Near futures at scale

On March 9, a technology trends report was published that is breathtaking in in scope and scale.

Comprising a PDF of more than 380 pages, the 2019 Tech Trends Report from the Future Today Institute covers hundreds of trends in areas ranging from artificial intelligence and advanced robotics, to home automation and the Internet of Things, to workplace and learning technologies, smart cities and much more.

As the publisher describes it:

This report is intentionally broad and robust. We have included a list of adjacent uncertainties, a detailed analysis of 315 tech trends, a collection of weak signals for 2020, and more than four dozen scenarios describing plausible near futures. Do not try to read it in one sitting. Begin with the Executive Summary and Keywords, then review the top tech trends listed for your industry.

Some good advice here. I started reading it yesterday, quickly realising that this is not a publication for an easy read in one sitting.

VentureBeat published a good summary of the report, managing to expertly distil some essentials from it and present a good summary of what to expect within those 380+ pages.

For me, I’ll highlight some key descriptors from the seven elements outlined in the Key Takeaways that offer a real sense of what this substantial work contains:

  • Privacy is dead: Just by virtue of being alive in 2019, you are generating data – both intentionally and unwittingly – that is mined, refined, productized and monetized. We no longer have an expectation of total privacy. At least not like we’ve known it before.
  • VSO (voice search optimisation) is the new SEO (search engine optimisation): About half of the interactions you have with computers will be using your voice by the end of 2020.
  • The Big Nine and AI: GMAFIA in the US (Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, IBM, Amazon) and BAT in China (Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent) are overwhelmingly responsible for the future of artificial intelligence.
  • Personal data records are coming: This is a single unifying ledger that includes all of the data we create as a result of our digital usage (think Internet and mobile phones), but it will also include other sources of information. [Think also: China and personal citizen scores as a model for others.] We are at the beginning of our transition from email and social media logins and passwords to PDRs.
  • China continues to ascend, and not just in artificial intelligence: No other country’s government is racing towards the future with as much force and velocity as China.
  • Lawmakers around the world are not prepared to deal with new challenges that arise from emerging science and technology.
  • Consolidation continues as a key theme for 2019: Consolidation tends to draw the attention of regulators, especially in the US and EU. [Which can be a double-edged sword if good intent is sidetracked by bad regulation.]

Here’s the complete list in page 10 of the report:

Key Takeaways

2019 Tech Trends Report is available on open download under a Creative Commons license. I think this is very much worth your while, whatever your industry and your role. But you decide.

(Photo at top by Denys Nevozhai on Unsplash.)

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.