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October 06, 2015
By Vanessa Ulrich

When will the next wave of technology permeate the real world?

Last month the World Economic Forum released a study called “Technology Tipping Points” with predictions of when specific technological changes will permeate mainstream society. The report details 21 examples of changes that will impact people around the world and when they might happen based on the estimates of over 800 IT executives and experts.

Over the next six months, we will explore the six “megatrends” covered by the paper, and examine how recent news and events tie into each one. Here’s a sneak peek—be sure to bookmark our blog and keep an eye out for upcoming IT Roundup posts!

People and the Internet

The first megatrend encompasses how people will use the Internet to connect with other people and the world in new ways, for example through wearable and implantable technologies. Have you ever wanted to take a step beyond texting or emojis and be able to reach out and touch a loved one from afar? New devices like the Bond wristband transmit tactile information back and forth, letting two geographically distant people communicate without words or images.

Ubiquitous computing power

Technologist Ray Kurzweil said, “A kid in Africa with a smartphone has more intelligent access to knowledge than the President of the United States had 20 years ago.” The level of access that the public has to information now is leveling the historical asymmetry of knowledge between the 1 percent and the 99 percent. Fueled by decreasing size and cost of computing power and storage, this megatrend is, has and will continue to break down barriers for common people to have potentially powerful and widespread societal impact.

The Internet of Things

Smaller, cheaper, smarter sensors allow objects to make decisions based on internal and environmental changes without human intervention. IoT and robotics are the two post potent trends that futurists see as threats to current blue-collar jobs, while AI could potentially replace white-collar jobs. However, according to the World Economic Forum, “The picture looks worse than it actually is. Nine of the 10 most in-demand jobs in 2012 did not exist in 2003.”

Artificial intelligence and Big Data

In the future, Big Data will increasingly be used in decision-making. Combined with the ability of software to learn and evolve, we could start to see AI take on roles that previously needed a human brain to weigh data and outcomes.

The sharing economy and distributed trust

An emerging technology called the blockchain, based on network models, will replace the need for third-party institutions to provide trust. Blockchain is what powers Bitcoin right now—digital records of ownership and transactions, one after another—that provide the validation for Bitcoin existing in the first place. Nine global banks teamed up last month to take that technology mainstream.

The digitization of matter

Three-dimensional printing creates opportunities for getting key tools to people who need them, faster—notably in healthcare. But 3-D printing human organs? We’re already doing it for skin and bladders.

Are you as fascinated as we are? Read the whole World Economic Forum report here, and stay tuned for future editions of the IT News Roundup. 

As part of TEKsystems’ public relations team, Vanessa Ulrich reads everything she can about the technology industry and emerging trends. Vanessa blogs about where technology and society collide, giving context and commentary to top news stories. You can reach her with questions and comments @TEK_PR via Twitter.

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