Advanced technology is changing our lives in many ways. 2020 has shown new horizons of opportunities for applying innovation in practice.
Increased attention is paid to the use of AI in medicine around the world, but in 2020, for obvious reasons, investments in projects using AI have increased.
This is stated in a joint study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and GE Healthcare. The survey involved 900 medical workers – both ordinary employees and managers.
79% of respondents from healthcare institutions already implementing AI said they intend to increase funding for the development of applications such as automation of electronic medical records using NLP tools, patient data analysis, predictive analytics, risk analysis, diagnostics, surgery with robotic assistants and etc.
Another 75% noted that AI makes it possible to make more accurate diagnoses of patients and predict treatment with greater efficiency. 93% of respondents agreed that AI has increased the speed and accuracy of analysis and communication with patients.
British researchers in 2020 applied an AI algorithm to user data collected by the COVID Symptom Tracker app.
The research team received data from 1,653 COVID-positive users who regularly reported their symptoms and health conditions on the app. Of these, 383 people went to the hospital at least once, and 107 needed additional oxygen or ventilation.
The most common symptoms of the disease are grouped into six main clusters. Researchers have simplified the assessment of the likelihood of developing a severe disease from the most unlikely to extremely high.
The capabilities of artificial intelligence were widely used in the past year to study the mysteries of the Universe. For example, to create ultra-wide-angle images of its most distant corners, obtained with the Subaru telescope.
AI algorithms have helped to achieve very high accuracy in positioning objects and classifying spiral galaxies in these images. This method is expected to lead to new discoveries in the future. Due to the high sensitivity of the telescope, up to 560 thousand galaxies were detected in the images.
Another option for the practical application of AI in 2020 is the military sphere. Will AI war robots become the same horror for humanity as biological or nuclear weapons? The opinions of military theorists and computer specialists vary.
According to Ronald Arkin of the Georgia Institute of Technology, autonomous weapons systems can “reduce man’s inhumanity to man through technology“, since the robot will not be subject to completely human fits of anger, sadism or cruelty. He proposed to take a person out of the decision-making chain when choosing the targets of military strikes, while coding ethical restrictions in robots.
Computer science professor Noel Sharkey disagreed with him. He believes that it is impossible to program the reaction of a military robot to the infinite number of situations that may arise in the midst of a conflict.
In the American city of Fort Mead, a Joint Operations Center has appeared, which experts and journalists have already dubbed the “cathedral” of the cyberwar of the future. One of the main promising directions of the center’s development is the replacement of human hackers with AI counterparts within the framework of the “Project IKE” program.
2020 has become a period of mass adaptation of blockchain solutions in various areas of the economy and public life. The technology was taken seriously, including in terms of regulation and standardization. Thus, blockchain has become one of the key issues discussed at the World Economic Forum in 2020.
The WEF Global Blockchain Council creates the “Blockchain Bill of Rights: Design Principles for a Decentralized Future.” The document aims to align between business, policy-makers and consumers a fundamental vision of how users can and should be protected as the blockchain evolves.
A certain revival has occurred in the mass market segment of settlements using cryptocurrencies. Fintech giant PayPal, which plans to take crypto trading to the mainstream, has selected Paxos as the technology solution provider for the new service.
Paxos has launched a brokerage service with an API solution that allows companies to buy, sell, store and send cryptographic data while ensuring all aspects of regulatory compliance.
In parallel, Mastercard is expanding its cryptocurrency program, giving the Wirex crypto-payment service the status of a full-fledged member of its payment system. This status makes Wirex the first cryptographic company to be able to directly issue Mastercard payment cards to its customers.
Blockchain has officially become part of China’s technology strategy in 2020. The acceptance of blockchain at such a high level will make it easier to overcome many barriers.
The digital yuan is developing rapidly in the country. China‘s Starbucks, McDonald’s and Subway chains have been included in the list of companies that will test the national digital currency in the near future. The constant flow of information on this topic from China makes it possible to predict the real application of the technology in the next few months.
Growth in global spending on augmented and virtual reality AR / VR solutions in 2020 has slowed compared to plans announced ahead of the pandemic, according to a study by IDC. Cuts in IT spending and the economic downturn will allow global AR / VR spending to reach $ 10.7 billion, representing only 35.3% YoY growth.
Supply chain disruptions, retail shutdowns and delays in the adoption of technology in enterprises cast a shadow over the short-term outlook for AR / VR development in the coming quarters of 2021.
However, global AR / VR spending will return to positive momentum as the planet emerges from the pandemic. They are projected to increase to $ 72.8 billion by 2024. According to IDC, the five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of global AR / VR spending will be 54%.
The largest investments in AR / VR by 2024 will be directed to education ($ 4.1 billion), industry ($ 4.1 billion) and retail ($ 2.7 billion).
One of the promising areas of AR / VR development in the modern world is new office solutions. Ericsson’s study of the prospects for the development of a remote office showed user demand for the “Internet of senses”.
According to the respondents, by 2030 it will be customary to lead a lifestyle that includes the performance of any work and all scenarios of social communication, without leaving their own home.
Using 5G, AR and VR, employers will be able to fully replicate the office experience by simulating all sensory sensations – sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch – in a digital and interactive format. Calling this futuristic concept a “Dematerialized Office,” the study focused on what respondents would like to benefit from remote interaction in the new format.
The desire for a fully digitalized workplace goes beyond the office – 60% of respondents hope for the emergence of “full-fledged virtual stores and warehouses both for buying products from suppliers and for selling to customers.”
The development and implementation of technologies is always associated with friction in the legislative and legal field.
One of the first projects in the UK to deploy an automatic facial recognition system was declared illegal by the Court of Appeal.
The verdict fixes three areas of technology violations of citizens’ rights: privacy, data protection, and equality.
The case was brought up by civil liberties activist Ed Bridges. His image was captured by police cameras at least twice.
Automatic Face Recognition (AFR) captures images of people’s faces and compares them to a checklist, discarding any mismatched ones. The comparison list includes people for whom there is an outstanding arrest warrant or suspected of committing crimes.
The court considered that “there are no clear criteria for the situation when AFR can be used, and information about who can legally be included in the checklists”. The verdict threatens the development of facial recognition technologies for law enforcement purposes in a country with one of the highest penetration rates of CCTV cameras in the world.
Amazon presented two futuristic products in 2020 and ran into a scandal.
The company has launched a small autonomous surveillance drone, the Ring Always Home Cam, that flies around the home to check for security – whether you left the stove on, someone entered the house, etc. The second “product of contention” is the Amazon One palmprint scanner, which the company is testing in its grocery stores as a mechanism for faster checkout.
Both decisions drew a lot of criticism from public organizations concerned with the privacy of personal data. The biometric data that Amazon collects when using both products is strictly confidential. Unlike a password, you cannot change biometrics in the event of a compromise.
Amazon has a wealth of experience in securing massive cloud infrastructure, but in the case of biometrics, the stakes are phenomenally high – the more data a company has, the more risk it takes.
The future is coming for everyone, but faster for Asia
In 2020, it became clear that Silicon Valley is not the most advanced place in terms of the development of future technologies and their application in practice. Whole cities, test spaces for testing advanced high-tech solutions, grew and developed in Asia.
The Xiongan New Area project is part of the government’s ambitious plans. Announced by President Xi Jinping in 2017, this metropolis is being built in a rural area about 100 km southwest of Beijing, with a potential cost of $ 300 billion.
In Japan, a similar project, led by the industrial giant Toyota Motor Corp, is located near Japan’s Mount Fuji. The main purpose of such cities is to accelerate the development and introduction of new technologies into everyday life.