It’s easy to make the argument that nothing has advanced society more than technology over the past century. Technology is, in fact, accelerating at an exponential pace, playing into what Ray Kurzweil has called The Law of Accelerating Returns. As technology evolves, human progress is compounding in nearly every facet of life; from health and wellness to transportation, communication, and finance. To try and predict what the world will look like in 2050 is a profound undertaking. However, many of the technologies that will shape our world and how we live 30 years from now already existing in one capacity or another today.
Here are three of the top technology trends to look out for in 2020 that is expected to transform our global society and economy for the foreseeable future.
1. 5GData Networks
5G is finally here and it is expected to take flight this year massive deployments of the technology are underway. In layman’s terms, 5G is the fifth generation of mobile broadband for digital cellular networks. 5G’s key features include faster speeds, lower latency, greater reliability and capacity, more network flexibility and greater device connectivity.
These features will have a profound effect on consumers, businesses, and our greater society. As such, a PSB Research report recently surveyed of over 3,500 business leaders and technology enthusiasts showed that 91% of respondents expect new products and services to emerge that have yet to be invented as a result of 5G.
Furthermore, 5G serves as an enabler to allow other industries to flourish such as augmented reality, AR, and virtual reality, VR. 5G networks will finally have the speed and capacity to support significant applications that can utilize AR and VR in a number of industries, such as manufacturing, gaming, tourism, and consumer retail. The ability to use AR in live environments that are distant from strong WiFi will shape the types of interactions that developers will build for consumers and businesses.
Other commercial applications that stand to benefit from 5G include IoT devices, industrial robots, drones, self-driving cars, and smart cities. Today, the three major companies that Wall Street has its eye on as 5G adoption spreads include Qualcomm, Ericsson, and Finnish tech giant, Nokia.
Recently, Gartner Research published a report that listed blockchain as one of the ‘Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2020’. With major global Fortune 1000 companies such as JP Morgan, Amazon, Samsung, FedEx, Deutsche Telekom, and Walmart, testing and implementing blockchain technology, the technology has gained major interest from all corners of the globe.
Many have been drawn to the trust and transparency that is enabled through blockchain, a decentralized and distributed digital ledger that records immutable transactions. Some of the blockchain trends that we are seeing today include companies offering BaaS (Blockchain as a Service, the rise of “digital money” and blockchain uses in traditional finance and growing interest in federated or hybrid blockchains.
Although blockchain carries the promise to reshape many major industries, the same Gartner report cited that public blockchain is too immature for enterprise deployment due to poor scalability while private, or permission, blockchains are run by a centralized authority. Furthermore, Gartner sees an evolutionary phase taking place over the next three years where private transactions are increasingly enabled on public blockchains, supporting significant use cases, including payment settlement, identity management, trade finance, and asset tracking.
3. Quantum Computing
While quantum computing has increasingly been capturing headlines, it’s yet to be seen who will come out as a leader in the race for ‘quantum supremacy’. While major governments, such as the United States, are pouring in federal funding into quantum computing in the race to build a quantum computer, we’re seeing the major companies like Alibaba and Google vying for the quantum throne.
The promise of quantum computing is significant; to be able to effectively break any type of encryption and intercept any kind of communication. Quantum computing is seen as a major initiative for national defense systems, and as such, we may not even ever know exactly when the first scalable, operating quantum computer is created. The advantages that a country will have with quantum computing capabilities compared to others that do not have the same capabilities are so significant that China has reportedly invested $10 billion into a national laboratory for Quantum Information Sciences.
Recently, Gartner has reported that 20% of organizations will budget for quantum computing projects by 2023, up from less than 1% today. However, quantum communication is coming to market faster than quantum computing, so investments in the latest data security measures and standards are also on the rise. From a commercialization perspective, last year both Microsoft and Amazon announced that they were connecting quantum computers to their respective cloud networks to allow enterprise customers to test experimental algorithms.
Other exciting promises of quantum include the ability to analyze medical data sets to facilitate more effective and efficient drug development. Last year, Google claimed it developed a quantum machine that solved a problem in under 200 seconds that would take a supercomputer today around 10,000 years.
While nearly half a billion dollars of private funding have gone to quantum-technology companies since 2017, the real quantum quest is taking place at the government level. Patent wise, China dominates quantum communication with nearly 400 patents, but the United States is ahead in quantum computing with over 250 patents. Other countries with major quantum investments and initiatives include Japan, Canada, South Korea, United Kingdom, and Australia. With all of the quantum initiatives taking place, seeing a quantum-trained workforce develop as fast as the technology is something worth watching in 2020 and beyond.
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