Emerging Technologies: Are You Prepared?

Ajay Seth, Sr. Director & R&D Lead, Philips Innovation Campus

Ajay Seth, Sr. Director & R&D Lead, Philips Innovation Campus

An alumnus of Nagapur University, Ajay is experienced in all stages of the software development life-cycle with extensive experience in building and leading large multi-site teams.

Mobile super computing, Intelligent robots, Self-driving cars, 3D Printing, Genetic editing, Crypto currencies are some of the evidences of dramatic changes we are observing all around us and it is happening at an exponential speed. We are at the beginning of a revolution that is fundamentally changing the way we live, work, and relate to one another. Every essence of human experience will be reshaped in coming years by the interplay between the new technologies and advancements in computing. World Economic Forum calls this phenomenon the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

World Economic Forum has created transformation maps, a dynamic tool which incorporates expert and machine-curated knowledge allowing users to visualize and understand over 120 topics and the interconnections and interdependencies between each of them. These transformation maps are fed with the latest research & analysis drawn from leading institutions from across the globe. This is a good resource for reviewing the latest publications and source of relevant data for students.

Before we proceed to explore how these new-age digital technologies create value, it is important to understand that software is powering them, and hence software development has become the most sought-after profession globally. Although demand for software developers is not new, in recent years the demand has significantly risen with the advent of technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, IoT, Cloud Computing, and others.

TIOBE publishes the programming language popularity index and as per the latest overviews Java, C and Python are trending as Top-3. Python also won the title of the ‘programming language of the year’ in 2018 and has become the most frequently taught first language from pre-university levels to students due to its relevance for AI, scripting & test automation, web programming, and scientific computing. Learning websites like Udemy, Coursera, and Pluralsight provide excellent resources for self-paced learning and certification opportunities to its students.

If blockchain has not shocked you yet, I guarantee it will shake you soon. At its core, a blockchain is a system of records records providing an immutable record of
transactions performed across a network without the need to rely on an intermediary. It was created in 2008 by Satoshi Nakamoto with the intent of solving the double-spending problem in the financial systems without the need of a trusted authority like a central bank. Blockchain enables not just new means by which to deliver financial services and support cryptocurrencies, but can also reshape & redefine government, legal services, accounting, insurance, supply chains, energy distribution, and healthcare delivery.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI in its simplest form is the intelligence demonstrated by a computer program that faithfully emulates a human brain, or that otherwise runs algorithms that are equally powerful as the human brain’s algorithms. The power of AI lies in its ability to think and process many orders of magnitude faster than a human, for example, a biological neurons operate at about 200 Hz, whereas a modern microprocessor operates at a speed of about 2,000,000,000 Hz. Human axons carry action potentials at around 120 m/s, whereas computer signals travel near the speed of light. These computing advancements have already lead to introduction of AI bots like ALEXA.

The Internet of Things (IoT) surrounds us with networks of smart, web-connected devices, and services capable of sensing, interconnecting, inferring, and acting. The concept of a network of smart devices is not new and was discussed as early as 1982, with a modified coke vending machine at the Carnegie Mellon University becoming the first Internet-connected appliance. Mark Weiser’s 1991 paper on ubiquitous computing, ‘The Computer of the 21st Century,’ as well as academic venues such as UbiComp and PerCom produced the contemporary vision of IoT. In today’s world, IoT is enabling the development of new products and business models, while creating ways for organizations to deliver more useful services and better engage with its customers. The number of IoT devices has increased by 31 percent year-over-year to 8.4 billion in the year 2017 and it is estimated that there will be 30 billion IoT devices by 2020. The global market value of IoT is projected to reach $7.1 trillion by 2020. Wifi, Bluetooth, Data Management, and Cloud Computing are the most important concepts that need to be understood for IoT solutions

Virtual Reality(VR) & Augmented Reality (AR)
VR was dreamed-up in science fiction, and began to emerge in concrete form via an immersive film-viewing cabinet created in the 1950s. Now, commercial applications for VR & AR are fundamentally altering the way individuals interact with each other and their environments. While AR & VR applications are most prevalent in the gaming industry, it also holds enormous potential for other industries and some examples include providing a testing ground for surgeons in training, AR microscopes that can detect cancerous cell in real-time, and so on.

As the potential employees of organization are adapting technologies like Blockchain, IoT, AI, and VR & AR, it is very important for current students to be well aware and prepared. They should be ready to accept the challenge of incorporating these technologies into their future organization and be up-to-date with the current trends. Being aware will give you an edge over the rest and let you stay at par with your future employer’s requirements.