It does not really count if you are a tech enthusiast or an ordinary consumer, you will always look forward to the tech developments especially the tech trends that will make a difference now and in the near future.
1. Artificial intelligence.
When we think of artificial intelligence, som tend to think of The famous Terminator film we used to watch and our fear or fascination that AI and robots could someday be the future of humanity. Even tech icons like Bill Gates and Elon Musk occasionally peddle irrational tales and dire warnings.
But the biggest problem with AI today isn’t that it’s too smart. In fact, it was too rudimentary to be of much use in many cases. One of the dirty little secrets about AI and machine learning is that they are so bad at dealing with ambiguity or gray areas, and understanding the context of data that many companies are having to hire armies of human beings to do the data sorting, data cleansing, and data preparation that’s needed to feed the algorithms pristine data so that they can do their work.
Meanwhile, 2017 was the year that AlphaGo Zero taught itself the game of Go and within 40 days became better than any human or artificial player that ever existed. It did so without any human data as input and purely played against itself. As a result, it taught itself strategies and moves no human has ever thought of and arguably progressed the evolution of the game of Go exponentially in a very short time frame. This achievement marks a significant milestone in the development of Artificial Intelligence.
In 2018, this will only continue and we will see more examples of artificial intelligence that will behave in unexpected ways, as it already did so this year. In 2017, for example, AI developers from Google built algorithms that had to compete for scarce resources, resulting in increasingly advanced strategies to beat the component. Google Brain developed algorithms that created new encryption methods, unlike any seen before, to protect information from other neural networks. Finally, Facebook had to shut down two algorithms that created its own secret language, unsolicited and used advanced strategies to get what it wanted. If one thing becomes clear from these developments, it is that artificial intelligence would be fundamentally different to human intelligence.
If you read the tech headlines every day–from both Xtrahola or across the web–then the topic that often sucks all the oxygen out of the room is cybersecurity. Whether it’s the latest breach of a company or government agency, a new vulnerability in a piece or popular software, or a lax security practice from a company that should have known better, there are moments every day where we can’t help but shake our heads at the sad state of cybersecurity especially in our country Nigeria.
All those new technologies, platforms and services gobble up massive amounts of data and more often than not, this data is not very well protected. For the past years, we have seen thousands of data breaches. In 2017, the data breach of Equifax as a new low point. Unfortunately, 2018 will not be any different. The more devices connected to the internet, the more data created and the more security breaches that’s bound to happen. IoT devices are remarkably insecure, thereby continuing to threaten our privacy. Consumers are aware of this as 90% of consumers lack the confidence that their IoT devices are secure.
As long as organisations that develop internet connected devices do not take security seriously, and develop products such as cardiac devices that can be hacked or CCTV cameras with serious bugs, this trend will only get worse. However, not only IoT devices are prone to hacks, but also large organisations such as Uber or Verizon were hacked in 2017 and even local banks in Nigeria face this constant security threat. Even Apple’s latest security feature, Face ID has already been easily bypassed several times. We have reached a point in time where any organisation can and would be hacked and if you are not hacked, you are simply not important enough.
Fortunately, there is a bit of light at the end of the tunnel. With the hype around blockchain, startups are also working on a new technology called Zero Knowledge Proof (ZKP). Zero Knowledge Proof is a method used in cryptography to prove ownership of a specific piece of knowledge without revealing the content of that knowledge. Zero Knowledge Proof enables anonymous transactions that safeguard users’ privacy using mathematics.
Although yet untapped in Nigeria, Last year, smart contracts were predominantly used for Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). The hype around ICOs has amazed many and as at the end of November, 2017, ICOs raised a total of $3.6 billion. Apart from many successes, there were also many scams and people who tried to compromise the system and rob people of their money.
Although the number of ICOs has continued to grow in the first months of 2018, we will also see more regulation. Slowly, governments and regulatory bodies would wake up and start to understand the impact this new way of funding has on innovation and economic growth. However, they also understand that consumers need to be protected and criminals need to be caught.
