Do we want to live in a Black Mirror world?

17 October, 2023
Do we want to live in a Black Mirror world? | News | Pause Awards
George Hedon, founder and CEO, Pause Fest & Awards
George Hedon
17 October, 2023

Amy Webb, the renowned quantitative futurist, sits down for a captivating conversation with Adam Spencer, the Australian comedian, and media personality at the inaugural SXSW Sydney. Enter a future outlook where we live in Black Mirror reality, and stream past life to escape from it.

In a world where technology hurdles forward at breakneck speed, Amy Webb, the renowned quantitative futurist, at the SXSW Sydney engaged in a captivating conversation with Adam Spencer, the Australian comedian, and media personality. Together, they delved into the intricate world of AIsmosis, ‘Brain Warrant’ and death of internet as we know it In their jolly discussion, they offered a perspective that goes far beyond mere trends, emphasising the importance of “modality” – the need to zoom out and track multiple facets simultaneously, as the only way to predict the future.

Amy kicked off with a dose of reality, highlighting how FOMO and the fear of missing out have tangible impacts on our future. She noted that venture capitalists are eagerly pouring money into anything remotely related to AI, causing an “expectation of exits.” However, her concern lies in the impracticality of this frenzy, hinting that funding might eventually dry out, leaving us in a precarious position.

Amy Webb and Adam Spencer

Two major convergences are on Amy’s radar. The first involves the transformation of the internet, where search engines vanish, and chat becomes our primary mode of interaction. Imagine asking for a meal plan, and it seamlessly integrates with your calendar to order groceries – a world where friction points evaporate, reminiscent of the Amazon experience. However, the selection process becomes a question mark about what products get suggested.

“Search will disappear, chat will become new way we interact.”

Amy delves deeper, discussing the concept of AIsmosis, where humans are increasingly intertwined with automated systems, blurring the line between man and machine. While progress is evident, the loss of individual agency looms large.

A point often overlooked is the partnership between cloud storage (GPU) – a significant move that aligns powerful tools (aI) with big tech. The resulting homogeneity is a concern Amy believes needs more attention.

Amy skilfully paints two contrasting futures. The optimistic one encourages companies to build with choice and agency in mind. The pessimistic scenario, on the other hand, warns of a world filled with uniformity, where the illusion of choice conceals the reality of sameness.

“Everything will start sounding the same over time with less choice and you’ll be made to believe you have a choice out of two same options.”

She tells a vivid story, asking us to imagine a life with 5,000 paper cuts, one is fine, but 5,000 around all of your body is painful and debilitating. Life will be nothing like before. Everything will start sounding the same over time with less choice and you’ll be made to believe you have a choice out of two same options.

The conversation shifts towards the era of assistive computing. Long division and spelling struggles are relics of the past, thanks to our trusty pocket calculators and AI tutors. ‘Economists and insurance companies drive me crazy’ Amy said. They refuse to use modern tools, imagine not having to guess and use real time data about how the economy is going and interest rates, GDP etc.

Amy Webb and Adam Spencer

The ever-pressing question of job displacement is tackled head-on. Amy suggests a shift towards automation for formulaic tasks, while humans retain their role in creative and finishing touches, ushering in a wave of new, yet undefined jobs.

Then, we venture into the realm of moonshots for the next 5-10 years. Amy predicts the gradual disappearance of screens, replaced by innovative devices like the ‘Broche’ product with in-built screen projector and camera, which could provide real-time feedback on our actions, even during meals. The introduction of Smell Print, allowing gamers to immerse themselves in fragrant spatial experiences, or adult experiences is another fascinating prospect.

However, Amy’s insights take a darker turn as she discusses technology’s ability to recreate memories through MRI scans, raising concerns about privacy and ethical boundaries, imagining being issued a ‘Brain Warrant’ by police to piece together the parts of the story. Deepfakes that can manipulate medical images add another layer to the complexity in abusing the medical systems.

One crucial point Amy highlights is the impact of trust in an age where people constantly attempt to game the system, and they will because they always have been.

“Knowing that you could be understood everywhere all of the time is not something we may want to know.”

Towards the end of the conversation, Amy poses a thought-provoking question: Is breaking the language barrier good for us? The potential implications of seamless, automated translation for our interconnected world are terrifying, she adds. Knowing that you could be understood everywhere all of the time is not something we may want to know.

Kickstarting the SXSW Sydney on the first day, Amy Webb and Adam Spencer have not ended on a happy note, although AI won’t kill us in sleep there are still many questions left unanswered as we move on living in unprecedented times. Let’s wait for the 2024 Future Tech report released at SXSW Austin to see where we’ve moved towards.

Let Pause Awards tell your story
Entering first-timers
Check 2023 Pause Awards winners
Pause Awards Night: the community of champs
Pause Awards Night
2023 Years Summary page is here
Summary Page

Related posts

See who won in 2023

Read more

Category tracks

The Culture track seeks entries that exemplify the development of an inclusive and collaborative workplace culture, crucial for organisational success and growth. Submissions should illustrate transformative strategies implemented across core business functions, reflecting expertise, leadership, and a clear vision. These strategies should demonstrate a positive impact on the business, its employees, stakeholders, and customers, showcasing how a nurturing culture contributes to overall growth and innovation.

The Excellence track celebrates businesses that have demonstrated remarkable success and impact within their industry, regardless of their size. Entries for this category should illustrate how the business's strategic execution, guided by visionary leadership and exceptional expertise, has significantly influenced the industry. The focus will be on the tangible outcomes of these strategies, highlighting the company's ability to innovate, lead, and leave a lasting impression in its field.

