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Technology has always been the driving force of progress and growth of civilization, but it has not always been able to leap from being simply useful to transforming the world in unimaginable ways. Here are six technological advances that will change the world, by allowing us to harness more power than ever before, by helping us connect and share information more freely, and by making our lives more comfortable than ever before.
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20 years from now, we’ll look back at Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa as old-school. As virtual assistants become more intelligent, they will help us do our jobs and buy things online. They’ll also let us shop in ways we can only dream of today—like just sending a text to have food ordered and delivered. In 10 years, digital assistants will be found in everything from our thermostats to household appliances to wearables to earbuds. That means fewer errands for us and way fewer hours wasted sitting in traffic. In some cities, it could eventually eliminate parking lots. Let's face it: We'll never be able to truly live in cars (or pod homes) alone again without any human interaction. Virtual assistants offer a hands-free way for humans to communicate with machines with ease—for better or worse. Welcome to life with smart machines: where sci-fi becomes reality.
Artificial Intelligence is an umbrella term, encompassing everything from machine learning to software bots. What all AI systems have in common is their ability to parse data and make predictions. That’s what technology does: It automates tasks, which means AI technologies often take over roles humans used to do. From natural language processing (chatbots) to object recognition (driverless cars), it’s not difficult to see how automation might lead to job loss—but it could also present business opportunities for some of those who are displaced. Advanced forecasting, for example, allows retailers to adjust inventory in real-time based on sales patterns or weather forecasts. In doing so, they save money and create a more efficient supply chain. AI has many applications across industries, but it’s especially prevalent in health care and financial services. According to The Economist, one estimate puts AI’s contribution to banks at $16 billion by 2022. Research firm Markets and Markets says global healthcare AI market revenue will grow from $11 million in 2016 to $290 million by 2025, representing an average annual growth rate of 61%. The three companies cited most as AI influencers? Apple, Alphabet (Google), and Amazon.
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Robotic Process Automation
In recent years, robotic process automation (RPA) has become a buzzword for new IT initiatives that promise to improve efficiency and reduce costs by automating office- and customer-facing processes. RPA is effectively software robots that record activity by employees as they perform various tasks in different apps and services. Then, these bots take over those processes—either partially or entirely—by replicating their actions faster than humans can. RPA is taking off quickly due to its ease of use and employee-friendly nature; however, since no two businesses are alike, organizations should be wary of blanket solutions like canned bots or point solutions—and should instead weigh risks against benefits when choosing an approach for implementing automation technologies. Among other considerations, enterprises must decide whether to hand off workflows to artificial intelligence-powered APIs and workflow management systems. Automation may sound scary at first, but with proper planning and thought it’s more likely to pay dividends by saving time while improving the quality of service. It’s something worth considering before being left behind.
As more and more devices have cameras built into them (think cell phones), augmented reality is poised to transform many different industries. Imagine a construction worker who could hold up his phone or tablet while he’s working on a project; an augmented-reality app could overlay directions or reference materials on top of his field of vision. Or picture a mechanic who can overlay detailed schematics of an engine onto what he sees under a car’s hood, which allows him to fix problems faster and more accurately. Within five years, we’ll likely see everyday uses for AR in everything from entertainment to education to industry—and possibly even medicine (like surgery). In short, you can think of AR as merging our physical and digital worlds into one. With technology like Microsoft's HoloLens already transforming how we interact with information and one another, it won't be long before AR tech becomes commonplace—but not until it's properly integrated into products people use daily. Think about your favorite apps right now: do they look good enough to wear? Are they practical enough? Can they serve a purpose in real life?
To navigate safely, human drivers must constantly scan for obstacles and anticipate potential hazards. However, human error accounts for over 90% of crashes on our roadways. Today’s cars and roads were designed for humans to be in complete control; as such, they aren’t well suited to self-driving vehicles. A fully autonomous vehicle must be able to account for complex scenarios that include interactions with other vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, and unpredictable elements such as road work or accidents without direct human involvement or oversight. At Argo AI, we are working on Autonomous Driving technology that will revolutionize how people get around while also saving thousands of lives each year by significantly reducing accidents due to human error on our roads.
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For centuries, mankind has dreamt of space exploration. Many scientists have attempted to unravel its mysteries and today, space technology is booming and poised to usher in a new era of discovery. For example, Boeing’s T-X trainer will be a versatile aircraft for training future pilots and astronauts. The company expects it to go into service in 2023 with NASA planning on using it for both military and civilian purposes including suborbital flights. Ultimately, there are many exciting developments in space travel happening right now; here are just a few of the space tourism, exploring Mars, private-sector rockets, and 3D printing in space.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Ghulam Nabi Memon