The covid-19 pandemic, which will continue to affect our lives in many ways, will be reactivated in 2022. We will see increased digitization, virtualization and digitization of society and business. As we enter the new year, however, sustainability, increasing data volumes and increased network speeds will be important drivers of digital transformation.
Many people and organizations have learned that true transformational change is possible if motivated. We will continue to use this openness, flexibility, agility, innovation as a society to thrive in an ever-changing world.
Here are my predictions about the top trends in 2022. There won’t be any quantum computing, neuro interfaces or nanotechnology musings – although they are definitely on the horizon, their impact will be felt later in the future. The convergence of technology trends will be the key trend in 2022. New tools to combine them will make this a significant shift.
Artificial Intelligence everywhere
Smart used to be connected. Smartphones, smart TVs and a host of other smart devices were just the same toys but connected to the internet. Today, “smart”, in large part, refers to devices that are powered by Artificial intelligence (AI). These machines learn from each other and can help us in new ways. Smart cars use facial recognition algorithms that detect if we are paying attention and alert us when we get tired. Smartphones employ AI algorithms to keep the quality of our calls high and take better photos. Many apps make use of AI to assist us with just about everything. Even smart toilets can diagnose gastrointestinal problems by using computer vision to analyze stool samples.
AI is now a part of the tools we use every day to do our work. This includes the ubiquitous voice assistants and language translators. We also have tools that extract structured data from images, whiteboard scribblings and hand-written notes. AI is also the power behind much of the robotic process automatization that has allowed workloads to be reduced in admin, logistics and accounting, and HR departments. No matter what industry you work in, an AI-powered solution will make your life easier.
This trend includes AI, IoT, and new super-fast networks such as 5G. These are coming together to give us capabilities that we don’t have a few years back. Convergence will be the most important trend over a longer period than we are currently looking at. The convergence of increasing data volumes, faster processor speeds, and “democratization of data” will profoundly impact society.
All-as-a-service and the no-code revolution
The democratization and growth of technology and data will also be powerful drivers. In recent years, a whole industry has emerged that aims to make tech-led innovation accessible to as many people as possible. Cloud storage, network, and processing reduce costs. This also helps minimize the risks associated with setting up costly infrastructure for new ideas to be tested. Hybrid solutions are for situations where public cloud services don’t work, such as when it comes to sensitive or confidential data. They have advanced to the point that hybrid solutions can often be viable.
The skills crisis has slowed innovation in certain areas. Although it sounds like a problem, it has been a driving force behind the explosion in self-service and “do-it-yourself” solutions. A company doesn’t need to hire a whole army of computer experts to create their “digital brain”. They can rent one to do the job they need. Ready-made AI solutions are available for everything, from marketing and HR to project management and planning and design of manufacturing processes. Companies will continue to deploy AI and IoT infrastructures without owning a single server or piece of cognitive code.
No-code interfaces are becoming more popular because a lack of programming knowledge or understanding of data structures and statistics will no longer be a barrier to making a world-changing invention a reality. OpenAI, an Elon Musk-funded research group, has recently released Codex. This model can generate code using natural, spoken human languages. As technology like this develops, which we will see in 2022, and converges with cloud infrastructure’s possibilities, innovation and imagination will be less restricted.
Datafication, digitization and virtualization
Many of us witnessed offices and workplaces’ virtualization and remote working in 2020 and 2021. This was a temporary phenomenon that was part of a longer-term trend. We will be more familiar with the idea of a “metaverse”, a persistent digital world that exists in parallel to the physical world. These metaverses, such as the one that Mark Zuckerberg recently proposed, will allow us to perform many functions in real life, such as working, playing and socializing. These metaverses will allow us to experience more realistic, convincing, and ultimately profitable experiences in the digital world. Many of us have had the opportunity to experience virtual reality through headsets. However, new devices that offer tactile feedback and even scents will improve this experience. Ericsson provided VR headsets for employees who worked remotely during the pandemic. It is currently developing an “Internet of senses” that promises virtual experiences indistinguishable from reality. This is a bit too far ahead for what we are interested in. However, we will be able to enter the matrix by 2022, thanks to a new Matrix movie.
Transparency Governance and accountability
Humans must trust technology to function. There are strong objections to many current uses of technology that are seen as intrusive, dangerous or irresponsible. AI is often referred to as a “black box,” which means we cannot see into it to understand its workings. AI is more likely complex than any malicious scheme to restrict our understanding. However, the result is the same. These are the most alarming instances of AI being harmful, such as when Facebook labeled images of black people “primates”. This is especially true in a society where AI is being used to make decisions that impact lives, such as hiring and firing .
As AI becomes more transparent and understandable, it is becoming increasingly popular. The EU’s Artificial Intelligence Act clearly shows that governments also recognize the need for a regulatory framework. The proposed law prohibits authorities from using AI for social scoring systems and facial recognition tools in public places. AI solution providers must also prove that their systems are not capable of causing harm and will be prohibited from creating “exploiting vulnerabilities” or “causing psychological or physical harm.” However, some argue that the current version doesn’t go far enough. It doesn’t include any requirement that individuals be informed about AI-driven decisions. Sundar Pichai, Google CEO, stated that while regulation of AI is important, there is still a way to ensure innovation is not stifled. As more people are aware of the potential negative and positive impacts of AI and other tech trends on society, this balancing act will be a topic of increasing importance in 2022.
Sustainable energy solutions
Renewable energy was the only energy source that saw usage rise during the pandemic. All non-renewable energy consumption fell worldwide as industries closed down and people stayed home. The US saw a 40% increase in renewable energy usage during the first ten-week weeks of lockdown. This resulted in a 8% reduction in global emissions. In the coming years, it is expected that renewable energy will see an increase in investment.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), 40% more renewable electricity was produced and used in 2020 than in the previous year. This growth is expected to continue into 2022. The cost of producing renewable energy from different sources , such as onshore and offshore wind and solar, fell between seven and one-half. This will help countries and businesses to meet their emissions targets. Even though it will take a while before some of these new energy sources are fully realized, biofuels, liquid hydrogen, and nuclear fusion are viable. These breakthroughs are sure to be the talk of the town. Helion Energy, a pioneer in fusion energy that replicates the sun’s process of creating energy, expects its latest prototype fusion generator online in 2022. The field of “green hydrogen” energy will also see practical applications. This is different from the existing processes to make hydrogen energy. These involve using large quantities of dirty fossil fuel energy to create electrolysis. However, it uses renewable energy to reduce the environmental impact.