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Technology Trends That Will Transform Our World in 2018

The Year of Transition and Intelligence 2018

It is that time of the year again and 2017 is over before we knew it. The Year of Intelligence brought us a lot of progress and change; from over-hyped ICO’s to algorithms that created secret languages. As every year since 2012, I provide you with seven of the most important technology trends for 2018 to help you, and your business, prepare for the next year. The advance of technological achievements has triggered exciting and unexpected trends with wider impact horizons and very promising business prospects. This year we expect drastic exponential changes in every technological direction. Machine learning and artificial intelligence will transform the entire industries, making way for virtual helpers and a myriad of cases for stigmatization. The Internet of Things (IoT) will become more intelligent, uncovering a huge potential for smart homes and smart cities. A more efficient human-machine interaction will become established with the natural language replacing specific commands.

Although technological developments are accelerating, they have not yet reached the state of full maturity and adoption to cause a paradigm shift in our societies. Nevertheless, it is safe to say we have left behind the Information Revolution of the 1970s, which we have known for so long. Today, information technology is capable of so many great things. However, we are not yet ready to fully enter the 4th Industrial Revolution. That is why I would like to call 2018 the Year of Transition. Let’s have a look at the seven technology trends that will dominate 2018:

1. Artificial Intelligence Will Take a Leap Forward, without Human Data

increased-ai-arms-race-without-human-data

Last year, I predicted that 2017 would see smart contracts taking off. And so they did, although not in the area that I originally expected. Last year, smart contracts were predominantly used for Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). The hype around ICOs has amazed many and as of the end of November, 228 ICOs raised a total of $3.6 billion. Apart from many successes, there were also many scams and people who tried to game the system and rob people of their money.

Although the number of ICOs will continue to grow in the first months of 2018, we will also see more regulation. Slowly, governments and regulators will wake up and start to understand the impact this new way of funding has on innovation and economic growth. However, they also understand that consumers need to be protected and criminals need to be caught. Hence, there will be increased regulation in the coming year, slowing down the enormous hype of ICOs. We will see better organised ICOs, still raising millions of dollars, and the first example of these new ICOs was the Kik ICO, raising $97 million with an ICO that will pave the way for more mainstream ICOs.

Apart from more mainstream ICOs, 2018 will also see the first true blockchain applications that will be used by consumers and organisations, where those using the services not necessarily know that they use blockchain technology. After all, for Blockchain to become mainstream, it has to become as pervasive as the internet. Consumers do not know how Amazon or Facebook works, but they are more than happy to use it. That is what is required for Blockchain technology, or distributed ledger technology, to have a real impact on organisations and society.

2018 will see more applications being developed and launched, of which many of these by the companies that did do an ICO in 2017. It will move Blockchain towards maturity. Earlier, I discussed seven cryptocurrencies that are worth following and forecasted the end of Bitcoin, as it is technically flawed (despite the ridiculous price increase in the past weeks, which reminds me of tulip mania in the 17th century). All in all, 2018 will be a very interesting year in terms of Blockchain.

 

2. Artificial intelligence will reshape the business strategies

AI brings enormous changes to business operations, reshaping entire industries with the power of advanced technologies and software. Some companies now acknowledge the value of implementing the AI strategies for their business, and a major leap towards AI is on the way. Large companies with over 100,000 employees are more likely to implement the AI strategies, but for them, this process can be especially challenging. 2018 will be the year when the leading firms will incorporate AI applications into their strategic and organizational development. Additionally, there is a potential for algorithms marketplaces, where the best solutions created by engineers or companies can be shared, bought, and deployed for organizations’ individual use.

Brave ideas that used to be hard to believe, are becoming real. The constant development of machine learning and AI technologies will make every business become data-driven, and every industry smarter. After years of background work on prototypes and ideas, the new solutions will be breathtaking. Virtual assistance for patients, computational drug discovery, and genetics research give a glimpse of the amazing use cases in medicine. Many more applications for automation, robotization, and data management in different industries will bring significant changes. Healthcare, construction, banking, finance, manufacturing — every existing industry will be reshaped.

3. No more specific commands: growing of NLP

Use of chatbots in customer service became one of the leading trends of the outgoing year. In 2018 applications will require the ability to recognize the little nuances of our speech. The users want to get a response from their software by asking questions and giving commands in their natural language without thinking about the “right” way to ask. The development of NLP and its integration into computer programs will be one of the most exciting challenges of the 2018 year. We have high expectations about this.

What seems as a simple task for a human — to understand the tone of speech, the emotional coloring, and the double meaning — can be a difficult task for a computer accustomed to understanding the language of specific commands. These complex algorithms require many steps of predictions and computations, all occurring in the cloud within a split-second. With the help of NLP, people will be able to ask more questions, receive apposite answers and obtain better insights on their problems.

 

4. Blockchain Will Mature and the ICO Hype Will Slow Down due to Regulation

Last year, I predicted that 2017 would see smart contracts taking off. And so they did, although not in the area that I originally expected. Last year, smart contracts were predominantly used for Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). The hype around ICOs has amazed many and as of the end of November, 228 ICOs raised a total of $3.6 billion. Apart from many successes, there were also many scams and people who tried to game the system and rob people of their money.

Although the number of ICOs will continue to grow in the first months of 2018, we will also see more regulation. Slowly, governments and regulators will wake up and start to understand the impact this new way of funding has on innovation and economic growth. However, they also understand that consumers need to be protected and criminals need to be caught. Hence, there will be increased regulation in the coming year, slowing down the enormous hype of ICOs. We will see better organised ICOs, still raising millions of dollars, and the first example of these new ICOs was the Kik ICO, raising $97 million with an ICO that will pave the way for more mainstream ICOs.

