The State of Digital Tech and Innovation Opportunities

Digital Technology is everywhere and it is redefining how we live, communicate, and work. Most importantly, it accelerates how we innovate.

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We Generate an Astronomical, Rapidly Growing Amount of Data

The worlds network of humans and machines generates astronomical volumes of data. It is estimated that our digital universe will size about 175 zettabytes by 2025[i]. And this volume is growing exponentially. Of course, a significant percentage of this is just noise or even fake, low-quality, and unreliable data. But subsets of this data describe most types of human activity at a global scale, and at the same time, at an amazing level of detail.

The historians of the future will be able to look back and reproduce the planet’s activity with a granularity of seconds.

The machines of the future will be able to consume and make sense of our reality in ways we cannot even imagine. Of course, there are substantial ethical questions and concerns regarding ownership and usage of this data: how might we use, protect and leverage humanities’ accumulated data in an ethical way and for the greater good? This question could be an excellent theme for innovation on its own as we should not rely on the political will and corporate social responsibility; regulation is only a part of the solution. Technology itself can provide excellent ways of data ownership and ethical use.

Our Data Processing Capability is Impressive but still, Rather Limited

Current data processing technologies are capable of making sense of the vast amounts of content we produce. Sophisticated algorithms can identify non-obvious patterns in the data and generate insights that make applications and devices smart.

The world needs novel methods to experience and make sense of the massive data we generate.

Intelligent content synopsis, personalized insights, ‘data navigation’ systems, VR and AR experiences to visualize complex ‘data worlds’, voice-driven insights are just some examples of potential innovations in the data space.

Artificial Intelligence is Getting Intelligent

Computer vision and Natural Language Processing are characteristic examples of recent advances in the field of AI. Simply put, Computer Vision is the class of algorithms that allow a computer to see — to analyze images and videos and identify entities, objects, and specific instances such as locations, persons, things — or even the situation and the particular occasion visualized in an image.

Our Reality Gets Augmented

Technology is not only changing how we interact with our intelligent machines but also how we see and understand the world. Typically delivered through smart glasses, Augmented Reality (also known as extended or mixed reality) provides an extra layer of information relevant to the particular object a user is looking at or interacting with. It is what we get when physical and digital worlds blend into a single experience.

Humanity’s Memory Becomes Persistent

Another significant advance is in digital tech is the Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLTs) such as the Blockchain. Such systems are based on an extensive network of nodes, each running on a different machine and maintaining a complete copy of a database of transactions. Nodes communicate with each other on a peer-to-peer fashion — with no single entity or authority controlling the system. A process of transaction verification and voting among the nodes makes these systems trustless and decentralized — they are not controlled by specific entities, and they don’t require trust between transaction participants.

Robots are Finally Getting Smart

Either purpose-specific or general-purpose, robots are already here in various forms. The discipline of Robotics combines multiple technologies, including sophisticated hardware, advanced software systems, and AI algorithms, to develop smarter, autonomous robots that can perform a widening range of tasks.

Biotechnology Redefines Life

At the same time, advances in biotechnology, bioengineering, and bioinformatics are driving massive changes across industries, from medical and pharmaceutical to agriculture and food engineering. Research in Quantum Computing presents significant progress — recent announcements of quantum supremacy demonstrate how this new class of systems outperforms the most powerful computing systems we currently have.

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