Smart consumption

During the 1920s in the US and during the late 50s in Europe, we experienced mass consumption. People were engaged to spend and consume without thinking about resources. It was the golden years, and nobody ever thought that resources could become scarce. Then Amazon was created in 1994 and since 2010, we have started experiencing personalized consumption and the possibility for ecommerce sites to predict what you will buy before you even know it.

From the first oil crisis
Since the first world oil crisis in the late 70s, we’ve realized that if we want to leave a healthy planet to our children, we need to live differently. Today, thanks to the evolution of technology, we are finally capable of intelligent consumption by optimizing available resources. We can now experience consumption differently; from always more to always better, more personalized and more adapted to individual needs. But how does this work? Technology allows us to predict needs better and then to purchase in a more intelligent way. It allows us to purchase when conditions are optimal for example when sales are on and when your family needs it. For example, a family of 4 will have needs that will be specific to them and very precise in the big data type database. The more this family will connect online to order, the more algorithms will be precise and less the family will purchase needlessly. Consumption becomes intelligent, efficient and personalized. This personalized consumption will allow scarce resources to be saved as waste becomes a concept from the past.

Data availability
Technology can allow adapted analysis. Also available data such as open data will allow optimized transactional analysis. According to Wikipedia Open data is the idea that some data should be freely available to everyone to use and republish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control. The goals of the open-source data movement are similar to those of other “open(-source)” movements such as open-source softwarehardwareopen contentopen educationopen educational resourcesopen governmentopen knowledgeopen accessopen science, and the open web. Open data, can also be linked data; when it is, it is linked open data. One of the most important forms of open data is open government data, which is a form of open data created by ruling government institutions. Open government data’s importance is borne from it being a part of citizens’ everyday lives, down to the most routine/mundane tasks that are seemingly far removed from government. Data can be public or private and this is what is important as everybody could be interested in its use.
The combination of open data and data generated by all of us will create the possibility to evaluate everyone needs and adapt individualized usage. There will be no lack of products but also no waste; the perfect balance. Analyzing this personal data and adding artificial intelligence algorithms will allow very precise analysis and orders. For example, thanks to new technology we can record uses of all connected electronic items. We can compare their use with many households based on environment (humidity, temperature, number of people in the house, age, sex…). The more we will use the equipment, the better and more precise the data will be.  Then thanks to very elaborate algorithms as well as performant and optimized databases infrastructures it will be possible to predict purchases, offer better prices and based on household habits, we will be able to optimize consumption for each family.  A connected fridge will be able to order food missing at a better price (when there are sales or promotions) and with brands preferred by the family. Consumption will not be mass consumption any longer but precise, efficient, optimized, personalized and smart. It will be a win/win situation for all. Shops will manage their stock better, consumers will not waste any more. Of course, as with all artificial intelligence use, it will not be an overnight solution. All data that will allow precise and usable analysis will need to be recorded. This possibility is right here, right now as technology allows it. 

Consumption types
Let’s have a look what type of consumption could benefit from this type of analysis:
  1.         We have already spoken about food and beverage. The more we consume, the more we create data about our food preferences depending on seasons, local availability of fruits and vegetables, weather, space in fridge and cupboards.
  2.         Electronics – open data thanks to manufacturer’s info, environmental data, usage information… analysis will be able to predict when the TV or coffee maker will break down. Family budget will be personalized, optimized and spending will be automatically planned. Items will be bought at a time when manufacturers or distributors have special deals. Shops will then have an optimized stock management. Families will purchase when they can afford it (algorithms will know when bonuses are paid by employers, for example).
  3.         Cars will be changed and bought at the best time. Algorithms will take in consideration age, mileage and car manufacturer’s offers.
  4.         Housing costs will be better planned (electricity, gas, maintenance…). Algorithms will manage data such as house age, work done, weather impact, and electricity or gas usage based on weather conditions.
  5.         Cultural expenditures will be planned and optimized as well based on taste and experience and on museum, operas or auditorium data (thanks to open-data). Performance will always be optimized, and the fear of an empty room will not exist.
  6.         Clothes costs will also be managed better. Algorithms, programs or applications will manage wardrobes based on existing clothes, habits and weather. Then regularly when clothes are worn out, the robot will be able to re-order with the user’s approval. Again, the purchase will be done at the best time when sales are on and preferred clothes available with brand management as well.

As we have just read, all consumption types are impacted by new technology. Thanks to various analysis, data storage and data availability (open data and others) and thanks to artificial intelligence our consumption habits are changing and for the better (most of the time). As robots have now entered our daily lives where they help elderly for example or help you through services needed on the phone, it is also possible to have robots, algorithms, analysis that will help us to consume better based on financial or product resources. Humans need to stay at the center of all activities and needs will be optimized while ensuring that waste disappears.

I do not want to be considered as naive with such statements as I am also aware that waste will not disappear easily. However, I think we need to start somewhere and in accepting technology’s help, we can improve our habits and then save as much as possible today’s available resources.
Feel free to contact me if you want to discuss this.