What technologies will be big in 2018 and who were the stars of 2017?
2017 saw talk focus on AI and new regulations. But the technology star of 2017, lies elsewhere.
CRISPR/cas-9 may be one of the most important technologies ever. It enables the editing of DNA, and 2017 saw a human embryo’s DNA edited. It also saw the editing of the DNA of a 44-year old man with the rare Hunter syndrome.
These were extraordinarily breakthroughs, but expect even more spectacular news related to CRISPR in 2018.
2017 also saw the first artificial womb, used to incubate a lamb. Imagine the implications of such technology when applied to humans to rules regarding abortions.
Of course, AI dominated the headlines, and seems to be making its mark in marketing related areas. 2018 will see AI continue to dominate media, debates over its threat to jobs or wider existential risk, will become more frequent.
But one area where AI may be important relates to regulation. January 3rd sees MiFID II, designed to make financial institutions more transparent. May 25th sees GDPR, designed to protect privacy. As it happens there is a slight contradiction in the two regulations: privacy and transparency are not obvious bedfellows. But what is clear is that both regulations impose a massive headache for companies. But if AI, by analysing data streams, can win at the Chinese game of Go, why can’t it support GDPR and MiFID II compliance?
There is also a lot of talk about virtual and augmented reality, neither technologies have truly taken off yet, 2018 may see some kind of convergence, an AR/VR product.
Voice is emerging a key driver of technology. 2018 may see voice interfaces gain wider public acceptance.
We also seem to be shifting from stand-alone devices such as the iPhone to distributed services, using the cloud.
Expect 2018 to see more focus on quantum computers: by the end of 2018 a rudimentary knowledge of such esoteric topics as quantum entanglement may become quite common amongst the public.
Also expect some kind of convergence between drone technology and flying cars - watch Airbus and Lilium.
Clearly autonomous cars are getting closer, and some kind of public back-lash is inevitable, but won’t last. The dominance of the self-driving car is inevitable, it’s a question of when, not if.
Morgan Staley says that the natural value of bitcoin is zero. The end of 2017 saw bitcoin fall sharply, but not enough to say the bubble has burst. If bitcoin really does collapse in 2018, expect some fall-out, assets and technology that are actually based on solid fundamentals may see sharp falls too, as investors tar all technologies with the bitcoin brush.
But if the view that we live in an age of accelerating technology is right, then from now on every year should see even more remarkable breakthroughs than the year before.
To find out more about GDPR check out the next GDPR Summit London