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2020: a decade in technology

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As a regular BA traveller, I’m always pleased to pick up their magazine Business Life as it often has some interesting articles. This year, the magazine has a great write up of forecasts for things that will happen in the 2020s by Tim Hulse. Here are his top 10 things for the next decade.

1 There’s AI everywhere

Will artificial intelligence destroy the human race in the next decade? We don’t know. Ask Alexa. What’s for sure is that AI will play an increasing role in our lives. The change will be gradual, according to Dan Pitchford, co-founder of AI Business, but it will also be profound. “In ten years’ time we will likely be living and working in a way that has AI organically embedded within all aspects of our lives”, he says. “It’s as unimaginable to us now as working remotely on an iPhone was to us in 2010”.

[Before believing this, it’s worth a read of this article: “A Brief Summary of Humanity’s Obsession With AI and Robotics”]

2 Objects are doing it for themselves

We need to get used to a proliferation of things doing stuff for themselves. That means robots, drones, vehicles and appliances. And it means more than just a machine being programmed to do things – AI will allow machines to interact with their surroundings and with people. According to Gartner research, these ‘autonomous things’ will increasingly be deployed to uncontrolled public spaces. And we may begin to see them acting collaboratively in swarms on the factory floor or working together in the delivery market: an autonomous delivery vehicle could move goods to the target area, and then robots and drones on board the vehicle could effect the final delivery.

3 5G moves to the next phase

The arrival of 5G and its potential benefits have been well documented. Less well known is the next phase of the 5G standard [properly known as 3GPP release 3], scheduled to begin next summer, which is focused more on industrial applications. It is designed to improve 5G performance indoors, particularly in environments that have been historically challenging such as buildings with metal shelves or conveyor belts. Gradually, over the next ten years, this will bring flexible, massive-scale connectivity to the world of manufacturing and logistics, further supporting the idea of Industry 4.0 and the smart factory.

4 Meet your friendly Cobot

Will you be replaced by a robot in the next decade? Probably not. Will you find yourself working next to a robot? Possibly. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, about 30 percent of the activities in 60 percent of all occupations could be automated. So-called ‘cobots’ (collaborative robots) are designed to physically interact safely with humans in a shared workspace. They’re relatively cheap and can be easily programmed to do a variety of tasks. We humans are likely to concentrate on more complex, creative stuff while our cobot buddies do the hard graft. Sounds like a good deal.

5 Blockchain for all

After a lot of hype, a decade of blockchain developments seems to have stalled. Other than cryptocurrency making lots of money for some, the technology seems to have had little effect on our daily lives. But give it time. Once all the elements of blockchain are fully deployed, including tokenisation and decentralisation, it could well start to change the world in significant ways.

6 Human-Plus

Elon Musk’s Neuralink aims to connect human brains with computers. The technology will start testing with humans in 2020, and the ultimate goal is to connect humanity with AI. It’s unlikely we’ll all be communing with our computers in the Twenties, but other ways of augmenting our bodies with technology will flourish, from chips embedded under our skins to the AR successors to good old Google Glass, allowing us to see the world through data-aided eyes.

7 Are bikes electric?

Expect to see bicycle batteries quietly charging at your place of work in the years ahead. Deloitte is predicting a boom in bicycle use in the next decade, and many of these bikes will be e-bikes, which will be used for commuting, for leisure and for deliveries. Bike batteries are fairly light, so they can be easily carried into the office or into the home to charge. The added benefits of e-bikes include a reduction in traffic, less crowded public transport, and improved public health.

8 Quantum Computing takes off (sort of)

The phrase ‘quantum supremacy’ slipped into the collective lexicon in 2019 when Goggle announced its Sycamore quantum processor could perform a specific task in 200 seconds that would take the world’s best supercomputer 10,000 years. Even more quickly than a Sycamore processor, rival IBM then attempted to debunk this claim. Quantum computers are fiendishly complicated. They won’t be ready in the next ten years, but it is likely we will have a halfway house, where noisy intermediate-scale quantum computing can deliver a kind of ‘quantum-lite’.

9 Reality gets more extended

Virtual reality was supposed to be the big player in extended reality, but so far, it’s not really taken off in a big way. Yet its cousin, augmented reality, goes from strength to strength, and we think that’s how things will play out for quite a few more years. Overlaying digital information onto the real world has countless applications, from healthcare to real estate, and from entertainment to outdoor navigation, and its commercial potential seems equally limitless.

10 Everyone is nice to each other

Just a bit of wishful thinking.

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Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog,, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...

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