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Five Trends That Are Going To Shape Future Of Tech

The trends are powerful in isolation. Their impact multiplies as plot lines intertwine

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What are the technologies on which we will build 15 or 20 years from now? Blockchain? Quantum computing? It is difficult to say. Much will depend on how fast we can progress the technologies beyond the laboratory and whether we can find useful applications.

There are clear trends, however, that will affect the future of technology, irrespective of the machinery through which they manifest themselves. These trends are Automation, Augmentation, Connectivity, Intelligence and Externalisation.

Automation, the use of machines and control systems to perform tasks, is a result of human ingenuity and our drive for greater productivity, quality, safety and better use of resources. Today, tasks and decisions are automated by applying algorithms derived from processing data. Within ten years, automating complex processes such as business operations, supply chain management and maximizing lifetime customer value will be possible.

Augmentation enhances our abilities, makes us better at what we do. The current chapter in augmentation focuses on cognitive abilities through artificial intelligence. It augments us with better vision, better language understanding and better memory. In ten years, we expect to remember every song we ever heard, recall every person we ever met, and transact with everyone, regardless of the language they speak.

Connectivity is key to cooperation. With the invention of money and writing, human groups bonded and created political and commercial links. Explorers sailed seas, built roads and invented human flight to remov barriers in tarde and information. The current chapter in the story began by connecting us digitally, creating the Internet of People, followed by connecting inanimate objects to the internet and to each other—creating the Internet of Things.

Intelligence can be defined as the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. Intelligence in humans and animals is the result of billions of years of evolution. The current chapter in the story is that intelligence no longer requires a brain. It is based on algorithms that perform tasks. Whether the algorithm is expressed through biochemical reactions and neurological processes, or through if-then-else statements in programming logic or through advanced analytics is secondary. Artificial Intelligence (AI)—the construction of computerized systems that make decisions of perform tasks a human could do—has achieved super-human abilities in tasks that involve computer vision or language interaction. These systems will become increasingly capable and intelligent, without achieving consciousness.

Externalisation is the transformation and embodiment of thoughts, morals, meaning and authority in an outward form. During the Humanist Revolution, the source of meaning and authority relocated from the heavens to our inner self: think for yourself, do what feels right, the customer knows best.

In the current chapter of the story, we are again externalising meaning, through sharing of information and data about us with the connected world. We increasingly attach value and derive value from sharing our experiences with others — why write a diary if nobody reads it? Rather, post your experiences online.

As more and more information about us is available externally, systems and algorithms will begin to know us better than we know ourselves. They can make decisions for us that are based on data and facts, rather than decisions based on intuition that “feel right.”

The trends are powerful in isolation. Their impact multiplies as plot lines intertwine.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Magazine 28 April 2018 technology

Oliver Schabenberger

The author is Chief Operating Officer & CTO, SAS

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