Apart from more mainstream ICOs, 2018 will also see the first true blockchain applications that will be used by consumers and organisations, where those using the services not necessarily know that they use blockchain technology. After all, for Blockchain to become mainstream, it has to become as pervasive as the internet. Consumers do not know how Amazon or Facebook works, but they are more than happy to use it. That is what is required for Blockchain technology, or distributed ledger technology, to have a real impact on organisations and society.

2018 will see more applications being developed and launched, of which many of these by the companies that did do an ICO in 2017. It will move Blockchain towards maturity. Earlier, I discussed seven cryptocurrencies that are worth following and forecasted the end of Bitcoin, as it is technically flawed (despite the ridiculous price increase in the past weeks, which reminds me of tulip mania in the 17th century). All in all, 2018 will be a very interesting year in terms of Blockchain.

 

5. Our Privacy Continues to Be Threatened, but a Solution is Coming

All those new technologies, platforms and services gobble up massive amounts of data and more often than not, this data is not very well protected. For the past years, we have seen thousands of data breaches, with, in 2017, the data breach of Equifax as a new low point. Unfortunately, 2018 will not be any different. The more devices we will connect to the internet, the more data we create, the more security breaches we will see. IoT devices are remarkably insecure, thereby continuing to threaten our privacy. Consumers are aware of this as 90% of consumers lack the confidence that their IoT devices are secure.

As long as organisations that develop internet connected devices do not take security seriously, and develop products such as cardiac devices that can be hacked or CCTV cameras with serious bugs, this trend will only get worse. However, not only IoT devices are prone to hacks, but also large organisations such as Uber or Verizon were hacked in 2017. Even Apple’s latest security feature, Face ID has already been easily bypassed several times. We have reached a point in time where any organisation can and will be hacked and if you are not hacked, you are simply not important enough.

 

6. A New Approach to Data Ownership is on the Horizon

Fortunately, there is more good news with another new technology slowly making its entry. Thanks to distributed ledger technology, we will see a new approach to data ownership, giving control back to the original creator of content or data, instead of the platform where it was created. Not only will this empower consumers to take back control and monetise their data, but it will also enable organisations to share proprietary data with competitors and industry partners without being afraid of theft or loss of a competitive advantage.

2018 will see the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) become enforced, changing the way how companies should protect data of European citizens. This new regulation will have a big effect on organisations, but in 2018 we will also see the launch and further development of platforms that go even further and enable secure and private data sharing. It can best be compared to each piece of data having its own vault with its own rules linked to it, governed by smart contracts. Any transaction involved with every piece of data can be tracked and monitored and the data owner can benefit in real-time.

One solution currently in the works is the Fujitsu Data Exchange Network. This platform will enable organisations to share proprietary data with competitors, without having to be concerned about revealing confidential information. Another platform revealed recently is the IOTA Data Marketplace. This data marketplace is focused on Internet of Things devices and sensors. Applications or organisations can select a sensor across the globe, make a micropayment to the owner of the sensor and get direct access to the data stream of that sensor, which can be used for data analytics or applications. A revolutionary marketplace, with already over 30 participants, including Microsoft, Fujitsu, Orange and Accenture.

Such renewed data ownership is enabled by the convergence of Big Data and Blockchain. However, it will require a different approach by organisations. Instead of having a large data lake with all consumer data stored centrally, in the future organisations will have to obtain (technical) consent of each customer to access their data vault and use the data for insights. This would involve more than approving a complicated terms & conditions and most likely requires some sort of payment. Several companies are working on new solutions and in 2018, we will see the first workable applications, requiring organisations to prepare for a new reality of data owned and controlled by consumers.

 

7. Edge Computing Enables Intelligent Networks

The upcoming trend of Edge Computing, then called Fog Computing. Edge computing is the key factor to make the Internet of Things work since connected devices will generate so much data that transmitting, storing and analysing all that data at a central location is no longer viable. Not only that, connected devices such as drones, self-driving cars or robots will, most likely, require extreme rapid processing. Creating the data, sending it to the cloud for analysis and returning the results to the device will simply take up too much time.

The predictions are that in the coming decade, we will add approximately 100 trillion sensors to our global economy, generating an unfathomable amount of data. The solution for all this data that requires rapid processing is doing edge computing; computations on the sensor itself, albeit at first this will be done on the device instead of on the sensor. Peter Levine, a general partner at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, even believes that edge computing will slowly take over cloud computing. Although that might sound pretty crazy, it also seems very logical. Today, an average self-driving car produces approximately 1 Gigabyte of data per second, which will likely increase in the years to come. Having to send that data to the cloud, analyse it and return the results would simply not work.

Therefore, in 2018, we will see increased attention to edge computing to enable intelligent networks, where connected devices will perform the required analytics at location and use the results to perform a certain action. It will happen in a few milliseconds, instead of the few hundred milliseconds it takes today when using cloud computing. With self-driving cars that difference can be the difference between a crash or a safe ride home. The world’s cloud computing giants are not ignorant about the opportunities of edge computing. Microsoft has developed Azure IoT Edge and Amazon recently developed AWS Greengrass. In addition, startups such as Packet and Vapor IO are also bringing cloud computing to the edges. In 2018, edge computing will find its way to connected devices, before truly taking off in 2019.

 

If we missed anything then please let us know in comment!

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