A range of tech trends, some inchoate and others more established, are likely to change how we access information, crunch data, make decisions, view the world around us, interact with our devices and communicate with each other in the coming year. Let us take a quick look at some of the top ones.
Ever Faster Connectivity
5G, the best known of a range of next-generation networking technologies that include Wi-Fi 6, is increasingly available in a growing number of locations. Most cities will have some flavor of 5G by the close of 2020, according to tech website Lifewire. Considering that a million new users connect to the internet every minute and that 50 billion internet-of-things devices will be connected to the web by 2020, the secure, super-fast, low-latency connectivity that these technologies offer is becoming ever more essential. The faster connectivity will also open up a range of new possibilities, including ultra-sharp virtual reality streaming, remote health care, better battlefield information gathering and hyperrealistic video conferencing.
Voice as UI
Voice assistants – Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa, Cortana, and Bixby, among others – are an obligatory staple of virtually every smartphone, tablet and later-generation laptop on the planet. Increasingly, they are also serving as primary or secondary user interfaces in everything from smart speakers to cars. While these assistants still struggle with the nuances of human communication, their AI-powered capabilities have been improving by leaps and bounds with every interaction. While you will not be having a heart-to-heart with your favorite voice-enabled device any time soon, it will get better and better at understanding your more complex commands.
AI as a Service
This somewhat new as-a-service offering is gradually making the data-crunching power of artificial intelligence accessible to even small firms, which typically lack the considerable wherewithal needed to acquire and configure the equipment and software that machine learning tasks require. The list of firms offering artificial intelligence-as-a service (AIaas) and machine learning-as-a-service (MLaas) include the usual suspects – Google, Amazon, Microsoft and IBM – and smaller, lesser-known startups such as ForecastThis, Dataiku, and BigML.
Prescriptive analytics, the bold new world of data analytics, looks at a range of variables – past and current performance, available resources, nature of operating environment, possible outcomes, and so on – to suggest the best possible course of action. This form of analysis both differs and relies on descriptive analytics, which mines historical data to find underlying causes of outcomes under study, and predictive analytics, which weaves data into forecasting models to try and figure out what could happen. Prescriptive analytics is a particularly welcome development for the many modern businesses that need to parse through immense volumes of data relatively quickly to make reliable decisions.
These tech trends intersect in much the same way threads do in a tapestry. For instance, faster connectivity makes the process of gathering data from IoT devices more efficient. In turn, this data makes it easier to refine predictive analyses and voice-as-UI services. Apart from these current and possible future benefits, these intersections and tech trends are interesting to track because nobody knows the full extent of the changes they will set in motion. Will they lead to an Edenic utopia or a Skynet? Time will tell.
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