Sunday, November 29, 2015

Eight Technologies Will Dominate The Near-Term Future

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According to an IBM-led study of C-Suite executives, these are the technological foci (focuses) which will shape the near-term (3-5 years) future. While C-Suite executives tend to be fadists more than Global Futurists, the power of the effect of their self-fulfilling prophesy must be given its due. It might be a good exercise to at least understand the aspects and implications of each of these innovative areas before we judge the C-Suite denizens too harshly.

Cloud Computing And Related Services:

Cloud computing, also known as on-demand computing, is a kind of internet-based computing, where shared resources and information are provided to computers and other devices on-demand. It is a model for enabling ubiquitous, on-demand access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources.
Cloud computing and storage solutions provide users and enterprises with various capabilities to store and process their data in third-party data centers. It relies on sharing of resources to achieve coherence and economies of scale, similar to a utility (like the electricity grid) over a network. At the foundation of cloud computing is the broader concept of converged infrastructure and shared services.
Cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort.
Cloud computing, or in simpler shorthand just "the cloud", also focuses on maximizing the effectiveness of the shared resources. Cloud resources are usually not only shared by multiple users but are also dynamically reallocated per demand. This can work for allocating resources to users. For example, a cloud computer facility that serves European users during European business hours with a specific application (e.g., email) may reallocate the same resources to serve North American users during North America's business hours with a different application (e.g., a web server). This approach helps maximize the use of computing power while reducing the overall cost of resources by using less power, air conditioning, rack space, etc. to maintain the system. With cloud computing, multiple users can access a single server to retrieve and update their data without purchasing licenses for different applications.

Mobile Solutions:


Mobile solutions refer to the online services that are made available to users while they are on the go. Mobile solutions technology has not only traversed geographical boundaries but has also accessed various domains. Providers of the technology continue to provide services in many different countries through by making use of the many developments in mobile technology. Today, this technology continues to give services in tune to today’s urban mobility needs.


The first component is wireless data networks. This refers to an electronic communications process that allows the orderly transmitting and receiving of data through the use of a wireless network of computers. The next component is wireless data modems. These are devices that allow computers to connect to a wireless local area network (WLAN) without wires or cabling for transmitting and receiving data. 2 Devices need this in order to connect to networks. The third component is mobile computers. These are devices that are wireless ready. These can be easily connected to wireless modems and run wireless enabled applications. These include laptops and notebook computers, handheld computers, palm-sized computers and many more. Next is wireless middleware. Middleware is defined as software that connects different parts of an application or a series of applications. The last component is wireless-enabled applications. These refer to programs and other software that can be readily used once connected to a network.

Functionality and General Uses

There are many mobile solutions providers all over the world. Each provider strives to set itself apart from the other providers by boosting its competitive advantage through differentiation, lower costs and the formation of alliances with leading companies.
Mobile solutions providers have an array of services. Some providers focus purely on payment solutions. Some providers offer an electronic wallet feature that allows businesses to make or accept payments, accept international and local credit card payments and industry specific payments using only their mobile phone. There are also providers that offer online hotel reservations with a deposit, ticketing solutions for events and events organizers, mobile banking and other electronic payment services.
Some providers offer mobile solutions for personal use. Some make use of services such as information alerts and notifications, travel updates, news alerts, sports updates and horoscopes. Other mobile solutions providers have brought the chat services to a whole new level through personal chat, dating and personal consultations. Some providers generate great profit by providing entertainment to their clients through quizzes and games, jokes and cartoons, videos with the use of mobile phones with 3G.
Some providers focus on mobile solutions for providing corporate or business use through file storage, file sharing and mobile e-mailing system. Some companies involved in direct selling also make use of short message service or SMS to allow their customers to check availability of stocks, updates on products, check distribution address and other details for their business. The most common use of mobile solutions technology today is for direct marketing. Companies are able to utilize mobile solutions for their promos and contests and brand advertisements. They are able to advertise their products and services through SMS. Because of the popularity of SMS all over the globe, most companies make use of this as their medium in their promotions.

