The covid-19 epidemic will continue to have a significant impact on our lives in 2022. As a result, industry and society will continue to virtualize and digitise at an accelerated rate. The demand for sustainability, ever-growing data volumes, and accelerating computation and network speeds will start to reclaim their position as the most crucial forces behind digital transformation as we enter a new year, though.
The most significant lesson of the past two years, for many people and organisations, has been that, if the motivation is there, truly transformative change isn’t as challenging to accomplish as might have formerly been assumed. As the emphasis turns from merely attempting to survive in a changing environment to thriving in it, we will definitely continue to exploit this newly discovered openness to flexibility, agility, and innovative thinking.
In light of this, I’ve listed my predictions for the particular trends that I believe will have the largest influence in 2022. Though they are undoubtedly in the works, discussions about quantum computing, neural interfaces, or nanotechnology won’t be present because their effects won’t be seen for some time. Instead, when new tools become available that enable us to combine these trends in novel and astounding ways, the most significant trends in 2022 are expected to centre on the convergence of technology trends.
1. Everywhere artificial intelligence
Smartphones, smart TVs, and the countless other “smart” products were essentially just the same old toys that were connected to the internet. “Smart” used to simply mean connected. Today, “smart” increasingly refers to something that is AI (artificial intelligence)-powered, typically through machine learning algorithms, and that may assist us in ever-more-innovative ways. Facial recognition algorithms are used in smart cars to determine whether we are paying attention to the road and to warn us when we are growing fatigued. Smartphones employ AI algorithms to keep call quality, assist us in taking better images, and of course, they are crammed with apps that use AI to assist us in doing just about anything. Even toilets that can analyse faeces samples using computer vision to assist diagnose digestive problems are in the horizon!
AI is now ingrained in the technologies we use on a daily basis, from voice assistants that are everywhere to tools that translate languages and let us extract structured data from images, whiteboard doodles, and handwritten notes. It also drives a significant portion of the robotic process automation that has reduced administrative, logistical, accounting, and human resources departments’ responsibilities. There is probably an AI-powered solution available for your job function or industry that will make your life simpler.
This wide trend includes artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things (IoT), and recently developed ultra-fast networks like 5G, all of which are combining to give us powers we didn’t have until recently. This emphasises the notion that convergence will be the most significant trend overall on a longer timeline than the one we are explicitly looking at here. Together, increasing data quantities, higher network and processor speeds, and the “democratisation” of data (more on this below) are having an impact on society that is greater than the sum of their individual effects.
2. Everything-as-a-Service and the revolution in no-code
The ongoing democratisation of data and technology will be a further, more potent force. An entire business has recently evolved with the goal of equipping as much of society as possible with the knowledge and resources required for tech-led innovation, regardless of their level of competence or experience. Cloud-based solutions for processing, networking, and storage significantly reduce the costs and risks associated with building out expensive infrastructure to test out novel concepts. When public cloud services aren’t totally acceptable, like when working with extremely private or important data, hybrid solutions have developed to the point where a “best of both worlds” solution is frequently workable.
The skills crisis, which sounds like a problem but has been a driving force behind the expansion of self-service and “do-it-yourself” solutions, has stifled innovation in several areas. Every business doesn’t need to hire a horde of computer whizzes to create its own “digital brain” when they can just rent one for the time being. For everything from marketing to HR, project management, and the planning and design of production processes, ready-built AI solutions are available. Companies will still be deploying IoT and AI infrastructure in 2022 even though they don’t control a single server or exclusive piece of cognitive software.
No-code interfaces will become more common as the ability to implement a game-changing idea will no longer be constrained by a lack of programming expertise or a thorough knowledge of statistics and data structures. Codex, a programming paradigm that can produce code from spoken, natural language, was recently unveiled by OpenAI, a research organisation created by Elon Musk and financed, among others, by Microsoft. Our inventiveness and imagination will be less regularly constrained by a lack of funds or technical know-how as technology like this matures — something we’ll start to see in 2022 — and converges with the possibilities given by cloud infrastructure.
