems can it solve? What problems can it maybe not solve? And the third step is once we've been dreaming about how technology can help us get to the promised land of increased competitive and whatnot then it's about applying the constraints so that our, what is questions they real?

And the point there is to understand your own capabilities. Your capabilities for either building it, for integrating it and for ensuring that this can be used in a way that is either profitable or creates public benefit

Jon Busby: And, yeah. That's awesome. I, so as a fellow technologist this is a question that I have all the time, which is like, how deep do you need to go when understanding technology?

So you, me, you mentioned that as your first point. You need to understand it. You need to be able to know what the use cases are, like, how deep do you need to go as a. As a leader in a business, do you need to be applying this? Do you need to be watching demos? What are the best ways for them to stay?


Walter Pasquarelli: I don't think that relevant. I don't think everyone needs to become an engineer. I think if we look at like the classic example, Steve Jobs, he wasn't an engineer still. Built like one of the the biggest company in the world. That's the same thing for a lot of other executives. Not only for some of these companies but also for some of the smaller ones.

I guess the key point is to really understand it, first of all, on a conceptual level you don't need to be able to code in order to understand how to use it speci specifically as CMOs. Yep. That's not necessary. But you need to ideally be able to have conversations with people who built it. Yep.

Because if you do that, then you can understand really what are the possibilities for my company and how do I use it in a way that is, goes beyond the shine and the hype, but in a way that actually helps us advance forward. Yeah, I think

Jonathan Sedger: I, I couldn't agree with that more. And I think what I've noticed in the market is there's a bit of a tension between some people, just focusing on the technology and, talking about it as if it's gonna solve everything.

And there's another camp that are going, no, we just need to focus on the fundamentals and strategy. And actually the reality is it's somewhere in the middle. Where the value is. Yeah. Because as you said, if you don't understand what the technology can do, you can't apply it strategically. So there has to be, and some of these things are, at the very early stages.

So it's about experimentation. You've gotta be experimenting to Absolutely. That. And it's getting that balance, which Yeah. Can be quite tricky, especially when things are, there's a lot of sentiment that things are getting tougher yeah. How do you experiment in those circumstances?

It's yeah, interesting.

Walter Pasquarelli: Oh, a hundred percent. I guess the people and the companies that are able to integrate it most successfully, they start with an M V P, right? So they try and understand what can it help us? And then they pilot it. So it's not that if we are a marketing for, or say a company that works in Sector X, that you've discovered this technology and you throw a neural network at all of your employees, but it's like you identify a use case.

And you trial it and only if it's successful, then you can get like the business approval and like momentum and then you can try and scale it gradually. And I think that's, yeah, that's a crucial point you're

Jon Busby: mentioning. Yeah. And I it's, I know we're going off on a tangent here.

It's been something that's been troubling me for a while. Because I, with anything, and we're gonna talk a lot about the metaverse and probably artificial intelligence on, on today's podcast. But as as a technologist, as a leader, like I find I have to deeply understand this to be able to advise the business and do it.

So like even now I'm trying to find hybrid ways that, do I spend half a day a week just going deeper into one of these, into one of these technologies to make sure that we can advise and figure out what that M V P looks like. And I and Lou Cohen, actually, who we recently interviewed on the podcast, who's a technologist and digital marketing leader at the.

Ey kind of said the same thing. If you are a leader and you're not playing with generative ai, you are not thinking about the impact of data. Like you need to be spending time out, out to be doing it. Do you see with some of the businesses that you speak to and advise, do you see trends, like particularly good behaviors or trends that you would recommend CMOs consider or aspiring CMOs consider to, to stay up to speed with

Walter Pasquarelli: these, that's an excellent question.

So what are the, who are the leaders in laggards? I would say the leaders, they understand that, say a metaverse strategy or an AI strategy is the business strategy. So it's not that we just come up with this tech strategy and it's yeah, here we go guys. Like we're in. But it's about aligning it precisely with our goals as a company.

Yep. Not every business needs to invest everything in emerging technologies because maybe it doesn't solve their problem. If you are, I dunno, a restaurant owner and you have it's a family business. It's much more personal. I'm not quite sure how these kinds of technologies can help you other than maybe understanding your customers better, perhaps, right?

But that's, there's a real distinction to be made here that it doesn't solve all problems. It helps you accelerate your business strategy, and that's the thing to focus on.

Jon Busby: Yep. And so it's it, as you say, it all comes down to outcomes and making sure you're applying those, absolutely.

Applying those towards your outcome.

Jonathan Sedger: Do you think there's a tipping point where a technology starts to become so important that it gets that level of strategic consideration? I think yeah. AI has is something that people talk about as if it's, just appeared. But reality is it's been developing for decades and we all use it in our everyday lives in many different ways, but all of a sudden with generative ai, it's got at that level on the agenda.

And actually companies are starting to look at it from a strategic level with Metaverse. It feels like it hasn't just, it hasn't quite reached that tipping point in a lot of sectors. It has in some, because the use cases are very clear. So do you think it like, A technology has to get to a certain kind of tipping point in order for it to get that level of strategic consideration,

Walter Pasquarelli: would you say?

Yeah, I would say it could be a mix of the technology. So it's this sort of an issue of timeline, but it can also, to me it's a matter of use of like applications and finding the critical application. With the metaverse right now, it's still used a lot by say, manufacturing companies, health companies that use it for educational program or like trialing out different.

