What will technology do for us in 2017?
Making predictions is a hazardous business. Even that most famous future seer, Nostradamus, got as much wrong as he got right. At this time last year I made a number of predictions, some of which were correct and some of which were off the mark.
I correctly predicted the rise of cyber security as an issue for society and this has come true on a greater scale than even I foresaw, with the enormous Yahoo hacks and the Russian state intervening in the US presidential election. In a linked prediction, I also suggested that the use of and access to data would become more of a political issue in 2016 and this was also proved correct with the adoption by the EU of their General Data Protection Regulation in May.
Pardon the pun, but drones took off in a big way in 2016, as I thought they might. They are now being regularly used by the emergency services and for commercial enterprises and Amazon Prime Air has this year made its first deliveries in the US, the UK, Austria and Israel.
Last year I talked about the increasing importance of mobile payments and this definitely took off in a massive way in 2016, with Apple Pay and Contactless Mobile for Android phones. This is linked to one of my major predictions for 2017, which is the disruption of the banking industry by mobile banking and by the impact of blockchain technology. Blockchain has been around for a few years and is simply an open source method of logging financial transactions that is impossible to hack. It is already the technology on which bitcoin is founded and I believe that 2017 could be the year when we see the tipping point being reached where alternative banking systems are more secure and trusted than traditional banks.
My second prediction is a bit more prosaic and concerns the widespread adoption of voice control technology. Once again, the technology is not new, but I believe that 2017 will be the year when it becomes mainstream and starts to take over from text and touch control technology. The Siri personal digital assistant available on iPhones is a great example. The Amazon Alexa Voice Service is another. Alexa not only allows you to call up music using your voice alone, but also has the ability to provide news and weather reports, and control your light switches and heating system through voice control.
Siri is in fact an example of my third prediction for 2017, which is the explosion of artificial intelligence applications. AI is the mimicking by machines of cognitive functions that are normally associated with the human brain, such as learning and problem solving. Siri uses AI to learn from and adapt to the user's individual use of language and search preferences to produce customised search results for that person. Another application of AI is in self-driving cars, which are already in use in parts of California, Texas and Arizona. Google has already reportedly developed an algorithm that could potentially let self-driving cars learn to drive in the same way that humans do, through experience.
Another existing use of artificial intelligence that is not widely known is to write news stories. According to Wired, the AP, Fox, and Yahoo! all use AI to write simple stories like financial summaries and sports recaps. AI isn't writing in-depth investigative articles, but it has no problem with very simple articles that don't require a lot of synthesis.
Next year maybe I will get a machine to write this blog for me! Perhaps I already did.
Chief Executive Officer