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Three Bold Predictions for Technology in 2019

The pace of change in technology these days is moving at an incredible rate – nothing new there. And with that blistering rate of change, we see quite a few tech innovations and fields taking on a new role in 2019. The role of the star pupil. These technologies are clearly in the eyes of the public and we think they are ready to shine.

So, without any further ado, ITP presents three bold predictions for the future of tech in 2019: 5G will rise to prominence, as will autonomous vehicles, and with these advancements, technological ethics will take a backseat.

Technology Adaptation Rates are Shrinking

The classically known (at least known in tech spheres) Morv’s Law was established back in the 1980s. In laymen’s terms, it stated that processor power would double every year (for roughly a decade). Instead of 10-year outlook, the growth has lasted for over 30 years. That growth has been mirrored by an increase in the speed at which technology is adopted.

To give an example, take a look at the below graph. You can see that it took 68 years for 50 million people to fly on an airplane. Mobile phones took over a decade to hit 50 million users. That same 50 million users for the mobile game, Pokémon Go, however? 19 Days.

The technology adaptation of the previous half-century looks like a snail’s pace compared to the growth of apps, platforms, games, and other channels in today’s world.

The time in which we consume technology has decreased drastically. We have the ability to consume something new and disruptive that can change the way that we live and interact with each other. Interactions are faster now than ever before. Technology has the ability to disrupt our daily lives – for good and for bad. That is the current rate of change in technology.

Caption: Technologies are being adapted at exponentially faster rates, leading to new tech innovations that have a chance to thrive.   

Technologies are being adapted at exponentially faster rates, leading to new tech innovations that have a chance to thrive.

With that said, let’s look at some of ITP’s bold predictions for technology in 2019, featuring a look at the evolution of 5G networks, the year of autonomous vehicles & the year digital ethics continue their downward spiral.

5G Cellular Internet set to Steal Market Share

This first prediction is looking less and less bold by the day, as it is coming to fruition earlier in the year than initially anticipated. The prediction is that 5G cellular internet is going to be disruptive in 2019. For a more detailed look into 5G technologies, check out this blog we put out earlier in the week. Currently, 5G cellular technology is only available in a few large markets in the U.S, but the amount of businesses with exposure to the technology is set to explode in 2019. There are two major difference makers for 5G networks: speed and support.

5G Brings Speed and Support to the Internet

With the old 4G network, only a few towers around the whole nation were needed, but in the 5G network, the towers are closer and there are more of them. This will make a more diverse, more meshed network. The “support” network is much larger, decreasing the time for data to travel from the user to the tower and back.

With speeds of up to 100 gigabits per second, 5G is set to be as much as 1,000 times faster than 4G.

With speeds of up to 100 gigabits per second, 5G is set to be as much as 1,000 times faster than 4G.

With 5G, we’re talking about internet devices that are able to engage, respond, and react in the real world at 10x, 20x speeds compared to current networks. These speeds will ultimately change how businesses choose to operate. Where a business ten years ago would need to focus on providing a good connection to the internet to users, businesses in 2019 and beyond are going to have access to 5G, which will transform how they function.

Through speed and support, 5G technology will continue to lead to internet-enabled devices in all markets. Businesses need to be aware of this coming change as they make investments in technology this year before competitors beat you to it and prices begin to rise.

Autonomous Vehicles take to the Streets

In a slightly bolder prediction, we see 2019 as the year that completely autonomous vehicles take to the roads. We will see cars without safety drivers behind them and this will start to impact various industries immediately and others in the more long-term. This is also already in effect, with businesses like Waymo 8, Aptiv, Ford, Tesla, and others all paving the way for autonomous vehicles. In fact, seeing cars without a driver on the street will become the norm, evidenced by Waymo totaling over 1 million driverless miles to date.

Waymo is leading the way for autonomous vehicles, with over 1 million miles driven sans driver.

Waymo is leading the way for autonomous vehicles, with over 1 million miles driven sans driver.

Driverless Cars Impact Various Business Verticals

The shift to autonomous vehicles will absolutely mark a decline in the use of Uber and Lyft, as well as other ride-sharing services. While Uber is a great service and a concept that disrupted the taxi industry, they are not pushing hard enough on completely autonomous vehicles. And, that will ultimately lead to their decline as other companies (again, think Waymo & Tesla, etc.) take the lead in this space.

In the near future, software-defined vehicles using 5G technology are going to be able to make more rapid decisions behind the wheel than a human. This will lead to a major shift in the long-haul trucking industry, with autonomous vehicles replacing humans. Like general passenger cars, trucks dedicated to freight hauling will become driverless in the future.

While freight technology is a smidge behind driverless cars for consumers, the industry is definitely keyed in on AI taking over human responsibilities on the road. The aforementioned Tesla is set to unveil the semi-autonomous Tesla Semi truck in the coming weeks. The vehicle boasts some of the most interesting specs on the market, but the autopilot feature is one of its biggest marketing points of differentiation.

