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Computer Society Technology Predictions 2023 – III

As shown in this graphic, the technology area of remote healthcare and wearable is the one having the highest probability of success and also the one most impactful on humanity. At the other hand technology to stop disinformation are considered having the lowest chance of success and those supporting space ITC the one have the least impact on humanity. Image credit: Computer Society

Let me focus now on the individual predictions starting with three that are at the edges of the metrics: the probability  of success in 2023 and their impact on humanity.

  • Space ITC: information and communications technologies have been a crucial component of space exploration and have become even more so in these last decades as engineers have started to think about a ITC infrastructure in space that can serve humanity (and business) on Earth. Satellite constellations are not new, what is new is the dramatic decrease in price, both in launching and in satellite constructions, mostly due to increased miniaturisation (cube satellites -CubeSat-). A CubeSat can weight in the range of 1 kg, satellites sent in orbit just a decade ago weighted 4,000+kg! Also increased processing capacity is making possible to use higher frequency for communications and smarter antennas. Storage has expanded immensely so that now some engineers think about creating data centres in space (and even some on the Moon in lava tubes as a way to store data for a long time). This data  processing infrastructure will come handy also for activities in space, like zero/low-gravity manufacturing. The  exploration of Mars and in the farther future of Jupiter / Saturn moons will require in-space manufacturing capabilities and local processing infrastructures. This opens up business opportunities and will stimulate innovation. There is a strong momentum, particularly in CubeSat infrastructures that will continue through this decade. However, the team feels that the actual impact on humanity will be low.
  • Disinformation Detection/Correction: we are overwhelmed by data and the access to information (data that matter to us) is in the hands of tools, like search engines, social media, blogs, newsletters. What used to be a controlled source of information (television, radio, newspaper) is now fragmented into a myriad of sources where people are attracted more by the form factor (think about Tik Tok!) and convenience (think about apps in your smartphone). If this landscape weren’t complex enough, we are now, and more so in the future, faced by information that is generated/packaged and delivered by artificial intelligence. The evolution towards the metaverse will fade the perception of any difference between real and artefact. At the same time the personalisation of the interactions will fog objectivity: everything becomes subjective even though -and this is the big problem- everything will feel objective.
    As AI gets better and better in creating artefacts it will become more and more difficult to tell them apart from reality. Fake news are already plaguing the web and their number will keep growing whilst at the same time they will become more and more credible. Technology to intercept fakes and disinformation is highly needed and it will have a great impact on humanity. Unfortunately, the probability to hit a silver bullet in this area remains low, according to the team. Solutions will be found but the relentless progress of AI coupled with the ever growing web will make the probability of success very low, in 2023 and in the following years. In this field the real tool to fight fakes is education and awareness (that in turns is part of education).
  • Remote healthcare and wearables: healthcare is progressing towards increased personalisation, localisation and preventative health. These three trends are already  visible and technology for remote healthcare supported by wearables is instrumental to pursue these goals. The pandemic over the last three years has accelerated the evolution in all three trends:
    – we have got used to remote consultancy (localisation)
    – we have learnt to self-test for Covid-19 (localisation)
    – we have learnt precautionary measures (preventative)
    – we have started to use out personal electronic health record and get data from wearable smart watch(personalisation)
    – genome sequencing has been used to determine the best protocol to fight the infection (personalisation)
    The pandemic has accelerated an evolution that was already in the making. The cure of several cancer is now following ever more personalised protocols (through genome sequencing and personalised drugs -still very, very expensive). The ever growing cost of healthcare in developed Countries is forcing to look for alternatives that can make better use of scarce -and expensive- resources. This is stimulating the adoption of tools (AI is playing a growing role, like smart chatbots, drug design and simulation, hospital management, …). The consensus of the group is that the increasing availability of data (both patient, environment, drugs use and effect, …) also derived from wearable at individual level, coupled with the increased use and capability of AI will be a game changer and its effect -already visible- will grow significantly in 2023. This will have a huge impact at personal and societal level. Among all technology areas considered this one is the one -by far- expected to have most success and impact.

As for the previous posts in this series let me remind you that what you find here are my comments on the identified technologies and these may not be in agreement with all the experts. This is nothing strange,  we  are dealing with predictions and these are based on facts AND on subjective perceptions on how various factors may influence the evolution. You should  make up  your mind  by reading  the document!

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the New Initiative Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He is a member of the IEEE in 2050 Ad Hoc Committee. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.

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