Let's say I'm a surgeon that wants to try out heart surgery or develop a digital twin model through vr. I can like, I can visualize it better. But in some level, these technologies are still in development. If you look at headsets, they still need to become a little smaller. The battery life needs to be increased, and that's what I think needs to happen for.

For for popular use to really start the thing about ai. On the other hand, people found it useful and so they immediately jumped onto the bandwagon and they find, okay, I can try it out. And it's funny to write a poem, but I can maybe use it as well to improve my marketing copy. So the Metaverse has a real potential as our research shows some of the technologies need to mature still, some of the critical applications.

Need to be still appreciated. That's still gonna take a little bit of time, but I don't have any doubts that it will emerge as a real technology that, that, that will bring different ones together.

Jon Busby: I think the key point you made there was use, like it was useful and all, One of my next questions here was gonna be, was there any of these trends that caught you by surprise?

Were you caught by surprise with the rise of chat G b T or were you guys predicting it way before, way

Walter Pasquarelli: before then. The developers certainly were. Yeah. They put it out there and they were like, oh, wow. We didn't expect this to be but so popular. Which, Tells you quite a bit, I think.

Yep. No, I wasn't really surprised by some of these new models. They've been in development for what, seven, eight years, and they weren't particularly good. Now they've become better. The thing that I'm quite fascinated by is the emergence of new economies. On the basis of these foundation models that sort of, you have these big foundation models offered by different kinds of technology providers.

That are out there, that are in, in some part open source and that people can basically use as, almost like the brain, the foundation as the name says it, to build a layer of innovation on top. It's a bit like, it reminds me a bit, like of digital platforms. Maybe 10, 10 years ago, like the platform economies, like we're.

People used to build their own businesses on top of them. Yeah.

Jon Busby: Yeah. You men, it's an interesting point. You mentioned economies. That makes me think of things like marketplaces and are we seeing like a fundamental shift in how technology is bought and sold and innovated with?

Walter Pasquarelli: Yeah, I would say there is, there's a certain element of commonality between all of these platforms. If we look at social media that is usually has been for free. It's been like open, openly licensed that's the same as it looks for foundation models. That's going to be the same for the metaverse as well.

I doubt, there might be some more exclusive worlds where you can delve in and you have to pay for them, but for the rest, I think the access and sort of the opportunity to build things within it, that is going to be still within the same kind of model, open licensing. I think

Jonathan Sedger: that's a really interesting point actually, drawing the comparison to social media and thinking about where it's gonna head with with AI models.

'cause obviously with social media, like looking back now, a lot of people came to realize that they were the product, that they, their data was the thing that made it possible for them to access those services for free. And something that you talk about quite a bit, John is about the.

These large language models that actually potentially they could decide to raise the price and then that has a Yeah. A big impact on everybody else. Yeah. That's leveraging, as Walter said, those technologies as the foundational underpinnings of it. It's quite interesting none of us have got a crystal ball here, but it's gonna be quite interesting to see how that business model develops over the

Jon Busby: next sort of five years.

It's definitely something that, that is worrying me. I can't remember who made the co, who I. I think it was another podcast I was listening to that made the comment. A lot of, we are experimenting with things like Lang Chain at the moment. And everything tends to be based on open AI's models.

So if Open AI overnight decided to change their pricing, like it, it could fundamentally disrupt the entire tire industry. But I think you're right. Like we've just seen, last week we saw what LAMA two get released, which is an open source model. It's innovating. Coming back to things being useful though.

I wanna bring, I didn't introduce our, my cohost, Harry's been sat over there being really quiet in the call. Yeah. Like Harry, have you seen a reduction in the amount of poems that people have been asking you to write? Because everyone's doing it through chat, G p t now. So how Harry is like a budding, not, budding isn't the right word.

I'm professional. I'm over the hill. But what

Harry Radcliffe: happened is, okay. Is I was hearing for years our AI's gonna come in, it's gonna do all the hard work, and then we'll just be painting and writing poetry. And then we got ai. We were like, Write me a poem and then we all just got back to work. So that's what I found interesting.

But no, I think that people have now gotten over the fact that chat, G T B T can write rhymes and now they're asking it for other things. Because when we first got it, we were like, what are we even asked this thing for? And then we got one 500 times more powerful and I was like, I wasn't even.

I hadn't had my head wrapped around the last one, and that was 0.25% of it. So I gave up on it, to be honest.

Jon Busby: I love that analogy though. We're not even analogy, it's not, it's just facts. It's just fact. Like we were told we'll all be painting and writing stuff and now we're getting AI to paint and write poems.

Exactly. We're still continuing to do our day jobs. Exactly. Which is ridiculous.

Jonathan Sedger: Did you get that that potential utopian future from home Deus by I've forgotten

Walter Pasquarelli: the name, your author's name. Is that Harri? Harra? Yeah. U are Noah Harri. No,

Jonathan Sedger: harra. Yeah.

Harry Radcliffe: I have not no. You love that book, Harry?


Walter Pasquarelli: recommend. Okay, I'll check that. De

Jonathan Sedger: Emancipation of Humanity. It's the same author that wrote Sapiens. Yeah.

Walter Pasquarelli: Really good.

Jon Busby: I've never made, I've never made it through Sapien, but like it is. Come back to it being useful. I think that's the key element is we need to, as business leaders coming back to staying ahead of these trends, like it's important for us to figure out ways that we can apply them to our business, not just get consumed, I think by the hype of the, of some of these models because it, everyone has got very excited about it.