One big question remains for all autonomous vehicle producers – how to handle situations in which technology doesn’t create the solution, but the problem. What happens should an autonomous vehicle malfunction or crash? The ethical ramifications are monstrous, and as a tech player, we’re interested to see how these companies choose to address safety v. technological advancements.

Digital Ethics Will Continue Downward Spiral

From Facebook to Google to Apple, major tech companies were in the public spotlight for questionable ethical decisions regarding personal data. Ultimately, we’re predicting that these ethical challenges will face more public scrutiny and will get worse before they get better in 2019.

Digital Ethics – What are they?

In the most basic terms, digital ethics encompasses all the challenges we’re facing today around not regulating technology fast enough. Like we mentioned, it only took 18 days for Pokémon Go whereas it took years for former technology advancements to be digested. In other words, if a new technology can emerge and disrupt the world in 18 days as Pokémon Go did, there is a near zero chance that government bodies would be able to get regulations out – not that all regulations are great, but there is a small amount of value to governmental oversight on certain technologies, like Artificial Intelligence (AI).

With technology integrating AI more and more in today’s market, global and national rules and regulations are typically most beneficial for end consumers. As AI services evolve, they’re more often than not provided access to large amounts of confidential data. AI technology gathers data from many sources – whether that’s coming from public webcams, cameras in airports and on streets, etc. – and then the AI can run these images through databases utilizing the immense power of the public cloud and be able to identify you and track you down based on your previous images.

AI can already do this autonomously today, which is a little terrifying. There are no current regulations on what people can do with images pulled from CC TVs and other public sources. And this is just one example of where AI can be making decisions about people and their lives. These applications will have a tremendous impact on privacy, and there simply aren’t enough laws to protect end-users right now, as there are a variety of ethical concerns, including the following four areas:

Digital Ethics is the study of how to manage oneself (or one's business) ethically via online and digital mediums. Major tech players must shoulder the burden of this change.

Digital Ethics is the study of how to manage oneself (or one’s business) ethically via online and digital mediums. Major tech players must shoulder the burden of this change.

Regulations Can’t Keep Up

One more example of the rise of technology outpacing regulation is the cryptocurrency industry. It took the United States IRS 8 years before there was a rule regarding the taxability of cryptocurrencies. Eight Years. That’s far too long. Another example of an extended delay is that of Facebook (specifically the Cambridge Analytica scandal). In this situation, there’s a chance that Facebook was okay in their security, but an external organization with access to API data as a third-party may not have been as secure. With new and emerging software and hardware, implementing real-time regulations is nearly impossible.

What’s more troubling is when these issues do come to light in the eyes of governmental bodies, we see CEOs and major tech players showing up in front of Congress, the U.N., and European courts only to make it clear as day that ruling bodies know much less about the technology, they’re trying to regulate than those creating it. It’s clear how little our elected officials know about these emerging technologies just based on the questions asked of Mark Zuckerberg and Sundar Pichai during congressional hearings regarding Facebook and Google respectively.

The public eye is definitely monitoring tech companies today, but you can clearly see we’re at an impasse between tech creation and tech regulation.

Major tech players – like Facebook here – talked data security, among other topics, as governmental bodies turn eyes to digital ethics.

Major tech players – like Facebook here – talked data security, among other topics, as governmental bodies turn eyes to digital ethics.

As we move forward into the 2020s, it will be more important than ever for private companies to do what they can to protect user data. Steps like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that passed in Europe in May 2018 are critical moves to protect user data and give people more control over their digital identity. We also expect to see a GDPR-like regulation coming to the U.S. – likely in California first, as they already are working on legislation. Why? Because these digital ethical breaches are starting to teach the public more about how and why our data is being used. This increased public awareness regarding the risks of the digital world is driving change at the regulatory level.

That said, as an industry, technology is not ahead of the end game. There will be several more major breaches, like Cambridge Analytica, before we fully understand how to get ahead of the regulatory curve, rather than chasing the problem.

Other Thoughts as we Take On 2019

Of course, these three predictions above can’t even begin to scratch the surface of where technology is moving in 2019. We have other major players (like the blockchain and cryptocurrencies) that will continue to make waves. There are products being phased out of business use – like vSphere which went from a standard tool to a non-requirement basically overnight.

Ultimately, there are tons of new offerings coming down the pike, and we’re excited to share them with your business. But, to recap, autonomous vehicles are coming, so start planning for that change now to be ahead of your competitors. As you look at purchases for 2019 technology, consider the upcoming shift from 4G to 5G networks. 5G compatibility within devices will be absolutely mission-critical, and purchases like laptops, hotspots, routers, etc. will need to have 5G accessibility to leverage the technology. And, the final thing for businesses to key in on – regulatory changes on the horizon.

With various new shifts (including GDPR), businesses will need to know how to maintain compliance and security when it comes to the data they maintain and utilize. The businesses and organizations that have a proactive approach to new technology will ultimately be the ones succeeding ahead of the curve, and we want to help get you to that point.

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