2017 Tech in the year to come

2017 Tech in the year to come……

Following on from last month here are my thoughts on what to expect from the coming year:
Internet of Things – a term you may of heard and thought “here we go another thing everyone is mentioning on TV and radio that I am totally in the dark about” the IoT is easily explained but its future implications are potentially huge. The vast majority of you use the internet regularly, maybe to shop online for groceries or stream Downton Abbey or something involving odd shaped fruit and motorcycle helmets. While at one time this was scary stuff it is now second nature. The IoT is really an extension of this. The “things” are any device you own or use that is or can be connected to the internet. A good example would be your fridge. I guess that currently your fridge has no more ability to access the internet than someone living in Manuden (that’s due to the lack of broadband not the intelligence of the residents). Some modern fridges are now able to connect to the internet. With internal cameras and external touchpad, you can look in your fridge from your phone anywhere, it can alert you to buy certain items, act as a kitchen blackboard, calendar or watch TV. More devises are becoming “smart” and joining the “IoT” every day. You may have seen the ads for controlling your heating from your phone, well now you have smart washing machines, lighting and even coffee machines. The industry also foresees a huge take up of wearable & health related tech. All this smart technology and much more is part of the IoT and will stealthily become part of your everyday life very soon.

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Artificial Intelligence – not new by any means with the term first used in the 1940’s and much research and many science fiction works using the term for years. People of my generation thought that we were very close to the typical “intelligent robot” in the 60’ and 70’s, so close that there were many serious discussions about whether they could be trusted. However, it soon became clear that this technology was very far off and became a bit of joke. Massive advancements in AI over the last decade mean we are all very soon to see it in action but maybe not how we initially envisaged.  Early AI like technology is here in the guise of Cortana, Siri, Alexa etc. these natural language interfaces are used every day as part of the way we interface with our computers, laptops, tablets and smart watches. Although sometimes seemingly very clever and intuitive they are quite basic and often hilariously wrong. To hide their inadequacies their programmers have tried to think of all the questions people would ask to catch it out and provided set responses. Ask Siri (iPhone) what is the meaning of life and it should respond “42”. More likely and arguably useful applications would be specific like AI powered software linked to drones that monitor crops assisting farmers to increase yields. Or healthcare where the vast amount of data in the NHS can be collated and used intelligently and efficiently rather than the longstanding Dickensian approach we still maintain.

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Security – always a concern since we started sharing data over the internet but with the advancement of the above and the rewards to be gained from accessing / stealing it, there is a major concern that the battle to keep a lid on data security is being lost. Take the recent Trump debacle. In a nutshell late 2016 rumours started about possible hacking by Russia to influence the outcome of the election. This was denied by Trump and his party. Then the office of the Director of National Intelligence released a report saying that Mr Putin had ordered an influence campaign and that the Russian Intelligence services had gained access to the computers of the Democratic National Committee (the opposition to Trump) from July 2015 to June 2016 and had hacked material and leaked to WikiLeaks to help Trumps chances. Whatever they did or did not do and whatever – if anything – this did to affect the outcome, I guess we’ll never know but the fact is that many highly influential people still argue about whether it even happened or who did what, what is evident is that a lot of money and time have been wasted and that many have suffered from the consequences. Theft and manipulation of information is possibly the biggest threat on the planet as evidenced by the £1.9bn UK Cyber Accelerator investment, run by GCHQ. An innovative project aiding seven selected UK start-ups to scale up certain areas and will gain access to expertise and office space at GCHQ. The aim is to help them to create cutting edge technology to help protect the nation from cyber-attacks and aid the government in its efforts to deliver its National Cyber Security Strategy. This seems like a wise investment as the UK is fast becoming a leader in this field with the cyber security sector generating £22bn a year and £2bn in exports.

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As you know I am always banging on about securing and backing up your data and while I doubt that you have to be overly concerned about Mr Putin asking anyone to hack your business or home there are many others who are more than happy to try. Maybe if the government are investing in protection you should consider your options to?

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