Future Forecast:
Technology in 2018

21.12.2017 Technology : Digital : Artificial Intelligence

Interfaces will move beyond the screen, while countries implement new policies to gain the edge in AI research.

Qualia by Lucy Hardcastle Qualia by Lucy Hardcastle

Every day until Christmas we will be highlighting sector-specific microshifts featured in the 2018 Future Forecast report, which you can download in full here

Lab Notes: Taming the Wild West

The biggest issue that technology companies need to solve next year will be how to regulate the wild West.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has already made its presence felt in everything from the range of branded chatbots now available to the marketing campaigns that have experimented with using AI to inform brand strategy. In 2018, there will be an increasing push to regulate the world of AI, especially when it comes to the realm of ethics in both creating these systems and how they interact with everything around them.

While there is still debate about whether general artificial intelligence is coming, it is clear that new systems will have to be put into place to define how and where we should use AI and who takes responsibility when decision-making is handed over to a machine.

Alongside bigger questions on the ethics of the technology we create, there will be micromovements towards practical uses of technology that have long been vaunted. Projection-mapping and motion-controlled sensors will now be harnessed in a more practical way to finally offer an alternative to the screen as the dominant interface of our age.

1. AI Ethics

Geomancer by Lawrence Lek Geomancer by Lawrence Lek

The increased usage of AI by companies as varied as grocery retailers to fashion brands means that in the next year, our focus will increasingly be on how we regulate artificial intelligence.

AI company Deepmind has launched a new unit, DeepMind Ethics & Society (DMES), comprising internal employees and external fellows who will examine the societal impacts of artificial intelligence. Considering that AI has been shown to have inherent bias programmed in, we must ensure that these systems are held accountable and are upholding human rights.

‘How do you scrutinise an algorithm? How do you hold it accountable when it’s making very important decisions that affect the life outcomes of people?’ These are the questions that DMES aims to answer, according to DeepMind co-founder Mustafa Suleyman.

Experience design duo Arvid&Marie has also claimed that we will have to think about the rights of machines themselves as they become capital- making entities. ‘If autonomous machines become their own independent entities and participate in society with taxes, the profits of automation will spread,’ says Marie Caye, one half of the duo.

2. Singularity-minded

Industry Innovator: Hanson Robotics

Big idea: Creating SingularityNET, a decentralised open market for artificial intelligence that will allow AI systems to share skills.

Why it matters in 2018: Following news that Facebook’s AI Research Lab shut down an AI robot because it had developed its own language, artificial intelligence ethics will be a priority – with many concerned about who holds the power to program such bots. SingularityNET, due to be launched in 2018, could signal the beginning of the break-up of the Silicon Valley hegemony over AI.

3. Immersive Interfaces

Screens of the Future by Universal Everything Screens of the Future by Universal Everything

Advances in projection-mapping and sensor-based technologies will increasingly enable us to free digital content from the constraints of our screens.

Sony Mobile’s Xperia Touch interactive projector, which converts any surface into a high-definition touchscreen interface, hints at a post-screen future. By detecting movement via its in-built camera and infrared light, it enables users to interact with digital content projected onto walls, floors and furniture, and creates a shared, rather than a solitary, information experience.

As it becomes clear that information will exist beyond screens we can begin to imagine future experiences in which everyday objects can be transformed into responsive interfaces. Speculating on emerging technologies such as nano-holograms and flexible materials, Universal Everything has imagined Screens of the Future in which any object can be transformed into a display.

4. Local Focus

Canada: Mass Tech Migration

With the US tightening its immigration restrictions, Canadian cities such as Toronto, Waterloo and Vancouver are looking to lure technology innovators to the north.

The Canadian government recently launched its Global Skills Strategy, which will cut the time a foreign worker needs to wait for a work permit to two weeks, down from months. Alongside new initiatives such as the recently launched Vector Institute at the University of Toronto, a dedicated AI research facility, the country is expected to have more than 182,000 technology jobs by 2019 (source: Canadian Information and Communications Technology Council).

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