What are the technology trends for the next ten years? We thought you’d never ask.
Keeping your nose to the grindstone, focusing on immediate pressing business concerns is a normal part of working in a technology-oriented enterprise. But you have to lift your gaze periodically and look toward the future, so you can better chart the course of your company as it goes through uncertain times ahead. With that in mind, here’s a look at technology trends that experts are predicting to take place during the next decade.
Technology Trends for the Next Ten Years
Material sciences will see advances in the coming decade through developments in nanotechnology (machines that are smaller than 100 nanometers). In particular, anticipate devices built in response to the National Nanotechnology Initiative, with microscopic sensors on Internet of Things devices anticipated to bring $14.4 trillion to the economy, according to a report from IoT Times. From medical biocomputers injected into patients’ bloodstreams to fight diseases to smart clothing that generates electricity while people walk, nanotechnology is sure to be an emerging trend to keep your eye on.
Advances in machine vision and autonomous flight will have us relying on drones for deliveries in the next decade. Forbes projected that people would be flying around in crewless planes piloted by intelligent, autonomous systems or by humans controlling them remotely. Early applications for advanced drones are seen in enforcing the law, fighting fires, and conducting search and rescue operations, with drone taxis carrying passengers soon becoming popular.
Technologies such as CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) for editing the human genome will enable scientists to change a living creature’s genetic structure, from snipping out gene sequences that lead to life-threatening diseases, to figuring out how to change various characteristics, from size to eye color to strength and more.
With industry working to address the problem of fossil fuels contributing to climate change and injecting pollution into the air, land, and water, a bold prediction from MIT Sloan Management Review says that by 2030, there will be no new addition of power generating capacity from fossil fuel sources. Reductions in the price of clean technologies to produce energy mean a future of zero carbon emissions. The fact that electric cars are on the upswing is an indicator of the trend toward cleaner energy.
As computer processing power and connections allow for higher bandwidth (such as via 5G networks and beyond), researchers project that we’ll see the use of new, more immersive technologies to change how we perceive reality. Virtual reality, where an entirely new world is substituted for the “real world” is one version, typically using headsets now (with electrodes plugged into human brains still farther off. Expect augmented reality to grow over this decade too, where glasses overlay useful information over video feed you see of the world (such as seeing people’s social scores when you pass them on the sidewalk).
With quantum computers, “unimaginably fast computers capable of solving seemingly unsolvable problems – will make our current state-of-the-art technology look like something out of the Stone Age,” per Forbes. While most quantum computing takes place inside laboratories still, companies may start selling quantum computer systems before the decade is over.
Consumers have been enjoying “free” services from companies for years now, from email to basic cloud storage. Business Insider projected that “In fewer than three years, about 90% of people will have unlimited and free data storage that will ultimately be ad-supported.” There is already precedent for this kind of arrangement, such as people seeing advertisements in exchange for having a social media channel or Gmail account.
Within a decade, Gartner predicts a rise in composite architecture to help enterprises respond faster as their business needs change. They’ll implement composite architecture with a set of “packaged business capabilities” with built-in, decentralized intelligence based on further development and maturation of key technologies: “private 5G, embedded artificial intelligence (AI) and low-cost single-board computers at the edge.”
First AI Machine Will Join Board of Directors: Humans will no longer be the sole arbiters of what happens inside corporate boardrooms. AI’s ability to automate the rote work of running through large amounts of data to make a decision will progress to the point where it can take on white-collar work. Business Insider says that by 2026, the first AI machine will become a member of the board of directors.
With larger data storage capacity, futurists anticipate we will develop digital twin models of people. “Digital twins of humans provide models of individuals that can represent people in both the physical and digital space,” wrote Gartner, noting that enterprises tracking this development will want to focus on innovations in digital passports (from a legal and social perspective, not just technical) as well a on advances to come in brain-machine interfaces or BMI.
Computers and other devices may not always run on silicon chips. The coming decade could see the introduction of new materials to store and manipulate data. Gartner indicated that some crucial technologies for enterprises to keep in mind include biodegradable sensors and DNA computing. They will be built to address the hard physical limitations computer chip manufacturers will run into as they contend with Moore’s Law’s observation that transistors in integrated circuits double about every 24 months.
