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?




China’s New Frontiers in Dystopian Tech — from theatlantic.com by Rene Chun
Facial-recognition technologies are proliferating, from airports to bathrooms.


China is rife with face-scanning technology worthy of Black Mirror. Don’t even think about jaywalking in Jinan, the capital of Shandong province. Last year, traffic-management authorities there started using facial recognition to crack down. When a camera mounted above one of 50 of the city’s busiest intersections detects a jaywalker, it snaps several photos and records a video of the violation. The photos appear on an overhead screen so the offender can see that he or she has been busted, then are cross-checked with the images in a regional police database. Within 20 minutes, snippets of the perp’s ID number and home address are displayed on the crosswalk screen. The offender can choose among three options: a 20-yuan fine (about $3), a half-hour course in traffic rules, or 20 minutes spent assisting police in controlling traffic. Police have also been known to post names and photos of jaywalkers on social media.

The technology’s veneer of convenience conceals a dark truth: Quietly and very rapidly, facial recognition has enabled China to become the world’s most advanced surveillance state. A hugely ambitious new government program called the “social credit system” aims to compile unprecedented data sets, including everything from bank-account numbers to court records to internet-search histories, for all Chinese citizens. Based on this information, each person could be assigned a numerical score, to which points might be added for good behavior like winning a community award, and deducted for bad actions like failure to pay a traffic fine. The goal of the program, as stated in government documents, is to “allow the trustworthy to roam everywhere under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step.”





With great tech success, comes even greater responsibility — from techcrunch.com by Ron Miller


As we watch major tech platforms evolve over time, it’s clear that companies like Facebook, Apple, Google and Amazon (among others) have created businesses that are having a huge impact on humanity — sometimes positive and other times not so much.

That suggests that these platforms have to understand how people are using them and when they are trying to manipulate them or use them for nefarious purposes — or the companies themselves are. We can apply that same responsibility filter to individual technologies like artificial intelligence and indeed any advanced technologies and the impact they could possibly have on society over time.

We can be sure that Twitter’s creators never imagined a world where bots would be launched to influence an election when they created the company more than a decade ago. Over time though, it becomes crystal clear that Twitter, and indeed all large platforms, can be used for a variety of motivations, and the platforms have to react when they think there are certain parties who are using their networks to manipulate parts of the populace.



But it’s up to the companies who are developing the tech to recognize the responsibility that comes with great economic success or simply the impact of whatever they are creating could have on society.





Why the Public Overlooks and Undervalues Tech’s Power — from morningconsult.com by Joanna Piacenza
Some experts say the tech industry is rapidly nearing a day of reckoning


  • 5% picked tech when asked which industry had the most power and influence, well behind the U.S. government, Wall Street and Hollywood.
  • Respondents were much more likely to say sexual harassment was a major issue in Hollywood (49%) and government (35%) than in Silicon Valley (17%).

It is difficult for Americans to escape the technology industry’s influence in everyday life. Facebook Inc. reports that more than 184 million people in the United States log on to the social network daily, or roughly 56 percent of the population. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of all Americans and 94 percent of Americans ages 18-24 use YouTube. Amazon.com Inc.’s market value is now nearly three times that of Walmart Inc.

But when asked which geographic center holds the most power and influence in America, respondents in a recent Morning Consult survey ranked the tech industry in Silicon Valley far behind politics and government in Washington, finance on Wall Street and the entertainment industry in Hollywood.





2018 Workplace Learning Report — from learning.linkedin.com


The path to opportunity is changing
The short shelf life of skills and a tightening labor market are giving rise to a multitude of skill gaps. Businesses are fighting to stay ahead of the curve, trying to hold onto their best talent and struggling to fill key positions. Individuals are conscious of staying relevant in the age of automation.

Enter the talent development function.
These organizational leaders create learning opportunities to enable employee growth and achievement. They have the ability to guide their organizations to success in tomorrow’s labor market, but they can’t do it alone.

Our research answers the talent developer’s most pressing questions:
* How are savvy talent development leaders adapting to the pace of change in today’s dynamic world of work?
* Why do employees demand learning and development resources, but don’t make the time to learn?
* How do executives think about learning and development?
* Are managers the missing link to successful learning programs?


