Predicting the future is hard and risky. Predicting the future in the computing industry is even harder and riskier due to dramatic changes in technology and limitless challenges to innovation. Only a small fraction of innovations truly disrupt the state of the art. Some are not practical or cost-effective, some are ahead of their time, and some simply do not have a market. There are numerous examples of superior technologies that were never adopted because others arrived on time or fared better in the market. Therefore this document is only an attempt to better understand where technologies are going. The book The Innovator’s Dilemma and its sequels best describe the process of innovation and disruption.
In 2014, a team of technical leaders from the IEEE Computer Society joined forces to write a technical report, entitled IEEE CS 2022, surveying 23 technologies that could potentially change the landscape of computer science and industry by the year 2022. In particular, this report focused on 3D printing, big data and analytics, the open intellectual property movement, massively online open courses, security cross-cutting issues, universal memory, 3D integrated circuits, photonics, cloud computing, computational biology and bioinformatics, device and nanotechnology, sustainability, high-performance computing, the Internet of Things, life sciences, machine learning and intelligent systems, natural user interfaces, networking and inter-connectivity, quantum computing, software-defined networks, multicore, and robotics for medical care.
What Is the Future of Tech: 23 Technologies by 2022
- Security Cross-Cutting Issues
The growth of large data repositories and emergence of data analytics have combined with intrusions by bad actors, governments, and corporations to open a Pandora’s box of issues. How can we balance security and privacy in this environment?
- Open Intellectual Property Movement
From open source software and standards to open-access publishing, the open IP movement is upon us. What are the implications?
Can electronic cars, LED lighting, new types of batteries and chips, and increasing use of renewables combat rising energy use and an explosion in the uptake of computing?
- Massively Online Open Courses
MOOCs have the potential to transform the higher-education landscape, siphoning students from traditional universities and altering faculty and student roles. How significant will their impact be?
- Quantum Computing
Constrained only by the laws of physics, quantum computing will potential extend Moore’s Law into the next decade. As commercial quantum computing comes within reach, new breakthroughs are occurring at an accelerating pace.
- Device and Nanotechnology
It is clear that MEMS devices, nanoparticles, and their use in applications are here to stay. Nanotechnology has already been useful in manufacturing sunscreen, tires, and medical devices that can be swallowed.
- 3D Integrated Circuits
The transition from printed circuit boards to 3D-ICs is already underway in the mobile arena, and will eventually spread across the entire spectrum of IT products.
- Universal Memory
Universal memory replacements for DRAM will cause a tectonic shift in architectures and software.
By 2022, multicore will be everywhere, from wearable systems and smartphones to cameras, games, automobiles, cloud servers, and exa-scale supercomputers.
Silicon photonics will be a fundamental technology to address the bandwidth, latency, and energy challenges in the fabric of high-end systems.
- Networking and Interconnectivity
Developments at all levels of the network stack will continue to drive research and the Internet economy.
- Software-Defined Networks
OpenFlow and SDN will make networks more secure, transparent, flexible, and functional.
- High-Performance Computing
While some governments are focused on reaching exascale, some researchers are intent on moving HPC to the cloud.
- Cloud Computing
By 2022, cloud will be more entrenched and more computing workloads run on the cloud.
- The Internet of Things
From clothes that monitor our movements to smart homes and cities, the Internet of Things knows no bounds, except for our concerns about ensuring privacy amid such convenience.
- Natural User Interfaces
The long-held dreams of computers that can interface with us through touch, gesture, and speech are finally coming true, with more radical interfaces on the horizon.
- 3D Printing
3D printing promises a revolution in fabrication, with many opportunities to produce designs that would have been prohibitively expensive.
- Big Data and Analytics
The growing availability of data and demand for its insights holds great potential to improve many data-driven decisions.
- Machine Learning and Intelligent Systems
Machine learning plays an increasingly important role in our lives, whether it’s ranking search results, recommending products, or building better models of the environment.
- Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
Unlocking information in pictures and videos has had a major impact on consumers and more significant advances are in the pipeline.
- Life Sciences
Technology has been pivotal in improving human and animal health and addressing threats to the environment.
- Computational Biology and Bioinformatics
Vast amounts of data are enabling the improvement of human health and unraveling of the mysteries of life.
- Medical Robotics
From autonomous delivery of hospital supplies to telemedicine and advanced prostheses, medical robotics has led to many life-saving innovations.
What Are the Drivers and Disruptors Behind Tech Innovations
The 2022 Report team surveyed several thousand IEEE members about the forces behind the technology changes. Desire for sustainable energy, the availability of wireless/broadband connectivity, and use of technology for medical procedures ranked highest as drivers, while 3D printing, the use of robots for labor, and cloud computing were ranked most highly as major disruptors.
- Increases in average life expectancy
- Increasing ratio if retirees to workers
- Public concern over control over access/amount of personal information
- Desire for sustainable energy sources
- Reduction in availability of grants and philanthropic resources
- Widening economic inequality worldwide
- Reduced job security in a global market economy
- Climate change
- Global terrorism
- Use of big data and analytics
- Reduction in cost of data collection and retention (for use in analytics)
- Quickening pace of knowledge transfer
- Long-term availability of certain energy sources
- Alternative distribution chains (such as manufacturers selling directly to consumers)
- Use of technology for medical procedures
- Wireless/broadband connectivity
- Crowdsourcing/open-sourcing of hardware development
- Changes in educational structure/design (e.g. MOOCs)
- Virtual/alternative currencies (such as Bitcoin)
- Smartphone use as a device for payment
- Cloud computing
- Use of robots as a source of labor
- Nonvolatile memory influencing big data accessibility and portability
- Quantum/nondeterministic computing
- Use of 3D printing
- Green computing
- New user interfaces (e.g. Siri, Kinect, instead of traditional keyboards)