IEEE Computer Society (IEEE-CS) tech experts have unveiled their annual predictions for the future of tech, presenting what they believe will be the most widely adopted technology trends in 2019.
One of the top ten trends mentioned in the report is active security protection. The traditional method of protecting computer systems involves the deployment of prevention mechanisms, such as anti-virus software. As attackers become more sophisticated, the effectiveness of protection mechanisms decreases as the cost increases. However, a new generation of security mechanisms is emerging that uses an active approach, such as hooks that can be activated when new types of attacks are exposed and machine-learning mechanisms to identify sophisticated attacks. Attacking the attacker is a technological possibility as well, but is almost always illegal.
Also in the top ten are social credit algorithms. These use facial recognition and other advanced biometrics to identify a person and retrieve data about that person from social media and other digital profiles for the purpose of approval or denial of access to consumer products or social services. In an increasingly networked world, the combination of biometrics and blended social data streams can turn a brief observation into a judgment of whether a person is a good or bad risk or worthy of public social sanction. IEEE-CS say some countries are already using social credit algorithms to assess loyalty to the state.
The report’s writers forecast an increase in “technology for humanity”. They predict that large-scale use of machine learning, robots, and drones will help improve agriculture, ease drought, ensure supply of food, and improve health in remote areas. Some of these activities have already started, but IEEE-CS predicts an increase in adoption rate and the reporting of success stories in the next year. Recent events, such as major fires and bridge collapses, are further accelerating the urgency to adopt monitoring technologies in fields like forests and smart roads.
Automated voice spam (robocall) prevention also makes the top ten. Spam phone calls are an ongoing problem of increasing sophistication, such as spoofing the caller ID number of the victim’s family and business associates. This is leading people to regularly ignore phone calls, creating risks such as true emergency calls going unanswered. However, emerging technology can now block spoofed caller ID and intercept questionable calls so the computer can ask questions of the caller to assess whether he or she is legitimate.
The IEEE-CS top ten tech trends in 2019 also includes chatbots, virtual and augmented reality, assisted transportation, deep learning accelerators, advanced materials such as smart paper and foldable screens, and “Internet of Bodies” self-monitoring and self-tracking devices from fitness trackers to digital pills.
This year, the experts also reviewed additional technologies that have not yet reached broad adoption and will be revisited next year. These include digital twins, which are software representations of assets and processes used to understand, predict, and optimize performance for improved business outcomes. A digital twin can be a digital representation of any characteristic of a real entity, including humans. The choice of which characteristics are digitized is determined by the intended use of the twin. Digital twins are already being used by many companies: according to analysts, 48% of companies in the IoT space have already started adopting them. This includes digital twins for very complex entities, such as an entire smart city (for example, Digital Singapore). Digital twins are also expected to play a transformational role in healthcare over the next three years.
Serverless computing is another future trend to watch. This is used to refer to the family of lambda-like offerings in the cloud, such as AWS Lambda, Google Cloud Functions, Azure Functions, or Nuclio. In serverless computing the service provider manages the resources at a very fine granularity (all the way down to an individual function). End users can focus on the functions and don’t have to pre-allocate instances or containers or manage them explicitly. While it’s still at an early stage of adoption, there’s appeal on both sides (better resource utilization for the providers, and pay-for-what-you-use for the users), and IEEE-CS expects that it will pick up rapidly and we will start seeing significant adoption in the next couple of years.
The experts also highlighted Real-time ray tracing (RT2) which has long been considered the Holy Grail for rendering computer graphics realistically. In the next couple of years IEEE-CS expects to see incremental iterations until true RT2 is widespread. Initially, it is expected that the growth will be driven by consumer applications, such as gaming, followed by professional applications, such as training and simulation. Combined with virtual and augmented reality this technology could open up new frontiers in high-fidelity visual simulations.
Finally, the experts considered some technologies that they felt had already reached broad adoption and outpaced many others. They highlighted Kubernetes and Docker. Acceptance of Docker and Google’s decision to make Kubernetes open source inspired the wider open source community to stand behind these two technologies. This made Kubernetes one of the most popular open source projects in the last two years and the de facto standard for running containerized distributed applications on on-premises clusters and the public cloud. Kubernetes is already used in production by early adopters, with planned advances in security and reliability expected to attract further use by traditional enterprise companies. In 2019, the experts expect Kubernetes to be used in lieu of proprietary orchestration infrastructure for running big data processing and refactored open source code.