As we move into a new year, we take a look at the top trends that may affect technology both this year and beyond. Covid has definitely played a role in moving the world into digitisation at an accelerated pace that we could never have anticipated, but we will continue to see the trends of need for sustainability, ever-increasing data volumes, and increasing compute and network speeds making themselves felt as technology speeds forward in leaps and bounds.
For many, the most important lesson of the last two years has been that truly transformative change isn’t as difficult to implement as it may have been thought if there is motivation enough to inspire movement!
Let’s take a look at what is likely to dominate the year in terms of tech trends.
1. AI everywhere
The term “smart” will mean different things to different generations. Clever, network-connected or seemingly making intelligent decisions. With regard to AI, “smart” really means powered by artificial intelligence (AI) – generally machine learning algorithms – and capable of assisting us in a growing number of novel ways.
AI has been integrated into the everyday tools that we use with voice assistants, language translation, and notes. It has also more seamless processes in industries including admin, logistics, accounting and HR. Whatever industry you work in, you are likely to come across an AI-powered solution to try and make your life easier.
This broad trend encompasses AI, the internet of things (IoT), and newly emerging super-fast networks like 5G, all of which put together are giving us capabilities we didn’t have just a few years ago.
This, in turn, also shines a spotlight on the trend of convergence, which is “the process by which existing technologies merge into new forms that bring together different types of media and applications.” Growing data volumes, faster network and processor speeds, and the “democratisation” of data are merging lanes and will affect society in a way that is much more than the sum of their parts.
2. Everything-as-a-service and the no-code revolution
A big driver that will continue to grow will be the continued democratisation of data and technology. This has emerged as putting the skills and tools necessary for tech-led innovation into the hands of as large a percentage of the population as possible.
The skills crisis has been a driver behind the explosion of self-service and “do-it-yourself” solutions. Not every company has to hire an army of computer geniuses to build their own “digital brain” when they can simply lease one for the work they need doing.
Ready-built AI solutions are available for everything from marketing to HR, project management, and planning and design of production processes. In 2022 we will see companies continuing to deploy AI and IoT infrastructure without owning a single server or proprietary piece of cognitive code.
OpenAI – a research group founded by Elon Musk and funded by, among others, Microsoft, recently unveiled Codex, a programming model that can generate code from natural, spoken human language. As technology like this matures – which we will start to see in 2022 – and meets with the possibilities offered by cloud infrastructure, our innovation and imagination will not be restricted by either resources or technical skills.
3. Digitisation, datafication and virtualisation
During 2020 and 2021, large numbers of the population experienced a move to remote working with the virtualisation of offices. In 2022, we will become even more familiar with the concept of a “metaverse” – persistent digital worlds that exist in parallel with the physical world we live in.
It is envisaged that in these metaverses – such as the one proposed recently by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg – we will carry out many of the functions we’re used to doing in the real world, including working, playing and socialising. As the rate of digitisation steps up, these metaverses will model and simulate the real world with growing accuracy, allowing us to have more immersive, convincing, and ultimately valuable experiences within the digital realm. While many of us have experienced this to a degree with virtual realities through headsets, a range of new devices coming to the market will soon greatly improve the experience by offering tactile feedback and even smells.
Stepping into a new year and a new Matrix movie, 2022 will undoubtedly take us a step closer to entering a version of the matrix for ourselves.
4. Transparency, governance and accountability
For technology to work, we need to trust it as humans. There is much to be said against many ways technology is utilised that is considered dangerous and obtrusive. AI is sometimes referred to as a ‘black box’ due to a lack of being able to see how it works. This is often due to the sheer complexity rather than a scheme to limit understanding, but the end result is much the same.
The idea of transparent and explainable AI has been growing in popularity over the last few years, with a feeling of distrust from the public.
Governments, also, clearly understand that there is a need for regulations to operate by, as evidenced by the existence of the EU’s proposed Artificial Intelligence Act. The proposed act prohibits authorities from using AI to create social scoring systems, as well as from using facial recognition tools in public places. This also includes a list of potentially dangerous effects, such as “exploiting vulnerabilities” and “causing physical or psychological harm”, that AI solutions providers will need to demonstrate their systems will not cause before they can be offered for sale.
This is becoming a balancing act and an increasingly prominent subject of discussion during 2022 as the general populace become aware of the potential effects on society that AI and other technology trends will have.
5. Sustainable energy solutions
Did you know that during the pandemic, renewable energy saw a significant increase in usage? The US recorded an increase of 40% in the first ten weeks of lockdown. Worldwide emissions dropped by 8% as non-renewable energy use decreased and people stayed at home. This has led to the expectation that increased investment will be spent on renewable resources in the years to come.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that 40% more renewable energy was generated and used during 2020 compared to the previous year and forecasts that this growth with continue throughout 2022. Overall, the cost of generating renewable energy from various sources, including onshore and offshore wind, solar and tidal, fell by between 7 and 16%.
These statistics will be a huge help for businesses and countries trying to cut their harmful emissions and aiming to become carbon neutral or carbon negative. There are new emerging energy sources such as biofuels, liquid hydrogen and nuclear fusion that are likely to create a splash when they appear in the headlines. For example, Helion Energy – a pioneer in the field of fusion energy, which replicates the process used to create energy in the sun – expects their latest prototype fusion generator to come online during 2022.
Practical applications are also expected to appear in the field of “green hydrogen” energy. Unlike the established processes for creating energy from hydrogen, (which involve using large amounts of “dirty” fossil fuel energy to create electrolysis, separating hydrogen and oxygen without emitting carbon), this involves using renewable energy, dampening the overall environmental impact.
These are some of the technological trends that are expected to grow quickly in 2022. Keep an eye out for more news in the near future. If you are looking for an ISP near you who will provide reliable, well-supported internet services to link your real-world to your digital network, why not get in touch with us?