Digital technology is at its highest peak in history. It has been a while now since the first digital revolution started, and it set a dangerous trend: something new, cutting edge and revolutionary has to happen every year. Following that stream, it seems that 2018 will be at least as good as the old 2017 that we just let behind.
So far, some experts say we are experiencing a new revolution in technology. At least, the World Economic Forum support that on their own words. “We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before. We do not yet know just how it will unfold, but one thing is clear: the response to it must be integrated and comprehensive, involving all stakeholders of the global polity, from the public and private sectors to academia and civil society,” said at the World Economic Forum.
Beyond that quite general statement, this year 2018 seems to push forward to a complete digitalization of our emotions, how machines will be able to ‘understand’ us and new relations between humans in an economic way. That means that automation and IA will finally have their -literally- own voice in this lesser human world.
If a few days ago we talked about the new consumer trends expected for 2018, today it is the turn to those technology named to shape the destiny of this new and yet-to-be-written year.
According to a complete and well resourced list, the guys at Nesta have made their bets of the most anticipated techs to be developed and released in this year.
Tech 1 – Drones deliver public benefit, not just parcels
Drones have been operating individually for a while – but soon they’ll be operating in complex systems and on a much larger scale. In 2018, Britain will start making the decisions and plans it needs to make this a reality.
Drones on their own just need a pilot with a remote control, but if many companies are to be believed, there will be significant drone traffic in the sky before long, delivering parcels, supporting law enforcement, providing public services on a far grander scale than now.
In 2018, cities will wise up and realise that they can transform the way drones develop, and guide this new technology in a more socially useful direction. They will make hard-headed decisions about how drones should be used to maximise public benefit and minimise public harm.
Tech 2- Guiding the smart machines
No countries have yet worked out how to answer the innumerable questions posed by rapid advances in artificial intelligence (AI).
That will change in 2018, as governments take the first serious steps towards regulating AI and guiding it towards safer and more ethical uses. They’ll try to speed up the development of new technologies, firms and industries, while also protecting the public from harm. That won’t be easy. But this will become one of the liveliest fields for innovation in government.
2018 will be the year when governments get serious about regulating AI to contain these risks. Here are just a few of the challenges they’ll have to grapple with: dealing with bias in algorithms (of the kind found in the US criminal justice system); deciding who should have the right to see algorithms (such as Facebook’s algorithm to predict if someone is suicidal) and who should have the right to see the data that lies behind algorithmic decisions.
Tech 3 – The year the internet goes green
Though we think of the internet as mostly virtual, a non-physical space of zero-cost interactions, its impact on the environment is very much real.
The staggering energy consumption of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum has taken the news by storm in recent months, and for good reason. Annually, Bitcoin transactions – despite all the hype, still rather low in volume – already consume more energy than Ireland, and could even overtake the United States in the not too distant future. But we shouldn’t forget the rest of the internet’s environmental footprint either.
To tackle that there is a growing movement seeking to address the internet’s environmental footprint and resource dependency. Repair cafes, which help people fix their broken electronics, are mushrooming up across the UK. Dutch startup Fairphone’s smartphones are built using only ethically-mined and recycled materials, and allow for individual bits of the phone to be upgraded or repaired. Projects like HARVEST and HydroMiner look to make cryptocurrencies more environmentally friendly.
Tech 4 – The nation state goes virtual
As the world changes, people expect their governments and public services to do so too. When it’s easy to play computer games with someone on the other side of the world, or set up a company bank account in five minutes, there is an expectation that paying taxes, applying for services or voting should be too.
And against what seems to be trending, the future seems to be borderless. The potential implications of virtual residencies are huge and could lead to governments which look radically different from those of today. The digital revolution will make it possible to access a greater number of services online, from anywhere in the world. Today, the advantages of e-Residency may be conducting business in another legal jurisdiction, but in the future this could expand to provision of currencies, education and even healthcare services.
Tech 5 – Disrupting the disruptors: The collaborative economy changes direction
While most criticism of the platform giants has so far been focused on whether or not their business models treat workers fairly; in 2018 we predict that those workers who power large parts of the collaborative economy will take constructive, collective action.
Inspired by the disruptive nature of the platforms they work through, they will create services and organisations that themselves disrupt and evolve the marketplace, rebalancing power and distributing revenue differently.
Hernaldo Turrillo is a freelance journalist working now for IntelligentHQ. Hernaldo was born in Spain and finally settled in London, United Kingdom, after a few years of personal growth. Hernaldo finished his Journalism bachelor degree in the University of Seville, Spain, and began working as reporter in the newspaper, Europa Sur, writing about Politics and Society. He also worked as community manager and marketing advisor in Los Barrios, Spain. Innovation, technology, politics and economy are his main interests, with special focus on new trends and ethical projects. He enjoys finding himself getting lost in words, explaining what he understands from the world and helping others. He was born journalist and became a thinker. Knowledge has no limits.