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25 Game-Changing Hard Trends That Will Create Both Disruption and Opportunity on a Global Level
No matter what industry you’re in, your company can’t survive without technology. From smart phones and tablets to mobile apps and cloud-based technology, there’s a plethora of technological advancements to not only keep track of, but also to profit from. To stay competitive, your organization needs to anticipate the most significant technology trends that are shaping your business and changing your customer, and then develop innovative ways to use them to your advantage, both inside and outside of your organization. Remember, if it can be done, it will be done. If you don’t use these technologies to create a competitive advantage, someone else will.
Over the next five short years the following game-changing technologies will transform how we sell, market, communicate, collaborate, educate, train, innovate, and much more.
1. Big Data Gets Bigger and Becomes a Service. Big Data is a term to describe the technologies and techniques used to capture and utilize the exponentially increasing streams of data with the goal of bringing enterprise-wide visibility and insights to make rapid critical decisions. Companies are learning the hard way that Big Bad Data can get you into trouble fast, so there is a new push to focus on the quality of the data as it is being captured. High Speed Analytics using advanced cloud services will increasingly be used as a complement to existing information management systems and programs to tame the massive data explosion. This new level of data integration and analytics will require many new skills and cross-functional buy-in in order to break down the many data and organizational silos that still exist. The rapid increase in data makes this a fast-growing hard trend that cannot be ignored. Big Data as-a-Service (BDaaS) will emerge this year as cloud providers offer midsize and smaller organizations access to much larger streams of relevant data they could not tap into otherwise.
2. Cloud Computing Gets Personal and Advanced Cloud Services will be increasingly embraced by business of all sizes, as this represents a major shift in how organizations obtain and maintain software, hardware, and computing capacity. As consumers, we first experienced public clouds (think about when you use Google Docs or Apple’s iCloud). Then we saw more private clouds giving companies the security and limited access they needed, as well as hybrid clouds that provided both, giving customers and consumers access to specific areas of a company’s cloud. Companies of all sizes are using the cloud to cut costs in IT, human resources, and sales management functions. As individuals increasingly use personal mobile clouds, we will see a shift to services and less of a focus on the devices we use to access our services. This shift will also help us address the three limiting factors of mobility: battery life, memory, and processors.
3. On Demand Services will increasingly be offered to companies needing to rapidly deploy new services. Hardware-as-a-Service (HaaS) is increasingly joining Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), creating what some have called “IT as a service.” The rapid growth of Collaboration-as-a-Service (CaaS), Security-as-a-Service (SaaS), Networking as-a-Service (NaaS), and many more are all giving birth to Everything as-a-Service (XaaS). All will grow rapidly for small as well as large companies, with many new players in a multitude of business process categories. These services will help companies cut costs as they provide access to powerful software programs and the latest technology without having the expense of a large IT staff and time-consuming, expensive upgrades. As a result, IT departments in all industries will be increasingly freed to focus on enabling business process transformation, which will allow organizations to maximize their return on their technology investments.
4. Virtualization of Storage, Desktops, Applications, and Networking will see continued acceptance and growth by both large and small businesses as virtualization security improves. In addition to storage, we will continue to see the virtualization of processing power, allowing mobile devices to access supercomputer capabilities and apply it to processes such as purchasing and logistics, to name a few.
5. Consumerization of IT increases, as consumers become the driving source for innovation and technology, which is fueled by rapid advances in processing power, storage, and bandwidth. Smart companies have recognized that this is a hard trend that will continue and have stopped fighting consumerization. Instead, they are turning it into a competitive advantage by consumerizing their applications, such as recommending safe and secure third party hardware and apps. Encouraging employees to share productivity enhancing consumer technology will become a wise strategy.
6. Wear Your Own Device (WYOD) will take off this year as wearable technology goes mainstream with big players launching smart watches, smart glasses, and more, creating new problems as well as opportunities for organizations of all sizes. Over the past few years, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) caught many IT departments by surprise; it’s now time to get in front of this this predictable hard trend and turn it into an advantage.
