Alibaba DAMO Academy, the global research program launched by Alibaba in 2017, has published its predictions for the Top 10 technology trends in 2019. From speech AI, super-large graph neural networks, heterogenous computing architecture, to autonomous driving, blockchain and data protection technologies, machine intelligence has been generating great impacts on our lives, and we are expecting an accelerated pace of technology revolution in the year ahead.
Real-time urban simulation becomes possible
More resources will be allocated to technologies powering an intelligent “city brain” and its applications, while a city simulation model reflecting the real-time impulses and movements of a physical city can be built to facilitate the optimisation of city governance. More cities in China are expected to have a “city brain” in 2019.
Speech AI in certain areas to pass Turing Test
As speech intelligence technology advances, realtime text-to-speech on mobile devices would be almost identical to human speech, even passing the Turing test in certain conversations, such as ones using a robotic voice to alert about delivery status. Rules and regulations need to be established to regulate the industry, to avoid misusing the technology in advertisements, harassing phone calls and fraud.
Specialised AI chips on rise
Memory-centric AI chip architecture based on the latest-generation of 3D-stacked memory technology will become mainstream. In addition, brain-inspired neuromorphic computing chips will gain momentum, while researchers seek killer applications. Specialised AI chips may challenge the dominant position of GPUs for AI training in data centres.
Super-large graph neural networks (GNNs) will equip machines with common sense
GNNs that combine with deep learning can link end-to-end learning and inductive reasoning together, which might be able to address issues, such as relational reasoning and explainability that couldn’t be tackled by deep learning before. Robust GNNs can function as a human brain that consists of neurons, equipping machines with common sense, comprehension and cognitive capabilities.
Restructuring of computing architecture
The heterogenous computing architecture with FPGA, GPU and ASIC, along with emerging memory devices, are driving the evolution of traditional computing architecture. In the foreseeable future, the fundamental changes to computing architecture, underscored by the transition from CPU-centered general computing to Domain-specific computing driven by applications and technology, will accelerate the arrival of AI and the quantum-computing era.
5G networks will enable new applications
The fifth generation of wireless technology (5G) will see a significant increase of wireless bandwidth, enhancing the peak speed of 4G network nearly 100 times. This will speed the development of 4k/8k ultra-high-definition videos and immersive interaction based on AR/VR. Additionally, with features like high reliability, low latency and large capacity, 5G networks will enable the development of new areas, such as vehicle-infrastructure cooperative systems and the Industrial Internet.
Digital identity will become your second ID Card
Biometric and liveness detection/anti-spoofing technology is reshaping people’s identification and verification. From phone unlock, door access control to dining at restaurants, checking out at supermarkets, entering train stations, passing airport security check and seeing doctors in hospitals, biometric technology is playing an increasingly important role in making trust simpler and our daily life better.
More-prudent developments in autonomous
The advance of vehicle-infrastructure cooperative systems will foster the development of autonomous driving. In the next two to three years, new technological progress should be seen in certain commercial areas, such as logistics and transportation, with fixed-route public transport and unmanned delivery for commercial buildings and campuses.
Deployment of blockchain applications speeding up
People are more rational about the prospects of blockchain, which was once much overhyped. The deployment of blockchain applications with sustainable commercial value is expected to speed up. More and more blockchain applications will be seen in our daily life, such as cross-border remittances, supply-chain financing, electronic invoices and tamper-proof judicial records.
Data-protection technologies will thrive
Governments around the world intend to enact/implement more stringent policies and regulations on data security. Corporates will need to invest more in protecting individual data privacy. Traceability technologies across systems, such as watermark, and data-asset protection technology, including advanced anti-crawlers against strong cyberattacks, will be more broadly adopted.