AI, cloud computing, and blockchain are all expecting to undergo significant advances in 2019, but we believe the tech trends to keep an eye on are even more specific.
- The use of blockchain in the Internet of Things (IoT) environment
- The promise of AI giving birth to a new type of social contract between artificial and human intelligences
- Vast, new opportunities presented by 3D printing
Below, we unpack the way these trends show great opportunity for the growth and betterment of humanity through technology.
Blockchain in IoT
Blockchain technology is no longer new, and has yet to fulfill its potential as a game-changer for the business environment. The benefits of blockchain include the ability to create tamper-proof records subject to a fixed sequence of events, eliminate processing involvement by third parties, and secure sensitive data and digital assets. Although Bitcoin looks like it had its day in the stock market, cryptocurrency in general is still strong. But, it's in the use of blockchain in the IoT environment that we can expect to see real developments in 2019.
McKinsey, a leading consulting company, is postulating that 2019 might just be blockchain’s big year. The tech industry's eyes are on IBM’s $200 million investment in a blockchain data-sharing solution for connected IoT devices. The meeting of these two technologies opens exciting possibilities:
- The ability to manufacture devices that incorporate scalable, decentralized security
- Tracking and history of individual components used within devices, creating valuable audit trails
- Ability to transfer data or other assets between devices with secure, reliable and time-stamped contractual records
The blockchain also enables interdependencies between devices to be seamlessly implemented and tracked, which can make “smart” appliances even smarter than they are currently.
3D Printing Materials Development
Ever since we discovered the ability to use 3D printing to produce transplantable blood vessels, edible cake decorations, prosthetic limbs, and an entire house, the sky has become the limit for this technology. Batch 3D printing appears to be on the cards for 2019, because it enables companies to mass-produce the items they could previously only print in small quantities. This will be particularly useful in industries such as automotive manufacturing, healthcare, and construction, because it enables them to scale effectively.
The burning question right now is the availability of materials for mass production. With metal 3D printing having received attention in 2018, plastics and polymers are headed for significant growth as new startups like Evolve Additive and Origin create their own proprietary technologies for 3D printing large runs of plastic parts. Large and small material supply companies are working enthusiastically to expand their inventory to accommodate the demand for unique materials.
Deeper Understanding of Artificial Intelligence (AI)
With AI gradually starting to take on more roles in society that were traditionally held by humans, we believe 2019 will see the start of a new mentality around our relationship with AI.
Instead of the current “all or nothing” opinion about AI, Forrester’s Michele Goetz believes we now have a better understanding of what the technology can and can’t do. Armed with the knowledge of what the real challenges are instead of previously perceived challenges, companies will focus on the data and weave the capabilities of AI into their business processes. The market will swing from its current focus on pairing data scientists with developers, to allowing developers to operate autonomously using predefined models delivered as a service. This will enable more developers to utilize the services and increase both the speed of development and efficiency.
These increased capabilities will help to grow the role of AI in business and society, while reducing the hype around the idea of human-like intelligence gaining too much control. Multinational consulting service PricewaterhouseCoopers predicts AI will create more jobs than it absorbs, even though the required skill sets may be a learning curve for humans.
With the data revolution continuing to drive every aspect of business and personal life for the foreseeable future, storage and access to vast quantities of data require ever-faster connections and ever-larger facilities. Edge computing places the information collection and processing functions closer to sources. Combined with the new 5G networks (scheduled to roll out in 2019) offering faster speeds and better connectivity, we can expect to see a reduction in the challenges of high cost and latency levels.
Forward-thinking technology advisors at Gartner expect 2019 to be the start of a decade-long increase in the incorporation of sensor, storage, computing, and advanced AI capabilities in edge devices. This will optimize the devices for use in business and IT solutions, and continue to reduce high latency levels and WAN costs.
Heading for a Convergence Future
Remember a decade ago when “convergence” was a major buzzword in the industry? Well, 2019 promises to be a poster-child once again for convergence, with distinct overlaps between AI, Edge and IoT, AI and 3D Printing that will eventually result in converged technological solutions.
Like the song says, “the future’s so bright, you gotta wear shades!”