And this is the probably the first time I've seen it be sustained for so long. We've jumped around with artificial intelligence and metaverse. A little bit, Walter what trends are you seeing happening today? What are we are probably at the peak of the generative ai or every time we say, every month we say we're at the peak, and then it reaches a whole new, a new peak.

But we're fairly far along that cycle what are you seeing next happening in this market?

Walter Pasquarelli: Oh that, that is very interesting. There's a few, because we're touching on different topics. If we look at, for example the issue of. On the metaverse the next step, and it's also one of the big barriers, is of course the improvement of the headsets.

The headsets right now are still relatively clunky, still quite big. You can't, you can certainly not walk out on the street with a big headset on, not only because of the way it looks, but because of it. It's un handy and I think that the next steps on this, the progress is on this and making them smaller potentially making them see through so that you have actual smart glasses.

And I think that is going to be, in my view, the next big step in making these technologies. Usable. 'cause that means you can use them like you're using your smartphone, like you're using something, some, your AirPods, like that is, in my opinion, the next big step. But it's difficult because it's like putting a laptop in a space as small as like a phone, right?

Jonathan Sedger: If we, I think it's gonna be the, that's the point where it really goes truly mass market is when you've got those smart glasses and it's. It's in that zone of, what Musk talks about with Neuralink of removing the barrier between the device and the person. Obviously that's the extreme.

I think we're a long way away from having chips in our brains but actually you are reducing the interface time between the information and the human when you get those smart glosses that are ever present. Now, to some people that's a completely dystopian kind of future, but, I think it will be useful in a lot of cases.

And we do see that in some circumstances, but at the moment it is super clunky, as you said, and it's like specialist use cases where it's so useful to have that, that you put up with the clunkiness. Yeah it's

Walter Pasquarelli: quite interesting. 'cause I have heard from a lot of people saying these smart glasses or headsets, they do scare me a bit.

And, oh, I'm gonna be wearing these glasses all day long whilst I'm out on the street, but I'm like, Okay, we sleep on average maybe eight hours per day. We work in front of our laptops, another eight hours, so that leaves us another eight hours. And I think the average person spends about five hours on their phone, both down looking at a screen.

So the question is not whether we will be spending a lot of time in front of the screens, because we already do. And I think if anything, we could totally, we could look at it almost in terms of a more convenient, perhaps even a healthier way of engaging with these technologies. It's,

Jon Busby: It's, I the, just the way that you describe that imagery there, 'cause we do spend a lot of time looking down, so you could, we could frame this as a at least we'll be looking up into the world and taking some of it in Exactly.

Or mixing it with other elements of reality. Which yeah, I think is, I it makes me think of that original Google glass. Do you remember the Google Glass concept video? Yeah. And you were, he was walking around a bookstore and it was helping him find a book and it was helping him navigate and I think play guitar on a rooftop or something incredibly mid to mid 2010s or whatever that was.

So maybe we're getting a bit closer to that, but at least we're taking in the world around us as opposed to just looking at. The what, whatever El Musk decide to rename Twitter to next.

Walter Pasquarelli: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. I think you mentioned Google glasses, like in principle, the idea is good.

Way too early. Yeah, totally not mature enough. Not advanced enough to be able to facilitate the kinds of innovations that needed to do.

Jon Busby: So we've jumped straight into the metaverse, right? Yes. Which is, there are so many emerging technologies at the beginning of this year, the. The general movement around the metaverse was really high.

Are we seeing that term start to wane? Is it, is it even early enough to say, is the term metaverse dead? Or are we seeing a whole set of new trends come out

Walter Pasquarelli: around it? Yeah, I guess it's difficult to say something is that which hasn't even been fully built, right? Yep. And I think that's precisely the issue.

It could be that the hype e as it was in by the end of 2021 isn't as strong anymore. But I think if we look at some of the numbers in terms of. On the one hand, the investment, yeah, it might have waned down slightly, but it's still quite a lot of investment that is going into metaverse related technologies, whatever we want to call it.

Yep. I guess the thing to me is that we need to understand that these, if we talk, look about the metaverse, it's actually a convergence of different kinds of technologies. So people say, oh, we're now looking at generative ai. Sure. But generative AI is a fundamental building block. Of a virtual world because it helps us create synthetic environments.

Yep. At the click of a button, it helps us create avatars. It helps us create realistic hyperrealistic faces that we might use if we're on a video call. So I think if anything it just shows that maybe there's a shift in not even of priorities, but a shift in building blocks that we are currently creating to realize something that could be a metaverse or a different name or whatever we want to call it.

Jon Busby: Yeah. And I think it's coming back to this convergence point, like one of the, I'm just gonna jump straight into it. One of the most exciting things I've seen recently, and there's a couple of Unreal engine demos going round where they've taken like generative AI plus Metaverse Tech. And I, the future of gaming just looks absolutely incredible.

Yeah. You can go up to any N P C walk into any building and it's using. I

Jonathan Sedger: think Nvidia did that as well, didn't they? Yeah. They've got MPCs that will literally have a completely dynamic

Jon Busby: conversation with you. Like you Yeah. You can now have a conversation with anyone. And it just, that where we're seeing those technologies blend together just looks super

Walter Pasquarelli: exciting.