From DSC:
Even though this piece is a bit of a sales pitch for Lynda.com — a great service I might add — it’s still worth checking out. I say this because it brings up a very real trend that I’m trying to bring more awareness to — i.e., the pace of change has changed. Our society is not ready for this new, exponential pace of change. Technologies are impacting jobs and how we do our jobs, and will likely do so for the next several decades. Skills gaps are real and likely growing larger. Corporations need to do their part in helping higher education revise/develop curriculum and they need to offer funds to create new types of learning labs/environments. They need to offer more internships and opportunities to learn new skills.




The Space Satellite Revolution Could Turn Earth into a Surveillance Nightmare — from scout.ai by Becky Ferreira
Laser communication between satellites is revolutionizing our ability to track climate change, manage resources, and respond to natural disasters. But there are downsides to putting Earth under a giant microscope.


And while universal broadband has the potential to open up business and education opportunities to hundreds of thousands of people, it’s the real-time satellite feeds of earth that may have both the most immediate and widespread financial upsides — and the most frightening surveillance implications — for the average person here on earth.

Among the industries most likely to benefit from laser communications between these satellites are agriculture and forestry.

Satellite data can also be used to engage the public in humanitarian efforts. In the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, DigitalGlobe launched online crowdsourcing campaigns to map damage and help NGOs respond on the ground. And they’ve been identifying vulnerable communities in South Sudan as the nation suffers through unrest and famine.

In an age of intensifying natural disasters, combining these tactics with live satellite video feeds could mean the difference between life and death for thousands of people.

Should a company, for example, be able to use real-time video feeds to track your physical location, perhaps in order to better target advertising? Should they be able to use facial recognition and sentiment analysis algorithms to assess your reactions to those ads in real time?

While these commercially available images aren’t yet sharp enough to pick up intimate details like faces or phone screens, it’s foreseeable that regulations will be eased to accommodate even sharper images. That trend will continue to prompt privacy concerns, especially if a switch to laser-based satellite communication enables near real-time coverage at high resolutions.

A kaleidoscopic swirl of possible futures confronts us, filled with scenarios where law enforcement officials could rewind satellite footage to identify people at a crime scene, or on a more familial level, parents could remotely watch their kids — or keep tabs on each other — from space. In that world, it’s not hard to imagine privacy becoming even more of a commodity, with wealthy enclaves lobbying to be erased from visual satellite feeds, in a geospatial version of “gated communities.”



From DSC:
The pros and cons of technologies…hmmm…this article nicely captures the pluses and minuses that societies around the globe need to be aware of, struggle with, and discuss with each other. Some exciting things here, but some disturbing things here as well.




In Move Towards More Online Degrees, Coursera Introduces Its First Bachelor’s — from edsurger.com by Sydney Johnson


These days, though, many MOOC platforms are courting the traditional higher-ed market they once rebuked, often by hosting fully-online masters degrees for colleges and universities. And today, one of the largest MOOC providers, Coursera, announced it’s going one step further in that direction, with its first fully online bachelor’s degree.

“We are realizing that the vast reach of MOOCs makes them a powerful gateway to degrees,” Coursera CEO Jeff Maggioncalda said in a statement.

The new degree will be a bachelor of science in computer science from the University of London. The entire program will cost between £9,600 and £17,000 (approximately $13,300 to $23,500), depending on a student’s geographic location. According to a spokesperson for Coursera, the program’s “cost is adjusted based on whether a student is in a developed or developing economy.”



From DSC:
At least a couple of questions come to mind here:

  • What might the future hold if the U.S. Department of Education / the Federal Government begins funding these types of alternatives to traditional higher education?
  • Will Coursera be successful here and begin adding more degrees? If so, a major game-changer could be on our doorsteps.




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?




Scientists Are Turning Alexa into an Automated Lab Helper — from technologyreview.com by Jamie Condliffe
Amazon’s voice-activated assistant follows a rich tradition of researchers using consumer tech in unintended ways to further their work.


Alexa, what’s the next step in my titration?

Probably not the first question you ask your smart assistant in the morning, but potentially the kind of query that scientists may soon be leveling at Amazon’s AI helper. Chemical & Engineering News reports that software developer James Rhodes—whose wife, DeLacy Rhodes, is a microbiologist—has created a skill for Alexa called Helix that lends a helping hand around the laboratory.

It makes sense. While most people might ask Alexa to check the news headlines, play music, or set a timer because our hands are a mess from cooking, scientists could look up melting points, pose simple calculations, or ask for an experimental procedure to be read aloud while their hands are gloved and in use.

