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I know where to find the future. It will show up, I predict, on Tuesday at London's Westminster Central Hall. Don't blink. It will arrive in the shape of Le Web, Europe's illustrious two-day Internet conference which, this year, is focusing on next-generation digital products that are "faster than realtime." Faster than realtime? "It's when the server brings you a beer before you ask for it because she already knows what you drink!" That's at least what "faster than realtime" means to Robert Scoble, Silicon Valley's most ubiquitous observer of the digital future who, inevitably enough, will be speaking at Le Web. In Scoble's future, the computer "server" and the "server" in the bar will be indistinguishable. And they will both know what you want to drink before you know it yourself.
Loic Le Meur, the Silicon Valley based Franco-American impresario who founded Le Web and is the architect of the "faster than realtime" theme of tomorrow's conference, shares Scoble's faith in the internet's uncannily predictive power. How our mobiles became Frankenstein's monster "We've arrived in the future," Le Meur told me. Online apps are getting to know us so intimately, he explained, that we can know things before they happen. To illustrate his point, Le Meur told me about his use of Highlight, a social location app which offers illuminating data about nearby people who have signed up for the network like -- you guessed it -- the digitally omniscient Robert Scoble.
Paul Davison, the CEO of Highlight who will be speaking at Le Web, agrees with Le Meur about how "faster than realtime" is revolutionizing not only the internet but the very nature of life itself in the digital 21st century. "We're entering a very special time in history, where smartphones and mobile sensors will allow us to see things that we've never been able to see before," Davison told me. "It's really exciting."