Oh, it's great. Yeah. I think that's precisely the sort of the special sauce to the metaverse, the gen ai. Yeah. That makes it look It, it hyper realistic in a way that is, I think, beyond our imagination. I guess something that's quite interesting is that from our research, for example there's two points that I think are relevant here on the one end is that there's been a lot of conversations around, as you just said what's the metaverse?

What does it look like? But there's no single definition that brings together all the voices and stakeholders globally and from different sectors. That's one thing. There's still disagreement even though there has been a bit of hype about it, and we are trying to actively un understand how can we bring voices together.

The second thing is that the components of the metaverse, whether we are calling about headsets, whether we're calling about ai, whether we're looking at connectivity, broadband these are all developing. So these are all enjoying significant investments that are all. That, that are all like creating new kinds of innovations.

I think it's a matter of time. Un until at some point someone will come along and bring these together into one big thing.

Harry Radcliffe: Have you heard John about what's going on in scape right now? No. So basically Botting has always been a problem in scape. You've gotta do a lot of mining, a lot of fishing, that type of stuff.

People have bots do it for them, but now they've got those bots to have chat G P T integration, and they've given them the character of y guy who plays a lot of scape and all this sort of stuff. But everyone is having a great time. They actually much prefer it, even though it's weird. The whole place is way more lively.

There's just loads of bots talking to bots, complaining about fishing and

Walter Pasquarelli: yeah that's Now do

Harry Radcliffe: you play a lot of scape, Harry? No, but my flatmate does and I therefore, we must've been talking about it and I got a YouTube recommendation of what's going on Moonscape

Jonathan Sedger: right now. It's actually quite an interesting concept, 'cause I think one of the things that has maybe been a challenge in the metaverse is, often you'll turn up somewhere and it feels completely empty.

And that doesn't feel like a place that you want to be hanging out. And I think that's been a kind of an unvirtuous circle that, that actually, if you turn up, you're probably not gonna go back actually, if you populated it with a load of interesting bots, that could actually help to propagate the kind of get the engine going and get people more interested.

Jon Busby: Yeah. They're all ladies. Yeah. But we have that term, like what is it catfishing? When you pretend to be someone you're not on dating, is it now gonna be another term like bot fishing or something? A hundred percent.

Harry Radcliffe: There's all red.

So there's a really scary story that happened here because someone's friend passed away. Tragic story, and she tried to make a. An app that basically let her text her friend using like a generative AI and all of the chat logs of her conversations with her friend. And that then has now turned into basically like this AI girlfriend that just dirty talks to you and there's this poor, like soul of a young lady in a way that's

Jon Busby: trapped.

That was weird episode, wasn't it? I'm fairly certain it's actually,

Harry Radcliffe: It might be based off of a real,

Jon Busby: Yeah. That that,

Harry Radcliffe: the one where you talked to with the guy from about time. Yeah, like season one. Yeah. That was a thing.

Jon Busby: There was like, yeah, there was feels very black mirror.

Jonathan Sedger: The cavernous expanse, which is the ethical considerations of generative

Jon Busby: AI there, isn't it? But to bring us back these are the convergence of different things, like you mentioned connectivity. So we've got five G, we've got the headset's getting smaller and plus generative ai like the.

When people start to bring this together, I think that's when it gets interesting. Have you, in your research, have you seen any brands, B two B or B two C start to do that in a way that. Potentially is gonna change their market or change the game yet. Yeah, I mean

Walter Pasquarelli: there's, what I think is interesting is like the industrial application.

Yeah. So when we talk about metaverse applied across enterprises, and I mean there is of course the working spaces working spaces for coworking I think are, in my opinion, one of the coolest applications part. 'cause I'm a passionate remote worker. But, so if you're somewhere across the world and you wanna interact with your coworkers in a way that feels more real and feels more personal to the extent that it's possible.

I think that's probably one of the most promising applications that's it, which is already quite happening at the moment. There's still a few blockers. But for a start, I think we're really getting there. The other applications that are quite interesting in B two B for example, in manufacturing and manufacturing there, the key term is digital twins.

So basically digital replicas of real world phenomena that we can reproduce in a virtual environment and help us test things and rehearse something before we actually implement in or in the real world. Similar for health I, I saw like at our Enterprise Metaverse summit, there was one person who was describing a very complex surgical procedure.

Of Siamese twins which is an area where there's very little medical research done. But what they were basically able to do is that through digital twins. They recreated all the layers of, first of all, the brain the neurons, the vascularity the skin, the skull. And through virtual reality, they were basically able to, first of all, practice the surgery, understand exactly where the incision needed to happen and successfully operate on these children.

And I think that's,

Jon Busby: That is fantastic. So that's probably some AI of building the model and then and some metaverse of providing them a virtual way of testing it.

Walter Pasquarelli: Yeah, it can be created through ai but it doesn't necessarily need to be, I think at this point in time it probably quite risky to do it exclusively with ai.

I think it probably

Jon Busby: would be done. Using Yeah. Scanning techniques and, yeah, exactly. Exactly. But it's, but so that's a digital twin of a set of Siamese. There's twins all the way down in that case. And, but yeah that's an amazing use of that technology.

Jonathan Sedger: The it was a really fascinating event.

Yeah, I was lucky to be there in the audience. And thank you for hosting such a a great event in bringing lots of interesting people together. I think it, it highlights to me, you were talking earlier about, the fact that there's articles around is the metaverse dead? And actually the reality is it's only just getting started and I think.

