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Hackernoon logoInnovation Opportunities in Data, AI, AR, Robots, Biotech, More [Overview] by@g.krasadakis

Innovation Opportunities in Data, AI, AR, Robots, Biotech, More [Overview]

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@g.krasadakisGeorge Krasadakis

Product Architect | Tech Inventor | Entrepreneur

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

Our digitized world accelerates innovation in many ways.Ā The unprecedented pace of innovation we experience is powered by a massive digital ecosystem of resources, tools, infrastructure, and advanced capabilities that a few years ago would have been classified as ā€˜science fictionā€™. OurĀ social structuresĀ andĀ work modelsĀ are impacted by recent innovations leading to new forms of communication and collaboration.

Movements such as theĀ open-sourceĀ andĀ open collaborationĀ bothĀ driveĀ innovation andĀ benefitĀ from it.

The following summarizesĀ the state of digital technologies,Ā theĀ things to come,Ā andĀ opportunities for innovation.

We Generate an Astronomical, Rapidly Growing Amount of Data.

The worldā€™s network of humans and machines generates astronomical volumes of data. It is estimated that ourĀ digital universeĀ will size aboutĀ 175 zettabytesĀ by 2025 [1]. And this volume is growing exponentially. Of course, a significant percentage of this is justĀ noiseĀ or evenĀ fake,Ā low-quality, andĀ unreliableĀ data. But subsets of this data describeĀ most types of human activity at a global scale, and at the same time,Ā at an amazing level of detail.

Along with the events coming from connected devices and the measurements from billions of sensors ā€” this massive, growing data set forms a new type ofĀ global memory: a vast amount of time-series of events and signals, machine states, news, opinions, research findings, discoveries, social interactions, decisions, environmental measurements and more.

The historians of the future will be able to look back and reproduce the planetā€™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:Ā how might we use, protect and leverage humanitiesā€™ accumulated data in an ethical way and for the greater good?Ā 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 identifyĀ non-obvious patternsĀ in the data and generate insights that make applications and devices smart.

Statistical and machine learning algorithms allow optimal,Ā real-time decision-makingĀ in complex situations ā€” for example, powering autonomous cars to react in optimal ways, enabling systems to identify cyber-attacks or controlling the traffic load of a smart city.

Artificial Intelligence empowers computersĀ to see,Ā to listen,Ā to smell [ii], and soonĀ to inferĀ ā€” to deduce new information from existing knowledge. Machines can already recognize human emotions, and they can communicate verbally at an impressive level.

But still, there is massiveĀ untapped valueĀ in the immense volumes of data and content we produce. TheĀ amount, theĀ breadth, andĀ depthĀ of the worldā€™s accumulated data create the need forĀ new ways to summarize,Ā visualize, andĀ presentĀ information and insights.

To deal with the potential of information overload,Ā companies will soon feel the need to moveĀ from regular reportsĀ andĀ dashboards,Ā to automatically synthesizedĀ data storiesĀ andĀ smart insights. Corporate executives will soon interact with Business Intelligence agents providing instant answers to business questions instead of multi-page reports and worksheets.

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

Intelligent content synopsis, personalized insights, ā€˜data navigationā€™ systems, VR and AR experiences to visualize complex ā€˜data worldsā€™, 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 ā€” to analyze images and videos and identify entities, objects, and specific instances such as locations, persons, things ā€” or even the situation and the particular occasion visualized in an image.

Combined with other technologies such as fast networking and edge computing, Computer Vision creates opportunities for breakthrough innovations across domains, includingĀ transportationĀ (autonomous cars, self-organizing fleets, navigation systems, and smart cities),Ā medical systemsĀ (diagnosis),Ā roboticsĀ and more.

At the same time, Language Understanding is making tremendous progress ā€” makingĀ digital assistantsĀ more intelligent, contextual, and proactive. Your smart speaker will soon perform in aĀ conversational mode, able toĀ drive meaningful dialoguesĀ instead of just responding to an isolated question.

Digital assistants of the future will knowĀ who they are discussing withĀ by analyzing the voice in real-time, and thus, they will be able to respond in personalized ways ā€”Ā matching the communication style and information needs of each specific user. By leveraging accumulated knowledge about the user, conversational experiences will become more personal, useful, and relevant for theĀ particular user, theĀ moment in time, and theĀ estimated mood.

