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Technologies that Will Change the World

Technologies that Will Change the World

Here’s what we learned from both groups:

Most likely to change the world? Artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles. 

Across all survey participants these two technologies were selected as most likely to change the way in which humans experience the world, out of a field that included other significant runners up. An incredible 92 percent of tech influencers noted that artificial intelligence was somewhat or very likely to impact how we experience the world and 90 percent believed that autonomous, or driverless, vehicles would do the same.  From how we move, to how machines will anticipate our need, there’s consensus that the biggest change could come from smarter machines operating with increasingly less direct human control.

The general population believes that smart cyber is most likely to benefit how the government serves its citizens.

When asked which of these technologies would most benefit how government serve their citizens, the general population noted a focus on smart cyber along with other technologies. But the tech experts were more focused.  More than artificial intelligence or autonomous vehicles, the experts believed government service would be transformed by universal connectivity.  The promise of universal connectivity could see government increasing the speed and reach of their services.

Compared to the general population’s responses, more tech elites believe that technology will transform industries—and sooner than we think.

We then went to the impact of these changes, asking participants to rate the impact these technologies will have on various industries. Survey participants universally listed the technology sector, manufacturing, and energy sectors as their bets for the most change. But tech influencers see a broader effect, with technology bringing significant change to all industries.  And in almost every case, the tech elites working on these new technologies responded that their impact would happen sooner than the general population expects.  According to the tech respondents, big changes are coming across industries in the next three years.  If their prediction is right, we need to move faster as we prepare for the social and economic disruption—both good and bad—that these technologies will bring.

Education and private-sector investments are most likely to encourage technological innovation.

Both tech elites and the public agree that education and private sector investment, including research and development, global talent, and educational scholarships, are the most important factor fueling future tech innovations.

Anticipating the future is only valuable if it leads to action today.  Regardless of when these changes will come or what industry will be most transformed by them, there is clear consensus that a big technological leap is coming.  We aren’t just anticipating a “next step;” machine learning, ubiquitous connectivity, and autonomous vehicles will fundamentally change how we live.  They will bring new ethical conundrums, further strain wage inequality, and challenge the value proposition—and indeed authority—of central governments.

“Today’s technology changes are advancing as quickly, as significantly, as ever. But it is still hard to tell fad from game-changer.”

With that in mind, we offer four recommendations to channel technology’s transformative power to do the most good, including:

  • Nurturing the rise of the digital citizen: The way we live, work and interact is changing fast.  We have become connected consumers, machine-dependent employees, and increasingly – digital citizens.  As we are connected 24/7 and integrate so many new technologies our governments must continue to adapt to an increasingly digital world. Governments will be compared against business who will quickly adopt new technologies.  Expectations will grow for how citizens interact with and receive services from their government.  But there is also opportunity: universal connectivity, smart applications, chatbots and more could deliver a better experience to citizens at less cost. 

  • Issuing a national strategy for artificial intelligence: No technology is growing in power and prevalence as quickly as artificial intelligence.  This is the next space race.  A collective, focused effort that defines the goals—and the boundaries—of machine learning is essential to our economic success and national security.  The United States needs an official strategy that defines our priorities, investments, and actions in both the public and private sector.  Learn more about the why and the how in our article We Need a Strategy for Artificial Intelligence

  • Fostering public-private cyber partnerships: The public rated smart cyber as the technology that could benefit how the Federal Government served its citizens.  As things we rely on daily—from buildings and cars to household devices—become connected, the more vulnerable our businesses, privacy, and even safety become.  The Federal Government should use its unique role to enable private sector collaboration through information-sharing organizations like Information Sharing and Analysis Centers. And it should use its military-grade cyber security capabilities to reinforce and, when necessary, actively defend critical infrastructure. What else can industry and the government do to secure cyber space? Read more in Stop the Madness: Real Security for a Connected Society

  • Encouraging investment in innovation: The constantly-accelerating pace of technology necessitates private sector investment in innovation and technology.  We won’t succeed in isolation. We need to look beyond individual companies to broad partnerships to realize the full potential of emerging technologies. Check out more about how we’re sparking innovation around the country in this video series.

What’s next? How do we build technologies for a modern era? Learn more about the Power of Intelligent Things from Booz Allen.

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