Technology, Science, and Humanity in 2020
This coming year could see a significant change in our technological landscape as digital transformation continues apace and emerging technologies, well, emerge. These technologies are being applied to society’s most difficult challenges, from inequality and poverty, to the treatment diseases, and the protection of personal and data privacy.
Businesses must deliver on diversity, equality, consumer protection, and the environment
After decades of corporate growth, large organisations now will not only have to deliver financial results but also demonstrate their commitment to the environment, to protecting consumers, to cybersecurity, to diversity, and even to wealth distribution and income equality.
In August 2019, as per Wired, Washington DC’s industry group Business Roundtable renewed its mission pledging to put customer and employees before shareholders and to tackle diversity and inclusion. Member of the Business Roundtable include top executives from the biggest US companies.
The B Corp movement consists of profit-oriented companies that are also committed to social impact and environmental standards. It too is growing and demonstrating that ethical and environmental values are attractive to investors.
The UN describes 2020 as the beginning of a “decade of delivery,” where corporate social responsibility (CSR) transforms from an expectation into an important factor in revenue generation.
Emerging technologies will permeate every sector and deliver consumer benefits
2020 is set to be the year the consumer mass market really gets a taste of AI’s potential. Its use in virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri will progress to chatbots replacing much of human delivered customer services. Gartner predicted 85% of customer service could be delivered by chatbots by this year, and 80% of companies are investigating the technology.
AI is also being used in robotic process automation (RPA) taking repetitive basic tasks away from human employees and handing them to technology instead. Cybersecurity will also benefit from AI-powered systems which can model billions of items of data in order to identify vulnerabilities and breaches in corporate systems far faster than current strategies.
Blockchain technologies will see greater application. The World Economic Forum (WEF) predicts blockchain could have social impact in 2020 as it is tested in wealth distribution, equality, and financial inclusion projects. The WEF also predicts that hybrid-blockchain systems will emerge as public and financial sector companies become more comfortable with the distributed ledger technology.
Lastly electric vehicle (EV) sales are predicted to increase by 35% during the first three-quarters of 2020. There is an increase in government subsidies and interest in the market. Mass-market automotive companies like Volkswagen have revealed new EVs that could realistically compete against conventional vehicles on price and performance.
Wired author Greg Williams writes that biology is moving “from being a science to an engineering discipline,” as it becomes a “computational domain,” advantaged by technology. Scientific breakthroughs like genomics, CRISPR and the use of AI and machine learning to model health, predict and detect illnesses mean biology will feature more of engineering “mindset.” And, bioengineering is set to surge as we change how food is produced and how we create new materials and structures.
2020 could mark a major leap into the fourth industrial revolution as society combines emerging and advanced technologies with a more mindful approach to the world we live in.