AI-poweredĀ translationĀ is becoming more accurate and faster ā€” recent advances allowĀ speech to speechĀ translationĀ whileĀ maintaining the tone of voiceĀ and other voice attributes of the original speaker.

With the help of Artificial Intelligence,Ā communication with machines is becoming seamlessĀ ā€” hence the termĀ Natural User Interfaces. People are already interacting naturally with smart devices ā€” we can control simple functions of our home via our smart speaker or digital assistant or use voice commands to perform a web search and manage our calendar. Soon, we will be able to use not only voice but alsoĀ haptic interfacesĀ ā€” a technology recreating the sense of touch by applying force feedback, vibrations, or motions to the user.

Our Reality Gets Augmented.

Technology is not only changing how we interact with our intelligent machines but alsoĀ how we see and understand the world. Typically delivered through smart glasses,Ā Augmented RealityĀ (also known asĀ extendedĀ orĀ 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.

This area will grow rapidly ā€” the space for innovation is unlimited: NewĀ content experiences,Ā data exploration, andĀ visualization techniques,Ā dynamic mapping of the physical world,Ā industrial applicationsĀ for field workers ā€” are just some examples of the applications that are on the way and are about to change the ways we understand the world.

Analogous progress and opportunity for innovation exist forĀ Virtual RealityĀ ā€” which allows new digital worlds to be created and helpsĀ experience remote environments or situationsĀ e.g. join a human activity happening elsewhere.

Content creation and new experiences for VR/AR defines a great new stage for innovations across multiple domains and business scenarios, including e-commerce, gaming, social applications, learning and education, and healthcare.

Humanityā€™s Memory Becomes Persistent.

Another significant advance is in digital tech is theĀ Distributed Ledger TechnologiesĀ (DLTs) such as theĀ 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 ā€” with no single entity or authority controlling the system. A process ofĀ transaction verificationĀ andĀ voting among the nodesĀ makes these systemsĀ trustlessĀ andĀ decentralizedĀ ā€” they are not controlled by specific entities, and they donā€™t require trust between transaction participants.

Blockchain is considered to be one of the most disruptive technologies of our times. It is already powering cryptocurrencies, and it is expected to drive massive transformation in social, government, and financial sectors ā€” as the solution for distributed, decentralized, andĀ immutable storageĀ of data or code (smart contracts).

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,Ā autonomousĀ robots that can perform a widening range of tasks.

Robots are powered by advanced Artificial Intelligence and take advantage of the fast connectivity and edge computing, to perform complexĀ cognitive tasks in real-time. Robots may come in multiple form factors ā€”Ā humanoids,Ā nano-robots,Ā military,Ā industrial, and so on. New generations of robots are connected ā€” they take advantage of the worldā€™s knowledge and digital infrastructure to become smarter and more adaptive. In the near future, general-purpose robots will become truly proactive and autonomous with advancedĀ context understandingĀ and the ability to recognize complex situations and act accordingly. They will have a ā€˜personalityā€™, individual communication styles, and strategies.

Biotechnology Redefines Life.

At the same time, advances inĀ biotechnology,Ā bio-engineering, and bioinformaticsĀ are driving massive changes across industries, from medical and pharmaceutical to agriculture and food engineering. Research inĀ Quantum ComputingĀ presents significant progress ā€” recent announcements of quantum supremacy demonstrate how this new class of systems outperforms the most powerful computing systems we currently have.

The years to come will bring impressive technological breakthroughs with a massive impact on our lives, markets, and societies. In our connected world, with the unprecedented level ofĀ information,Ā knowledge, andĀ ideas exchange,Ā innovation is happening continuously, at scale, and in several forms. It may be driven by corporations, secret research labs, and universities but also fromĀ startups,Ā individual scientists, or simply by thousands ofĀ creative individualsĀ across the globe.

[1] https://www.seagate.com/files/www-content/our-story/trends/files/idc-seagate-dataage-whitepaper.pdf

Originally published inĀ The Innovation Mode Blog

Cover image by Prawny from Pixabay

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