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Practical Techie: Tech advances flow in ’21 amid pandemic and disasters

Now that 2021 is the year that was…it was, as usual, one with many high-tech advances. Breakthroughs in digital science were not the least deterred by the cataclysmic events of these past year.

So, what flows next? There are already clear insights on the horizon of technological developments for 2022 and beyond as applied to business, social strategy, government, and academic spheres. As expected, the major push will be in the realm of artificial intelligence (AI).

ORGANICS — Future trends in AI swing strongly towards natural language for computer processing. Organic processing algorithms — those typically used for text, words, and human communication sentences — slowly appear in machine coding.

Low code or no code systems are unlocking new uses for businesses and even for apps used by the less savvy cybernauts.

Sites such as the Future Today Institute indicate that platforms like Amazon Web Services, Azure, and Google Cloud’s low-code design will “trickle” down to everyday Internet people. It means that Web users without machine language knowledge will be able to develop artificial intelligence applications and deploy them as quickly as they could a do-it-yourself website nowadays.

At present, developers are in a closed-source model, holding back on publishing their full coded scripts, which leads to little transparency and accountability when bugs and security issues occur in e-commerce platforms.

MEDICAL — AI plays a significant role in medical technologies.

Advances are in synthetic biology, genetics, and medical imaging, predicting disease spread, and improving patient health outcomes. For example, Japan has pioneered using AI to discover treatments for the COVID-19 virus, and its research will appear in 2022.

Artificial nervous systems use AI in robotics and automatons, as are more sophisticated neural implants in ultra-high-tech devices used for medical treatments in cancer, heart disease and degenerative infirmities for the old.

BUSINESS — Machine intelligence solves many business management problems, detects fraud, manages supply chains, recommends product inventory. Also, it predicts call volume in service centers and recommends staffing levels.  In agrobusiness, AI improves crop yields. Advance algorithms assist designers and writers in their work.   

Future developments are fueled by new business models, improvements in computing power and storage, convergence of groundbreaking research, and the explosive growth of data. Developing AI systems based on biological models — or deep neural networks — is among the ten fastest-growing technologies in the U.S., as indicated by patent applications. The number of patents with deep neural networks grew 67% between 2016 and 2020, making it the leading technology this year, according to Science Direct.

EMPATHY — The COVID-19 pandemic moved Internet users to connect virtually by video conferencing and do remote tasking, learn from home, and bind socially via the web. Yet, these now dependent technologies are emotion blind. This has prompted a new advance: The empathy industry. Many companies are emerging to provide emotional recognition technology.

Here comes emotional artificial intelligence. AI software can understand nuanced human emotions and complex abstract forms of rationalizing based on facial and vocal expressions. Companies and institutions will use such for more effective videoconferencing, corporate meetings, virtual events, online education, telehealth, and many more professional dynamics. The new software will flag confused, stressed, or bored participants and hopefully stave off “Zoom fatigue.”  

In practical terms, deep learning’s emergence means that more and more computing processes will automate in natural language, including machines writing their own software, by no later than 2025. Also, more machines that are emotionally aware.

Author Details
Author Rafael Matos is a veteran journalist, a professor of digital narratives and university mentor. He may be contacted at cccrafael@gmail.com.

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