3. Datafication, virtualization, and digitization
Many of us witnessed the virtualization of our offices and workplaces in 2020 and 2021 as remote working options were quickly implemented. This was merely a much longer-term tendency that surged due to the current crisis. In 2022, the idea of a “metaverse,” or permanent digital realms that exist in addition to the real world we inhabit, will gain more and more traction. We will perform many of the activities we already engage in in the actual world, such as working, playing, and socialising, inside these metaverses, such as the one recently proposed by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. These metaverses will imitate and simulate the real world with increasing accuracy as the rate of digitization rises, enabling us to have more immersive, compelling, and ultimately worthwhile experiences online. While many of us have used headgear to enjoy relatively immersive virtual worlds, a variety of new products that are likely to hit the market will significantly enhance the experience by providing tactile input and even odours. According to Ericsson, which gave VR gear to workers who worked from home during the pandemic and is creating what it calls a “internet of senses,” there will be virtual experiences that are indistinguishable from reality by 2030. That may be a little more forward-looking than what we are interested in for this essay. But 2022 will surely bring us one step closer to seeing the matrix for ourselves, along with a new Matrix film.
4. Accountability, governance, and transparency
We need to be able to trust technology in order for it to function. Many present uses of technology are being strongly resisted, and with good reason, as being intrusive, risky, or irresponsible. Particularly AI is frequently referred to as a “black box” because we cannot peek inside it to comprehend how it functions. This is frequently because of its complexity rather than any malicious plan to restrict our knowledge, but the outcome is the same. This makes it highly concerning when AI-related situations are demonstrated to be harmful, such as when Facebook recently appeared to categorise photographs of black individuals as “primates.” This is especially true in a society that is beginning to look on AI for decisions that have a direct impact on people’s lives, including hiring and firing.
In recent years, the concept of transparent and explicable AI has become more and more popular as it has been apparent that some societal groups mistrust it, and rather understandably so! The presence of the EU’s planned Artificial Intelligence Act demonstrates that governments, too, are aware of the need for a legal framework. The proposed law forbids the use of facial recognition technology in public areas and the creation of social grading systems by the government using AI. Providers of AI solutions must also show that their systems won’t produce a list of potentially harmful outcomes, such as “exploiting vulnerabilities” and “creating physical or psychological harm,” before they can put their products up for sale. Some argue that it doesn’t go far enough because there is currently no requirement that individuals be told when they are the topic of AI-driven decision-making systems. According to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, while acknowledging the need for AI legislation, “there is a balance to be reached” to make sure innovation isn’t impeded. As more people become aware of the possible positive and negative consequences that AI and other technology advancements will have on society, this balancing act is likely to become a more prominent topic of discussion during 2022.
5. Adaptable energy sources
Renewable energy was the only source whose use rose during the pandemic. During the first ten weeks of lockdown, the US saw a 40% rise in the utilisation of renewable energy. As companies closed and people stayed home, non-renewable energy use declined globally, resulting in an 8% decrease in emissions. As a result, it is anticipated that in the years to come, more money will be invested in producing energy from renewable sources.
According to projections from the International Energy Agency (IEA), the production and consumption of renewable energy will increase by 40% in 2020 over the previous year. The IEA predicts that this rise will continue through 2022. In all, the cost of producing renewable energy from different sources, such as onshore and offshore wind, solar, and tidal, decreased by seven to sixteen percent. The ability to achieve emissions targets, such as being carbon neutral or even carbon negative, will be greatly aided by this. Furthermore, intriguing new emerging energy sources like nuclear fusion, liquid hydrogen, and biofuels are becoming more practical, even if some of these may not have their full effects until after 2022. However, developments in any of these fields are likely to garner media attention. Helion Energy, a pioneer in the field of fusion energy that mimics how the sun produces energy, anticipates that its most recent fusion generator prototype will start operating in 2022. There are also anticipated practical applications in the “green hydrogen” energy sector. Instead of utilising vast amounts of “dirty” fossil fuel energy to achieve electrolysis, which separates hydrogen and oxygen without producing carbon, the current procedures for making energy from hydrogen use renewable energy, which lessens the overall environmental impact.