One of the defining features of the 21st century has been the exponential rate of technological development. In recent years, our daily habits and routines have been radically transformed by the products and services made available through advances in hardware and software. For instance, gamblers now have access to the $1 minimum deposit casino in the palm of their hand, allowing them to enjoy the full casino experience from the comfort of their own home. It’s ridiculous to think that the smartphones we all carry around in our pockets are over 100 million times more powerful than the supercomputers used to land the Apollo rocket on the moon! This rapid rate of progress shows no sign of abating, as there are a number of emerging technologies in 2021 that are set to reshape business practices and influence our lives in the years to come.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
A lot of recent discussions relating to future technology trends have centered around the applications of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Whilst academics have debated the precise definition for decades, AI can be simply described as the process of endowing computers with the capacity to perform functions that have historically required human intelligence. Examples of these include speech, vision, and decision-making. Within popular media, AI has often been depicted as a nefarious endeavor that will unleash a group of vicious robots upon the world. However, whilst there are concerns surrounding some of the research, AI systems have proven very useful in a diverse range of industries and look set to become an invaluable asset in the years to come. Within the field of medicine, AI systems could pave the way for personalised medicine through the sequencing of our individual genomes. The deployment of autonomous vehicles seems inevitable, a breakthrough development that has been made possible by the development of complex AI algorithms.
Internet of Things (IoT)
Computers, tablets and smartphones are no longer the only devices connected to the internet. We now live in a world where things like your fridge and dishwasher are laden with sensors and share streams of digital information that are being logged online. When utilised correctly, these streams of information are far from trivial and can be used to improve the health, efficiency and productivity of a wider society. Last year, it was shown that smartwatches could be used to detect COVID-19 before symptoms were manifested by the individual. Virtual assistants like Alexa enabled users to become more productive by reducing the time spent navigating cumbersome tasks. In addition, development within the field of IoT will be an integral component of the development of futuristic ‘smart’ cities, where processes can be dynamically altered in real-time. Imagine a city where garbage trucks were only called when a trash can was full, or where energy could be produced in accordance with demand. The development of IoT is unquestionably one of the most exciting contemporary emerging technologies in 2021.
Unless you have been stuck on a deserted island for the past 5 years, then I have no doubt that you will have heard some reference being made to Blockchain technology, more than likely in the same sentence as Bitcoin. It’s a common misconception that these are interchangeable terms, but Blockchain is the technology on which Bitcoin is built upon. That’s all well and good, but what exactly is Blockchain? Blockchain refers to a ‘distributed ledger of immutable digital transactions’, which means that digital information is shared but cannot be edited. A major problem faced by the recruitment industry is the falsification of credentials by candidates. However, if everyone’s CV was stored on the blockchain, it would restore faith in the recruitment process. What’s more, the availability of this technology may pave the way for the wholesale decentralisation of information and business processes, whereby dependencies on intermediary parties are no longer required. Imagine sending money to the other side of the world instantly, without the need for bank authorisation. There’s no doubt in my mind that the widespread acceptance and utilisation of blockchain is one of the technology trends that will be one of the defining features of 2021 and beyond.
Such is the role that Industrial Automation is set to have in the coming years that many have hailed it as the 4th Industrial Revolution. Automation refers to the process of outsourcing repetitive tasks that have historically been performed by humans to machines. Tasks like the handling, packaging and quality assessment of products and materials are increasingly being outsourced to robots. The incentives driving this shift towards Industrial Automation include cost reduction, increased productivity and higher quality outputs. The World Economic Forum (WEF) published a report in 2020 stating that robots are set to take the jobs of 85 million humans by 2025. Many politicians and high-profile business owners are fearful about the potential consequences of Industrial Automation, which has led to discussions taking place around the introduction of Universal Basic Income as a means of ensuring that those who don’t possess the skills to participate in the 4th Industrial Revolution have the means to provide for themselves and their families.