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With Labs' help, IEEE Computer Society has released its list of top 10 technology trends of 2018

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By Curt Hopkins, Managing Editor, Hewlett Packard Labs

Every year the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Computer Society, better known as IEEE CS, comes up with a list of the top technology trends they believe have the greatest likelihood of becoming commonplace, a list which has a proven to have pretty good track record, given their 2016 and 2017 report cards.

Here are the predictions for 2018.

  1. Deep learning
  2. Digital currencies
  3. Blockchain
  4. Industrial Internet of Things
  5. Robotics
  6. Assisted transportation
  7. Assisted reality and virtual reality
  8. Ethics, laws, and policies for privacy, security, and liability
  9. Accelerators and 3D
  10. Cybersecurity and AI

This year’s list held a number of surprises for those who put it together.

2018 technical contributors of note include two Labs professionals, Hewlett Packard Enterprise Fellow Paolo Faraboschi and Hewlett Packard Enterprise Distinguished Technologist, and past IEEE Computer Society president, Dejan Milojicic.

We talked to Milojicic about the implications of these new trends in technology.

What themes top the list?

Two of this year’s themes are the most dominant – deep learning and cryptocurrencies. Both are related to many other trends in the list. Deep learning influences the Internet of Things and cybersecurity. Cryptocurrencies are inter-related with storage, cloud, and IoT/Edge technologies.

Is there a theme in this year’s trends?

A common trend to almost all the technologies is that they simultaneously provide us with great opportunities and issue profound challenges.

For instance, deep learning is a somewhat limited technique for classifying things. It has proven very helpful so far but its limitations are also a challenge that we have yet to fully come to terms with. Cryptocurrency is both an opportunity and a threat. It facilitates easier trading but can’t be tracked, which risks its use in money laundering. Artificial intelligence can make cybersecurity smarter but it can be used to endanger it as well. Smart cars in unpredictable circumstance cause a lot of problems, but in limited environments, they can solve problems.

What trends have surprised people the most this year?

Our inclusion of ethics in this list has been surprising to some people. We’ve been criticized a bit and people have asked why it was included. For the first time, ethics has proven inextricable from the technology. A good example of that is the “trolley problem,” in which an actor must decide between two tracks both of which have people on them. In technology, this is a matter of design. Because there are ethical implications in the technology itself, we are obliged to enable ethics from the design stage onward. I strongly disagree that science and technology are separate from ethics. Science and technology are serving humanity, so ethics is an intrinsic element.

What trends have surprised the list makers the most this year?

The widespread use of deep learning shocked everyone because, as I noted, it’s a narrow technique but it has experienced adoption everywhere, especially at edge. Will adoption decline again due to the fact that it’s really only valuable for certain use cases, or will the large investment by a host of large companies across industries buoy it up? Right now, corporate hiring of artificial intelligence and deep learning specialists has gone crazy and has left universities looking like ghost towns.

Finally, the wild crowd of cryptocurrencies was unforeseen. Not only are there many more functional currencies than there were before, there are also now ICOs, or “initial coin investments” modeled on IPOs. Will the promise of gain be enough to sustain the interest or will the whole industry collapse under its own weight? Regardless, we strongly believe that the underlying mechanisms behind cryptocurrencies will be widely adopted even if individual currencies disappear.

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Photo by Sebastien Gabriel on Unsplash

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Managing Editor, Hewlett Packard Labs