7. Gameification of Training and Education will accelerate a fast-moving hard trend of using advanced simulations and skill-based learning systems that are self-diagnostic, interactive, game-like, and competitive, all focused on giving the user an immersive experience thanks to a photo-realistic 3D interface. Some will develop software using these gaming techniques to work on existing hardware systems such as both old and new versions of Xbox and PlayStation. A social component that includes sharing will drive success.
8. Online Learning and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) have been embraced by highly recognized and traditional educational institutions, putting them in a position to challenge all educational systems by making Location and Tuition far less of a barrier to receiving the information, training, and knowledge people need to know in order to succeed in a rapidly changing world. This hard trend, combined with Gameification systems, will change the face of global education.
9. eBooks, eNewspapers, eMagazines and Interactive Multimedia eTextbooks are finally passing the tipping point due to the abundance of smart phones and tablets that provide a full color experience, and publishers providing apps that give a better-than-paper experience by including cut, copy, paste, print, and multimedia capabilities. Interactive eTextbooks will finally take off thanks to easy-to-use software such as Apple’s iBook Author and other competing tools, freeing new publishers to create compelling and engaging content, and freeing students from a static, expensive, and literally heavy experience.
10. Social Business Applications take on a new level of urgency as organizations shift from an Information Age “informing” model to a Communication Age “communicating and engaging” model. Social Software for business will reach a new level of adoption with applications to enhance relationships, collaboration, networking, social validation, and more. Social Search and Social Analytics will increasingly be used by marketers and researchers, not to mention Wall Street, to tap into millions of daily tweets and Facebook conversations, providing real-time analysis of many key consumer metrics.
11. Smart Phones & Tablets Get Smarter with the rapid advances in processing power, storage, and bandwidth. Smart phones have already become our primary personal computer, and the Mobile Web has become a must-have capability. An Enterprise Mobility Strategy Becomes Mandatory for all size organizations as we see mobile data, mobile media, mobile sales, mobile marketing, mobile commerce, mobile finance, mobile payments, mobile health, and many more explode. The vast majority of mobile phones sold globally will have a browser, making the smart phone our primary computer that is with us 24/7 and signaling a profound shift in global computing. This new level of mobility and connectivity by many millions around the world will allow any size business to transform how they market, sell, communicate, collaborate, educate, train, and innovate using mobility.
12. Mobile Apps for Business Processes such as purchasing, supply chain, logistics, distribution, service, sales, maintenance, and more will grow rapidly. There will be an increasing focus on Business App Stores within companies giving users access to personalized information they need on their mobile devices anytime and anywhere.
13. 3D Displays for Smart Phones and Tablets will be the breakthrough that will drive wide-scale consumer acceptance of 3D computing. This trend is just starting with hand-held gaming systems and, thanks to the need to visualize ever increasing amounts of rich data, we will see 3D data simulations for the enterprise grow rapidly starting with the military and then to medicine, fashion, architecture, and entertainment to name a few.
14. Augmented Reality (AR) Apps will become more common, adding just-in-time information to our physical world. Simply aim your smart phone camera at a crowded street to find the stores who have the exact products you are looking for. Or, when you are in a store, use your phone’s camera and AR app to quickly locate the products you need. Put on a pair of Google Glasses and see the information you need about how to service your lawn mower or install a water filter. Every business and school could find a great use for this powerful tool.
15. Intelligent Electronic Agents using natural language voice commands was launched with Apple’s Siri, which was rapidly followed by Android, Microsoft, and others all offering what will become a mobile electronic concierge on your smart devices, including your phone, tablet, and television. Soon retailers will have a Siri-like sales assistant, and maintenance workers will have a Siri-like assistant. The possibilities are endless.
16. Digital Identity Management will become increasingly important to both organizations and individuals as new software allows users to better manage their multiple identities across business and personal networks. Next Generation Biometrics integrated into your smart phone, as Apple has recently done, as well as tablets and other devices, will play a key role in both identity management and security. As this hard trend continues, expect to see multiple biometrics, including facial recognition and voice recognition, used based on the level of security you need.
