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AI, blockchain and fake news: the next decade according to Gartner

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The world is set to change drastically in the next decade as technologies like the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain transform industries and lifestyles. Of course, that’s if we as a species manage to make it to the next decade.

Intelligence firm Gartner recently revealed how the aforementioned technologies will influence life on Earth, and the digital realm, beyond 2020.

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“Counterfeit reality” is set to become one of humans’ and AI’s biggest problems

AI will begin to confuse itself

Gartner doesn’t think 2020 will be a good year.

It mentions that artificial intelligence’s ability to create content — what it calls “counterfeit reality” — will conflict with its ability to detect the validity said content. This effectively means that AI will be unable to tell what is in fact part of reality, and part of a counterfeit reality.

“In the past 30 years, the ability to create and to disseminate content that has been subtly or overtly altered has greatly increased as huge numbers of people gained access to the internet with few controls on content distribution. The next wave of that distribution will be machine-generated content,” the company writes.

This notably has implications for social media, where content generated is created by human beings. How will artificial intelligence — especially AI ingrained in wearable devices — affect this? But more importantly, will human beings able to detect what is “counterfeit reality”?

Blockchain and cryptocurrencies will be even bigger buzzwords

By 2020, the graphics card shortage might be over, but cryptocurrencies’ potential will continue to balloon for the world’s larger financial institutions.

Gartner believes that “once banks start to see cryptocurrencies and digital assets in the same context as more traditional financial instruments, more distributed business value will begin to accrue”.

In August 2017, the cryptocurrency market was valued at over US$160-billion. That’s an increase of 1500% over 2016’s figure.

Ultimately, the banking industry could rack up US$1-billion in business value through blockchain-based cryptocurrency by the turn of the decade. That’s a small piece of the potential pie, but notable nonetheless.

95% of all new electronic products will feature IoT capabilities

Gartner believes that the ease of management from devices and the cloud, supplemented by the low-cost of IoT techology will result in a “snowball” of popularity.

“Every supplier must, at the very least, make plans to implement IoT technology into its products, for both consumer and business buyers,” the comapny warns.

We’ve seen companies in South Africa already board the IoT hype train.

Vodacom announced in September 2017 that it sees 55 000 new devices connected to its IoT network per day. In the same month, its competitor MTN also announced a dedicated IoT network that will support technologies like NB-IoT and LoRaWAN.


Voice assistants, like the Assistant-powered Google Home, will become a goldmine for marketers

Visual and voice search will rake in the coin

As much as you may dislike voice assistants, Gartner suggests that these will become integral tools for marketers in 2021. Moreover, these assistants are now being packaged in a hardware solution. Apple, Amazon and Google have all debuted devices within the past year, with the likes of Samsung reportedly following suit in the coming years.

These home assistants have already made their impact too. In April 2017, a smart Burger King video advertisement hijacked the Google Home using the “OK Google” voice command to activate the speaker. It demonstrated how smart assistants can help marketers transcend the digital-physical divide between the internet and the consumer’s home.

Smart assistants are set to generate a further US$3.5-billion by 2021.

“Brands that are able to develop ways to leverage systems that can take a handoff, so to speak, from the devices will see rapid growth in digital commerce revenue,” the firm adds.

Chatbot development will overtake mobile app development

The “post-app” age is nearly upon us, predicts Gartner.

It suggests that “more than 50%” or businesses will be spending more on chatbot development per annum, than mobile app development.

“Today, chatbots are the face of AI and will impact all areas where there is communication between humans,” it adds.

Although the chatbot hype has largely settled, the likes of Facebook Messenger boasts in excess of 11 000 bots on its platform. WeChat, Telegram and other chat apps are investing heavily in this technology.


Fake news will become markedly more rampant, and more difficult to detect

Fake news will outweigh factual information

Donald Trump could still be president of the United States in 2022 too. Even if he isn’t, Gartner predicts that the scourge of fake news won’t simply vanish in the next decade.

Businesses need to not only monitor closely what is being said about their brands directly, but also in what contexts, to ensure they are not associated with content that is detrimental to their brand value,” the company warns.

IoT issues will be less about security and more about safety

Rather than addressing issues with IoT technologies’ security, 2022 IoT experts will grow tired of “fault remediation, recalls and safety failures”.

“The requirement to update devices periodically, as is done with mobile phones and other remote systems, is multiplied by numerous factors, and the inability to perform those updates can result in massive product recalls,” concludes Gartner.

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