Artificial Intelligence Trends of 2020

A report by research firm IDC in September said global spending for AI systems will reach $97.9 billion in 2023, a staggering increase from the projected $37.5 billion that will be spent this year. That means the annual growth rate will be 28.4 percent over the next several years.

That’s not surprising as BigTech is primed to increase their monopoly status in the 2020s with AI leadership that will boost GDP via machine learning with the emergence of an automation economy.

Over the last few years, we have seen an exponential upthrust in the number of platforms, applications, and tools based on machine learning and AI technologies. We are seeing greater mainstream impact of algorithms, and machine learning in regular jobs across a variety of industries.

At the Last Futurist, we are a bit obsessive about future trends.

China’s Adoption of Facial Recognition at Scale – 1

China’s 2020 manifestation of its social credit architecture is significant for the future of business and data harvesting in China to fuel AI development. If in the West social media and search were the gateways to algorithmic adoption, in China facial recognition is the gateway to real advantages in data harvesting and behaviour modification at scale with AI tools.

During December, 2019 we are going to list quite a few analysis reports of future trends impacting the future of technology.

We believe that in 2020 this will be a significant development of the future of AI implementation and facial recognition policy globally. China’s adoption of facial recognition payments, transit, mobile identity verification checkpoints and in stores is quite impressive from a behavioural tracking perspective that is omnichannel surveillance as it has never existed before in human society.

Amazon’s New Stores in Retail – “Phygital” Evolves 2

In 2020 we expect Amazon to scale its AmazonGo stores while leveraging its entry into grocery for a smarter brick-and-mortar expansion into retail stores. It’s not clear how ready or how quickly this will take place, but Amazon is poised to increasingly get skin in the game in the grocery space after its acquisition of Whole Foods.

Whatever Amazon decides to do in terms of store size, the fact remains LiDAR and facial recognition are likely to be a big part of these retail store experiences, mimicking a bit the “smart retail” of Alibaba and other e-commerce brands in China that are successfully integrating technology into their physical stores.

Waymo One Pilot Expands into More Cities – 3

Waymo owned by Google is the leader in terms of autonomous vehicle development. Their pilots in Phoenix and California could scale in 2020 to other cities if all goes well.

As jobs churn from the automobile industry, the move into electric and self-autonomous vehicles appears to be occurring more gradually and will take at least a decade for the dust to settle. However the race to autonomous vehicle technology is occurring everywhere including in tech companies, at startups and in the innovation labs of automobile leaders with the deepest pockets and industry partnerships.

From Tesla to Uber, it seems everyone is involved in this race, but Waymo One is in the driver’s seat for the time being with a considerable head start.

State Backed Digital Currency Where Blockchain, Apps, IoT and AI Converge – 4

China is the most likely place where a digital currency could manifest that would represent the convergence of blockchain, apps, 5G, IoT and the future of artificial intelligence. This is simply because they have the greatest incentive to manifest where the cold tech wars have a currency war component.

In early 2020 expect an announcement from China of its digital RMB launch, with immediate utility on its mobile payment and in-app ecosystems.

Social Credit Architectures and Artificial Intelligence – 5

From China, to Google to Facebook, social credit architectures are the optimal channels for data harvesting at scale to take place. Facebook’s “pivot to privacy” in 2019 represents its own protection of its consumer attention ecosystem. Apple’s pivot to software is much the same. Amazon’s entry into digital advertising as well.

But China’s surveillance capitalism architecture is many times greater in scale and ubiquity across channels. It is an IoT of data harvesting that can push its artificial intelligence efforts forwards in ways Silicon Valley won’t be able to replicate.

AI Regulation and Explainable AI – 6

When AI does what it does and even the software teams can’t explain it, there’s a problem. With the rise of an algorithmic society that can be hacked, where propaganda isn’t ethical and where AI is based, AI regulation becomes an increasingly serious matter. In 2020, we’ll be looking at the lens of AI in new ways.

Even on the B2B level this will mean the advent of better explainable AI. As artificial intelligence becomes a bigger part of how organizations make decisions, there will be a greater need for AI-fueled applications to explain how they reached such decisions.

When it comes to data science and machine learning platforms, they will need to list out in clear terms the accuracy, attributes and model statistics used to reach conclusions, according to Gartner and others.

