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Location: Home / Technology / Into The Unknown: AI, Edge And Other Digital Predictions For 2022

Into The Unknown: AI, Edge And Other Digital Predictions For 2022

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Ravi is SVP of Engineering and CTO at Couchbase, overseeing development and delivery of Couchbase's modern database for enterprise apps.

Making predictions for the year ahead is an age-old tradition, but some are easier than others. For instance, saying 2022 will see a new Marvel movie is a pretty safe bet. Looking into a crystal ball and predicting technology movements is a lot harder — especially with factors like Covid, climate change and ongoing supply chain disruption adding so much chaos to the mix. There is also the risk that overblown promises for one technology or another can wear out readers, making them much less trusting of future predictions.

With all of this in mind, here are my predictions for technology in 2022 — not based on any clairvoyance, but on my understanding of technology, industry and society.

AI 2.0 will do more heavy lifting, but won’t replace people.

People have always made overblown promises for AI, which have inevitably ended in a damp squib. But in 2022, we should start to see AI 2.0 come to the fore. What does this mean? If AI 1.0 was about improving operational efficiencies through automating repetitive tasks, then AI 2.0 will be characterized by reducing human involvement while helping people make better decisions. Ultimately, instead of being programmed to follow sequential instructions, computers will be "trained" to make concurrent, parallel computations and arrive at better insights, faster. This doesn’t make humans any less important in the decision-making process. But it does mean that AI will be able to analyze vast datasets, triage potential courses of action and present the human at the end with fewer, better options to choose from. Similarly, with the growing emergence of Web 3.0, consumers will be able to better and more effectively engage with businesses through the use of AI and machine learning. Indeed, AI 2.0 will be one of the key technologies that brings Web 3.0 closer to fruition.

Of course, data will be at the heart of this shift. AI already creates vast quantities of data, and AI 2.0 will create more than humans can manage manually. As such, it will be characterized by an autonomous approach to data management: machines managing machine-generated data to enable machines to help people make decisions. This means there will be a growing emphasis on explainability. The more of a role that AI has in managing and analyzing data, the more we’ll need to be able to see why and how it’s reached its decisions.

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Into The Unknown: AI, Edge And Other Digital Predictions For 2022

Everything we do will involve a digital interaction.

The digital and physical worlds will keep merging in our daily lives throughout 2022. From reviewing and rearranging our finances and managing doctor's appointments to buying and fitting new furniture, digital interactions will be an inevitable part of the experience, even if we do most of it in person. At the same time, the way in which we process these transactions will keep evolving, as we see new adoption of and uses for blockchain technologies such as cryptocurrencies and NFTs. IDC’s Data Age 2025 report certainly shares this perspective: It says that people’s digital daily interactions will jump to nearly 5,000 over the next three years, up from the 2020 average of 601.

As a consequence, we’ll see organizations spending more time and resources on improving the digital experience. This doesn’t only mean new experiences like digital showrooms or using augmented reality to position your new couch. It means investing in technology that supports smarter decision-making and easier data sharing that will drive these experiences. From machine learning to rapid automation provisioning, businesses will be using those tools to personalize and otherwise improve digital interactions, and we’ll see more brands seamlessly switch services between digital and in-person.

Edge 2.0 will move us toward a truly connected future.

Edge computing is another technology set to deliver a generational leap in 2022. Again, the concept isn’t new: From factory floor sensors to smart printers and mobile apps, we’re used to the idea of packing enough computing power into a small device so it can gather information and make decisions on its own. The IoT already benefits from serverless computing, only using cloud resources as and when they’re needed, to analyze and manage data created by these devices. But the next generation will see a major step forward.

The difference is that traditionally edge computing has demanded a tether, no matter how thin or constant, with a central server. A production line sensor or mobile app might gather or present data, but a central or cloud-based server still does the heavy computing. Edge 2.0 means devices will be powerful enough to act without that central server, thus creating dispersed networks of endpoints that offer truly offline-first capabilities. And when those endpoints do interact with the cloud, serverless computing means that they will use the minimum of resources in order to do so — reducing costs and making Edge 2.0 an even more attractive proposition.

We’re already seeing this technology in contexts such as mining, offshore drilling, utility crews and railyards, where any internet connectivity happens, at best, during planned windows. But we’ll increasingly see it everywhere, as organizations realize the benefit of decentralizing their data and application infrastructure, reducing costs and accelerating productivity by enabling decision making at the edge. For instance, if that production line sensor can identify an error and work with other devices to fix or bypass it, it's suddenly a lot more useful.

The future isn’t written yet.

If history has shown us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. As with so many developments, from smartphones and social media to hybrid working, 2022's biggest game-changing innovation will likely be something no enterprise has even considered yet.

It could be a major world event that pushes organizations in one direction — like a reaction to climate change or ongoing supply chain realignment and bottlenecks. Conversely, it could be a new innovation taking the world by storm. Regardless, organizations will be best placed to take advantage of new developments if they have the right data foundations and technologies in place to future-proof their architecture and enable rapid change when it’s needed.


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