As an amateur futurist I’m always watching the trends of innovation, here are some technology trends I’m keeping a close eye on as we approach 2017. Now we are entering a period where the convergence of multiple technologies and integrations results in an exponentially increasing potential for disruption in the future of work, commerce, manufacturing, Bigdata and AI.
Distributed ledger technology that are decentralized databases that are hacker and fraud proof don’t just have the potential to impact Banking and FinTech, but transform how our digital identity and customer reviews work. In an era where trust in at an all-time low between citizens and institutions, the blockchain can give the fallen credibility of various institutions a new measure of legitimacy.
2. The AI Smart Speaker
You would not have thought Amazon’s 9-inch tall cylinder speaker controlled by a cloud-based voice assistant that goes by the name Alexa would change the world, but it’s becoming increasingly apparent this product is a deal-breaker that not only tap into chatbots, product search and ecommerce but the future of how apps work together via a personal assistant. I think Google Home and Apple’s Competitor pushes innovation in this ecosystem to such an extent voice search begins to take traffic from mobile search.
3. Analytics of Everything
As the IoT matures it actualizes the Big Data era with predictive analytics that alters how the world interacts with our physical presence. An increasingly multi-layered digital mesh and new channels such as chatbots, AR, VR and mixed reality means our data is used in new ways that goes beyond what we now call the internet and digital or mobile influence. With graph databases and the convergence of many new technologies, such as AI and IoT produces an analytics of everything that’s actionable, personalized and ubiquitous.
4. Automation Economy
Forget the information or digital economy, the automation economy increasingly scales machine learning, algorithms and AI to the point where many of our jobs are affected. A visible impact of the automation economy are fully autonomy vehicles and self-driving cars. Apply this same principle to nearly every field, and you have a very disruptive trend. This includes robotics, drones, 3D-printing, fully responsive chatbots, the smart home, Dash like shopping agents and so many other trends.
5. Mobile Ubiquity of Personalization
As mobile devices continue to replace PCs and secretaries, the device mesh, smarter apps and innovation in IoT and new more powerful wearable devices means sensors in the IoT device mesh become more accessible. 2017-2020 is a period of integration, resulting in a greater mobile ubiquity of experience that’s personalized, customizable and reacts to the individual. The emergence of a winning personal assistant is a key component of this process that can and will increasingly filter the notifications, emails, communications, our calendar, our search and access to the information and our professional and social lives.
6. The Chatbot Interface
Before human beings are able to directly find a neural interface to the internet and each other, there is a period of the chatbot interface that helps train AI to become smarter and that enables human beings to become more accustomed to living digitally expanding our speed, efficiency and removing own own bottlenecks while increasing our bandwidth. Chatbots that can help us organize our lives and humanize technology are absolutely necessary, these will take many forms but ultimately enable us to interact with an evolving AI.
7. Collaborative Innovation
The way companies such as Amazon, Facebook, Google and others crowd-source innovation moving towards a software of everything is crucial to how technology accelerates into the 2020s. Amazon’s Alexa Skills Kit that lets you teach Alexa new skills is an example of this. Eventually, this is not a question of APIs and devs, but human beings helping machine learning self-learn. Tech companies become ecosystems and platforms while morphing into something else, anticipating and driving innovation, but this means the exponential evolution of technology takes on a more human AI hybrid environment, and collaborative process.
8. Biometrics and Digital Wallets
A digital wallet that’s attached to our digital identity on the blockchain with payments made via biometrics is very interesting. The Apple pays, Android Pay and Paypals of this world are just the beginning. In an era of severe disruption, human beings will have access to a universal basic income and “payments” will be made via sophisticated digital wallets that do not require external verification such as cards, a mobile device or some physical proof of verification.
3D printing is set to disrupt manufacturing and as it enters the smart home, it disrupts retail and e-commerce. Additive manufacturing impacts not just mass production, but how we are able to personalize and customize products all in the comfort of our homes for cents per pound. Machines that build other machines in fact is a major trend, Elon Musk’s ideas on how smart factories will scale with the “machine building the machine” is a precursor to self-replicating robotics, drones and self-repairing home systems. An intelligence of everything armed with 3D-printing will alter how we build and maintain infrastructure after all.
10. Video of Everything
Snapchat Spectacles are the precursor of ocular implants that will be able to record our experiences, replay and share memories and experience a new immersive depth of our own key moments. As video content increases in preference to written content on the web, how we experience media and news has already changed considerably and will continue to evolve. Facial recognition, drones, wearables and new kinds of VR, AR and mixed reality mix with video to create new modes of expression and social interaction.
11. Rise of Cyber Terrorism
The prevalence and scale of cyber hacking, corporate (government) espionage and using IoT to coordinate cyber attacks is set to increase creating a new kind of cyber politics, crime, warfare and of course terrorism.
12. Quantum Computing
Google, IBM and others are experimenting with Quantum computing it can be leveraged to create a whole new architecture and paradigm of computing, software and apps.
13. The Experience Economy
As products become no longer the center of capitalism, it will transition to the “experience” economy. This is already readily visible in how the customer experience is a key component to how brands sell products and services.
14. The Sharing, On-Demand and Gig Economy
Three different ecosystems, all becoming more relevant with each passing year. How we share, move and work are all set to change. The future is more like an Airbnb and WeWork of everything, than it is an Uber of everything.
15. Skills Gap Training
As the future of work is in flux, how citizens re-educate themselves to adapt to changing jobs, professions and career-paths means lifelong education is a must. Significant skill gaps and skill shortages in some industries will lead to new innovations that hasten the advent of the automation economy.
16. Corporate Renaissance
Just as cloud computing enabled and facilitated millions of new startups, new trends in corporate technology, culture and AI will continue this trend. Sales and marketing will become easier to automate, and how we replicate innovation, remain agile and pivot will evolve for every size of company and every kind of product.
17. Exascale Super Computing
With faster super computers, reaching the processing power required to simulate the human brain is within reach, with predictive modeling capable of not just simulating but reaching deeply into data and applying cognitive approaches (AI capacity).
18. Post App and Post Mobile Disruption
2017 is the year we realize mobile devices and apps are the past and no longer represent necessarily viable future products. Human beings don’t really want to be tethered to their phones, they want a better experience of digital that’s not so cluttered, impersonal, inefficient, wasteful and un-integrated. As VR, AR, mixed reality and 5G manifest, we’ll have more options.
19. Biological Engineering & Augmented Self
Nanabots, biotech and human enhancements will radically change health monitoring, reverse aging, family planning and human leadership, among so many other things.