For now, Helix is still a proof-of-concept. But you can sign up to try an early working version, and Rhodes has plans to extend its abilities…


Also see:




Personalized Learning Meets AI With Watson Classroom

Personalized Learning Meets AI With Watson Classroom — from gettingsmart.com by Erin Gohl

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Teaching is truly a Herculean challenge. Even the very best teachers can keep only so many of these insights in their heads and make only so many connections between expectations and circumstances. They can be aware of only a fraction of the research on best practices. They have only so much time to collaborate and communicate with the other adults in a particular student’s life to share information and insights. To be the best of themselves, teachers need to have access to a warehouse of information, a research assistant to mine best practices, note takers to gather and record information on each student, a statistician to gauge effective practices, and someone to collaborate with to distill the next best step with each student. In recent years, a plethora of vendors have developed software solutions that promise to simplify this process and give schools and teachers the answers to understand and address the individual needs of each student. One of the most promising, which I recently had a chance to learn about, is IBM’s Watson Classroom.

IBM is clear about what makes Watson different than existing solutions. First of all, it is a cognitive partner; not a solution. Secondly, it does not require proprietary or additional assessments, curriculum, or content. It uses whatever a district has in place. But it goes beyond the performance of tiering difficulty, pace, and reading level that is now standard fare for the solutions promising individualized, adaptive and personalized learning. Watson takes the stew of data from existing systems (including assessments, attendance records, available accommodations), adds the ability to infer meaning from written reports, and is able to connect the quality of the result to the approach that was taken. And then adjust the next recommendation based on what was learned. It is artificial intelligence (AI) brought to education that goes far beyond the adaptive learning technologies of today.

Watson Classroom is currently being piloted in 12 school districts across the country. In those classrooms, Watson Classroom is utilizing cutting-edge computing power to give teachers a full range of support to be the best versions of themselves. Watson is facilitating the kind of education the great teachers strive for every day–one where learning is truly personalized for each and every student. Bringing the power of big data to the interactions between students and teachers can help assure that every student reaches beyond our expectations to achieve their full potential.




Learn with Google AI: Making ML education available to everyone — from blog.google


To help everyone understand how AI can solve challenging problems, we’ve created a resource called Learn with Google AI. This site provides ways to learn about core ML concepts, develop and hone your ML skills, and apply ML to real-world problems. From deep learning experts looking for advanced tutorials and materials on TensorFlow, to “curious cats” who want to take their first steps with AI, anyone looking for educational content from ML experts at Google can find it here.

Learn with Google AI also features a new, free course called Machine Learning Crash Course (MLCC). The course provides exercises, interactive visualizations, and instructional videos that anyone can use to learn and practice ML concepts.



7 Ways Chatbots and AI are Disrupting HR — from chatbotsmagazine.com
Enterprises are embracing AI for automating human resources


Chatbots and AI have become household names and enterprises are taking notice. According to a recent Forrester survey, roughly “85% of customer interactions within an enterprise will be with software robots in five years’ time” and “87% of CEOs are looking to expand their AI workforce” using AI bots.

In an effort to drive increased labor efficiencies, reduce costs, and deliver better customer/employee experiences enterprises are quickly introducing AI, machine learning, and natural language understanding as core elements of their digital transformation strategy in 2018.

Human resources (HR) is one area ripe for intelligent automation within an enterprise. AI-powered bots for HR are able to streamline and personalize the HR process across seasonal, temporary, part-time, and full-time employees.

There are 7 ways in which enterprises can use HR bots to drive increased labors efficiencies, reduced costs, and better employee experiences:

  1. Recruitment
  2. Onboarding
  3. Company Policy FAQs
  4. Employee Training
  5. Common Questions
  6. Benefits Enrollment
  7. Annual Self-Assessment/Reviews


From DSC:
Again, this article paint a bit too rosy of a picture for me re: the use of AI and HR, especially in regards to recruiting employees.




Implementation of AI into eLearning. Interview with Christopher Pappas — from joomlalms.com by Darya Tarliuk


Every day we hear more and more about the impact that Artificial Intelligence gains in every sphere of our life. In order to discover how AI implementation is going to change the eLearning we decided to ask Christopher Pappas to share his views and find out what he thinks about it. Christopher is an experienced eLearning specialist and the Founder of the eLearning Industry’s Network.

