The annual tech future forecast, says the organization of computer professionals, consistently ranks as one of its most anticipated announcements.

“These predictions identify the top dozen technologies that have substantial potential to disrupt the market in the year 2020,” says Cecilia Metra, IEEE Computer Society President.

The organizations top 12 technology trends predicted to reach adoption in 2020 are as follows:

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) at the edge (AI@Edge) – Combined with ubiquitous connectivity such as 5G, and intelligent sensors such as the Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning (ML) applications will rapidly move to the “edge,” the physical world close to us all. In the upcoming years, we expect to see the widespread deployment of ML in areas that will have a far greater impact on our daily lives, such as assisted driving, industrial automation, surveillance, and natural language processing.
  • Non-volatile memory (NVM) products, interfaces and applications – NVM Express (NVMe) SSDs will replace SATA and SAS SSDs within the next few years, and NVMe over Fabrics (NVME-oF) will be the dominant network storage protocol in five years. NVMe enables NAND tiering technologies and programming functions that increase endurance, enable computational storage, and allow more memory-like access to data.
  • Digital twins, including cognitive twins – Digital twins are a reality in the manufacturing industry and have also become a widespread tool in complex system operations. Cognitive digital twins are in the early stages of trial and experimentation.
  • AI and critical systems – AI will be deployed increasingly in more systems that affect the health, safety and welfare of the public. Despite the technological challenges and public fears, these systems will improve the quality of life for millions of people worldwide.
  • Practical delivery drones – Traditional parcel delivery inefficiencies, combined with recent developments in drone technology, leave the field ripe for disruption. Several companies have recently worked to develop practical delivery drones, which may now be ready to completely transform this industry, and consequently society as a whole.
  • Additive manufacturing – New processes, materials, hardware, software, and workflows are bringing 3D printing into the realm of manufacturing, especially for mass customization. Stronger and more robust materials, finer resolution, new finishing techniques, factory-level management software, and many other advances are increasing the adoption of 3D printing in industries such as healthcare, footwear, and automotive. In 2020, we expect to see this trend continue as other industries discover the benefits of mass customization and the opportunity to print parts that are not easy or affordable to produce using traditional means.
  • Cognitive skills for robots – There is a need for robots in human-occupied environments to be able to adapt to new tasks through capabilities such as increased comprehension of the environments within which they are situated. We predict that recent breakthroughs in large-scale simulations, deep reinforcement learning, and computer vision, collectively will bring forth a basic level of cognitive abilities to robots that will lead to significant improvements in robotic applications over the next few years.
  • AI/ML applied to cybersecurity – Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML) can help detect cybersecurity threats and offer recommendations to security analysts. AI/ML can drive down response times from hundreds of hours to seconds and scale analyst effectiveness from one or two incidents to thousands daily. We predict advancing the adoption of AI/ML applied to cybersecurity through a partnership among members of industry, academia, and government on a global scale.
  • Legal related implications to reflect security and privacy – The next year will prove critical to maintaining the fragile balance between preserving the social benefits of technology, on the one hand, and preventing undesirable repurposing of these new technology capabilities for social control and liberty deprivation, on the other.
  • Adversarial Machine Learning (ML) – As ML becomes incorporated into other systems, the frequency of malicious attacks on ML will rise. As such, security research into adversarial machine learning and countermeasures aimed at detecting manipulation of machine learning systems will become critically important. Similarly, recognition of the fallibility and manipulability of ML systems will begin to inform policymaking and legal paradigms.
  • Reliability and safety challenges for intelligent systems – Guaranteeing the required high levels of reliability and safety that are mandated for highly autonomous intelligent systems such as smart cities, autonomous vehicles, and autonomous robots will be one of the major technological challenges to be faced by 2020, to enable a smarter world.
  • Quantum Computing – If quantum computers are destined to be successful, they will come about by increasing relevance and generality, having already demonstrated a computational advantage. We project demonstrations to become more compelling in the next year.

In compiling its list of technology predictions, the organization’s analysis also included a review of technologies that are considered very promising yet are not likely to reach broad adoption until after 2020. Such technologies, says the organization, include seamless assisted reality; virtual reality for business; distributed (cooperative) robotics; simulating whole world; autonomous vehicles; and printable bio-materials and tissue.

Technologies that were reviewed yet considered to have already reached broad adoption are photonic-based communication in data centers, facial recognition, 5G, multi-agent systems, security of IoT devices, disaggregated servers, and Blockchain.

IEEE Computer Society

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