The 2030s Digital Paradigm: Groundbreaking Technologies on the Horizon

In Uncategorized by Roger Lewis

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I was recently tasked with drafting an article on what tomorrow’s technologies would look like. I quickly came up with a hitlist of the digital technologies I thought would be around. But then, in keeping with our times, I thought I’d ask Chat GPT-4 what it thinks about it too.

Within a matter of seconds, and after a small disclaimer on how difficult it is to predict the future, here’s what I got:

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML): AI and ML will continue to advance and be integrated into a wide range of applications, including healthcare, transportation, entertainment, and manufacturing.
  • Quantum computing: As quantum computing technology matures, it will revolutionise areas like cryptography, optimisation, and complex modeling, potentially leading to significant breakthroughs in science and technology.
  • Internet of Things (IoT): IoT devices will become more sophisticated and widespread, creating a highly interconnected world where data is collected and analysed from numerous sources in real time.
  • 5G and beyond: The expansion of 5G networks will continue, enabling faster, more reliable, and lower latency communication. Future wireless technologies, such as 6G, will further revolutionise how we connect and interact with the world around us.
  • Blockchain and decentralised technologies: These technologies will play a significant role in transforming finance, supply chain management, and various other industries by promoting transparency, security, and trust.
  • Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR): Advances in VR and AR will create immersive experiences in gaming, entertainment, education, and more, fundamentally changing how we interact with digital content.
  • Biotechnology and genomics: Digital technologies will play an increasingly significant role in biotechnology, especially in areas like gene editing, personalised medicine, and synthetic biology.
  • Robotics and automation: Robotics, drones, and autonomous vehicles will become more sophisticated and prevalent, transforming industries like agriculture, logistics, and manufacturing.
  • Edge computing: As the need for real-time data processing and decision-making grows, edge computing will gain prominence, allowing for faster and more efficient data processing closer to the source.
  • Cybersecurity: With the ever-increasing reliance on digital technologies, cybersecurity will become even more critical, and advances in AI and other technologies will be necessary to protect against sophisticated cyber threats.

In my eyes, this output is impressive. Not only because ChatGPT confirmed three out of four of my ideas, and came up with a few more, but it was also much more concise in its output compared to the Google searches I did to guide my thinking. It goes without saying that it was way faster.

Up until recently, we were mostly discussing if AI and automation technologies will be able to successfully perform routine, repetitive tasks and replace humans performing such tasks. With the arrival of large language models (LLMs), we have now caught a glimpse of how performing creative tasks is also likely to be disrupted. And we’re just getting started.

All this leads to my first favorite technology: when it comes to organisations’ digital transformation in the next decade, advances in AI and Machine Learning will be making a splash. The potential productivity and performance gains for organisations are huge. A recent survey by McKinsey shows that more than 50% of organisations are already investing more than 5% of their digital budgets in AI.

Some 63% of the respondents claimed they expect their investments in AI to increase over the coming three years1. More importantly, I don’t see this as a game for the very few: while the Microsofts of this world will be reaping a large part of the benefits in the AI value chain, AI-powered applications will be offered as a B2B service. As a result, organisations will be able to customise and train off-the-shelf AI applications with their own datasets to differentiate themselves from competitors.

In this context, building strong data management capabilities will be more important than ever. We have been hearing for a while now that ‘data is the new oil’; in this new landscape, organisations that fail to leverage their information resources will be much more likely to be disrupted. It is reasonable to expect more than a few operational, ethical, and regulatory hiccups along the path of AI development, but this transformational digital technology is here to stay.

My second favorite technology for the coming decade is quantum computing. The arrival of quantum computing (mostly a matter of when, not if) is bound to overcome the computational limitations of digital computing. Investments in quantum computing are also gaining traction: Worldwide investments in quantum technology start-ups reached their highest levels in 2022, at $2.35 billion, with approximately 68% of all investments in quantum technology since 2001 coming into the industry over the past two years, an indication of investor confidence in the technologies’ future potential.

Quantum computing will address existing optimisation problems (e.g., finance, supply chain management, energy management, and transportation). Simulation capabilities will also dramatically increase. It will further advance machine learning, NLP, and cognitive computing/AI capabilities. An example could be enhanced computer vision going beyond facial recognition.

Quantum computing will also introduce new risks, e.g., new cybersecurity challenges, as traditional encryption methods are likely to become obsolete. Quantum computing even has the potential to raise questions about the security of blockchain technologies.

My third favorite technology is based on next-generation wireless communication networks (6G). These will arrive at the end of this decade and will bring significant advances in communication speeds (expect 100x faster than 5G networks). 6G will further enable the development of the metaverse and lead us closer to the creation of real-time, personalised 3D worlds.

Business applications can be found in the areas of education and training, mobility services, e-commerce, and healthcare provision3. Future wireless communications will also impact the way we connect online and interact with others, as well as with computers. Advances in this space could include more sophisticated and user-friendly forms of virtual, augmented, and extended reality. Multimedia-rich experiences such as holographic communication systems could move from the realm of science fiction and become part of everyday life.

Finally, my fourth favorite set of digital technologies (one that Chat GPT didn’t mention) is around digital sustainability. Organisations will face increased pressure to showcase their sustainability credentials in the coming years. Deploying technologies that create, use, transmit, or source digital data will be instrumental in helping them achieve their sustainable development goals.

Digital sustainability tools can aid organisations in measuring and reducing both direct and indirect emissions, reusing products and components, and reprocessing waste materials that cannot be reused as input for future production. Examples of digital sustainability tools can include, among others: carbon management systems, product traceability systems supporting the assessment of global material flows, CAD tools to assess sustainability performance, smart metering with feedback design, IT detecting a product’s optimal lifespan and eco-impact, and mobile apps designed to inform on recycling and drive behavioural change.

The successful deployment of digital sustainability tools is not just a matter of ramping up an organisation’s digital and environmental transformations: the most successful organisations will be those that identify the synergies between the two and integrate digital sustainability tools into their products and services.

In summary, the above four digital technologies form my hitlist for the coming decade. As ChatGPT said before giving me its predictions, “It’s impossible to predict the future with absolute certainty.” Nevertheless, if I were a betting man, these are the areas I would be putting my money on.

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