How to get ready preparing course materials now, while considering the future impact of AI?
Christopher: Regardless of whether you plan to adopt an AI system as soon as they’re available to the mass market or you opt to hold off (and let others work out the glitches), infrastructure is key. You can prepare your course materials now by developing course catalogs, microlearning online training repositories, and personalized online training paths that fall into the AI framework. For example, the AI system can easily recommend existing resources based on a learners’ assessment scores or job duties. All of the building blocks are in place, allowing the system to focus on content delivery and data analysis.




Can You Trust Intelligent Virtual Assistants? — from nojitter.com by Gary Audin
From malicious hackers to accidental voice recordings, data processed through virtual assistants may open you to security and privacy risks.


Did you know that with such digital assistants your voice data is sent to the cloud or another remote location for processing? Is it safe to talk in front of your TV remote? Are you putting your business data at risk of being compromised by asking Alexa to start your meeting?





Thanks, Robots! Now These Four Non-Tech Job Skills Are In Demand — from fastcompany.com by Christian Madsbjerg
The more we rely on AI and machine learning, the more work we need social scientists and humanities experts to do.


Automation isn’t a simple struggle between people and technology, with the two sides competing for jobs. The more we rely on robots, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning, the clearer it’s become just how much we need social scientists and humanities experts–not the reverse.

These four skills in particular are all unique to us humans, and will arguably rise in value in the coming years, as more and more companies realize they need the best of both worlds to unleash the potential from both humans and machines.







Michelle Weise: ‘We Need to Design the Learning Ecosystem of the Future’ — from edsurge.com  by Michelle Weise


These days, education reformers, evangelists and foundations pay a lot of lip service to the notion of lifelong learning, but we do little to invest in the systems, architecture and infrastructure needed to facilitate seamless movements in and out of learning and work.

Talk of lifelong learning doesn’t translate into action. In fact, resources and funding are often geared toward the traditional 17- to 22-year-old college-going population and less often to working adults, our growing new-traditional student population.

We’ll need a different investment thesis: For most adults, taking time off work to attend classes at a local, brick-and-mortar community college or a four-year institution will not be the answer. The opportunity costs will be too high. Our current system of traditional higher education is ill-suited to facilitate flexible, seamless cost-effective learning pathways for these students to keep up with the emergent demands of the workforce.

Many adults may have no interest in coming back to college. Out of the 37 million Americans with some college and no degree, many have already failed one or twice before and will be wholly uninterested in experiencing more educational trauma.We can’t just say, “Here’s a MOOC, or here’s an online degree, or a 6- to 12-week immersive bootcamp.”


We have to do better. Let’s begin seeding the foundational elements of a learning ecosystem of the future—flexible enough for adults to move consistently in and out of learning and work. Enough talk about lifelong learning: Let’s build the foundations of that learning ecosystem of the future.



From DSC:
I couldn’t agree more with Michelle that we need a new learning ecosystem of the future. In fact, I have been calling such an effort “Learning from the Living [Class] Room — and it outlines a next generation learning platform that aims to deliver everything Michelle talks about in her solid article out at edsurge.com.

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


Along these lines…I just saw that Amazon is building out more cashierless stores (and Walmart is also at work on introducing more cashierless stores.) Now, let’s say that you are currently a cashier. 2-5 years from now (depending upon where you’re currently working and which stores are in your community), what are you going to do? The opportunities for such a position will be fewer and fewer. Who can help you do what Michelle mentioned here:

Working learners will also need help articulating their learning goals and envisioning a future for themselves. People don’t know how to translate their skills from one industry to another. How does a student begin to understand that 30% of what they already know could be channeled into a totally different and potentially promising pathway they never even knew was within reach?

And that cashier may have had a tough time with K-12 education and/or with higher education. As Michelle writes:

Many adults may have no interest in coming back to college. Out of the 37 million Americans with some college and no degree, many have already failed one or twice before and will be wholly uninterested in experiencing more educational trauma. We can’t just say, “Here’s a MOOC, or here’s an online degree, or a 6- to 12-week immersive bootcamp.”

And like the cashier in this example…we are quickly approaching an era where, I believe, many of us will need to reinvent ourselves in order to:

  • stay marketable
  • keep bread and butter on the table
  • continue to have a sense of purpose and meaning in our lives

Higher ed, if it wants to remain relevant, must pick up the pace of experimentation and increase the willingness to innovate, and to develop new business models — to develop new “learning channels” so to speak. Such channels need to be:

  • Up-to-date
  • Serving relevant data and information– especially regarding the job market and which jobs appear to be safe for the next 5-10 years
  • Inexpensive/affordable
  • Highly convenient




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