Since the birth of the inter­net, the cell phone, and the com­put­er, we’ve seen new ele­ments of lan­guage emerge, includ­ing GIFs, emo­jis, online video, voice com­mands, hap­tic respons­es, chat­bots and dozens of oth­er forms of com­mu­ni­ca­tion.


By 2022 there will be more than 6 bil­lion dig­i­tal­ly con­nect­ed cit­i­zens, 10 bil­lion con­nect­ed devices, mil­lions of autonomous chat­bots, tril­lions of sen­sors and net­works so fast that com­mu­ni­ca­tion will hap­pen faster than humans can process a sin­gle thought.

Com­mu­ni­ca­tion is defined as the impart­ing or exchang­ing of infor­ma­tion or news and lan­guage is a sys­tem of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and so whether we are com­mu­ni­cat­ing ver­bal­ly in writ­ing or using pho­tos and videos, in the future our words will be medi­at­ed and mod­i­fied by tech­nol­o­gy.

And so as soft­ware advances and as the pro­lif­er­a­tion of tech­nol­o­gy impacts more peo­ple on the plan­et we believe one of the most impor­tant ques­tions to ask is what will this mean for the future of lan­guage and human com­mu­ni­ca­tion?


To under­stand this at a more macro lev­el, here are five social media trends that help us under­stand the impor­tance of this ques­tion:

  1. Video view­er­ship is explod­ing, with Snapchat, Insta­gram and Face­book Live lead­ing the way. Video for­mats are also chang­ing and so as a medi­um expect some huge shifts in form and func­tion.
  2. Mes­sag­ing is dom­i­nat­ed by Face­book and WeChat, it’s grow­ing rapid­ly, and evolv­ing from sim­ple text com­mu­ni­ca­tion to become our new home screen with options for vivid self-expres­sion and com­merce.
  3. Rise of voice inter­faces because they’re fast, easy, per­son­al­ized, hands-free, and cheap, with Google on Android now see­ing 20% of search­es from voice, and Ama­zon Echo sales grow­ing as iPhone sales slow
  4. Rise of machine assist­ed com­mu­ni­ca­tions, includ­ing Facebook’s Mes­sen­ger app and new API for devel­op­ers. Includes chat based com­merce, cus­tomer sup­port and mobile pay­ments. In 2017 we might see the first friend-bots where peo­ple become attached the bots they inter­act with each day.
  5. New lay­ers of immer­sion and new fields of real­i­ty nev­er expe­ri­enced before via AR and VR, which impacts how we com­mu­ni­cate, how we play games, watch films and inter­act with doc­tors, teach­ers and how we trav­el the world.


With each of these advances we’re see­ing “new ele­ments of lan­guage” emerge:

  1. GIFs
  2. emo­jis
  3. online video
  4. voice com­mands
  5. geo fil­ters
  6. hap­tic respons­es
  7. chat­bots

These ele­ments are help­ing us express and com­mu­ni­cate in ways we’ve nev­er been able to before. Today we can react to some­thing on Face­book with an emo­ji, inter­act with chat­bots as if we were hav­ing a con­ver­sa­tion with a cus­tomer ser­vice agent. We can del­e­gate the ardu­ous back and forth of set­ting up a meet­ing via email to a human-assist­ed a.i and we can order an Uber or change a song on Spo­ti­fy by giv­ing ver­bal com­mands to a box in our liv­ing room.

As ele­ments of lan­guage evolve and morph into some­thing new, we inevitably become more reliant on the tech­nol­o­gy that enables them. It is this reliance which will have the great­est impact on how we func­tion as humans day-to-day, which, in the con­text of what this means for busi­ness, rais­es an impor­tant ques­tion: will busi­ness­es and orga­ni­za­tions con­nect with cus­tomers and com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers more effec­tive­ly if humans were tak­en out of the equa­tion?