Before you get excited, don’t expect to step on the pad and beam down to the planet yet. Since 2015 German scientists have been talking about a system that scans items, sends the scans elsewhere, and then does a 3D print of them on the other side. Really more of a long-distance replicator. But they could “perfect” it in 2019. Doesn’t sound ready for
Coming Back to Earth
Gartner released its 2019 top-ten tech predictions in October and its worthwhile to read through them and translate them into what is meaningful for you.
Autonomous Things – Artificial Intelligence Applied
Where most of us would talk about Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and cognitive technology, Gartner puts them to work listing “Autonomous Things” as their first trend to watch. This includes robots, vehicles, drones, appliances, and an all-encompassing “agents.”
With thought leaders like Bill Gates, Elon Musk and the late Dr. Stephen Hawking (and Ahhhnold the Terminator) warning us to beware of AI taking over, much thought really should be given to the social consequences of automating everything. Then again, automation has been responsible for much of the digital disruption in industries like transportation, retail shopping, music, and more. Opportunities will continue to abound for those who are doing the automating.
Augmented Analytics – Enabling the Ultimate in Service
Gartner states, “By 2020, more than 40% of data science tasks will be automated.” That’s not really a revelation. Even today most of the tasks required to enable data science begin with automated systems to collect, collate, and categorize the data so it is ready for analysis. The big magic act begins with the interpretation of the data and conversion to useful, actionable information.
As a key example, service organizations have always been characterized as “responsive” or “reactive” organizations that only take action when they are called upon to do so. It is perceived as an improvement when a service organization becomes “proactive” taking steps to prevent outages by performing more maintenance on things they know will go wrong. Augmented analytics will enable them to go further, becoming “predictive” and able to foresee what may soon go wrong, thus targeting their preventative measures more effectively.
Here's your opportunity.
It is virtually impossible that most executives will learn to interpret big data. Some in large companies with mammoth budgets will hire Data Scientists to do that. That accounts for the Fortune 500. The rest of the millions of companies that could benefit from big data outcomes will be left out in the cold unless someone like you decides to become a freelance data scientist and hire yourself out at ridiculous fees that those companies can still more easily afford than hiring someone.
Data Science may indeed be the next big independent contractor opportunity!
For those of you who love to code, more and more opportunities are emerging for you to help develop the AI engines of tomorrow. There’s a whole recursive reality occurring as AI tools are being used to help develop new AI tools.
If you are currently a developer, this trend is worth exploring. With the infrastructure business basically gone as everyone moves to the cloud, many service providers are seeking something else to do for a living and many are focusing on appdev. Still others are creating point-and-click do-it-yourself tools that allow the common business person to build their own apps without coding.
Again, those who are building the tools stand the best chance of avoiding disruption.
We used to call this “modeling.”
In the mode of “try-before-you-buy-in” companies are mirroring real-life situations digitally to explore how they perform under load in different sets of circumstances. These digital twins are far more interactive than “computer models” used to be, and keep getting better as AI continues to develop.
Somebody at Gartner may be sipping too generously from the Jargon Juice. This is a continuation of the constant cycle of “centralized to distributed” computing and back again. With continued focus on the crappy devices that are being deployed in the Internet of Things (IoT), many are moving more data collection and processing closer to where the devices are at the edge of the network.
Today, the IoT resembles the “Big Bang” in terms of explosive growth. Few are focusing on improving the devices themselves, so they remain low-quality and developers will have to code more to compensate. That will, of course, keep many employed for a good long time to come.
Smart Cities are deploying sensors on their street lights, sides of buildings, walkways, vehicles. The goal seems to be to know everything about everything so we can make better, more informed decisions to enhance the lives of our citizens.
Its time to face reality. Augmented Reality (AR), that is. Or Mixed Reality (MR). Or Virtual Reality (VR). With Hololens, Oculus, and related software products continuing to flood the market, the industry will continue its customary process of seeking to find practical applications. Until then, they will likely continue to ridicule these technologies in their commercials.
