9 Tech Trends That Might Just Change the World

The pace of technological innovation is getting faster all the time.

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By Luke Fitzpatrick

Qi Yang | Getty Images

This story originally appeared on ValueWalk

A lot can happen in a decade. Just take a look at how different life is today compared to 2010. Smartphones and automated technologies have made our lives much easier in a lot of ways, while the new age of constant connectivity has altered the way we work, shop, and relate to one another.

Far from slowing down, the pace of progress is getting faster all the time. Some of the new technologies on the horizon are prone to change the world as we know it. Here are 9 tech trends to keep an eye on this year.

1. Augmented humans

Like the smartphones in our pockets, humanity itself is going to get an upgrade. If the rapid rise of wearable technology is anything to go by, it's a pretty safe bet that a further merging with technology is going to happen in the near future.

From hearing aids to fitness trackers, the devices we all wear now help to improve our health and efficiency. But, the technology that will drive "augmented humans" will do the same at a higher level.

2. The Internet of Things

Can you turn on your oven without even being in the house? Or monitor inventory at work in real-time without constant counting? If so, the Internet of Things is already making its way into your everyday life. With more and more objects getting internet connectivity, by 2020 our world will be more connected than ever.

3. Living machines

Some machines are getting Wi-Fi, while others are getting a life. Biologists have been in the business of creating lifelike cells from just a handful of ingredients, including proteins and chemical energy. But more complex structures are on the horizon. By creating larger collectives of these single synthetic cells, it is possible that living machines could be just around the corner.

4. Smart diagnosis

The health sector is about to be shaken up, now that there are smartphones capable of diagnosing patients. Overstretched doctors and nurses might just get their workloads reduced with the help of these smartphone labs.

5. Subterranean cities

It's not just people's health that will benefit in the coming years – we're all likely to have more space soon, too. Tech blogger, Antoine Bechara says, "Underground cities are in the early stages of development in places such as Singapore and New York, which could see some of us start moving below ground-level by 2030."

6. Natural language processing

By now, there's nothing new about voice interfaces. Many of us have them on our phones, laptops, and home assistants such as the Amazon Echo and Google Nest. But their use is expanding all the time. Businesses, in particular, are making good use of the improvements in natural language processing, and are using the technology to talk to their customers.

7. Emotion tracking

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is learning to understand our emotions. Just by looking at our faces, new technology can read our expressions and determine whether we're happy, sad, angry, or something else entirely. Someday soon, it may even be able to tell which of us are faking our feelings and who's being genuine.

8. New realities

"Reality" is going to get a whole new meaning in the coming decade. With the long strides, scientists are making with virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality technologies, incredible, digitally enhanced immersive experiences are coming. Currently, be used primarily for gaming and entertainment purposes, the many potential uses extend to realistic training and education, rehabilitation, and marketing.

9. Deepfakes

Unfortunately, it's not all good news – so-called "deep fakes" have been on the rise in recent years. This basically refers to the process in which AI is used to create a realistic-looking photo or video using a person's image and voice. And the technology is improving rapidly.

This might sound like a pretty harmless use of technology, but actually, there is a sinister underside to deep fakes. The non-consensual use of people's images is on the rise and is quite troublesome. As deep fakes get even harder to spot, they could be used to cause confusion and even incite violence. With this emerging technology, the boundary between real and fake is getting increasingly blurry.

Luke Fitzpatrick

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer

Academic Tutor, Guest Speaker

Luke Fitzpatrick has been published in a variety of publications such as Forbes, Tech In Asia and The Next Web. He is also a guest lecturer at the University of Sydney, lecturing in cross-cultural management and the pre-MBA program.

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