17. Mobile Banking and Payments using smart phones as an eWallet is already being used in an increasing number of countries and will finally take off on a larger scale thanks to an increasing number of phones with either secure Mobile Banking Apps, and/or Near Field Communications (NFC) chips. More important, banks and credit card companies are already starting to see non-bank competitors jump in to the mobile payment race, including Google Wallet and Apple’s Passbook to name a few.
18. Visual Communications takes video conferencing to a new level with programs like SKYPE, FaceTime, and others giving us video communication on phones, tablets, and home televisions. Visual Communications will be integrated with current video conferencing systems, fueling this as a main relationship-building tool for businesses of all sizes. This is the year we will see sales organizations using this to enhance communication and collaboration, gaining new competitive advantages.
19. Enhanced Location Awareness will accelerate the number of business-to-consumer apps for smart phones and tablets that will take geo-social marketing and sales to a new level of creative application, driving rapid growth. In addition, Geo-Spatial Visualization combines geographic information systems (GIS) with location-aware data, RFID (radio frequency identification), and other location-aware sensors (including the current location of users from the use of their mobile devices) to create new insights and competitive advantage. Early enterprise applications include logistics and supply chain to name a few.
20. Smart TV Using Apps and Streaming Entertainment will get a major boost in the marketplace, fueling a major shift in home viewing. Ever wonder how you could have over 500 cable or satellite channels and nothing to watch? You didn’t have apps on your TV allowing you to personalize the experience. In addition, tablets are increasingly becoming a viable replacement for the second and third TV in homes. This is the beginning of a major shift that will take place in living rooms globally.
21. Personalized Manufacturing of finished goods using 3D Printing (Additive Manufacturing) will grow exponentially. 3D printers build things by depositing material, typically plastic or metal, layer by layer until the final product is finished. Originally designed to print prototypes, they are increasingly being used to print final products such as jewelry, iPhone cases, shoes, car dashboards, parts for jet engines, prosthetic limbs, human jaw bones, and much more. It allows companies to manufacture one-of-a-kind or small runs of items quickly, locally, and with far fewer costs. We will begin to see Manufacturing as-a-Service (MaaS) begin as designers use CAD software to design a product, digitally send it to 3D Printing company who owns the industrial strength 3D printers, and then they will ship it to the customer.
22. Smart Machines, Smart Homes, Smart Cities, and Smart Cars Will Increasingly Become Aware of Situational Changes and Respond as they get more connected and smarter thanks to embedded and networked sensors combined with other technologies such as GPS. Machine-to-Machine Communications using chips, micro sensors, and both wired and wireless networks will join networked sensors, creating a rapidly growing “Internet of Things” sharing real-time data, performing diagnostics, and making virtual repairs all without human intervention. By 2020, there will be well over a billion machines talking to each other, performing tasks, and making decisions based on predefined guidelines using artificial intelligence. For example, we may not want our cars to drive themselves anytime soon, but we do want them to keep us from having accidents, and they will. A Smart Bridge will communicate to our car that there is ice on the road ahead and slow the car down to a safer speed.
23. Advanced Automation and Robotics will take a giant leap forward after decades of promise but slow growth thanks to exponential advances in processing power, storage, and bandwidth. Also, thanks to better sensors, artificial intelligence, and Siri-like voice communications, robots will work with humans in new and productive ways.
24. Drones For Fire, Police, and Search and Rescue have already proven to be of high value and this hard trend will rapidly grow. Agricultural applications for checking crops, fences, and cattle are also important given the more remote nature of the industry. Expect the U.S. government to limit the use of drones for businesses such as delivery services due to privacy and environmental issues.
25. Energy Storage starts to become a realty as companies such as Tesla start to sell their smart battery systems to homes and businesses who generate some of their own power using solar, wind, or other systems. In addition, as first generation hybrid vehicles get too old for the marketplace, there will be millions of batteries that will still hold enough of a charge to be repurposed into inexpensive energy storage systems. Looking a little further out, as electric and hybrid cars increase in numbers, they will increasingly by plugged into the smart grid when not in use, providing the first national energy storage system.
