2018 TECH TRENDS REPORT — from the Future Today Institute
Emerging technology trends that will influence business, government, education, media and society in the coming year.


The Future Today Institute’s 11th annual Tech Trends Report identifies 235 tantalizing advancements in emerging technologies—artificial intelligence, biotech, autonomous robots, green energy and space travel—that will begin to enter the mainstream and fundamentally disrupt business, geopolitics and everyday life around the world. Our annual report has garnered more than six million cumulative views, and this edition is our largest to date.

Helping organizations see change early and calculate the impact of new trends is why we publish our annual Emerging Tech Trends Report, which focuses on mid- to late-stage emerging technologies that are on a growth trajectory.

In this edition of the FTI Tech Trends Report, we’ve included several new features and sections:

  • a list and map of the world’s smartest cities
  • a calendar of events that will shape technology this year
  • detailed near-future scenarios for several of the technologies
  • a new framework to help organizations decide when to take action on trends
  • an interactive table of contents, which will allow you to more easily navigate the report from the bookmarks bar in your PDF reader



01 How does this trend impact our industry and all of its parts?
02 How might global events — politics, climate change, economic shifts – impact this trend, and as a result, our organization?
03 What are the second, third, fourth, and fifth-order implications of this trend as it evolves, both in our organization and our industry?
04 What are the consequences if our organization fails to take action on this trend?
05 Does this trend signal emerging disruption to our traditional business practices and cherished beliefs?
06 Does this trend indicate a future disruption to the established roles and responsibilities within our organization? If so, how do we reverse-engineer that disruption and deal with it in the present day?
07 How are the organizations in adjacent spaces addressing this trend? What can we learn from their failures and best practices?
08 How will the wants, needs and expectations of our consumers/ constituents change as a result of this trend?
09 Where does this trend create potential new partners or collaborators for us?
10 How does this trend inspire us to think about the future of our organization?




From DSC:
After seeing the article entitled, “Scientists Are Turning Alexa into an Automated Lab Helper,” I began to wonder…might Alexa be a tool to periodically schedule & provide practice tests & distributed practice on content? In the future, will there be “learning bots” that a learner can employ to do such self-testing and/or distributed practice?



From page 45 of the PDF available here:


Might Alexa be a tool to periodically schedule/provide practice tests & distributed practice on content?




The Implications of Gartner’s Top 10 Tech Trends of 2018 for Education — from gettingsmart.com by Jim Goodell, Liz Glowa and Brandt Redd


In October, Gartner released a report with predictions about the top tech trends for business in 2018. Gartner uses the term the intelligent digital mesh to describe “the entwining of people, devices, content and services” that will create the “foundation for the next generation of digital business models and ecosystems.” These trends are classified within three categories.

  • Intelligent: How AI is seeping into virtually every technology and with a defined, well-scoped focus can allow more dynamic, flexible and potentially autonomous systems.
  • Digital: Blending the virtual and real worlds to create an immersive digitally enhanced and connected environment.
  • Mesh: The connections between an expanding set of people, business, devices, content and services to deliver digital outcomes.

What are the implications of these trends for education?
Education often falls behind the business world in realizing the potential of new technologies. There are however a few bright spots where the timing might be right for the tech trends in the business world to have a positive impact in education sooner rather than later.

The top 10 trends according to Gartner are analyzed below for their implications for education…

1) Artificial Intelligence Foundation
2) Intelligent Apps and Analytics
3) Intelligent Things




Work From Home 2018: The Top 100 Companies For Remote Jobs — from forbes.com by Laura Shin


The top sectors offering such work are health care, computer/IT, education/training, sales, customer service, finance and travel/hospitality of the 19 industries represented on the list. Five of the fastest-growing remote career categories are therapy, virtual administration, client services, tutoring, and state and local government. The 20 most common telecommuting job titles include teacher, writer, developer, analyst, sales representative, nurse, accountant and program manager. Five companies are fully remote, and 30 are newcomers to the list.


Also see:

20 Most Common Work-from-Home Job Titles — from by Jessica Howington

  1. Accountant
  2. Program Manager
  3. Teacher / Faculty
  4. Writer
  5. Consultant
  6. Engineer
  7. Project Manager
  8. Business Development Manager
  9. Account Manager / Account Executive
  10. Tutor
  11. Developer
  12. Customer Service Representative
  13. Sales Representative
  14. Analyst
  15. Editor
  16. Nurse
  17. Medical Coder
  18. Territory Sales Manager
  19. Case Manager
  20. Internet/Social Media Evaluator



Blockchain and Distributed Web: Why You Should Care — from ideou.com


To help get our heads around emerging tech, we invited our IDEO friends, IDEO CoLab, in for a Creative Confidence Series session about emerging tech (and why you should care).

