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Technology Outlook for 2018

We have all witnessed the unprecedented growth of emerging technologies this year, such as cloud computing, Big Data, Internet of Things and AI, to name a few. They have been transforming the IT/OT industries, and further changing the entire world. Recent technology advancements are both thrilling and enlightening. For example, AlphaGo Zero learned from scratch all by itself and took only 40 days of self-play to surpass the previous version in defeating it by 100 games to none, though the previous AlphaGo had crushed human world champions and grand masters by lopsided wins in the last 2 years. And yet, just a few days ago, AlphaZero beat all of the best Go, Chess, and Shogi game programs in the market, by only self-training in one single day without human teaching.

2018 is around the corner. Everybody is eager to find out what’s coming in the new year. The pace of innovation is accelerating. Here are what we are look forward to next year: Augmented Reality, Blockchain Network, Connected World, Deep Learning, and Edge Computing (ABCDE).


  • Augmented Reality: Augmented Reality is a direct or indirect view of a live environment in real life, where the physical elements are mashed up with computer-generated or extracted real-world sensory inputs, such as audial, visual, graphical, haptic or location data. AR overlays supplemental information with surrounding objects or elements in semantic context. Mixed Reality further integrates the user environment with the digital information into a hybrid reality, enhancing the way users interact with the cyberphysical world as never before.
  • Blockchain Network: The blockchain is a decentralized and incorruptible digital ledger to record economic transactions in a programmable way. The blockchain is made of a network of computing nodes, which store the data blocks in the chain. It enables users to create value and authenticates information digitally in the distributed trust system. Smart contracts help users bypass the services of a middleman to exchange money, shares, property, or anything of value in a transparent and conflict-free manner.
  • Connected World: Internet of things is the network of physical devices, industrial equipment, transportation vehicles, home appliances, medical apparatus, and other items embedded with electronics, sensors, actuators and software with network connectivity, which enable these objects to connect and exchange data. Internet of Everything links people, process, data, objects and virtual entities, forming a connected ecosystem. Effective communications of connected items and automation of intelligent data analysis unleash the true value of connectivity and digitization.
  • Deep Learning: Deep learning is part of machine learning methods based on neural network, in supervised, partially supervised, or unsupervised mode. A deep neural network is an artificial neural network with multiple hidden layers between the input and output layers, used to model complex nonlinear relationships. Advanced AI will fundamentally revolutionize the society in every aspect.
  • Edge Computing: Edge computing is an distributed architecture pattern, where the data processing is performed at the endpoint or devices, close to the data source. Edge computing streamlines the data-flow traffic from IoT devices and enable data analytics locally in real time. Fog computing works hand in hand with Edge computing at the periphery of the network like the field gateway, towards the federated cloud computing paradigm.



The key technologies mentioned above are expected to thrive in 2018. Meanwhile, other cutting-edge technologies like Quantum Computing will mature, and bleeding-edge technologies like self-driving will get closer to the finish line in the coming year. The field is becoming more crowded with a plethora of proven and unproven products. Consolidation and convergence tend to occur sooner than later. It ought to be another exciting year for the high tech, as the unification of the technology frontiers is going to drive the solutions even smarter than ever.

For more information, please contact Tony Shan ([email protected]) or leave your comments below. ©Tony Shan. All rights reserved. All standard disclaimers apply here.

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Tony Shan works as a senior consultant, advisor at a global applications and infrastructure solutions firm helping clients realize the greatest value from their IT. Shan is a renowned thought leader and technology visionary with a number of years of field experience and guru-level expertise on cloud computing, Big Data, Hadoop, NoSQL, social, mobile, SOA, BI, technology strategy, IT roadmapping, systems design, architecture engineering, portfolio rationalization, product development, asset management, strategic planning, process standardization, and Web 2.0. He has directed the lifecycle R&D and buildout of large-scale award-winning distributed systems on diverse platforms in Fortune 100 companies and public sector like IBM, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Cisco, Honeywell, Abbott, etc.

Shan is an inventive expert with a proven track record of influential innovations such as Cloud Engineering. He has authored dozens of top-notch technical papers on next-generation technologies and over ten books that won multiple awards. He is a frequent keynote speaker and Chair/Panel/Advisor/Judge/Organizing Committee in prominent conferences/workshops, an editor/editorial advisory board member of IT research journals/books, and a founder of several user groups, forums, and centers of excellence (CoE).

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