Truly seismic advancements in the technology sector are revolutionising the way we all lead our lives.
And this relentless pace of change is widely predicted to accelerate throughout the 2020s as we increasingly expect more from the tech we use for both business and leisure.
Applied futurist Tom Cheesewright is the founder of Manchester-headquartered Book of the Future, which helps businesses see, share and respond to what a vision of the technological future looks like.
Cheesewright is characteristically unequivocal when asked what the next decade holds in store.
He explained: “I think you can split the key technological developments into four areas – although others involving genetics and materials are intrinsically linked.
“These main developments are linked to: artificial intelligence (AI); quantum computing; augmented reality (AR); and the Internet of Everything (IoE).”
Cheesewright asserts that we’ve only “seen the beginning” of AI’s potential.
“When we talk about AI, what we’re really talking about is the ability of machines to make sense of data and do something with it,” he explained.
“That data might be about us, what we want and what we need.
“Increasingly AI will help us choose everything from what to watch, to what to wear.
“It will handle some of the basic administration of life, like sorting out car insurance or choosing the best energy deal.
“It will even make sure your fridge stays stocked. But those same skills can be used in a work environment too.
“AI is now at the point where it can take on large chunks of work that was done by humans, in everything from call centres to law firms.
“And put it in a robot body, like a car or a drone, and it can take on physical labour.”
When it comes to quantum computing, Cheesewright explains that what a normal computer has traditionally done one step at a time, a quantum computer can do all in one go.
“It is only useful for some calculations, but the technology is getting more accessible by the month,” he explained.
“By the end of the decade, quantum computers will begin to move from the lab to the workplace, accelerating everything from drug discovery to climate modelling.
“And along the way, they might shatter our current ideas about cybersecurity – a future quantum computer might be able to smash the cryptography that secures all our online banking, shopping, and communications.”
Cheesewright also anticipates that over the next year, we’ll start to witness the shift away from mobile phone useage thanks to the relentless evolution of Augmented Reality.
He explained: “As headset technology improves, and we get ubiquitous high-speed internet with 5G, the time might be right for Augmented Reality.
“Imagine seeing the world through a pair of glasses that can put digital things into the physical world. Every empty space could contain a virtual person, creature or object.
“Every wall space can be customised.
“You could be walking down Market Street and instead see the seaside; the shops might be populated with virtual assistants; and work might no longer require a laptop.”
When it comes to the Internet of Everything (IoE), Cheesewright expects 5G to provide the ability for the connection of myriad items that we use daily for work and leisure.
“5G provides the platform for everything to be connected in what Cisco calls, the Internet of Everything,” he concluded.
“It costs just a few tens of pence now to add an internet connection to a lightbulb or a power socket – although obviously we pay more as consumers.
“In the 2020s we will start to see many more things connected, from smart machinery in the workplace that improves safety and calls for its own maintenance, to smart clothes and even toilets that tell us more about our health.”
UKFast chief technology officer Neil Lathwood on tech predictions for 2020
At UKFast we’re passionate about sharing the latest industry knowledge with the technology community and our regular webinars provide the perfect platform to do just that. We gather technology experts from across the sector to share their thoughts on a range of issues.
To kick off 2020 we ran a Tech Predictions webinar to help our audience understand which technology to pay attention to in the year ahead, and which are more hype and buzzwords than substance.
The internet of things (IoT) was a key point of focus for our experts, as the use of smart devices continues to increase exponentially. How many new Alexas did you see this Christmas? But there’s still a disconnect between the devices we’re filling our homes and businesses with and the security around them. There’s not much regulation in this space, and it’s important to speak to an expert before you start connecting smart devices to your business network and do your research when using them at home.
With 5G hitting the headlines in 2019, will we see the technology come into its own in 2020, and will businesses reap the benefits? Our experts weren’t so sure, with 4G networks currently capable of running most common workloads effectively, and 5G coverage and distribution still patchy at best.
Ransomware is hot on the agenda too, with the Travelex data breach fresh in everyone’s mind. We’re predicting that ransomware attacks will continue to be a major concern for businesses in the year ahead, and that those who have response plans and backups in place in advance will be in a better position to respond and avoid a PR disaster like the one suffered by Travelex in early January.
Whatever your business, it pays to stay in tune with the developments in technology to remain agile and secure throughout 2020.
You can watch our 2020 Tech Predictions webinar here .