AI Driven Entertainment, Streaming and New Media – 7

The streaming wars and the rise of TikTok have seriously new implications for how AI helps us find the right content. From ByteDance getting into mobile search and mobile advertising to how new companies in streaming, like Roku, help consumers find the best content, AI has a big role to play in these new channels.

The evolution of personalized recommendations are the very smart technology basis of companies like ByteDance that are able to make better apps than Facebook in 2020. TikTok was one of the most downloaded apps of 2019.

Meanwhile the entry of Disney, Apple and others into the streaming wars with Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and so forth creates an incredible opportunity for AI to evolve in entertainment ecosystems and streaming in general.

Meanwhile AI voice assistant speakers continue to evolve with Alexa, Google, Alibaba, and Baidu among others with audio platforms like Spotify, Tencent Music, ByteDance and so forth, audio Ads will possibly emerge as a major force for AI to target us.

Machine Learning Automation in the Workplace – 8

In 2020 automation will still be seen as a positive thing since it won’t number in a radical loss of jobs quiet yet. The AI trends in 2020 and automation will create jobs mainly in sectors where they can be deployed more effectively, such as retail, manufacturing, banking, and insurance.

However the potential of machine learning to disrupt industries and jobs in the future will continue to increase. In a few years Ai will largely disrupt some of the most common jobs in North America such as truck drivers, cashiers, retail store agents, fast food workers, customer service reps, administrative clerks and so forth.

However in 2020, automation might actually help to create new jobs faster than it will disrupt them, though that’s likely not the case as the automation economy matures later in the next decade.

Quantum Computing Advancements – 9

Quantum computers use quantum physics to compute calculations faster than any supercomputer today. How BigTech and China invests in this technology will scale dramatically in the 2020s and the future iteration of artificial intelligence will require that computing breakthrough.

This means that “quantum computing” hype comes with it a potential to help scale the future of machine learning in new directions in the somewhat distant future. However, in 2020, the race for “quantum supremacy” will become even more hyped.

Google’s quantum computer performed a task that isn’t possible with traditional computers, according to a paper published in the science journal Nature. It’s not however clear how far off quantum computing for personal use might be, but likely decades.

Demand for AI Skill Sets in High Demand in 2020 – 10

In 2020 I think we can expect machine learning, AI and deep learning type skill sets to be among the most in demand as the hype train of AI continues into the next decade. Udemy sees robust demand for AI and data science skills, among other Cloud specific ones.

In brief, AI related frameworks including Python, React (web), Angular, machine learning, and Docker will be the five most popular tech skills in 2020. The Udemy report goes on to state that TensorFlow, OpenCV, and neural networks are the foundational skills many data scientists are pursuing and perfecting today to advance their AI-based career strategies.

After analyzing data from more than 40 million users, the online learning platform found that the most popular tech skill people are learning is Python, a programming language. Will coding become even more mainstream a skill set in the 2020s?

Cybersecurity Skills Shortage Will Mean AI Cybersecurity Automation in 2020 – 11

There’s a chronic skills shortage about to hit North America in the years and decades to come and cybersecurity is an area where this is already the case. This however is a great incentive for companies and the industry to utilize AI to automate many of the cybersecurity protocols necessary in the era of IoT, 5G, mobile and more attacks, fraudulent activity and data breaches than ever before.

A big theme of 2020 is the convergence of AI with other fields. Cybersecurity has to be near the top of that list.

Neural Networks of Robotics Advances in 2020 – 12

I expect 2020 to also be a big year for robotics especially in the area of neural networks.

Google’s DeepMind Unit Continues to Evolve – 13

DeepMind is one of Google’s most important “other bets”. I’ve covered DeepMind quite a bit in my futurist writing but in 2020 this team will emerge as more important to Google’s overall AI-first strategy.

In short, they are the most talented group of AI researchers in the world all under one roof under Alphabet.

Struggling to find decent AI news? Try Synced. When DeepMind’s health unit joined Google Health it immediately made Google a serious player in Health Tech in 2020 and the 2020s more broadly speaking.

HealthTech Flourishes in 2020 – 14

With Amazon, Apple and Google showing a more serious entry into healthcare, this will mean some of those projects will launch in 2020. Meanwhile on the stock market, biotech and health technology companies that emerge may end up becoming some of the bigger companies of the 2030s and 2040s. This is because healthcare such a lucrative field, especially for the intersection of data and drugs (pharma).