One of the takeaways from that event is that is actually the case. There was as you pointed out, lots of really interesting discussion around the industrial metaverse and enterprise Metaverse. And there was one particular thing that I found quite interesting, which was p w pwc talking about their study.

Where they have demonstrated that virtual reality learners are almost four times more emotionally engaged in training versus classroom learners. Which is actually quite surprising. 'cause you

Jon Busby: would expect Yeah, I can believe that. I can't believe that because, you can

Jonathan Sedger: create a situation that you couldn't create in a classroom.

It's like you can take people anywhere, literally inside a machine. Anywhere on the planet, anywhere in the universe that you couldn't

Jon Busby: do in it. An interesting debate on that one. Is any, Jonathan, you've probably tried, have you, has any, everyone here done the Apollo 11 VR experience?


Jonathan Sedger: haven't done that. I, no, but it sounds really

Jon Busby: interesting. Honestly, I cried, definitely gonna go and do that. I cried the first time I did this. I'm a big space buff, but like on, I remember the first time I tried, and this was on like a DK two headset, like we're talking years ago now, and just that experience of being sad.

In the, the command module as it, detaches and docks and lands and all that kind of stuff was just absolutely mind blowing. If you haven't done it, I fully recommend you do it. And that was when I had that same revelation, which is this is how the future's gonna learn.

The challenge we've got with things like the metaverse, and I'm just gonna throw this out there as a as potential caution is, I believe you can't start using these tools until you're 13 because of the impact it can have on your like, Ocular development. So I'm interested to see how they start to use it in schools like Walter.

Have you seen any interesting educational use cases yet? We talked about medical, we talked about some industrial ones. Have you seen any

Walter Pasquarelli: educational use cases? Yeah, so there's, there is of course, on the one hand, this challenge that you mentioned with the ocular development. From what I've understood, the majority of.

Of companies developing headsets, they're really trying to tackle that. It's on the one in ocular development, it's also like dizziness. Yep. It might be people who due to accessibility reasons or even cultural reasons struggle to put them on and keep them on especially. Yeah. In terms of educational offerings, there's quite some interesting ones going on in in some emerging markets where particularly children who are.

Maybe living in remote areas. Yeah. Can use these kinds of technologies in order to have access to education without needing to travel three hours back and forth to school. The challenge there is of course, the connectivity in the broadband. Yep. 'cause the majority of emerging markets also in a lot of European countries to be honest.

There's a digital divide. So closing that digital divide is a really a prerequisite for being able to benefit from these technologies.

Jon Busby: So we've talked, and we talked about some really interesting use cases there, medical, the digital twins medical example. I think being a great case of how the metaverse can be applied.

Is there anything we should be cautious of when applying these technologies? What are the blockers that Yeah. Could come off, come up?

Walter Pasquarelli: There is a few. On the one hand, there's every issue that we see in the real world will not stop at the gates of virtual reality. So we have seen some cases of harassment, for example, of like bullying within these environments and they're being taken seriously.

So that, that's very refreshing to see, I think. But they will, they in the same way that they will always happen. Unfortunately in the real world, they will also happen in the virtual world. And so tackling these. Is a major blocker that I think makes it needs to be overcome in order to make the experience.

Jon Busby: But that's no different from any online community, that's

Walter Pasquarelli: exactly correct. Yeah, that's exactly correct. So there's some mechanisms that are going on there. For example, like. Ensuring that content that is not only relevant and user friendly, but it's also not inappropriate and doesn't make people feel uncomfortable.

That's another thing. If we look at other kinds of blockers or risks there is a big question on the data privacy. Specifically with regards to eye gazing. Eye gazing is where we look at, so I might look in this direction and the headset is able to register that. Perfectly.

And I think that has some significant implications and on the, in the information that we open up about ourselves. So I think whichever provider one might go for, there is certainly a question of ensuring that privacy and that data is used in a way that is crystal clear. And for a purpose that we are happy.

To be used. I'm a little pessimistic 'cause I don't think we've done a, at least on a societal level, we haven't done particularly well in the past. But hopefully now with more awareness, there will be increased. Understanding of how to deal with it.

Jon Busby: I hadn't considered the eye gazing piece actually.

'cause that's, yeah. That, I mean that from a UX researcher, I can also be like, that would be an incredible piece of insight. I'd love to collect as much of, much as possible Exactly. Where people are looking. Just thinking

Jonathan Sedger: through the eyes of our, or the ears of our audience who are focused on enterprise B two B marketing, what do you think?

'cause. We've talked about some of the challenges and, without getting drawn into a conversation about the terminology, about the metaverse, we've already raised the perils of that. What do you think some of the challenges are in terms of adoption? From a, from an enterprise use case?

'cause my own experiences, everybody talks about the fact that you can use metaverse environments on any device, on a laptop, on a phone. Ultimately it's a be much better experience. It's a much more compelling experience. As John was saying a second ago, when you've got a headset on, that feels like a big barrier and most people not having a headset at the moment do, would you agree with that and can you see a point where that's changing?

Do you think that more enterprise businesses will have headsets on desks? Than they currently do.

Walter Pasquarelli: Yeah, almost a corporate headset in the same way that, that we get like corporate laptops, for example. Exactly. Yeah. It's the, for all platforms that are based on communications and we can go as far back as the telephone they're successful when people use them.

So the blocker right now is the popularization, and the popularization means that people use them actively, that I'm not the only colleague in my office who's in a virtual environment by himself. And I think for that, there's of course a number of things that need to happen. One, the applications need to be matured.