The Internet Of Things (IoT):

The Internet of Things (IoT) is an environment in which objects, animals or people are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. IoT has evolved from the convergence of wireless technologies, micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) and the Internet. The concept may also be referred to as the Internet of Everything.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical objects or "things" embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity, which enables these objects to collect and exchange data. The Internet of Things allows objects to be sensed and controlled remotely across existing network infrastructure, creating opportunities for more direct integration between the physical world and computer-based systems, and resulting in improved efficiency, accuracy and economic benefit. Each thing is uniquely identifiable through its embedded computing system but is able to interoperate within the existing Internet infrastructure. Experts estimate that the IoT will consist of almost 50 billion objects by 2020.
British entrepreneur Kevin Ashton first coined the term in 1999 while working at the Auto-ID Labs (originally called Auto-ID centers - referring to a global network of RFID connected objects). Typically, IoT is expected to offer advanced connectivity of devices, systems, and services that goes beyond machine-to-machine communications (M2M) and covers a variety of protocols, domains, and applications. The interconnection of these embedded devices (including smart objects), is expected to usher in automation in nearly all fields, while also enabling advanced applications like a Smart Grid, and expanding to the areas such as smart cities.
"Things," in the IoT sense, can refer to a wide variety of devices such as heart monitoring implants, biochip transponders on farm animals, electric clams in coastal waters, automobiles with built-in sensors, or field operation devices that assist firefighters in search and rescue operations. These devices collect useful data with the help of various existing technologies and then autonomously flow the data between other devices. Current market examples include smart thermostat systems and washer/dryers that use Wi-Fi for remote monitoring.
Besides the plethora of new application areas for Internet connected automation to expand into, IoT is also expected to generate large amounts of data from diverse locations that is aggregated very quickly, thereby increasing the need to better index, store and process such data.

Cognitive Computing:

Cognitive computing is the simulation of human thought processes in a computerized model.
Cognitive computing involves self-learning systems that use data mining, pattern recognition and natural language processing to mimic the way the human brain works. The goal of cognitive computing is to create automated IT systems that are capable of solving problems without requiring human assistance.
Cognitive computing systems use machine learning algorithms. Such systems continually acquire knowledge from the data fed into them by mining data for information. The systems refine the way they look for patterns and as well as the way they process data so they become capable of anticipating new problems and modeling possible solutions.
Cognitive computing is used in numerous artificial intelligence (AI) applications, including expert systems, natural language programming, neural networks, robotics and virtual reality. The term cognitive computing is closely associated with IBM’s cognitive computer system, Watson.
Cognitive computing (CC) makes a new class of problems computable. It addresses complex situations that are characterized by ambiguity and uncertainty; in other words it handles human kinds of problems. In these dynamic, information-rich, and shifting situations, data tends to change frequently, and it is often conflicting. The goals of users evolve as they learn more and redefine their objectives. To respond to the fluid nature of users’ understanding of their problems, the cognitive computing system offers a synthesis not just of information sources but of influences, contexts, and insights. To do this, systems often need to weigh conflicting evidence and suggest an answer that is “best” rather than “right”.
Cognitive computing systems make context computable. They identify and extract context features such as hour, location, task, history or profile to present an information set that is appropriate for an individual or for a dependent application engaged in a specific process at a specific time and place. They provide machine-aided serendipity by wading through massive collections of diverse information to find patterns and then apply those patterns to respond to the needs of the moment.
Cognitive computing systems redefine the nature of the relationship between people and their increasingly pervasive digital environment. They may play the role of assistant or coach for the user, and they may act virtually autonomously in many problem-solving situations. The boundaries of the processes and domains these systems will affect are still elastic and emergent. Their output may be prescriptive, suggestive, instructive, or simply entertaining.

Advanced Manufacturing Technologies:

Advanced manufacturing technology is defined as computer-controlled or micro-electronics-based equipment used in the design, manufacture or handling of a product.
Typical applications include computer-aided design (CAD), computer- aided engineering (CAE), flexible machining centres, robots, automated guided vehicles, and automated storage and retrieval systems. These may be linked by communications systems (factory local area networks) into integrated flexible manufacturing systems (FMS) and ultimately into an overall automated factory or computer-integrated manufacturing system (CIM).