In this first session, we sat down with CoLab’s Joe Gerber and Gavin McDermott to talk about the distributed web and blockchain and why it’s important to experiment with these emerging technologies. Many people conflate blockchain and bitcoin, but as Joe and Gavin discussed, bitcoin is just the tip of the spear and one small piece of a larger movement of blockchain and the distributed web. In this post, we’ll break down why, as Joe and Gavin say, the web is being rewritten from the inside out.

First, some definitions:

  • Blockchain: A blockchain is a peer-to-peer network that logs shared information about transactions. It’s provable because the transaction is validated by a broad network of computers. Joe quoted Vitalik Buterin likening blockchain to “a database we all agree on.” The magic of blockchain is that it solves the problem of digital abundance and computers’ innate ability for infinite copying by creating scarcity, ensuring that only one copy of something exists.
  • Bitcoin: Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency that uses blockchain technology, but there are a number of different applications for blockchain including contracts (smart contracts) and other types of information.
  • Distributed web: A movement that’s a complete reimagining of today’s internet infrastructure, it includes new and different protocols. We rely on protocols every day for things like email (simple mail transfer protocol, SMTP, allows Gmail, Yahoo Mail or Hotmail to all communicate) or for web browsing (hypertext transfer protocol, HTTP). In the distributed web, new peer-to-peer networks that do not rely on centralization are being built.


These technologies are still in their early days of construction and the blueprints are changing every day. What Joe and Gavin would recommend is that you start to experiment and prototype with these technologies to test assumptions for how they could affect your business. Don’t get ready, get started.






DC: The next generation learning platform will likely offer us such virtual reality-enabled learning experiences such as this “flight simulator for teachers.”

Virtual reality simulates classroom environment for aspiring teachers — from phys.org by Charles Anzalone, University at Buffalo

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Two University at Buffalo education researchers have teamed up to create an interactive classroom environment in which state-of-the-art virtual reality simulates difficult student behavior, a training method its designers compare to a “flight simulator for teachers.”

The new program, already earning endorsements from teachers and administrators in an inner-city Buffalo school, ties into State University of New York Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher’s call for innovative teaching experiences and “immersive” clinical experiences and teacher preparation.

The training simulator Lamb compared to a teacher flight simulator uses an emerging computer technology known as virtual reality. Becoming more popular and accessible commercially, virtual reality immerses the subject in what Lamb calls “three-dimensional environments in such a way where that environment is continuous around them.” An important characteristic of the best virtual reality environments is a convincing and powerful representation of the imaginary setting.


Also related/see:


  • TeachLive.org
    TLE TeachLivE™ is a mixed-reality classroom with simulated students that provides teachers the opportunity to develop their pedagogical practice in a safe environment that doesn’t place real students at risk.  This lab is currently the only one in the country using a mixed reality environment to prepare or retrain pre-service and in-service teachers. The use of TLE TeachLivE™ Lab has also been instrumental in developing transition skills for students with significant disabilities, providing immediate feedback through bug-in-ear technology to pre-service teachers, developing discrete trial skills in pre-service and in-service teachers, and preparing teachers in the use of STEM-related instructional strategies.






This start-up uses virtual reality to get your kids excited about learning chemistry — from Lora Kolodny and Erin Black

  • MEL Science raised $2.2 million in venture funding to bring virtual reality chemistry lessons to schools in the U.S.
  • Eighty-two percent of science teachers surveyed in the U.S. believe virtual reality content can help their students master their subjects.


This start-up uses virtual reality to get your kids excited about learning chemistry from CNBC.



From DSC:
It will be interesting to see all the “places” we will be able to go and interact within — all from the comfort of our living rooms! Next generation simulators should be something else for teaching/learning & training-related purposes!!!

The next gen learning platform will likely offer such virtual reality-enabled learning experiences, along with voice recognition/translation services and a slew of other technologies — such as AI, blockchain*, chatbots, data mining/analytics, web-based learner profiles, an online-based marketplace supported by the work of learning-based free agents, and others — running in the background. All of these elements will work to offer us personalized, up-to-date learning experiences — helping each of us stay relevant in the marketplace as well as simply enabling us to enjoy learning about new things.

