By Mark van Rijmenam, Founder of Datafloq.
It is the end of the year again and a lot has happened in 2016. Google’s AlphGo algorithm beat Lee Se-dol in the game of Go, Blockchain really took off and governments around the globe are investing heavily in smart cities. As every year, I will provide you with the big data trends for the upcoming year, just as I did for 2014, 2015 and 2016. 2017 promises to be a big year for Big Data. The Big Data hype is finally over and, therefore, we can finally get started with Big Data. That is why I would like to call 2017 the Year of Intelligence. So, which big data trends will affect your organisation in 2017? Let’s have a look at the seven top big data trends for 2017.
1. Blockchain-enabled Smart Contracts: Blockchain 2.0
In 2016, Blockchain took off with a lot of media attention on the distributed technology that will drastically change organisations and societies. Many organisations are exploring Blockchain solutions. The R3 Partnership, which involves over 70 of the largest banks in the world, seeks to invest almost $60 million in the development of their blockchain platform. Although four prominent banks left the consortium, it shows that banks are serious in further exploring this technology.
However, settling of transactions is not the biggest opportunity of the blockchain technology. The real possibilities come with recording smart contracts on the blockchain. Smart contracts are traditional contracts, but written in code. They are like If This Then That statements; only they tend to be a lot more complex. When linked together they can result in new forms of organisations such as a Decentralised Autonomous Organisation.
The most well-known platform for smart contracts is Ethereum. Ethereum is a decentralised platform for applications (DApps) that run exactly as programmed without any chance of fraud, censorship or third-party interference. Although Ethereum is still a very young platform, and has some challenges with involuntary hard forks, the opportunities of irreversible smart contracts linked together on a platform like Ethereum are enormous. Multiple startups are developing similar platforms such as Synereo, Maidsafe or the latest platform Ardor. They are all trying to build the decentralised internet. 2017 will see these platforms growing up, although we will probably also see some issues related to these platforms. However, slowly the technology of a decentralised internet is growing up and smart contracts will be an important part of Blockchain 2.0.
2. Deep Learning Becomes Smarter and Brings Us Closer to Artificial General Intelligence
The algorithmic business has the potential to change society and 2016 saw a significant increase in the development of algorithms. Algorithms won the game of Go, it can translate languages it does not know and even detect a criminal simply by looking at an image of a face. Artificial intelligence will not stop there and in the coming years we will move more and more towards a form of artificial general intelligence; Siri that can also drive your car.
Artificial general intelligence is becoming possible because of deep learning. Deep learning is a subfield of machine learning and is inspired by the neural networks in our brain. The objective is to create artificial neural networks that can find patterns in vast amounts of data. Deep learning is becoming widely available now, because of the increased computing power and large data sets that are available to scientists around the globe. Therefore, in 2017 we will see many new deep learning applications that could significantly impact our lives.
Deep learning algorithms are not trained by humans. Rather, they are exposed to massive data sets, millions of videos / images / articles, etc. and the algorithms must figure out for itself how to recognise different objects, sentences, images, etc. As a result, it can come up with solutions no humans could have thought of. An example is a set of algorithms that just developed an encryption algorithm humans could not decipher using patterns humans would never use. Thus, if in 2017 you have the feeling that your computer talks in a secret code to you, that could very well be true
3. Conversational AI: Intelligent Applications Will Revolutionise Interactions
Connected devices will become truly smart in 2017. Robots, autonomous vehicles or boats, drones and any other Internet of Things product will become increasingly intelligent. These devices will become a lot better at understanding the user and adapting the product or service to the needs of the user. Software updates will be done over-the-air, reducing the need to constantly buy a new product.
When these smart devices are connected to intelligent applications such as Siri, Alexa, Viv, Cortana or Google Home, the possibilities become endless. Conversational AI will enable high-level conversations with these intelligent applications. At the moment, these applications are primarily used to control your phone, play music or order a pizza but in 2017 that is about to change drastically.
Already, Alexa owners can control their car from inside their home and turn on the engine, but soon you will be able to control almost any device using your voice. Especially the development of Viv, which is coined as the next generation of Siri, will be able to do anything that you ask. As such, these bots, as said by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, will be the next apps. 2017 will see the convergence of these intelligent applications with many IoT devices and with Amazon announcing a new startup accelerator focused on conversational AI, it will change how your organisation will have to deal with customers.