New Energy Sources And Systems:

There are the variations on the fossil fuel formulations and then there are the “alternative” energy sources which either minimize or negate any carbon footprint and are ecologically more desirable.
The variations on the fossil fuel formulations include more extensive offshore drilling and fracking, which is the process of drilling down into the earth before a high-pressure water mixture is directed at the rock to release the gas inside. Water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure which allows the gas to flow out to the head of the well. Both drilling and fracking have their share of pro-environmental opponents, perhaps with valid reason.
Everyday, the world produces carbon dioxide that is released to the earth’s atmosphere and which will still be there in one hundred years time.
This increased content of Carbon Dioxide increases the warmth of our planet and is believed by many to be the main cause of the so-called “Global Warming Effect”. One answer to global warming is to replace and retrofit current technologies with alternatives that have comparable or better performance, but do not emit carbon dioxide. This is generally referred to as alternate energy.
By 2050, one-third of the world's energy will need to come from solar, wind, and other renewable resources. Who says this? British Petroleum and Royal Dutch Shell, two of the world's largest oil companies, do. Climate change, population growth, and fossil fuel depletion mean that renewables will need to play a bigger role in the future than they do today.
Alternative energy refers to energy sources that have no undesired consequences such for example fossil fuels or nuclear energy. Alternative energy sources are renewable and are thought to be "free" energy sources. They all have lower carbon emissions, compared to conventional energy sources. These include Biomass Energy, Wind Energy, Solar Energy, Geothermal Energy, Hydroelectric Energy sources. Combined with the use of recycling, the use of clean alternative energies such as the home use of solar power systems will help ensure Humankind's survival into the 21st century and beyond.


Bioengineering is the application of the life sciences, physical sciences, mathematics and engineering principles to define and solve problems in biology, medicine, health care and other fields.
Bioengineering is a relatively new discipline that combines many aspects of traditional engineering fields such as chemical, electrical and mechanical engineering. Examples of bioengineering include:
  • artificial hips, knees and other joints
  • ultrasound, MRI and other medical imaging techniques
  • using engineered organisms for chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturing
This vast field of integrating or developing mechanical, electrical or design skills to either perform work on, or to become integrated with physiology, also subsumes aspects of stem cell research, the Human Genome Project, cloning and biometrics. These are all terms worth being familiar with, as they will become more and more prominent in the practice of medicine and life sciences in general, and due to the high likelihood of an increasing number of very large companies (conglomerates) who will be investing increasing sums into the research and development of biomedical engineering.

Man-Machine Hybrids [Does Anyone Remember “Robocop”?]:

Yes, indeed... remotely man-operated drones may be considered a crude example of man-machine hybrids (more likely they are man-machine partnerships), but Futurist and scientist Ray Kurzweil has a fascinating view of what true-man-machine hybrids are and will be, and what their potential might be.
Human brains will be boosted with artificial intelligence at some point after the year 2030, one of the foremost thinkers on Artificial Intelligence has said.
The brain will connect to online Artificial Intelligence to become a “hybrid of biological and non-biological thinking”, Ray Kurzweil, director of engineering at Google, suggested.
Tiny “nanobots” made from DNA strands would connect our brains to the internet, allowing us to augment our own intelligence with artificial intelligence, he said.
Professor Stephen Hawking, noted physicist, mathematician, cosmologist and Futurist has expressed fear that Artificial Intelligence might eventually be the undoing of our species and lead to our ultimate demise as a species.
This subject has considerable overlap with biomechanical and biomedical engineering, except that in these last two fields of endeavor, the physical body is integrated with robotic or artificial parts or enhancements, without a change in the basic operation of the Human mind. In Kurzweil's view of the future, the mind will be an amalgam of native Human (organic) thought and neurological capabilities with computer intelligence, storage, pattern recognition and enhanced learning and retention capabilities.

The take-away from all of the foregoing information is not necessarily that each of the areas identified will be one of the “Next Big Things” within the coming three to five-year period; but it is a safe bet to assume (and we all know what happens when we count too much on assumptions) that each of the identified areas will be where C-Suite executives, in their capacities as decision makers, will be investing money and time. Carrying this a step further, The Global Futurist and Global Edge International Consulting Associates, Inc. would see that these anticipated expenditures of money, time and focus are actually leading indicators of the growth and dominance in business and society of these technologies. Being a bit conservative, one might think that these technologies will come to market dominance during the next five to seven-year period, allowing for this “lead indicator effect”.

As always, thank you for reading me.

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Tags, Labels, Keywords, Categories And Search Terms For This Article:
cloud, mobile, IoT, cognitive, computing, 3D printing, energy, bioengineering, biomedical engineering, The Global Futurist, man-machine hybrids, Douglas E. Castle, GEIconsulting 


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