But the potentially disruptive piece of all of this is that this next generation learning platform could create an Amazon.com of what we now refer to as “higher education.”  It could just as easily serve as a platform for offering learning experiences for learners in K-12 as well as the corporate learning & development space.


I’m tracking these developments at:



The Living [Class] Room -- by Daniel Christian -- July 2012 -- a second device used in conjunction with a Smart/Connected TV


*  Also see:

Blockchain, Bitcoin and the Tokenization of Learning — from edsurge.com by Sydney Johnson


In 2014, Kings College in New York became the first university in the U.S. to accept Bitcoin for tuition payments, a move that seemed more of a PR stunt than the start of some new movement. Much has changed since then, including the value of Bitcoin itself, which skyrocketed to more than $19,000 earlier this month, catapulting cryptocurrencies into the mainstream.

A handful of other universities (and even preschools) now accept Bitcoin for tuition, but that’s hardly the extent of how blockchains and tokens are weaving their way into education: Educators and edtech entrepreneurs are now testing out everything from issuing degrees on the blockchain to paying people in cryptocurrency for their teaching.





AI: Embracing the promises and realities — from the Allegis Group


What will that future be? When it comes to jobs, the tea leaves are indecipherable as analysts grapple with emerging technologies, new fields of work, and skills that have yet to be conceived. The only certainty is
that jobs will change. Consider the conflicting predictions put forth by the analyst community:

  • According to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, only 5-10% of labor would be displaced by intelligent automation, and new job creation will offset losses.  (Inserted comment from DSC: Hmmm. ONLY 5-10%!? What?! That’s huge! And don’t count on the majority of those people becoming experts in robotics, algorithms, big data, AI, etc.)
  • The World Economic Forum27 said in 2016 that 60% of children entering school today will work in jobs that do not yet exist.
  • 47% of all American job functions could be automated within 20 years, according to the Oxford Martin School on Economics in a 2013 report.
  • In 2016, a KPMG study estimated that 100 million global knowledge workers could be affected by robotic process automation by 2025.

Despite the conflicting views, most analysts agree on one thing: big change is coming. Venture Capitalist David Vandergrift has some words of advice: “Anyone not planning to retire in the next 20 years should be paying pretty close attention to what’s going on in the realm of AI. The supplanting (of jobs) will not happen overnight: the trend over the next couple of decades is going to be towards more and more automation.”30

While analysts may not agree on the timing of AI’s development in the economy, many companies are already seeing its impact on key areas of talent and business strategy. AI is replacing jobs, changing traditional roles, applying pressure on knowledge workers, creating new fields of work, and raising the demand for certain skills.






The emphasis on learning is a key change from previous decades and rounds of automation. Advanced AI is, or will soon be, capable of displacing a very wide range of labor, far beyond the repetitive, low-skill functions traditionally thought to be at risk from automation. In many cases, the pressure on knowledge workers has already begun.





Regardless of industry, however, AI is a real challenge to today’s way of thinking about work, value, and talent scarcity. AI will expand and eventually force many human knowledge workers to reinvent their roles to address issues that machines cannot process. At the same time, AI will create a new demand for skills to guide its growth and development. These emerging areas of expertise will likely be technical or knowledge-intensive fields. In the near term, the competition for workers in these areas may change how companies focus their talent strategies.





Creative voice tech — from jwtintelligence.com by Ella Britton
New programs from Google and the BBC use voice to steer storytelling with digital assistants.


BBC Radio’s newest program, The Inspection Chamber, uses smart home devices to allow listeners to interact with and control the plot. Amid a rise in choose-your-own-adventure style programming, The Inspection Chamber opens up creative new possibilities for brands hoping to make use of voice assistants.

The Inspection Chamber tells the story of an alien stranded on earth, who is being interrogated by scientists and an AI robot called Dave. In this interactive drama, Amazon Echo and Google Home users play the part of the alien, answering questions and interacting with other characters to determine the story’s course. The experience takes around 20 minutes, with questions like “Cruel or Kind?” and “Do you like puzzles?” that help the scientists categorize a user.

“Voice is going to be a key way we interact with media, search for content, and find what we want,” said BBC director general Tony Hall. As describedin the Innovation Group’s Speak Easy report, the opportunities for brands to connect with consumers via smart speakers are substantial, particularly when it comes to education and entertainment. Brands can also harness these opportunities by creating entertaining and engaging content that consumers can interact with, creating what feels like a two-way dialogue.


From DSC:
More and more, our voices will drive the way we interact with computing devices/applications. This item was an especially interesting item to me, as it involves the use of our voice — at home — to steer the storytelling that’s taking place. Talk about a new form of interactivity!