They're in development. There's some really good ones out there. But of course, we want to ensure that it, it adds value, that it's a more pleasant experience than. Then reality. 'cause otherwise there's no point for me to join it. And I think there's some real traction on there. That's one thing.

The other thing is the price of the headsets, the accessibility for the headsets and ensuring that companies actually use them. I think there's been a few cases of, I think it was Accenture, I think they've been the ones that really pushed hard, the buying of headsets and allowing people to experiment with that.

  1. I

Jonathan Sedger: really don't think it was like 60,000 or something. Yeah, exactly. Big number,

Walter Pasquarelli: wasn't it? 60,000, like some obscene number. And I really don't think it's gonna be something like, oh yeah, and tomorrow everyone starts using headsets. But it's a gradual, incremental process. And as the technologies mature, so will also be there an increased use case and an increased.

Business prerogative and imperative for ensuring that we actually use them. It's

Jonathan Sedger: quite it's, it seems to me that actually the narrative around metaverse in quotes is very much tied to what's happening in the consumer world. So even if there is huge value in enterprise and industrial, That actually, it gets hitched to the things that are happening in the consumer space.

Would you agree with that? 'cause that feels like a bit of a challenge for adoption in the enterprise spaces. That actually the narrative is being focused on something completely different, whereas there's already a load of value that's quite clear in some cases. But it maybe gets missed because the talk is about stuff That's completely different.


Walter Pasquarelli: That's interesting. When people think about the metaverse, they think about being together in a shared virtual space. And I think if we look at the current state of development, and of course we're gonna be like, okay, this is currently still immature. But I think the enterprise level, that's what we're seeing quite a lot of activity.

And so I would say yes, absolutely. There's definitely that narrative that is currently going on and yeah,

Jon Busby: I was gonna disagree with you. I was like, I've still got my 2001 second Life account. What you talking about? Like I still go into my, wasn't it I b m that like built the whole headquarters in Second Life at one point.

I can't, yeah it's interesting 'cause that's what we're talking about now with the Metaverse and it existed Yeah. All those years ago. But coming back to your point about the adoption, You are seeing adoption enterprise? I think it's in very like from what I've heard and the people I've spoken to, it's very like niche, like it is.

We're not talking about creating an environment that the whole organization can sign into and do virtual meetings. We're talking about someone being able to. Go to the break room and do their training virtually so they don't need to be on the shop floor. Do you know going through how to operate a coffee machine or how to train, how to operate a piece of machinery?

Oh, a hundred percent. And that's why I'm seeing it, it's like very targeted use cases normally around education is what I'm seeing you. If you've got if you were to say what are the top. Most successful use cases of metaverse or convergent metaverse technologies. Yeah. What would you highlight?


Walter Pasquarelli: Events sorry. Education is one of them. Yep. Events is possibly another one. I think there, there has been like for some of the concerts, I think it was it, Justin Bieber or Drake and I think that

Jon Busby: probably both of them. Yeah, probably both of, probably all of these new fangled

Walter Pasquarelli: music musicians.

Yeah. And that can be quite interesting. Or sound old Glastonbury, you don't get a ticket, you can attend it in a more immersive way. That's pretty cool. Yeah. And every industry that is more operational, such as such as manufacturing or surgery. That's definitely a key point.

But I, I do not foresee a future in which. In the near term, at least, in which we might be spending all of our time in these environments. 'cause at the end of the day, I think it's really about balance. Yep. And trying to find the added value. There might be a scenario in which for some work environments it makes sense to be there most of the time.

But that not, might not be the case for everyone. So it depends a little bit on. On, on, on the specific use case and the application and the value that it can create for you?

Jonathan Sedger: Yes. Collaboration, you and I have experienced this, John, we had our way back in the beginning of 2022. We had our first meeting of the year in our headsets.

And we had that sense of feeling co-present. And I think even though the avatars representing us were quite cartoonish. It still feels more real in some ways than being on a team's call.

Jon Busby: Absolutely. It's co-present a real word. I just wanna make sure I put co I was like, co-present is Have we've just invented a new word or is that, no, I

Jonathan Sedger: think that is a word.

Okay, fine. I'm pretty sure I've heard other people say, so maybe somebody

Jon Busby: else. You are a co-presenter, John? Yeah. Fine. Yeah. Fine. Thanks. Oh, there we go. Yeah. Oh dear. But the I, yeah let's talk about, go to B two B and specifically we're gonna talk about B two B marketing for our audience for a second, like one.

If I was to convert, build my own convergence stack of bringing some of these technologies together. At the moment we are exploring something called synthetic personas. Actually we've done very similar to the process you just took us through, around understanding the technology, understanding the outcomes, building an M V P.

We've got a team right now actually in this building built, like looking at a project of how we can synthesize. A persona from a set of data and then interact with it in a virtual way, which I think is a fantastic, if you think about B two B, we don't often get to do focus groups. So now all of a sudden we can do focus groups with a virtual ai.

And I think when you converge that, With the Metaverse in this case, like I'm looking at a future of, I could plug in a bunch of data and it actually generate real individuals that I can then have a conversation with to test my creative or test my marketing strategy, or to understand what they might respond to.

