Hello and a happy new year to you. Let me thank you for following us last year and we do hope we can live up to your expectations in 2016. I would like to start by making some tech predictions for 2016 on a world scale and then in Africa.
First I expect this to be the year when Artificial intelligence and Virtual Reality will take a front seat not just in debate but in reality. Just today, Mr Zuckerberg; Facebook’s CEO said he wanted to see artificial intelligence become a personal reality even as he said he was a fan of what was being done at Amazon using on their Echo platform. The statement reads;
Every year, I take on a personal challenge to learn new things and grow outside my work at Facebook. My challenges in recent years have been to read two books every month, learn Mandarin and meet a new person every day.
My personal challenge for 2016 is to build a simple AI to run my home and help me with my work. You can think of it kind of like Jarvis in Iron Man.
I’m going to start by exploring what technology is already out there. Then I’ll start teaching it to understand my voice to control everything in our home — music, lights, temperature and so on. I’ll teach it to let friends in by looking at their faces when they ring the doorbell. I’ll teach it to let me know if anything is going on in Max’s room that I need to check on when I’m not with her. On the work side, it’ll help me visualize data in VR to help me build better services and lead my organizations more effectively.
Every challenge has a theme, and this year’s theme is invention.
At Facebook I spend a lot of time working with engineers to build new things. Some of the most rewarding work involves getting deep into the details of technical projects. I do this with Internet.org when we discuss the physics of building solar-powered planes and satellites to beam down internet access. I do this with Oculus when we get into the details of the controllers or the software we’re designing. I do this with Messenger when we discuss our AI to answer any question you have. But it’s a different kind of rewarding to build things yourself, so this year my personal challenge is to do that.
This should be a fun intellectual challenge to code this for myself. I’m looking forward to sharing what I learn over the course of the year.
Facebook already owns Oculus Rift which is a Virtual Reality company based in the United States who have also promised to bring their technology to everyone even as they explore ways integrate this into the Facebook community.
Wearables: last year was when several wearables gained real attention. From wristwatches to clothing, Wearable technology is gaining attention like no other time. This market is projected to be worth $31.27b/6.2tr Naira/3.1tr KES by 2020 and with recent partnerships between the tech and fashion worlds, you can expect the interest in this to keep growing. Expect Asia based firms like Samsung, LG and Huawei to increase their market shares in this sub-sector which will see them compete with firms like Apple and Fitbit.
More intelligent tools in combating diseases: with tools like IBM’s Watson, you can expect a more streamlined approach to early detection and possibly cure to diseases like cancer. According to Jasmin Fisher who is a Senior Researcher at Microsoft, “in 2016 there will be the usage of innovative interdisciplinary technologies designed to extend and improve the lives of patients with complicated diseases…..Cloud platform technologies will start realising their true potential to transform and empower patients’ lives”. So this could be something to look out for this year. For more predictions from Microsoft researchers, please click here.
Security: More people will come to embrace the “No-Password” era as is currently being promoted by companies like Google and Yahoo. You can also expect advanced encryption and de-encryption algorithms from both public and private institutions. Even Apple says it cannot decrypt encrypted data on its newer devices and this is all to avoid government agencies having backdoor into devices which has been a subject for debates world over where we as a people now seek a balance between security and privacy.
Coming home to Africa, I expect that we will build on the achievements of the past year. For example, more countries now seek to localise data by building data centres to cater for local demand for storage. Incubation centres across the continent are acting as a springboard for new local technologies and we have seen an increase in the appreciation levels of local technology. Nigeria and South Africa are two countries where you can expect much of the new innovations but you can be on the lookout for countries like Kenya, Rwanda, Ghana, Egypt among others. Kenya is currently rated number four in technology in Africa just after South Africa, Egypt and Nigeria respectively.