Spot Your Own Hard Trends
Are these the only game-changing technology-driven trends to be aware of? Of course not. As we all know from past experience, technology is always evolving, resulting in new trends emerging and new products appearing every day. That’s why smart organizations stay ahead of the trends by anticipating them, adapting them to their unique environment before the competition does, and ultimately enabling the organization to profit from them. The more you’re able to do that, the sooner your organization will reach the next level of success.
DANIEL BURRUS is considered one of the World’s Leading Futurists on Global Trends and Innovation, a top LinkedIn Global INfluencer, and is the founder and CEO of Burrus Research, a research and consulting firm that monitors global advancements in technology driven trends to help clients understand how technological, social and business forces are converging to create enormous untapped opportunities. He is the author of six books including The New York Times best seller Flash Foresight. Follow Daniel on Twitter and LinkedIn. www.burrus.com
The father of all giant sea bugs was recently discovered off the coast of Java.
- A new species of isopod with a resemblance to a certain Sith lord was just discovered.
- It is the first known giant isopod from the Indian Ocean.
- The finding extends the list of giant isopods even further.
Humanity knows surprisingly little about the ocean depths. An often-repeated bit of evidence for this is the fact that humanity has done a better job mapping the surface of Mars than the bottom of the sea. The creatures we find lurking in the watery abyss often surprise even the most dedicated researchers with their unique features and bizarre behavior.
A recent expedition off the coast of Java discovered a new isopod species remarkable for its size and resemblance to Darth Vader.
The ocean depths are home to many creatures that some consider to be unnatural.
According to LiveScience, the Bathynomus genus is sometimes referred to as "Darth Vader of the Seas" because the crustaceans are shaped like the character's menacing helmet. Deemed Bathynomus raksasa ("raksasa" meaning "giant" in Indonesian), this cockroach-like creature can grow to over 30 cm (12 inches). It is one of several known species of giant ocean-going isopod. Like the other members of its order, it has compound eyes, seven body segments, two pairs of antennae, and four sets of jaws.
The incredible size of this species is likely a result of deep-sea gigantism. This is the tendency for creatures that inhabit deeper parts of the ocean to be much larger than closely related species that live in shallower waters. B. raksasa appears to make its home between 950 and 1,260 meters (3,117 and 4,134 ft) below sea level.
Perhaps fittingly for a creature so creepy looking, that is the lower sections of what is commonly called The Twilight Zone, named for the lack of light available at such depths.
It isn't the only giant isopod, far from it. Other species of ocean-going isopod can get up to 50 cm long (20 inches) and also look like they came out of a nightmare. These are the unusual ones, though. Most of the time, isopods stay at much more reasonable sizes.
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During an expedition, there are some animals which you find unexpectedly, while there are others that you hope to find. One of the animal that we hoped to find was a deep sea cockroach affectionately known as Darth Vader Isopod. The staff on our expedition team could not contain their excitement when they finally saw one, holding it triumphantly in the air! #SJADES2018
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What benefit does this find have for science? And is it as evil as it looks?
The discovery of a new species is always a cause for celebration in zoology. That this is the discovery of an animal that inhabits the deeps of the sea, one of the least explored areas humans can get to, is the icing on the cake.
Helen Wong of the National University of Singapore, who co-authored the species' description, explained the importance of the discovery:
"The identification of this new species is an indication of just how little we know about the oceans. There is certainly more for us to explore in terms of biodiversity in the deep sea of our region."
The animal's visual similarity to Darth Vader is a result of its compound eyes and the curious shape of its head. However, given the location of its discovery, the bottom of the remote seas, it may be associated with all manner of horrifically evil Elder Things and Great Old Ones.
If computers can beat us at chess, maybe they could beat us at math, too.
- Most everyone fears that they will be replaced by robots or AI someday.
- A field like mathematics, which is governed solely by rules that computers thrive on, seems to be ripe for a robot revolution.
- AI may not replace mathematicians but will instead help us ask better questions.
The following is an excerpt adapted from the book Shape. It is reprinted with permission of the author.
Will machines replace us? Since the origin of artificial intelligence (AI), people have worried that computers eventually (or even imminently!) will surpass the human cognitive capacity in every respect.