Like what do you see a future where, firstly, do you see a future where that's possible? Am I, are we. Dreaming a bit too much. And what do you think are the major risks to someone doing that in the marketing space

Walter Pasquarelli: with, particularly with regards to virtual AI

Jon Busby: assistants? Yeah. It's, I'm not gonna call it an assistant, but like this, in this case, it's a synthetic

Walter Pasquarelli: person.

Oh. Absolutely. I think actually one of the most exciting areas and the ones that I'm observing very carefully Yeah. Is precisely the one of virtual personas. Yeah. Or AI personas, or whichever way we wanna call it Avatars that run around in virtual environments or we interact within the physical ones.

I think that's absolutely one of the most interesting areas. There's a lot of research going on there and there's certainly a case to say that maybe each of us will have one of these sort of virtual personas to assist us in our daily lives. It's basically what Sir and Alexa were always meant to be, right?

Yeah. Yep. So I think that there's clearly an investment and and a development trend that is going in that direction. What are the risks? There is a few. I don't have much data on this, but if I think about it from the top of my mind, it might be that it's a much more pleasant experience to interact with those.

Virtual personas rather than with real people. Relationships tend to be quite complex and sometimes

Jon Busby: Harry we're coming back to Harry's virtual girlfriend. That's

Walter Pasquarelli: precisely the thing. Maybe it's just more enjoyable and I'm worried about

Harry Radcliffe: doppelgangers as well. 'cause if I'm giving Mark Zuckerberg all my intel and stuff like that, and then he goes and makes a persona, I reckon there's gonna be so many personas.

There's gonna be another Harry running around. There's just gonna be someone's little gimp

Jonathan Sedger: that it can be a whole building for the Harry's like matrix

Harry Radcliffe: style. Exactly. Yeah. And then I'll just be someone's persona. I

Walter Pasquarelli: don't think it's in the interest of tech companies to do that, but there's certainly like a cybersecurity ele risk element.

Like I, personalization. Yeah. Imperson. Impersonalization. How do you Yeah. I think that's personalization of of yourself. But that's also something that we've seen, for example, with bank details and what it's just I think that doesn't add only an element of. Of stealing your identity from a financial perspective, but it's also like a social one that

Harry Radcliffe: is now there.

I'm not saying they'll do it intentionally. I'm saying if everyone gets one and we just run the numbers again, unless it's one generic, like everyone has the same synthetic persona. If they go, oh, I want someone who's X, Y, and Z, X, Y, and Z, and then we're taking it from a pool of data and we're doing that 8 billion times, then there's gonna be instances where some.

AI personas are incredibly similar to some other people, and of course they're probably not ever gonna meet, but I just think that's

Walter Pasquarelli: freaky. I guess there's the point of AI personas is they would not I don't think there will be a static model. I think it would learn based on the interactions that you might have presumably from a technical theory point of view, they might be a little sterile in the beginning, and then the more time you spend with 'em, the more.

You train them basically. Yeah.

Jon Busby: Okay. Sweet. But I think one of the key risks though, and you mentioned this, is data, right? Absolutely. So in, in this particular example, like we've been training these personas, but we still don't, we, we paint this rosy picture like, look, we can now interact with these virtual people these ai AI people.

But we, in, in reality, we just dunno how accurate they are. Like they could be very sterile. They could be, they could tell us they prefer Taylor Swift to, I don't know, the Beatles could just be a hallucination, but they could just be a hallucination. And we are

Harry Radcliffe: also very trainable as well in ways that we don't really think about.

And if I have a close relationship with a artificial intelligence, it's probably gonna be just as good at steering me in different directions as I am

Jon Busby: it. It's what if this is a whole like AI assisted Cambridge Analytica? Thing that could start. I just, I don't even know how we'd see that coming.

Yeah, no it's a lot easier than Alexa's gonna start telling me how to vote or something. I'd like it just, yeah. I don't even know how we would address that.

Walter Pasquarelli: Yeah. I guess there's maybe to throw a bit of a curve ball. There's certainly the issues with the data and I think they should never be underestimated.

Yeah. 'cause it's if you interact with an AI assistant and it gets all these insights about you, there is of course a question as to what it knows about you. But I think there is also not only the ethics of protecting that data, I think there's also the ethics of using that data. Yeah.

Because it has numerous amounts of insights that it can help being used, for example, in clinical settings, what if I'm someone who struggles with a particular kind of psychological condition? And it basically is able to speak to me, to observe me and use this data for creating more tailored treatment plans based on not only an hour of therapy that someone might have for $200, but for being able to spend more time with me and observe me in a deeper way.

So I think there's, that's just to say I think the risks are there. Yeah, they're major, but there's also a real prerogative, in my opinion, of opening up that data under certain conditions. And using it in a way that can help people. Yeah,

Jon Busby: Can, yeah. I could, I mean that, that's definitely a positive view of where this could be heading, but I think that data among others, yeah.

The data question is what worries a lot of people, which comes back to the previous piece and Justifiably. Justifiably, yeah. Yeah. Which makes a lot of sense. Did everyone see it was a few years back now, there was a Japanese. I've forgotten the name of it, but it was a, it was like a virtual assistant at the time, and it was Kate appeared in a jar and it would do stuff like, you'd leave the house and it would turn the lights off like Alexa would, but then it would text you whilst you're at work and be like, Hey, I'm missing you and you.

And the video was like, he'd text back to be like, oh, be home soon. He'd be like, hurry back. And it was all basically like a vert. I think that's, we all, I remember laughing about it at the time, being like, the world's never gonna turn into that. But I think we're getting really close. Oh yeah. And I think it, I think, we could start seeing like whole new behaviors come in across the population

Walter Pasquarelli: when we go through this.