WE ARE NOT READY FOR THIS! Per Forrester Research: In US, a net loss of 7% of jobs to automation — *in 2018*!

Forrester predicts that AI-enabled automation will eliminate 9% of US jobs in 2018 — from forbes.com by Gil Press

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

A new Forrester Research report, Predictions 2018: Automation Alters The Global Workforce, outlines 10 predictions about the impact of AI and automation on jobs, work processes and tasks, business success and failure, and software development, cybersecurity, and regulatory compliance.

We will see a surge in white-collar automation, half a million new digital workers (bots) in the US, and a shift from manual to automated IT and data management. “Companies that master automation will dominate their industries,” Forrester says. Here’s my summary of what Forrester predicts will be the impact of automation in 2018:

Automation will eliminate 9% of US jobs but will create 2% more.
In 2018, 9% of US jobs will be lost to automation, partly offset by a 2% growth in jobs supporting the “automation economy.” Specifically impacted will be back-office and administrative, sales, and call center employees. A wide range of technologies, from robotic process automation and AI to customer self-service and physical robots will impact hiring and staffing strategies as well as create a need for new skills.


Your next entry-level compliance staffer will be a robot.


From DSC:

Are we ready for a net loss of 7% of jobs in our workforce due to automation — *next year*? Last I checked, it was November 2017, and 2018 will be here before we know it.


***Are we ready for this?! ***


AS OF TODAY, can we reinvent ourselves fast enough given our current educational systems, offerings, infrastructures, and methods of learning?


My answer: No, we can’t. But we need to be able to — and very soon!



There are all kinds of major issues and ramifications when people lose their jobs — especially this many people and jobs! The ripple effects will be enormous and very negative unless we introduce new ways for how people can learn new things — and quickly!

That’s why I’m big on trying to establish a next generation learning platform, such as the one that I’ve been tracking and proposing out at Learning from the Living [Class] Room. It’s meant to provide societies around the globe with a powerful, next generation learning platform — one that can help people reinvent themselves quickly, cost-effectively, conveniently, & consistently! It involves providing, relevant, up-to-date streams of content that people can subscribe to — and drop at any time. It involves working in conjunction with subject matter experts who work with teams of specialists, backed up by suites of powerful technologies. It involves learning with others, at any time, from any place, at any pace. It involves more choice, more control. It involves blockchain-based technologies to feed cloud-based learner profiles and more.

But likely, bringing such a vision to fruition will require a significant amount of collaboration. In my mind, some of the organizations that should be at the table here include:

  • Some of the largest players in the tech world, such as Amazon, Google, Apple, IBM, Microsoft, and/or Facebook
  • Some of the vendors that already operate within the higher ed space — such as Salesforce.com, Ellucian, and/or Blackboard
  • Some of the most innovative institutions of higher education — including their faculty members, instructional technologists, instructional designers, members of administration, librarians, A/V specialists, and more
  • The U.S. Federal Government — for additional funding and the development of policies to make this vision a reality



The Living [Class] Room -- by Daniel Christian -- July 2012 -- a second device used in conjunction with a Smart/Connected TV



2018 Tech Trends for Journalism & Media Report + the 2017 Tech Trends Annual Report that I missed from the Future Today Institute


2018 Tech Trends For Journalism Report — from the Future Today Institute

Key Takeaways

  • 2018 marks the beginning of the end of smartphones in the world’s largest economies. What’s coming next are conversational interfaces with zero-UIs. This will radically change the media landscape, and now is the best time to start thinking through future scenarios.
  • In 2018, a critical mass of emerging technologies will converge finding advanced uses beyond initial testing and applied research. That’s a signal worth paying attention to. News organizations should devote attention to emerging trends in voice interfaces, the decentralization of content, mixed reality, new types of search, and hardware (such as CubeSats and smart cameras).
  • Journalists need to understand what artificial intelligence is, what it is not, and what it means for the future of news. AI research has advanced enough that it is now a core component of our work at FTI. You will see the AI ecosystem represented in many of the trends in this report, and it is vitally important that all decision-makers within news organizations familiarize themselves with the current and emerging AI landscapes. We have included an AI Primer For Journalists in our Trend Report this year to aid in that effort.
  • Decentralization emerged as a key theme for 2018. Among the companies and organizations FTI covers, we discovered a new emphasis on restricted peer-to-peer networks to detect harassment, share resources and connect with sources. There is also a push by some democratic governments around the world to divide internet access and to restrict certain content, effectively creating dozens of “splinternets.”
  • Consolidation is also a key theme for 2018. News brands, broadcast spectrum, and artificial intelligence startups will continue to be merged with and acquired by relatively few corporations. Pending legislation and policy in the U.S., E.U. and in parts of Asia could further concentrate the power among a small cadre of information and technology organizations in the year ahead.
  • To understand the future of news, you must pay attention to the future of many industries and research areas in the coming year. When journalists think about the future, they should broaden the usual scope to consider developments from myriad other fields also participating in the knowledge economy. Technology begets technology. We are witnessing an explosion in slow motion.

