Mega-trends of the future digital landscape

By Eugene Clark
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, October 18, 2019
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A man shows a 5G-based remote driving technology at the Light of Internet Expo of the 6th World Internet Conference (WIC) which is underway from October 18 to 22 in Wuzhen, east China's Zhejiang province. [Photo/VCG]

The 6th World Internet Conference will convene in Wuzhen, east China's Zhejiang province, from October 20 to 22. Such conferences are important gatherings that bring together experts from all over the world to share their insights on a rapidly changing digital environment that impacts people everywhere.

The best analysts at such events tend to be those who can accurately identify and respond appropriately to new "mega-trends." 

Growth of smart machines

Germany, U.S. and China are among the leading countries investing heavily in and developing a national strategy on AI development and applications. AI-enabled machine learning enables machines to learn fast and execute tasks in certain areas without human intervention. Just one example is Google's "Deep Mind," a neural network that learns from itself. Such machine learning has many potential applications, including doing the massive data analysis required to find the next generation of antibiotics and to analyze data that will take predictions to a whole new level. Using AI to enhance productivity will be especially important to aging countries in Europe and Asia and enable these countries to maintain and even enhance their living standards. Using AI for enhanced facial and even emotional recognition will also give rise to the need for new ethical standards that will govern this new technology and help minimize its potentially harmful impact.

The dramatically changing world of work

Technology will continue to change the world of work. Some routine, rules-based, repetitive work will be taken over by machines, but new forms of work will be created. People will also use technology to boost productivity and do new things. Working freelance, working remotely and in virtual teams across national borders will also become increasingly common.

The transformation in the educational space

New forms of work will mean that educational institutions will need to focus on teaching new types of skills, especially those related to data analysis, design, creativity, innovation, teamwork/collaboration, digital literacy, logic, judgment, and more. This also means that those already in the workplace will have to upskill to acquire and develop these new skillsets.

Changing the way we do business 

The growth and influence of technology is seen by the fact that tech companies are among the largest in terms of capitalization. They require fewer staff to start up and have been growing increasingly faster. This growth and development are further accentuated by the fact that technology companies are investing huge amounts of capital in R&D in order to stay competitive, disrupt traditional businesses and maintain their advantage. All this means that technology is increasingly changing how we do business. The growth and new applications of distributed ledger technology and cryptocurrency as well as new forms of financial services are obvious examples of this trend.

Troubling technology trends

One troubling trend in the otherwise positive outlook of the tech industry is the emerging backlash against companies like Google and Facebook due to privacy breaches. This has led to regulators voicing out their concerns that these companies have become too large and have either been biased or have not sufficiently policed their platforms to prevent misuse. Other negatives surround the unintended impact of social media use such as bullying, depression, increased loneliness, etc. The other major concern is that tech companies have paid insufficient attention to security, which is evident through the rising number and severity of security breaches.  

Notwithstanding the headwinds caused by growing unilateralism and nationalism, there is little doubt that the growth and influence of technology continues to make the world a smaller and more interconnected space. Ever since humans have engaged in tool-making and thus shaped their environment, the creation of ever new and more powerful technological tools continues to shape, influence and even transcend our environment. 

Eugene Clark is a columnist with For more information please visit:

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