Technology has been advancing in leaps and bounds lately, and this is nothing but good news for tech lovers. Things you used to see in sci-fi movies such as flying drones and super-smart virtual assistants are no longer just a dream – they’re real and they’re here.
Those are not the only technological goodies that will make 2016 more interesting, though. Here are some of the emerging technology trends this year.
Drones are here. Officially.
Let’s start with the previously mentioned drones: they’re small, they’re tremendously fun and they’re finally affordable, so almost anyone can get one. The fact that they are so affordable that almost anyone can get one is exactly what makes them problematic, though. In July 2015, some drones flying over a highway in California prevented firefighters from extinguishing a wildfire that made it to the highway by posing as a hazard to the firefighting planes and helicopters that were deployed in the area. The firefighters’ air units had to retreat from the area in order not to collide with the drones and crash, which made the work of the firefighters on the ground significantly more complicated.
This incident, along with other mishaps that involved drones made the FAA take measures andset some rules in place for drone-owners, one of them being an upcoming requirement that drones must be registered with the FAA. Mandatory drone registration is set to go live in December 2016.
Also, the interest towards drones showed by retail giant Amazon forced authorities to start working on some regulations for using these vehicles for commercial purposes, the company already being granted a license to start testing its drone delivery service.
The Blockchain is the network that does the magic for the most famous cryptocurrency out there – the Bitcoin. Put in layman’s terms, the Blockchain is a network that can process financial transactions in an anonymous way, without the need of a central authority. While these aspects made it ideal for bringing Bitcoins to life, the network itself can prove to be very useful in other mediums as well. All sectors where there’s a need for a transparent means of ensuring the authenticity of a transaction, but no need for a central authority to supervise and control everything, can benefit of the Blockchain or Blockchain-like networks, which will ultimately lead to more secure online transactions, and probably even the end to banking systems as we know them.
Virtual assistants are fun, and even though they’ve been around for quite some time now, it’s only now that they truly show what they’re capable of. The most renowned virtual assistant is Apple’s Siri, with Google Now and Microsoft’s Cortana quickly catching up.
What makes 2016 the year of virtual assistants is the fact that they finally got the ability to interact with other elements and apps from the ecosystem they live in. Up to recently, these virtual assistants were only capable of doing basic tasks, such as read an email, start a music app or tell the weather, but given the ability to interact with third party apps opens a whole new universe to them. Let’s not forget the huge amount of data these artificial intelligence platforms now have access to, thanks to the ever-growing popularity of the Internet of Things.
Putting it all together, it’s only a matter of time until those scenarios from most sci-fi movies, where the characters talk to a virtual assistant that can control everything on the spaceship they’re on is not far from being a reality. Well, minus the spaceship part, probably.
A not-so-positive technological trend that’s making its way into the public view is the demand for software and hardware backdoors. Governments and intelligence agencies demand that hardware and software manufacturers provide them with backdoors that could be used if there are solid suspicions of imminent threats. However, while it may all sound as a decent and harmless demand, it can have serious effects on users’ privacy, and privacy is something we tend to take very seriously nowadays.
Apple is one of the companies that made it very clear that they value user privacy the most, and that their encryption is unbreakable even by them, so inserting backdoors is out of the question. Whether they will keep their position, and if other companies will follow, is yet to be seen.
Article by Charles Goodwin and Conosco.com