And I think there's maybe one cautionary or mean, not a cautionary tale. Maybe one of the things to be aware of is that I think there's definitely the fertile ground for that socially. Yeah. Yep. And that if you look at loneliness, for example for elderly people, for Gen Z in particular, across millennials.

That is a big issue. And if you have all of a sudden these kinds of interactions you can have, I think there is a risk of being increasingly isolated. Yeah. I

Jonathan Sedger: think historically that, that has already happened in the gaming community. I think gaming is a great thing and I think it can be very positive, but there's, there's constantly discussion about, are young people spending too much time playing video games?

Actually, if you take that out of gaming and you give that to. Society at large. Then, there are some potential risks there. I think it potentially opens that up, doesn't it? To, I'm gonna a completely different set of

Jon Busby: people, but I'm gonna put a positive spin on this as well, right?

So the, this is going slightly away from we're gonna come bring it back to AI like we, 40, 50 years ago, we didn't use to have computers and email and everything that we have today yet, productivity studies show that we've become a bit more productive. But it's not, we've not become 10 times more productive because we have these tools.

And one of the theories that, that I've read is that because that's because, back in those days, we had assistance that would help us out. They would do our calendar for us. They would, book our lunch. Do, do all the things that enabled us to focus on high value work. Are we potentially seeing with things like artificial intelligence and the metaverse, like these technologies helping us to now become.

10 times more productive. Oh, are we seeing any evidence out of that out in the

Walter Pasquarelli: world? Yeah. There is some evidence from some academic studies that I've come across. One is from, I think the no, it's not from m i t, it's from another university. I think a, it was a collaboration.

I think if we look at some gen AI tools, I think that, The main consensus was that it was about 14% increased productivity by using some of these chatbots, for example. But that differs as well where you look at the hierarchy in terms of like the what or the seniority across companies. So it might be significantly more product more productivity increasing for junior members of staff.

But it might be a little bit less for people who are more seniors. There's some other tools which are exactly the oppo opposite way around. Where senior members of staff can become more productive. One thing that I think is quite cool is that one study, and that's the one from m i t, predicted that using some of these tools increased job satisfaction.

And I think that brings us back precisely to the point Yeah. About sure. In the past we had all these assistants that helped us. I don't have to book my calendar after, I don't have to look at when I'm gonna book lunch, but I have someone helping me out with that and focus instead on the high value work, and I think that's

Jon Busby: amazing.

Yeah, I think actually that's probably the most positive spin I've seen on today's news because, We talk about, Hey, our job's gonna get lost or we gotta stop employing people in certain things, but if we can increase job satisfaction, I think that's a really positive story. A big one.

Yeah, a big one as well. I

Jonathan Sedger: think that's a mission for everybody, right? Yeah. To make that what happens, right? Absolutely. It's to be determined, isn't it?

Jon Busby: I know we need to start wrapping things up, so we're gonna try and bring things into, firstly, Walter, it's been great to go on this. This journey of understanding the technology, I wanna bring us back to some of the points you made at the beginning, understanding the technology, understanding the outcomes you're looking to achieve.

And then I think for many leaders it's about trying to build an M V P or a pilot behind some of this new tech, whether it's metaverse, gen, ai, and we've jumped around a lot or connectivity and how it can impact you, What would be the three things that you would recommend a B two B C M O concentrate on today?


Walter Pasquarelli: First of all, it's demystified really like it's not magic. It's not something from sci-fi. In the majority of cases, we're looking at statistical models with computing power. If we look at the metaverse, in the majority of cases, we're looking at virtual platforms that have a use case that we need to identify and that we can use.

That's, I would say the first thing, the second thing is identify the use cases. And I've been saying this I think three times now in our conversation, but that, I think that's really such an important thing. 'cause we cannot just throw a technology of at the whole business or not doing it at all.

And then we get frustrated when things don't work out. So identify the use cases after demystifying it. And the thing the third is then start slowly but start. Yep. So just try it out. Take a risk, take a try things out. Maybe it's not gonna work out, but at least you've tried. If that doesn't work out, then you're gonna start another pilot with a low investment that then allows you to build momentum and scale it.

So demystify the technology, identify the use cases, and just get started.

Jon Busby: I think even starting slowly, like a lot of people get caught up in the. Pace that we're currently going through. So we typically, if we look at the McKinsey models, you're looking like one year is horizon one and then horizon two is what, two to five years?

And the horizon three is three to three to 10, or sorry, five to 10 years. Now we're, if it's easy to get caught up in this and say we've gotta be deploying if artificial intelligence by the end of the month or the end of the year or the end of the quarter. But I completely agree, like just starting something and learning from it, even if it doesn't feel like you're moving at the pace of the rest of the industry.

Exactly. Is gonna keep you relevant and keep you keep you understanding it. No. Walter, thank you so much for that wonderful advice. Jonathan, anything from you before

Jonathan Sedger: we close out? No, I just, a wonderful conversation and couldn't agree more with all of the advice that, that Walter's given around understanding the technology and then applying that to specific problems.

Yeah, really interesting. Thank you so much.

Harry Radcliffe: Alright gang. Thank you so much for joining us on the Tech Marketing Podcast. We'll see you again very soon. Nothing but love from us. Keep it real.

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