As healthcare costs keep rising in the 2020s, the companies that leverage this opportunity will become some of the most successful AI companies of the future.

Facial Recognition and Biometrics Becomes More Mainstream in 2020 – 15

As China leaps ahead in facial recognition and biometric facial harvesting, the rest of the world will try to catch up. Facial recognition will become the global standard for identity verification. For example, it’s the first time the Olympics have used that facial recognition technology. The 2020 Olympics organizers say the facial recognition is twice as fast as regular ID checks.

Facial recognition is likely to become our new passport. Biometrics in mobile and retail stores should also increase in ubiquity. CCTV cameras will increase their penetration in major global cities. Facial recognition technology will also continue to advance with gait and sentiment analytics able to differentiate moods. In China, the tech is being used increasingly in the classroom.

Bring your Own Enhancements (BYOE movement) – 16

If the 2010s were all about mobile, the IoT era of the 2020s will actually move from a bring your own devices (BYOD) to a BYOE. The augmented worker is arriving in 2020 and just as not everyone can afford premium Apple earbuds, the next gen of wearables and enhancements are likely to be more like enhancements than just consumer luxuries.

Gartner talks seriously about this where, at present, the automotive and mining industries employ wearables to increase worker safety, while the travel and healthcare sectors use the technology to maximize productivity. In the 2020s these devices may actually produce a competitive edge.

AI Powered Chips – 17

Major chip manufacturers including Intel, Nvidia, AMD and ARM aim to produce AI-powered chips to speed up the operations of applications that run on AI. In 2020 we’ll see yet another generation of these. Whether it’s Nvidia in robotics or others specializing and Tech companies making their own AI chips, increasingly specialized chips can help machine learning process faster and bigger amounts of data.

Sentiment Hacking Ads – 18

As the intersection of advertising and AI evolves, so too does how surveillance capitalism approaches us personally and emotionally. By 2024, AI identification of emotions will influence over half of all online advertisements.

This is a lucrative field of how companies like Google, Facebook, ByteDance, Amazon and Alibaba evolve sophisticated next-gen ways to influence consumers in the attention economy and how invasive technology will become to the human state, as the new normal.

As the popularity of biometric-tracking sensors continues to soar and artificial emotional intelligence evolves, businesses will be capable of detecting consumer emotions and use this knowledge to increase sales.

One of the things the 4th industrial revolution results in is how data and sentiment inferences will result in how people’s behaviour will be predicted. By 2023, individual activities will be digitally tracked by an “Internet of Behaviour” to influence benefit and service eligibility for 40% of people worldwide. This IoB is yet another layer of how AI meets the IoT. The evolution of consumer data is not just all-knowing, but all-predicting.

Rising Adoption of RPA – 19

RPA stands for Robotic process automation. 2020 represents in a sense the beginning of a new wave of layers of automation that are coming to industries across the board. RPA is an emerging technology practice to streamline enterprise operations and reduce costs. With RPA, businesses can automate mundane rules-based business processes, enabling business users to devote more time to serving customers or other higher-value work.

We know that in the first wave of automation repetitive tasks are among the first to be automated. However with deep learning so too are some tasks in a variety of white collar jobs. Meanwhile, in the 2020s investment in AI startups and AI research will continue to grow fast, especially in places like China.

RPA is an example of a very pragmatic approach to automation. Relatively new data from Gartner finds the RPA market grew over 63% last year, making it the fastest growing enterprise software category.

RPA however is just one small aspect of hyperautomation. Hyperautomation deals with the application of advanced technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), to increasingly automate processes and augment humans.

The Distributed, Hybrid and Interoperable Cloud – 20

With Amazon and Microsoft to be joined by the likes of Google and Alibaba that will invest big in it in 2020, the Cloud is ready to evolve next year like never before.

We are entering a new era of data capitalism in 2020. The speed of AI adoption and the advent of automation starts to slowly begin to accelerate.

Large technology firms begin to have more power than ever before, and some scale in 2020 to increase their global influence like never before. Meanwhile more exponential technologies means more innovation, and new companies coming into being in lucrative industries like healthcare, biotech and education that will change the planet.

There are so many more trends the Last Futurist could cover, so in the comment section name some that you think will be a big story in 2020. This article might might be updated in December, 2019, or January, 2020..W

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