This is an area of tremendous opportunities for many. Between the graphics required, the audio engineering, the technologies and the coding, those who identify real, pragmatic applications and realize them in products have a greenfield in front of them as large as the personal computer created in the early 1980’s. Beyond intelligence and insight, innovative imagination is required as well.
What may or may not be the “better mousetrap” BlockChain has captured the IT market as much as any buzzword ever has. Gartner describes it as “a type of distributed ledger, an expanding chronologically ordered list of cryptographically signed, irrevocable transactional records shared by all participants in a network. Blockchain allows companies to trace a transaction and work with untrusted parties without the need for a centralized party (i.e., a bank).” And that’s about as good as any explanation that’s out there.
Gartner goes on to predict that blockchain “will create $3.1 Trillion in business value by 2030.” That’s a long way off, so you’ll need to decide whether or not you want to invest your time and effort in it right now. It could easily go the way of “Betamax.”
The Gartner “catch-all” term for Smart Cities, Smart Communities, and other locales using technology to improve human experience.
A study of some of the cities that have embraced and executed brilliantly on their smart city initiatives, such as Barcelona, may suggest opportunities in your own locale. Cities save tremendous amounts of money, redefine their budgets, revolutionize local transportation, increase public safety, and totally redefine how citizens receive valuable information. You may find that your city is open to the launch of a Smart City initiative. Check out www.smartcitiescouncil.com for more info.
Digital Ethics and Privacy
Despite the introduction of GDPR and similar legislation around the world, the easier it is to do something the more likely someone will find a way to exploit it. Gartner points out that “The conversation should move from ‘Are we compliant?’ toward ‘Are we doing the right thing?’”
Here’s an opportunity to expand beyond just tech and explore the implications of how we use it, and also how our use of it impacts us and changes us. The printing press revolutionized the church. Telegraph revolutionized commerce. Telephone revolutionized how we see communities and distance. Television and the internet revolutionized everything. Revolutions can be good and bad. How do we best establish and maintain the healthiest possible balance?
Those of you who looked at this heading and thought “Star Trek” may not be far off.
In what may be the first technology that could throw “Moore’s Law” out the window, quantum computing doesn’t depend upon “on or off” representing “one or zero.” Instead it is “based on the quantum state of subatomic particles that represent information as elements denoted as quantum bits or “qubits.”
Gartner explains that where the computers we are used to would consume a whole library of books by reading one after the other until they were done, a quantum computer would read all the books simultaneously. Just trying to conceive of how that all works may give you a headache…
Practical Developments to Watch For in 2019
Any time now we’re going to run out of ways to fool the internet into thinking we’re using fewer IP addresses than we are. IPv4 addressing ran out of official addresses in 2012. Network Address Translation and other clever strategies will only take us so far. Eventually the world will have to actively adopt IPv6 which provides 32 undecillions of addresses (think 32 followed by 18 zeroes).
For those of you in the networking business, this means you’ll need to convert existing IPv4 networks into hybrid networks, and then finally convert over to IPv6 completely. Two huge projects for each company you do it for.
End-user client devices will also continue to evolve to the point where we may throw away our headphones and displays depending instead upon implanted technology that connects directly to our nerve centers. Our ability to interact with Alexa, Siri, Cortana, Bixby, and other AIs will deepen and become far more robust than we can currently imagine. 4G, and perhaps physical infrastructure itself, will give way to ubiquitous 5G for both mobile and terrestrial connectivity. Maybe UIs will actually become “easy-to-use” and “intuitive.”
As we enter 2019 we continue the “Get Schooled” journey and hope you’ll continue to join us. New Horizons is all about learning, and exploring new ways and new things to learn. Always feel free to share your observations of what’s hot and what’s not in tech, and ask questions, ask questions, ask questions.
Thank you for coming along for the ride in 2018. We look forward to continuing the conversation in 2019.