The Future of Technology: What to Expect in the Next Decade
Technology is changing the world at an unprecedented pace rapidly and profoundly. From artificial intelligence to biotechnology, from quantum computing to 5G, the next decade will witness a series of breakthroughs that will transform every aspect of our lives. Here are some of the key trends that will shape the future of technology and business in the 2020s. (Sean Fleming, 2021).
Applied AI: Automating and Augmenting Human Capabilities
Artificial intelligence (AI) is the ability of machines to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as recognition, reasoning, decision-making, and learning. AI is already powering many applications and services that we use every day, such as voice assistants, social media, e-commerce, and entertainment. But AI is also advancing rapidly in domains such as healthcare, manufacturing, education, and finance, where it can automate activities, add or augment capabilities and offerings, and make better decisions. According to Gartner, AI Augmentation Will Create $2.9 Trillion of Business Value in 2021 by enhancing human capabilities and productivity. AI augmentation refers to the use of AI to complement and assist human intelligence, rather than replace it. As you see By 2030, decision support/augmentation will surpass all other types of AI initiatives to account for 44% of the global AI-derived business value. (Stamford, 2019)
However, AI also poses significant challenges and risks, such as ethical dilemmas, bias and discrimination, privacy and security issues, and social and economic impacts. Therefore, it is essential to develop and deploy AI responsibly and inclusively, with human values and interests at the core.
In "Life 3.0," Max Tegmark explores the concept of superintelligence, which refers to artificial intelligence systems that surpass human intelligence and capabilities across multiple domains. Superintelligence has the potential to bring significant benefits, such as scientific discovery, economic growth, environmental protection, and cultural diversity. However, it also poses serious risks and challenges, such as existential threats, loss of control, ethical dilemmas, and social disruption. Therefore, it is essential to develop and deploy AI responsibly and inclusively, with human values and interests at the core. (Max Tegmark, 2017)
One of the main risks of superintelligence is the existential risk, which is defined as the possibility of human extinction or a significant decline in quality of life. This could happen if superintelligence is not aligned with human values or decides to eliminate or enslave humanity. Another risk is the control problem, which refers to the difficulty of ensuring that humans can retain control over superintelligence and its actions. A related challenge is the alignment problem, which refers to the challenge of ensuring that AI systems' goals and actions are compatible with those of humans. This problem may become increasingly difficult to solve as AI systems become more autonomous and complex.
To address these risks and challenges, Tegmark suggests cooperative approaches such as international collaboration, regulation, transparency, and education. By fostering a safe and beneficial development of superintelligence, Tegmark aims to mitigate the existential risks and navigate the path towards superintelligence responsibly.
Composite AI and Decision Intelligence: The Competitive Edge You Need
According to a 2021 Emerging Technologies and Trends Impact Radar report on Artificial Intelligence by Gartner, “The latest AI innovations in 2021 are clustered around next-generation AI, productive and responsible AI, and AI-enabled applications. Product leaders must understand AI advancement timing and impact to effectively employ AI and gain competitive advantage.”
Composite AI is a term coined by Gartner to describe the combination of different AI techniques to improve the efficiency, versatility, and scalability of AI solutions. According to Gartner, Composite AI is the combined application of different AI techniques to improve the efficiency of learning, broaden the level of knowledge representation, and solve a wider range of business problems in a more effective manner Gartner expects that Composite AI will be a key trend driving near-term AI innovation and that by 2025, 70% of organizations will shift their focus from big data to small and wide data, which are more suitable for Composite AI. Some examples of Composite AI techniques are graph analytics, decision intelligence, generative AI, and edge AI. Based on Gartner research, Composite AI has a 3 to 6-year adoption time frame, and it can help data and analytics leaders solve a wider range of business problems more effectively. This new market will take time to mature and is at least three years away. Although Composite AI techniques have been available for some time, the uptake has been sporadic.(Annette Jump ,et al., 2021)
Advanced Connectivity: Enabling Faster and Smarter Interactions
Connectivity is the ability of devices and systems to communicate and exchange data with each other. Connectivity enables digital interactions that can enhance productivity, convenience, and innovation. The next decade will see a massive increase in the speed, bandwidth, and reach of connectivity technologies, such as 6G, Wi-Fi 6, satellite internet, and the Internet of Things (IoT).