Artificial intelligence pioneer Oliver Selfridge, in a television interview from the early 1960s, said, "I am convinced that machines can and will think in our lifetime" — though with the proviso, "I don't think my daughter will ever marry a computer." (Apparently, there is no technical advance so abstract that people can't feel sexual anxiety about it.)
Let's make the relevant question more personal: will machines replace me? I'm a mathematician; my profession is often seen from the outside as a very complicated but ultimately purely mechanical game played with fixed rules, like checkers, chess, or Go. These are activities in which machines have already demonstrated superhuman ability.
Some people imagine a world where computers give us all the answers. I dream bigger. I want them to ask good questions.
But for me, math is different: it is a creative pursuit that calls on our intuition as much as our ability to compute. (To be fair, chess players probably feel the same way.) Henri Poincaré, the mathematician who re-envisioned the whole subject of geometry at the beginning of the 20th century, insisted it would be hopeless
"to attempt to replace the mathematician's free initiative by a mechanical process of any kind. In order to obtain a result having any real value, it is not enough to grind out calculations, or to have a machine for putting things in order: it is not order only, but unexpected order, that has a value. A machine can take hold of the bare fact, but the soul of the fact will always escape it."
But machines can make deep changes in mathematical practice without shouldering humans aside. Peter Scholze, winner of a 2018 Fields Medal (sometimes called the "Nobel Prize of math") is deeply involved in an ambitious program at the frontiers of algebra and geometry called "condensed mathematics" — and no, there is no chance that I'm going to try to explain what that is in this space.
Meet AI, your new research assistant
What I am going to tell you is the result of what Scholze called the "Liquid Tensor Experiment." A community called Lean, started by Leonardo de Moura of Microsoft Research and now open-source and worldwide, has the ambitious goal of developing a computer language with the expressive capacity to capture the entirety of contemporary mathematics. A proposed proof of a new theorem, formalized by translation into this language, could be checked for correctness automatically, rather than staking its reputation on fallible human referees.
Scholze asked last December whether the ideas of condensed mathematics could be formalized in this way. He also wanted to know whether it could express the ideas of a particularly knotty proof that was crucial to the project — a proof that he was pretty sure was right.
When I first heard about Lean, I thought it would probably work well for some easy problems and theorems. I underestimated it. So did Scholze. In a May 2021 blog post, he writes, "[T]he Experiment has verified the entire part of the argument that I was unsure about. I find it absolutely insane that interactive proof assistants are now at the level that within a very reasonable time span they can formally verify difficult original research."
And the contribution of the machine wasn't just to certify that Scholze was right to think his proof was sound; he reports that the work of putting the proof in a form that a machine could read improved his own human understanding of the argument!
The Liquid Tensor Experiment points to a future where machines, rather than replacing human mathematicians, become our indispensable partners. Whether or not they can take hold of the soul of the fact, they can extend our grasp as we reach for the soul.
Slicing up a knotty problem
That can take the form of "proof assistance," as it did for Scholze, or it can go deeper. In 2018, Lisa Piccirillo, then a PhD student at the University of Texas, solved a long-standing geometry problem about a shape called the Conway knot. She proved the knot was "non-slice" — this is a fact about what the knot looks like from the perspective of four-dimensional beings. (Did you get that? Probably not, but it doesn't matter.) The point is this was a famously difficult problem.
A few years before Piccirillo's breakthrough, a topologist named Mark Hughes at Brigham Young had tried to get a neural network to make good guesses about which knots were slice. He gave it a long list of knots where the answer was known, just as an image-processing neural net would be given a long list of pictures of cats and pictures of non-cats.
Hughes's neural net learned to assign a number to every knot; if the knot were slice, the number was supposed to be 0, while if the knot were non-slice, the net was supposed to return a whole number bigger than 0. In fact, the neural net predicted a value very close to 1 — that is, it predicted the knot was non-slice — for every one of the knots Hughes tested, except for one. That was the Conway knot.
For the Conway knot, Hughes's neural net returned a number very close to 1/2, its way of saying that it was deeply unsure whether to answer 0 or 1. This is fascinating! The neural net correctly identified the knot that posed a really hard and mathematically rich problem (in this case, reproducing an intuition that topologists already had).
