Tech is at the forefront of a cultural revolution, it is no longer a gizmo or a gadget that we play with; we now rely on tech to do our jobs, control our homes and cars, but also to keep us safe. Google’s Deep Mind launched an ethics group to focus on how AI is affecting our everyday lives and encourage public trust in emerging technology. The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced considerable UK investment in emerging technology in both the Spring and Autumn budgets, promoting the UK as a centre of excellence for AI development and seeing technology as the answer to the UK’s poor productivity levels. What could next year could bring?
1. AI will make a medical breakthrough
In the realms of the medical sector, software is capable of solving complex problems, which would take humans an inordinately long period of time to achieve. As AI becomes less dependent on computing capacity, I expect that next year we will see some major medical research breakthroughs with very limited AI learning. Even the most intelligent doctors can only think of a few things at a time, if you channel hundreds of doctors’ research and thoughts through AI, the possibility of breakthroughs in medical research for diseases such as Alzheimer’s, cancer and HIV becomes much more achievable. While AI will not replace people in the medical profession, it will certainly aid diagnoses, decision-making and eventually aid surgical procedures. As the NHS continues to experience issues with under-funding and overworked staff in 2018, AI could very well be the tool to aid overburdened medical professionals as they continue to treat an unprecedented number of patients.
Whilst many people may be wary of the role AI might play in medicine, the consistency of quality assured technology and automated processes will take away the inconsistencies of human error which are bound to happen with overstretched medical staff.
2. Blue-collar workers are not the only people who will be out of work
Automation and AI are often cited as being a potential threat to the working class, blue-collar worker. While I still believe that 30 per cent of jobs as we know them today will be obsolete, it will not just be blue-collar workers who are left looking for employment. I predict that any process orientated roles will be replaced by intelligent software. We have already seen this at firms such as Goldman Sach’s where 600 of its traders have now been replaced by 200 computer engineers as traders are replaced by software. In 2018, we will see an increase in the number of highly educated employees having to change their job. Clearly, the need for the mass retraining of a large section of society is needed and we mustn’t just think about drivers and factory workers, AI and software advances will affect our entire workforce to a differing degree and that must be addressed.
Companies should look to re-train their staff now. The traditional blue-collar worker we describe is using technology in their everyday lives, from smart phones, to banking to deciding which paint to buy, and they are more than capable of re-training to be relevant in a digital workforce.
3. Hacking must be regulated and taken seriously
2018 must be the year that the UN sets up a hacker group to test the cyber security of nations, businesses and Non-Governmental Organisations to ensure they are doing the things they are meant to do. At present, we are relying on talented hackers who are doing us all a favour by exposing poor cyber security practices in business and government. Thankfully, many of the major 2017 hacks have resulted in relatively minimal damage to businesses and organisations. The majority of people orchestrating these attacks have been non-malicious and are either doing it for fun or to prove a point. We must not rely on “ethical” hackers lurking in the shadows of the internet to warn businesses and governments. This must become official and regulated by organisations such as the UN in 2018.
4. RIP Apps – deceased 2018
I believe that 2018 will mark the end of an era for applications (apps). The app was very interesting to businesses and the public alike when it was a new concept. But, as thousands of apps continue to flood the market, we are going to see a more integrated system where the app is no longer separate, but integrated into our day-to-day life. There are quite frankly too many apps and the way we want to use them is changing. The network has become vast, access to WiFi and 4G now makes it much easier to stay connected. In 2018, we will see apps become much more integrated into one platform, as the business model for apps continues to change.