Emerging technology is a term generally used to describe a new technology, but it may also refer to the continuing development of an existing technology; it can have slightly different meaning when used in different areas, such as media, business, science, or education. The term commonly refers to technologies that are currently developing, or that are expected to be available within the next five to ten years, and is usually reserved for technologies that are creating, or are expected to create, significant social or economic effects.
Emerging digital technologies have generated new opportunities while creating new legal challenges, particularly related to copyrights, trademarks, patents, royalties, and licensing. For example, the development of new digital communication technologies and media has given rise to novel issues relating to the digital reproduction and distribution of copyrighted works. The federal government, affected industries, and groups advocating for the public interest have taken (and continue to take) action to craft appropriate protections and offer legal certainty to copyright owners, digital technology companies, the public, and other interested parties.
The following are new emerging technologies:
1. Artificial intelligence
The holy grail of artificial intelligence research is general AI, a machine that is self-aware and commands intelligence equal to a person’s. These theoretical systems would be our intellectual equals—well, until v2.0 drops and we fall to a distant second.
Until then we have narrow AI, which are systems that perform very specific tasks. That may seem too limited, but narrow AI already powers systems like SPAM filters, Google Maps, and virtual assistants such as Siri. And its use cases are projected to diversify even more.
2. 5G and the Internet of Things
5G may not seem very exciting. We already have 4G, so what’s another G? But the difference will be exponential. 5G networks may ultimately be 100 times faster than 4G, allowing many more devices to connect, reducing latency to practically zero, and providing more reliable signals.
This wireless technology will provide the backbone for the internet of things (IoT), which will expand the power of the internet beyond computers and across a wide range of objects, processes, and environments. The IoT is the keystone technology for such futuristic scenes as smart cities, robot-driven agriculture, and self-driving highway systems.
3. Serverless Computing
Serverless computing isn’t truly “serverless.” Sans tapping into some seriously dark arts, it’s impossible to provide computational resources without a physical server somewhere. Instead, this technology distributes those resources more effectively. When an application is not in use, no resources are allocated. When they are needed, the computing power auto-scales.
This technological shift means companies no longer need to worry over infrastructure or reserving bandwidth, which in turn promises the golden ticket of ease of use and cost savings.
Biometrics allows a system to recognize users by biological markers such as their face, voice, or fingerprint. Many people already have one or several of these on their laptops and smartphones, but as the technology improves and becomes more ubiquitous, it may finally end the password paradigm.
Because most people have inefficient passwords, use the same one for every account, and never change them, hackers typically need only one hit to enjoy carte blanche over someone’s personal and professional data. Even those who do passwords correctly can find managing the system a nightmare.
With hardware costs lowering, processing power increasing, and high-profile players such as Google and Facebook entering the game, virtual reality’s day may have finally come. And the more widespread acceptance of augmented reality apps in smartphones may make such technologies an easier sell moving forward.
The recently announced Microsoft Mesh and its competitors hope to capitalize on our new remote-work era. The concept combines these “mixed-reality” technologies to create virtual shared spaces that business teams can use to hold meetings or work on projects.
It may be surprising that Bitcoin, the much-hyped cryptocurrency, didn’t make the list. But the technology’s online ledger, the blockchain, has supplanted the digital denomination as the rising business star.
Unlike traditional, centralized records, a blockchain is decentralized. The permanent record is not stored in one location but exists on nodes spread across the system. This design makes it difficult to lose records or tamper with them.
The first industrial robot punched the clock in 1962. Technological advancements have steadily widened robotics’ workforce representation since, and in the coming years, robots will continue moving from factories to First Street to perform rudimentary tasks such as cleaning and delivery.
Such advancements have kept the Luddite fires burning for more than a century now, so one challenge faced by organization leaders will be reassuring their teams that the robots aren’t here to replace them. In fact, as more people move into soft-skilled, human-focused jobs, they’ll likely find the transition a beneficial one.
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