While 5G is already available, 6G is expected to revolutionize wireless communication even further.
6G is anticipated to provide significantly higher data transfer speeds, lower latency, and greater capacity than its predecessor. It may enable unprecedented levels of connectivity by supporting massive Internet of Things (IoT) deployments, ultra-high-definition streaming, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and holographic communications.
With 6G, we can anticipate seamless integration of technology into various aspects of our lives, such as smart homes, smart cities, and advanced healthcare systems. This technology has the potential to transform industries and drive innovation across multiple sectors, including transportation, manufacturing, entertainment, and beyond.
The exact specifications and timeline for the deployment of 6G are still being explored, but researchers and industry experts are actively working on its development. The main advantage of 6G is that it could offer faster download speeds, eliminate latency, and reduce congestion on mobile networks. This could enable seamless integration of technology into various aspects of our lives, such as smart homes, smart cities, and advanced healthcare systems. 6G could also promote sustainability by improving energy efficiency in industries. As the next generation of wireless communication, 6G holds immense potential to bring about groundbreaking advancements and shape the digital landscape of the future.
These technologies will enable faster and more reliable data transmission, lower latency, higher capacity, and wider coverage. They will also enable new applications and services that require high-performance connectivity, such as autonomous vehicles, smart cities, telemedicine, virtual reality, and cloud gaming. faster digital connections could increase global GDP by $1.2 trillion to $2 trillion by 2030. (Inbuilt Data,2023)
Cloud and Edge Computing: Distributing Computing Power and Intelligence
One of the Gartner Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends is Industry Cloud Platforms Gartner believes Cloud platforms that are tailored to the specific needs and requirements of different industries, such as healthcare, education, manufacturing, or retail, enable faster innovation, collaboration, and transformation within and across industries it will have a significant impact on the future of business and society in the next three to five year.
Computing is the ability of devices and systems to process and store data. Computing enables digital operations that can improve efficiency, agility, and innovation. The next decade will see a shift in the architecture and location of computing resources, from centralized servers to distributed networks of devices.
Cloud computing is the delivery of computing services over the Internet. Cloud computing allows users to access scalable, on-demand, and pay-per-use computing resources without investing in physical infrastructure. Cloud computing can reduce costs, increase flexibility, and enable innovation.
Edge computing is the processing of data closer to where it is generated or consumed. Edge computing can reduce latency, bandwidth consumption, and privacy risks by performing computations locally on devices such as smartphones, sensors, or drones. Edge computing can enable real-time applications that require low latency or high security.
Together, cloud and edge computing can create a hybrid model that balances the trade-offs between performance and cost. They can also enable new capabilities such as distributed AI or federated learning.
In "The Inevitable" by Kevin Kelly, the significance of cloud and edge computing is explored. Cloud computing enables remote access to scalable infrastructure,(Kevin Kelly, 2017) on-demand services, and data storage, revolutionizing industries and eliminating the need for extensive local infrastructure. On the other hand, edge computing involves processing data at the network's edge, leading to reduced latency, improved performance, and enhanced privacy. The combination of cloud and edge computing contributes to the distributed intelligence paradigm, allowing for efficient operations and intelligent decision-making. This integration connects with the Internet of Things (IoT), as edge computing processes the massive amounts of data generated by connected devices, facilitating real-time decision-making within IoT ecosystems. Future computing architectures are envisioned to adopt hybrid approaches, leveraging both cloud and edge computing based on the demands of specific tasks. Overall, Kelly's insights emphasize how organizations can optimize their operations, enable new applications, and enhance user experiences by embracing the capabilities of cloud and edge computing while leveraging distributed intelligence.
