Spotify's Text-to-Audio Bridge
How the company is building the internet´s future.
Nuance is actually the key economic driver of our civilization. Once electrons can capture nuance, we will see an explosion in wealth and Spotify is uniquely positioned to make it happen.
Spotify has thus far excelled at analyzing beats and making personalized recommendations. As it moves beyond music into other verticals, such as podcasts and audio books, it is uniquely positioned to transfer these abilities to deeply understand the nuanced meaning of words. This is the foundation of an infrastructure component that, until now, the Internet has been lacking: the text-to-audio bridge. It has profound implications that I explore in this post.
If you read history, one of the main takeaways, as I explain in my Electrons and Dollars framework, is that humanity´s ability to generate wealth is directly tied to our ability to share information. The world´s wealth has exploded with the advent of computing / the electron, but this technology has not been able to capture nuance to date. When electrons can capture nuance (and this actually applies to a number of platforms, notably YouTube), we will likely see an exponential explosion in wealth. Why, you may ask?
If you read economic history in depth, another key takeaway is that culture is the primary driver of economic growth and that culture itself may be defined as how a set of humans share information. Indeed, history is riddled with nations that had all the necessary requisites to achieve notable economic prosperity, that failed to do so because of culture. Perhaps even more frequently one finds nations that did achieve it but then declined because of cultural degradation. If you go really deep, nuance is actually the key driver of economic growth in our civilization and it can only really be captured via audio.
A given word in any language can mean many things, according to the context it is used in. As a rough estimate, a word alone captures only 5% of the information, but nuance captures the remaining 95%. So, today´s internet is literally filled with words, but the network does not understand a fraction of what they actually mean. Every extra % point in nuance captured translates into an exponentially higher delta in terms of how you well you understand a given user, because you get so much more information. If you take a step back, it also implies an efficiency quantum leap for the entire economy.
To further illustrate the above, consider the following definition of the economy: a network of humans and machines sharing information. Every instance of production (info + atoms) and every transaction is just information moving back and forth, but new layers of value are created at the margin via nuance. The little improvements in products and services that drive GDP stem from largely imperceptible qualitative advancements if seen from a quantitative lens. The Internet has rocked our world over the last decade. The question is, what can it do when it gets things?
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