The Good track is focused on recognising companies dedicated to their mission of creating a positive societal impact. Entries should highlight innovative solutions aimed at addressing global challenges such as environmental sustainability, social equity, and community well-being. Successful submissions will demonstrate how their initiatives contribute to significant changes, tackling issues like gender inequality, social imbalance, and injustice, thereby setting a precedent for responsible and impactful business practices.

Awarded to a single entry in a category, Grand Prix is the top accolade in that category. To win the Grand Prix, the entire Judging Board must unanimously agree that the entry deserves the accolade of being the best in that category.

The Growth track is about showcasing how businesses have enhanced productivity and execution to make a significant impact in their market. Entries should highlight innovative strategies that have optimised the customer journey, leading to increased engagement and commercial success. This track is for those who have effectively used their understanding of the market and customer needs to scale their business and achieve notable growth.

The Operators track seeks entries that showcase leadership in fostering innovation within their ecosystems. Ideal submissions will highlight how your initiatives have catalysed the creation of new products or services, bolstered by a culture that uplifts internal teams and the wider community. This track celebrates those who drive progress by empowering voices and forging transformative connections in their industry.


  • Always Evolving New

    Acknowledges a culture of continuous learning and improvement within a company, encourages employee development, and always looks for ways to optimise and innovate operations.

  • Big & Mighty Culture New

    Recognises companies (51-1000 employees) for their exceptional efforts in cultivating a culture that champions innovation.

  • Diverse Co.

    Celebrates workplaces dedicated to fostering innovation through a vibrant tapestry of diverse talents and perspectives.

  • Small & Mighty Culture New

    Applauds small teams of fewer than 50 employees for their remarkable ability to foster innovation and set new benchmarks in their domain.

  • Work Sweet Work

    Acknowledges companies that have achieved extraordinary employee engagement, satisfaction, and retention, creating an exemplary workplace culture.

  • Company of the Year

    Honours an outstanding company that not only showcases exemplary leadership and resilience but also demonstrates a clear, quantifiable impact over the past year.

  • Customer Obsessed New

    Applauds prioritisation, understanding and meeting the needs and expectations of their customers, including feedback, personalised services and ensuring high satisfaction.

  • Defiant Ones

    Recognises firms that lead technological innovation, setting new standards and defining the future of their industries.

  • Hammer

    Celebrates companies that have not only defined success on their own terms but have also concretely demonstrated their triumphs over the past year.

  • I Wish I'd Done That

    Applauds ingenious, simple solutions in niche markets that spark a universal sentiment of admiration.

  • On the Rise

    Celebrates early-stage startups, under 4 years, that have shown remarkable progress and success in their initial years.

  • Prodigy

    Recognises young visionaries under 30 with outstanding talents and achievements, setting them apart in their fields.

  • Singularity

    Highlights AI-driven companies that are pioneering new services or integrating AI to create innovative products.

  • Women in Business

    Celebrates female entrepreneurs and leaders who are forging paths for future generations by creating more equitable opportunities.

  • B-Good

    Recognises businesses that redefine commercial success by positively transforming our economic system for the benefit of all stakeholders.

  • Circular Pioneer

    Celebrates companies at the forefront of circular economy practices, making substantial and sustainable differences.

  • Ethical Leadership New

    Commends companies exemplifying leadership in environmental and social governance, setting standards in corporate responsibility and ethical practices.

  • Going Green

    Acknowledges companies leading large-scale sustainable initiatives, addressing critical areas like clean energy and environmental justice.

  • Collab New

    Honours strategic partnerships and alliances with other businesses to leverage complementary strengths, access new markets, and share resources for synergistic growth and innovation.

  • Design First

    Celebrates companies where design is the heartbeat of innovation, engaging the whole team in crafting groundbreaking products.

  • Going Global New

    Applauds companies that have expanded their reach globally, showcasing exceptional growth and international success.

  • Great Pivot

    Acknowledges companies that adeptly navigate change, leveraging insights to pivot towards delivering outstanding products.

  • Movement

    Recognises unforgettable event experiences that resonate emotionally, drive social change, or achieve viral status.

  • New Model

    Honours businesses revolutionising markets with elegant and disruptive business models.

  • Next Level New

    Applauds companies which had successful strategic acquisition and integration of another entity, staff or an asset that allowed them to further grow and scale their services.

  • Wildfire

    Celebrates companies that have rapidly and significantly impacted their marketplace, online and offline, setting new standards for success.

  • Angel

    Honours visionary angel investors who've significantly contributed to early-stage startups, guiding them toward success.

  • C-Suite

    Recognises exceptional leadership qualities in high-ranking executives, showcasing their management and interpersonal excellence.

  • Creative Maverick New

    Honours unconventional thinkers with exceptional abilities to execute typically unimaginable initiatives, expertly coordinate teams, secure funding or successfully launch multiple ventures.

  • Ecosystem Star

    Celebrates individuals who energise and nurture their communities, fostering engagement and advocacy.

  • Future Builder

    Recognises the determination and resilience of founders who've embarked on the challenging journey of starting their own ventures.

  • Quiet Achiever New

    Applauds the unsung heroes whose behind-the-scenes efforts have led to flawless project executions and exceeded expectations.

  • Splash Down Under New

    Acknowledges international companies making a noteworthy entrance into the Australian market, enriching the local business ecosystem.

  • TopCoder

    Recognises developers for their outstanding technical skills, clean code, and collaborative spirit.

  • Venture Cap

    Salutes venture capital firms with a track record of backing transformative businesses, contributing significantly to Australia's economic growth.

  • Visionary New

    Recognises effective leadership by setting a clear vision, motivating the team, and making strategic decisions that guide their business towards its goals.

Early Entries end on:
00d : 00h : 00m : 00s
Enter now