Those in the news ecosystem should factor the trends in this report into their strategic thinking for the coming year, and adjust their planning, operations and business models accordingly.




2017 Tech Trends Annual Report — from the Future Today Institute; this is the first I’ve seen this solid report


This year’s report has 159 trends.
This is mostly due to the fact that 2016 was the year that many areas of science and technology finally started to converge. As a result we’re seeing a sort of slow-motion explosion––we will undoubtedly look back on the last part of this decade as a pivotal moment in our history on this planet.

Our 2017 Trend Report reveals strategic opportunities and challenges for your organization in the coming year. The Future Today Institute’s annual Trend Report prepares leaders and organizations for the year ahead, so that you are better positioned to see emerging technology and adjust your strategy accordingly. Use our report to identify near-future business disruption and competitive threats while simultaneously finding new collaborators and partners. Most importantly, use our report as a jumping off point for deeper strategic planning.




Also see:

Emerging eLearning Tools and Platforms Improve Results — from learningsolutionsmag.com

  • Augmented and virtual reality offer ways to immerse learners in experiences that can aid training in processes and procedures, provide realistic simulations to deepen empathy and build communication skills, or provide in-the-workflow support for skilled technicians performing complex procedures.
  • Badges and other digital credentials provide new ways to assess and validate employees’ skills and mark their eLearning achievements, even if their learning takes place informally or outside of the corporate framework.
  • Chatbots are proving an excellent tool for spaced learning, review of course materials, guiding new hires through onboarding, and supporting new managers with coaching and tips.
  • Content curation enables L&D professionals to provide information and educational materials from trusted sources that can deepen learners’ knowledge and help them build skills.
  • eBooks, a relative newcomer to the eLearning arena, offer rich features for portable on-demand content that learners can explore, review, and revisit as needed.
  • Interactive videos provide branching scenarios, quiz learners on newly introduced concepts and terms, offer prompts for small-group discussions, and do much more to engage learners.
  • Podcasts can turn drive time into productive time, allowing learners to enjoy a story built around eLearning content.
  • Smartphone apps, available wherever learners take their phones or tablets, can be designed to offer product support, info for sales personnel, up-to-date information for repair technicians, and games and drills for teaching and reviewing content; the possibilities are limited only by designers’ imagination.
  • Social platforms like Slack, Yammer, or Instagram facilitate collaboration, sharing of ideas, networking, and social learning. Adopting social learning platforms encourages learners to develop their skills and contribute to their communities of practice, whether inside their companies or more broadly.
  • xAPI turns any experience into a learning experience. Adding xAPI capability to any suitable tool or platform means you can record learner activity and progress in a learning record store (LRS) and track it.



DevLearn Attendees Learn How to ‘Think Like a Futurist’ — from learningsolutionsmag.com


How does all of this relate to eLearning? Again, Webb anticipated the question. Her response gave hope to some—and terrified others. She presented three possible future scenarios:

  • Everyone in the learning arena learns to recognize weak signals; they work with technologists to refine artificial intelligence to instill values. Future machines learn not only to identify correct and incorrect answers; they also learn right and wrong. Webb said that she gives this optimistic scenario a 25 percent chance of occurring.
  • Everyone present is inspired by her talk but they, and the rest of the learning world, do nothing. Artificial intelligence continues to develop as it has in the past, learning to identify correct answers but lacking values. Webb’s prediction is that this pragmatic optimistic scenario has a 50 percent chance of occurring.
  • Learning and artificial intelligence continue to develop on separate tracks. Future artificial intelligence and machine learning projects incorporate real biases that affect what and how people learn and how knowledge is transferred. Webb said that she gives this catastrophic scenario a 25 percent chance of occurring.

In an attempt to end on a strong positive note, Webb said that “the future hasn’t happened yet—we think” and encouraged attendees to take action. “To build the future of learning that you want, listen to weak signals now.”







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