Note — Jan 09, 2022

Tech Questions for 2022

Seen in → No.201

Source → ben-evans.com/benedictevans/2022/1/2/2022-q...

Benedict Evans is usually a couple of notches further than I am on the tech-positivity axis, but he’s great at decompiling ideas in a useful way. Here he details his big questions for 2022, from crypto to China. His conclusion is very good and I love the last phrase. I’d add that the underlying question to all of this, which comes up throughout his piece, sometimes unmentioned, is that we just don’t know. An especially important thing to keep in mind with regards to crypto and AR, VR and the metaverse. The ‘crypto-craze’ is still just a few tens of thousands or people, and VR has been the next thing for… forty years?

Crypto is so big and potentially important, and yet so vague and so early, that we can’t even agree what to call it, and at times the noise of both irrational, religious hype and straw-man attacks can seem overwhelming. There is a set of ideas that could in principle be as central to tech as machine learning or open source, but after that, everything is a question. […]

A billion smartphone users leapfrog the second half of the 20th century and go direct to apps in everything from grocery shopping to consumer finance, generating a torrent of new ideas, business models and applications, most of which none of the rest of us can use, test or really understand first-hand, but all of which sound very interesting. And yet, this sits behind a firewall, in a totally different market structure, run by a deeply autocratic state that, in the last year, has kneecapped some of its biggest champions. How many questions does that pose? How many would you like? […]

Netflix or Shein might be a much more general trend - that tech changes the playing field but then the game is played by that industry.