Some people imagine a world where computers give us all the answers. I dream bigger. I want them to ask good questions.
Dr. Jordan Ellenberg is a professor of mathematics at the University of Wisconsin and a number theorist whose popular articles about mathematics have appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Wired, and Slate. His most recent book is Shape: The Hidden Geometry of Information, Biology, Strategy, Democracy, and Everything Else.
Laughing gas may be far more effective for some than antidepressants.
- Standard antidepressant medications don't work for many people who need them.
- With ketamine showing potential as an antidepressant, researchers investigate another anesthetic: nitrous oxide, commonly called "laughing gas."
- Researchers observe that just a light mixture of nitrous oxide for an hour alleviates depression symptoms for two weeks.
The usual antidepressants don't work for everyone. That's what makes a new study of the antidepressant properties of nitrous oxide so intriguing. It looks like just a single low dose of what your dentist may call "laughing gas" can help alleviate symptoms of depression for weeks afterward.
The study, from researchers at University of Chicago and Washington University-St. Louis, is published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
Resistance to anti-depression medications
Nitrous oxide: two atoms of nitrogen, one of oxygenCredit: Big Think
According to the senior author of the study, Charles Conway, "A significant percentage — we think around 15 percent — of people who suffer from depression don't respond to standard antidepressant treatment."
"These 'treatment-resistant depression' patients," Conway says, "often suffer for years, even decades, with life-debilitating depression. We don't really know why standard treatments don't work for them, though we suspect that they may have different brain network disruptions than non-resistant depressed patients. Identifying novel treatments, such as nitrous oxide, that target alternative pathways is critical to treating these individuals."
"There is a huge unmet need," says lead author Peter Nagele. "There are millions of depressed patients who don't have good treatment options, especially those who are dealing with suicidality."
If ketamine can help, can nitrous oxide?
Credit: sudok1 / Adobe Stock
The researchers wondered if some of the anti-depression properties seen in ketamine might also apply to nitrous oxide. Nagele explains, "Like nitrous oxide, ketamine is an anesthetic, and there has been promising work using ketamine at a sub-anesthetic dose for treating depression."
The researchers conducted a one-hour session — they describe it as a "proof-of-principle" trial — in which 20 individuals with depression were administered an air mixture with 50 percent nitrous oxide. Twenty-four hours later, the researchers found a significant reduction in the participants' symptoms of depression versus a control group.
However, the individuals also suffered the unpleasant side effects that laughing gas often causes in dental patients: headache, nausea, and vomiting.
Smaller dose, longer effect
Credit: sudok1 / Adobe Stock
"We wondered if our past concentration of 50 percent had been too high," recalls Nagele. "Maybe by lowering the dose, we could find the 'Goldilocks spot' that would maximize clinical benefit and minimize negative side effects."
In a new trial, 20 people with depression were given a lighter nitrous oxide mix, just 25 percent, and the individuals tested reported a 75 percent reduction in side effects compared to the a control group given an air/oxygen placebo. This time, the researchers also tracked the effect of nitrous oxide on symptoms of depression for a far longer period, two weeks instead of just 24 hours.
"The reduction in side effects was unexpected and quite drastic," reports Nagele, "but even more excitingly, the effects after a single administration lasted for a whole two weeks. This has never been shown before. It's a very cool finding."
Nagele also notes that, despite its popular renown as laughing gas, even a light 25 percent mix of nitrous actually causes people to nod off. "They're not getting high or euphoric; they get sedated."
Delivering help to people with depression
Nagele cautions, "These have just been pilot studies. But we need acceptance by the larger medical community for this to become a treatment that's actually available to patients in the real world. Most psychiatrists are not familiar with nitrous oxide or how to administer it, so we'll have to show the community how to deliver this treatment safely and effectively. I think there will be a lot of interest in getting this into clinical practice."
After all, Nagele adds, "If we develop effective, rapid treatments that can really help someone navigate their suicidal thinking and come out on the other side — that's a very gratifying line of research."