Hence, there will be increased regulation in the coming year, slowing down the enormous hype of ICOs. We are likely to see better organised ICOs, still raising millions of dollars, and the first example of these new ICOs was the Kik ICO, raising $97 million with an ICO that will pave the way for more mainstream ICOs.
4. Deep learning will be faster and data collection better
Nowadays, deep learning faces certain challenges associated with the data collection and the complexity of the computations. Innovations in hardware are now being developed to speed up the deep learning experiments, e.g. the new GPUs with a greater number of cores and a different form of architecture.
According to Marc Edgar, a Senior Information Scientist at the GE Research, deep training will shorten the development time of software solutions from several months to several days within the next 3-5 years. This will improve the functional characteristics, increase productivity, and reduce product costs.
A digital twin refers to the digital representation of a real-world entity or system. Digital twins in the context of IoT projects is particularly promising over the next three to five years and is leading the interest in digital twins today. Well-designed digital twins of assets have the potential to significantly improve enterprise decision making.
These digital twins are linked to their real-world counterparts and are used to understand the state of the thing or system, respond to changes, improve operations and add value. Organizations will implement digital twins simply at first, then evolve them over time, improving their ability to collect and visualize the right data, apply the right analytics and rules, and respond effectively to business objectives.
6.Cloud to the Edge
Edge computing describes a computing topology in which information processing, and content collection and delivery, are placed closer to the sources of this information.
Connectivity and latency challenges, bandwidth constraints and greater functionality embedded at the edge favors distributed models. Enterprises should begin using edge design patterns in their infrastructure architectures — particularly for those with significant IoT elements.
While many view cloud and edge as competing approaches, cloud is a style of computing where elastically scalable technology capabilities are delivered as a service and does not inherently mandate a centralized model.
7. Virtual reality
Is 2018 the long-awaited year that virtual reality goes mainstream? While the technology is still evolving, and while players like Oculus and HTC continue to iterate on their consoles, things look promising for the industry as VR platforms begin to appeal to the masses.
One of the biggest obstacles to virtual reality achieving true scale is the creation of enough content to attract a wide swath of consumers. As the industry has learned, onboarding hard-core gamers will not be enough to sustain a long-term effort.
Beyond gaming, there are a number of virtual-reality startups that are building high-value-add services specifically for enterprises.
Enterprise applications of messaging bots seem poised to have a tangible impact on the software space, as more companies invest in developing their own consumer-facing bots. Chatbots, at the most simplistic level, are front-end interfaces for companies to communicate with their customers. More advanced bots leverage artificial intelligence to provide enriching and interactive user experiences.
Companies can embed these bots on their home pages, or they can rely on native platforms like Facebook and Slack for distribution. Expect to see companies across all industries, including hospitality, dining and travel, create bots for customer support, sales and marketing services.
Enterprise mobility describes the trend of a great number of employees working outside the office and using mobile devices and cloud services to perform business tasks. The waves of technology in Nigeria is gradually moving to where Enterprise Mobility and business applications will no longer be mere tools that are good to possess, but they will evolve into indispensable instruments that will provide better productivity and increased security. 2018 will drive a wider scale adoption of serious business applications that will cater beyond communication and collaboration, and this will be an opportunity for many startups to create innovative enterprise.
Enterprise Mobility will bring about increased speed or tempo of operations to gain a competitive advantage; efficient data collection so better and faster decisions can be made; quicker reporting of events and KPIs to a wider audience to provide full situational awareness and promote good decision making and issue resolution and so on.
10. 5 Generation Technology
This year, developers and engineers are getting ready to make a new generation of internet possible. By the end of 2019, 5G networks and phones with 5G will be available. 5G internet has the potential to be almost 10 times faster than 4G, making it even better than most home internet services.
With all this being said, technological advancement is a topic of much fascination and one that is expected to reoccure from time to time due to the constant effort of man to push forward in is innovations. In our country Nigeria numerous developers and innovators should try each day to make a significant mark that will shapen the way we carry out task, no matter small that won’t just be a global trend but a catalyst for world changing impacts.