It is a quiet afternoon on a storm day in February 2021. With a cup of hot tea by my side steaming, I was distraught with the idea to write something about “Initial Expectations for Emerging Technologies.” I found myself living in a world full of emerging technologies but never really looked carefully at them and never really thought about what changes they can bring to the world and my life.
Today’s big news has been that Elon Musk bought bitcoins and announced that Tesla would be accepting bitcoins as a currency to purchase its vehicle. This action raised the value of one bitcoin to a new high of around $47,000.00.
It is only last semester in an Economic class that I wrote an essay arguing cryptocurrency has no potential to be mainstream. I believed it would stay as an asset class for investors to provide a way for diversification. I recently consistently found myself being surprised by digital transformations happening around me. This is a red flag reminding me to open my eyes and look around me.
The graph below is <Hype Cycle> for 2020, highlighting the 30 emerging technologies CIOs should experiment with over the next year. I found this to be an excellent update for the technology trends that have real impacts on businesses.
Among all 30 emerging technologies mentioned above, it is hard not to notice that 7 of the emerging technologies are related to AI. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a significant field of computer science and computer engineering. Its goal is to develop systems to see, hear, understand, model, think, reason, plan, decide and act on the world. Surprisingly, AI has already achieved better accuracy in terms of “hear” and “see” than humans. After all, it only has been less than five years after I first discuss AI technology with a friend who helps training AI’s ability to detect pictures, and at that time the technology it was nowhere near human capability.
The picture training process that helped improve AI’s seeing ability can be defined as Machine Learning, which aims to allow computers to improve their performance on tasks by analyzing and processing relevant training data. I believe machine learning is the soul of data, which every business going through digital transformation should apply. Humans use experience and genetic information, which is data stored in our brain and DNA, to make all of our decisions. This ability is impressive enough to make humans the ruler of all creatures on earth; however, the limited storage capacity for data has limited our decision-making process. AI is here to help us breakthrough that limitation and making better decisions. Those decisions can include business strategy, management plan, targeted marketing. There will also be many new AI business opportunities across different business functions.
With AI capability improving every day, there are more considerations following the technology. For example, the Hype Cycle graph indicates one technology named the responsible AI, which represents derivatives questions with technological transformation. Responsible AI is a framework for bringing many of these critical practices together. It ensures the ethical, transparent, and accountable use of AI technologies consistent with user expectations, organizational values, and societal laws and norms. With technology more and more involved in all aspects of business and people’s daily life, it is essential to apply ethics and safety protections to technologies. After all, no one wants to live in a world of <I, Robot>.
My initial expectation for emerging technologies and digital business is that companies are all involved in either developing technologies or applying technologies to help find better solutions and decision making. Whether it’s providing products that fit people’s needs or services targeted and designed for each customer. All aspects where people can find a business opportunity and differentiation would be quickly studied and developed. It’s hard to imagine the world beyond that, but a full digital transformation will go on for decades. Let’s see how it will go from there.