The Interview: Sandy Khaund About the Evolution of Media

Sandy Khaund, the former VP Line Nation/Ticketmaster talks to DataArt about the evolution of the media, the role of digital transformation and why should we be more careful about some cutting-edge technologies like deepfakes.
5 min read
The Interview: Sandy Khaund About the Evolution of Media

How does the media industry evolve these days? Are there any evolutional processes?

The evolution of media has gone on for a while, and we went from film to digital cameras that had grainy sort of pictures to now - the resolution that you can get on an iPhone allows people to generate their own content that would have been unheard of with the most professional equipment 20 years ago. 

It's amazing to see how we've gone from the PC, which used to be our only way of connecting to the Internet, and then we started moving to mobile phones away from the tether of a wired connection. The next step – it was almost predestined – that eventually with dotted devices, they would have the same power that phones had in the past. 

We would go from the fact that we went from a desktop to we went to a phone and something that followed you around to something that was stayed but can operate on its own separately, and at some point in time, the ability for these devices to connect to one another – that's where things are really going to go with the next step. What is engineering – it's either solving problems or making good situations better to a certain degree. I like to consider myself an optimist. I think the best technologists are often optimists, and what we took as a luxury in the past becomes a necessity in the feature.  

What concerns do you have about the direction of tech and media?

Sometimes the technology can get so good, can get so exciting that you worry what people might do with that technology. And I think the one that a lot of people are talking about, that I personally am a little frightened or certainly concerned about is the concept of deep fakes. The ability that through deep learning and artificial intelligence you can take my basically this video right here and all the mannerisms and everything and superimpose something being spoken by Barack Obama or something like that, where it's almost like I’m doing an imitation of Barack Obama or he's doing an imitation of me. And you can see how the inability to identify the fidelity of the source of the information can be really critical. We need some sort of digital watermark. 

What are technology trends that could change the world?

The ability of computer vision to look at me right now and not only be able to tell that I’m in my 40s and I’m of Indian descent or anything like that and I’m a highly excitable guy, but also be able to see when I’m happy, be able to see when I’m sad, be able to see if I’m really focused and paying attention or if I’m looking down at my phone. 

What computer vision theoretically could do is have you watch a movie, a TV show, a comedy bit or anything like that, and actually measure the sentiment to be able to determine, you know what, he's engaged, or he's looking the other way, or he's laughing at that joke and not at that joke. 

What innovations could have the most impact?

Once upon a time, machine language, artificial intelligence, was the domain of a very few sets of technologists that were able to do as a very specialized piece of a lot of things that you needed to do, to almost like hand roll it yourself. And I think one of the things that we're starting to see that’s really interesting is that the same way that cloud service providers had created a lot of these tools so anybody could put a website up on the internet as opposed to 25 years ago, I think the same sorts of abstractions are starting to occur around machine learning, around big data, around artificial intelligence. That the amazing, you know, oncology scientist that's trying to solve cancer can use these things, but also the person in media that just wants to be able to do a choose your own adventure. 

How do you think digital transformation can change organizations and the world?

Zoom has become a word like Google. We've gotten to the point where we're genericizing, you can be on a Google Hangout and you're still zooming. I do think there's value in face-to-face, I do think there's value in human interaction. 

What happens to creativity and information when everyone is working from home?

This has been the hardest stretch of my career from a techno collaborative sort of standpoint. The idea of not being in the same room - I talk about the “whiteboard” moments. So as much as you have the “light bulb” and the “aha” moments, I’m always mindful of the fact that no idea that's ever happened, that's grown into a great idea, starts the way it ends. I taught this to a lot of young entrepreneurs that I work with. You still need a whiteboard, you still need that one-to-one, you still need Nala's in Palo Alto, to have a beer and talk about things and catch a game and say “hey you know, I’ve been thinking about an idea”, right? The phrase of back of the napkin will always exist. 

What excites you about the next decade of media?

The devices, the technology, the capability – we're going to get these voices out there, they're going to help be able to make change like we've never seen before. And the diversity of those voices on top of that, because the technology is reaching more and more people. It's not just the toy of the elite, although, frankly, we still need to solve a little bit of that digital divide problem, but in some ways with iPhone it's gotten better and better, certainly with smartphones. I’m excited to see how that plays out because I think that's going to change the world for the better. 

Conversations on the Cutting Edge is a series of interviews with technology leaders in Media & Entertainment. Our guests cover various cutting-edge trends and innovations across the digital media landscape, their influence on the current state of technology in media, and what's to come in the near future.

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