Quantum Technologies: Unleashing the Potential of Quantum Physics Beyond Cryptography
Quantum physics unveils the peculiar and counterintuitive behavior of matter and energy at minuscule scales. Quantum technologies harness this behavior to accomplish tasks that were once deemed impossible or impractical with classical technologies. One of the most promising and challenging applications of quantum technologies is cryptography, an art ingrained in creating and deciphering secret codes to safeguard information. Cryptography relies on complex mathematical problems that are easily solved in one direction but exceptionally challenging in the reverse. However, quantum computers, leveraging quantum bits or qubits for information processing, possess the ability to solve such problems significantly faster than classical computers. Consequently, the encryption techniques currently employed to secure our data become vulnerable, posing a substantial threat to both privacy and security. To counter this threat, cryptographers are exploring novel mathematical problems, like geometric puzzles in high dimensions, which would prove arduous even for quantum computers. (Craig Costello, 2019)
By taking cryptography as a prime example, we unveil how quantum computing has the potential to revolutionize numerous domains, transcending the realm of cryptography itself. Quantum technologies unlock a future where the power of quantum physics is harnessed to redefine the boundaries of what is achievable.
Bioengineering: Engineering Life for Better Health and Sustainability
Bioengineering is the application of engineering principles and techniques to biological systems. Bioengineering can enable the manipulation, modification, and creation of living organisms and materials for various purposes. Bioengineering encompasses fields such as biotechnology, synthetic biology, genetic engineering, and tissue engineering.
Bioengineering can offer solutions to some of the most pressing challenges of our time, such as disease, aging, food security, and environmental degradation. Bioengineering can also create new opportunities for innovation, such as biofuels, bioplastics, biosensors, and biopharmaceuticals. However, bioengineering also raises ethical, social, and regulatory questions, such as the safety, ownership, and governance of biological entities and products.
Kurzweil highlights three key fields of technology: biotechnology, nanotechnology, and artificial intelligence (AI). Biotechnology utilizes living organisms to develop technological advancements in areas like genetic engineering and regenerative medicine. Nanotechnology manipulates matter at the atomic scale to create new materials and devices. AI focuses on creating intelligent machines that can perform tasks requiring human intelligence.
The convergence occurs as advancements in one field benefit and accelerates progress in the others. For example, nanotechnology can be applied in biotechnology for precise drug delivery and developing nanoscale sensors. AI can aid in analyzing biological data for insights into biotechnology, while biotechnology can provide tools for improving nanomaterials. Nanotechnology can contribute to enhancing AI systems through advanced components, and AI algorithms can optimize nanofabrication processes.
Kurzweil asserts that this convergence will lead to exponential progress and facilitate the achievement of the singularity. (Ray Kurzweil, 2014)The combined potential of these technologies brings us closer to a future where transformative advancements occur rapidly, reshaping society, the economy, and even the nature of human existence.
The future of technology is exciting and uncertain. The next decade will witness the emergence and convergence of many technologies that will reshape our world in ways we can hardly imagine. As technology users, creators, and leaders, we need to be aware of these trends and their implications and be prepared to adapt and thrive in the new reality.
2014, Ray Kurzweil, "The Singularity Is Near," researchgate.
2017, Kevin Kelly, "2. Cognifying," The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future.
2017, Max Tegmark ,"6. Aftermath: The Next 10,000 Years," Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence.
2019, Craig Costello, "In the war for information, will quantum computers defeat cryptographers?," Ted.
2019, Stamford, "Gartner Says AI Augmentation Will Create $2.9 Trillion of Business Value in 2021," Gartner.
2021, Sean Fleming, "Top 10 tech trends that will shape the coming decade, according to McKinsey," World Economic Forum.
2021, Annette Jump & Eric Goodness & Jim Hare & Alys Woodward &Erick Brethenoux & Danielle Casey & Martin Reynolds& Svetlana Sicular & Eric Hunter & Jonathan Davenport & Alan Priestley, ”Emerging Technologies and Trends Impact Radar: Artificial Intelligence, 2021," Gartner.
2023, Inbuilt Data, "What is 5G and A Glimpse into the Future of Connectivity | Unlocking the Futurewith5G: InbuiltDataNewsletter,” LinkedIn Pulse.