The rate at which technology is advancing is astounding, sometimes even overwhelmingly so. The future is coming, and it’s coming at a rapid rate. What kinds of technological advances and emerging technology can we look forward to in the coming years?
Unlimited free data storage
The technology is already heading strongly in this direction, with free services such as Google Drive and One Drive, from Google and Microsoft, respectively. Along with other free digital storage platforms, these offer users a limited amount of online storage, with the opportunity to upgrade for a subscription fee. The likelihood that most internet users will soon have access to free and unlimited storage is high. Of course, these services will probably be ad-driven, so the usual subscription fee will still apply if you want ad-free storage.
Advanced robotics in retail
The use of robotic technology is already prevalent in manufacturing, and to a certain extent in healthcare. Around the corner, look for robots in retail, too, where they can effectively perform a range of service-oriented tasks. Nothing can replace the human element, of course, but there’s a strong possibility of robots entering the pharmacy trade within the next decade. Accuracy is essential in this arena, and the use of robotic and digital tech could perform well in automating tasks while remaining highly accurate.
AI and robotics technology is particularly adept not just with automating processes but also tasks that require pattern recognition and counting. That means AI in particular may replace a wide range of jobs and tasks. That may be a good thing in some respects, but the down side of course is that a wide range of jobs that people are currently paid to perform can be automated—meaning that large numbers of jobs may be at risk within the next decade or two. And, as AI is used increasingly in the corporate world as a decision-making tool, the executive jobs may be at risk too, as well as the blue-collar jobs.
A more humanised internet
One of the concerns many people have about the internet is its lack of a human “face” and the absence of personalisation they feel when interacting online. Creating more humanised chatbots and other automated and online services is therefore important to many industries, particularly in business and retail.
The internet of things is about connecting physical objects to the online environment. The next step in the evolution of the internet will be the development of humanised apps, programmes, and interfaces that have the ability to evolve—not just to operate more efficiently, but to operate in a more human-like manner. From the apps and functions on our devices, to the helpbots we interact with on websites, new levels of digital personalisation will create a digital environment that’s more precisely tailored to individual and human needs.
Technology in health and medicine
Few industries are more perfectly poised to take advantage of technological advances than medical and healthcare, where robotics and computer programming are already being used in inventive ways to save lives and improve the quality of live for people all over the world.
It’s already possible for people to use 3D printers to print prosthetic limbs at home. Doctors have used 3D printing to create bone grafts, and dentists routinely use 3D printing techniques to make ceramic tooth restorations. Aa similar technique known as “bioprinting” is being used to generate multiple types of living human tissue.
Bioprinting uses bio-ink to deposit precise layers of cells in the exact formation needed to create human tissue. Currently this tech is primarily used as a source of biocompatible tissue for testing drugs, and has already proven superior to many animal models of human disease. But bioprinting doesn’t only have the potential to eliminate animal testing once and for all—it may also be one day used as a real means of “printing” viable human organs for transplant recipients. The goal with the development of synthetic organs is to create tissue-matched organs that aren’t subject to rejection, and this is a method that could meet that goal.
The internet of things gets more things
With computing power continuing to increase at an incredible rate, and the cost of sensors ever-decreasing, look for more devices and products with the ability to connect to the internet. Amazon has already started paving the way with the Amazon Dash Button, which helps subscription users order products for next-day delivery by clicking a single wifi-enabled product-specific button.
There are items of clothing—Google Glass, the Fitbit, the Apple Watch, and more—that can connect to the internet, with more under development.
And there’s the potential for virtually any object you can think of to be connected to the internet, receiving and sending information. Early next decade, there could be as many as 1 trillion sensors connected to the internet, generating a truly astonishing amount of data.
The next step? The internet of “everywhere”: an internet that’s available to everyone, everywhere, at any time, a global connectivity that transcends borders to connect the world. Smart cities, with everything from traffic lights to footpaths and streets connected to the internet, hypothetically doing away with the need for traffic lights and other such infrastructure—changing the look not just of the online environment, but the physical one too.