Government Collecting Taxes by Blockchain:
Your enterprise may already be investing in Blockchain technology for features such as having an immutable record for contracts and other financial instruments and a way to let all parties check on the status of transactions at any time. “Blockchain technology is expected to reach its tipping point in the next few years,” noted Business Insider, “and by 2023 it’s predicted that the first government will collect taxes using the technology.”
Widespread Use of Natural Language Processing:
People have already become accustomed to speaking with assistants such as Alexa and Siri in their homes. However, they also are starting to have experience interacting with so-called chatbots. Forbes anticipates that over the next decade, more businesses will deploy chatbots and more people than ever before will find it normal to speak or type a request to a rudimentary form of artificial intelligence.
Robots in Service Industry: Manufacturers are already pioneering robots in nearly fully automated factories, such as fulfillment centers for large online stores. The service industry is ripe for robotic takeover, with Business Insider reporting that survey respondents think the first robot pharmacist will be on the job in 2021, somewhere in the United States.
As MIT Sloan Management Review put it, “Proponents of the “singularity” have long projected that by around 2030, affordable AI will achieve human levels of intelligence.” The idea is that machine learning and AI will help people plan their lives more efficiently, beyond such current conveniences as mapping apps that select the optimal driving route during traffic.
Trillions of IoT Sensors:
The Internet of Things devices in use today will pale compared to the much smaller and more sophisticated sensors expected to arrive over the next decade. As Business Insider put it, “As the cost of sensors continues to decline and computing power increases, all kinds of devices will increasingly become connected to the internet. From the clothes you wear to the ground you walk on, everything will come online.” BI reported on a survey predicting 1 trillion sensors will be connected by 2022.
Formative Artificial Intelligence:
A new type of AI called formative AI, now in development, is designed to change dynamically as situations vary. “Some of these technologies are used by application developers and UX designers to create new solutions by using AI-enabled tools,” reported Gartner. “Other technologies enable the development of AI models that can evolve dynamically to adapt over time.” Enterprises will want to look at areas such as artificial intelligence-assisted design, AI-augmented software development, generative AI, self-supervised learning systems, and generational adversarial networks to stay on top of formative AI developments.
With so many individuals carrying their smartphones with them everywhere they go, including to bed just before they go to sleep, it seems some of them would be interested in having a phone permanently attached to their body. Business Insider reported on a survey where 80% of respondents predict the first implantable smartphone will go on sale by 2023. People already wear implanted pacemakers to regular their heart and cochlear implants to improve hearing, so implantable smartphones could become the next device we merge with our bodies.
Newer technologies involved in algorithmic trust have to do with concepts ranging from BYOI (Bring Your Own Identity), explainable AI, responsible AI, and secure access service edge (SASE). They will replace trust models that were developed under responsible authorities, for tasks such as keeping data private and secure. “Algorithmic trust helps to ensure that organizations will not be exposed to the risk and costs of losing the trust of their customers, employees, and partners,” Gartner noted.
Manufacturing Cars with 3D Printing:
Enterprises use 3D printing on a routine basis to rapidly make prototypes of new products. And home use of consumer-grade 3D printers has been on the increase, showing there is growing awareness around thisFor example, carmaker Audi has already revealed a small model of a vehicle that the manufacturer printed with a metal 3D printer, according to Business Insider, while Local Motors is reportedly gearing up for printing a full-size car sometime in the next few years. Based on these trends, BI anticipates the first 3D printed car will be coming off the line in 2022.
Getting a Jump on Technology Trends for the Next Ten Years:
You never know when a promising new form of technology will emerge, whether from a laboratory sponsored by academia, government, or business, a new garage-based startup, or from inside the incubator of a company like yours.
It’s crucial to stay alert for signs of new software and technology development. Do this by following a wide range of sources of industry news, attending conferences, and keeping an eye out for new, young talent to hire so you can periodically infuse new ideas and fresh perspectives on technology into your organization.
What is your forecast for the technology trends for the next ten years?