Unlike previous years, 2019 will not truly bring the emergence of new trends or major changes. Rather, this year, existing technology will see an acceleration in development and move towards the industrialization necessary to deploy it to the maximum number of end-users. These users include the public sector, professionals, and private users like you and me. We will look at the what, where, how, and why of these trends.
What: AI and Blockchain
You have likely heard of the terms Artificial Intelligence (AI) and blockchain. But do you know what they are and what they can do?
Artificial Intelligence is the name for computer systems that are built in such a way that they mimic human intelligence in order to perform a variety of tasks such as recognition of images and speech, but also decision making. And all of this is done faster and with more accurate results than if a human had carried out such tasks. AI is not a new concept, but the extent to which it can be used is yet to be discovered. One thing is for sure – it will impact how we live, work, and play.
Blockchain is a technology that supports the idea of decentralized control. The security it provides is quite useful for a variety of uses as data can only be added to it, not removed or changed. It impacts the way people do business as everyone in the chain knows when a transaction between its members is made. There is a common ledger shared and owned by everyone, make a blockchain transaction more reliable and more secure.
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Where: Edge Computing and The Internet of Things
Currently, everything we do on the internet is contained with in a world Centralized Data Center – the “cloud”. As a result, network speed is a bottleneck to access to the existing data. The trend is moving towards pushing the processes closer and closer to the end user and farther away from these distant servers, bringing it to “the edge”. One such way to achieve this has already begun with smartphones. They are being built to be more performant to run more and more complex processes locally – largely with the new installation of AI chips within.
Other appliances will also see an increase in processing power: self-driving cars, intelligent lights, voice-assistant speakers. Already there are 8.5 billion IoT devices and the number is expected to reach 30 billion by 2030.
As a greater number of objects contain a greater number of sensors, there will be a boom in the amount of data that must be processed, leading us to the “how.”
How: Machine Learning, 5G, and Hardware Acceleration
Machine Learning, which is a subset of AI, is a rapidly growing field. It sees continuous development of new algorithms in order to treat all of the new data being created and extract the most useful information.
But there also must be a way to connect all the new IoT devices and fast enough to exchange information between them. Enter the 5G network, the next generation of mobile internet connectivity. Connection speed should greatly rise and average download speeds of about one gigabyte per second is expected. These higher speeds mean that the variety of devices that have been and are being developed will be able to talk to one another constantly and without lagging.
Lastly, hardware acceleration is another important developing field. The explosion of data and the computer power necessary to run Machine Learning algorithms on this data in a time efficient manner is pushing the development of specific accelerators. These new hardware options are being designed to respond to one specific purpose with one or two specific algorithms only. Therefore, their power consumption and their size are being reduced. This will help not only with the running of energy-guzzling blockchains, but also mean that smaller and smaller devices can contain this hardware – down to a small LED lamp.
And why are these developments important? They lead to automation. A buzzword you may have heard, but an important one. All of the new technology mentioned above and much more will require a more efficient way of functioning. Automating repetitive tasks will bring this efficiency, leading to the self-driving cars predicted and drones that can be used to not only for recreation, but increasingly to deliver items to even remote locations. Additionally, blockchain can grow with the increased efficiency and all of the sensors being installed in more and more objects will be supported more easily. It’s true that automation will destroy a lot of jobs along the way, but it will also create new ones. For example, engineers, developers, project managers, researchers, and data scientists will all be needed to develop the new technology, test and maintain it, and certify that needs are being met by the new systems.