In the digital age, disruption is not an exception, but a norm. Everything already is, or is becoming digital. Data is everything and everywhere – how we communicate, learn, spend, work, and even elect governments.
The digital playing field will eventually even out as more businesses unlock newer benefits of digital business models and processes. As we enter the post-digital age, the game changer will be a new technology stack– DARQ.
The DARQ Future
While the SMAC (social, mobile, analytics and cloud) convergence was the foundation of the digital age, the post-digital age is DARQ. The next set of massive disruption changes comprises of Distributed ledger technology (DLT), Artificial intelligence (AI), Extended reality (XR), and Quantum computing (QC).
Together, DARQ promises to drive incredible opportunities to reimagine the human future – The way we play, interact and work could (and in all probability would), be massively different in the next decade or so. “Scotty, beam me up”, could be a (virtual) reality very soon.
DLT for trust
DLT is the backbone for technologies like cryptocurrency and blockchain. Its utility lies in making data validation and non-repudiation redundant. Since information is locked in an implicit chain of trust, DLT has significant applications. In a hyper-connected world (think smart cities, self-driven cars, smart power grids and buildings etc.) trust in the virtual world is key. Authentication, Authorization, and Non-repudiation become centre stage as people, devices, and machines interact with each other in a digital socio-economic tango.
DLT offers greater agency in information verification and control, data and privacy. On June 18,2019, Facebook announced its foray into DLT with the Libra Blockchain, a cryptographically authenticated database designed to support its cryptocurrency, Libra coin. With it, you can buy or cash out online or at local exchange points like grocery stores, and spend it using interoperable third-party wallet apps or Facebook’s own wallet to be built into WhatsApp, Messenger and its own app.
That’s one blip on the radar: today, DLT has embedded itself in sectors like healthcare, supply chain and logistics amongst others and is cementing trust into a variety of transactions.
Humanity has progressed far in its short time on the planet. Driven by a global network of goods and services, fuelled by Absolute Advantage (The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith), we have specialized into our areas of strength. Strong advances in computing & storage power have enabled machines to learn these “specialized but narrow” skills and start to merge with us in our daily lives.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and its constellation of technologies are front and centre in producing technology-driven business and customer interactions more efficiently, faster, and at lower costs. Across sectors, AI is optimizing processes to improve decision-making from smart cars, diagnosing illnesses, participating in debate, writing realistic text, to running presidential campaigns.
AI and the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) are already showing encouraging consumer health applications in real-time patient health monitoring, diagnostics, and emergency response systems. US caregiver, Symphony Post-Acute Network integrated machine learning (ML) with a cloud-based AI engine to predict and improve care for 80,000 patients. In Retail, consumers could see ML use purchase data to auto-fill shopping lists, and even perhaps, place orders based on purchase data and shelf-life.
Faster and more intelligent computers, cheaper storage, and hyper-speed networks are enabling Augmented reality to move beyond aircraft simulators into everyday lives. Be it gaming, tele-medicine, or virtual meetings – XR is beginning to become omni-present and could disrupt the way we work and play. Would you still fly to Hawaii if XR replicated the same experience down to the last sensory experience in your living room?
In a recent event, Microsoft scanned Julia White, CVP Azure Marketing, and transformed her into an exact hologram replica. Both Julia and her virtual clone then appeared together on stage for the keynote. Microsoft used its Azure AI technologies and neural text-to-speech and the future is rapidly becoming our reality now. The challenge is to bring these capabilities to life in useful, relevant and progressive ways – to make life better, to help us all achieve more. Obviously, Extended reality (XR) promises to be a game-changer.
Together with AI, XR makes for serious business. They have already identified potential applications of XR—like virtual training, “hands-on” education, or even immersive online shopping. Currently, almost 50% of XR is currently used in higher education. In medicine, students rehearse surgeries in VR as a part of their training, while several enterprises have internal training components made immersive by XR. Aside from learning and education, XR is progressively being used in design, architecture and engineering. Similarly, automotive engineers use VR suites to sculpt concept cars to bring down real-world prototype costs.
For XR to shape and augment the world as we know it, businesses must invest in network connectivity, application development, and most importantly, processing power.
When it comes to processing, Quantum computing (QC) is a holy grail in solving the toughest computational problems. Google says its colossal D-Wave 2X quantum computing machine has been figuring out algorithms at 100,000,000 times the speed of a traditional computer chip can.
Yet, Quantum computer is more than just its processor power, and is furthest from maturity. Nevertheless, it’s accelerating as companies begin exploring its potential. Several leaders in QC have released platforms that enable connections to their quantum computers via the cloud. Last year, Aliyun, Chinese giant Alibaba’s cloud service subsidiary, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences launched a joint 11-qubit quantum computing service encouraging researchers to conduct quantum experiments.
QC is necessary to power next- generation technologies, yet it is the costliest piece of the DARQ puzzle. All that computing power is of little use data back-up isn’t possible; quantum bits (qubits) take up vast storage spaces physically. To solve this, scientists are now looking at the natural world for the solution: as a 3D storage system, DNA offers an extra dimension in storing the vast quanta of data.
Quantum computers have the potential for pathbreaking applications in material design, logistics, AI and Machine learning, encryption, manufacturing, finance and even energy to name a few. Recently, Google announced ‘quantum supremacy’. Sycamore, Google’s quantum computer, calculated a task in 3 minutes, 20 seconds which otherwise, the world’s best supercomputer, Summit, would have taken 10,000 years to compute.
There’s still some time for QC to turn into an ROI-focused technology market and involves industrial-academic collaboration and public-private partnerships compelled to improve both digital and physical infrastructure.
What’s bright with DARQ
Enterprises must realise that only a strong digital foundation will help them pilot DARQ technologies to their advantages.
At the core of DARQ is innovation and this is critical for its foundational role in building the future. Only when all four technologies are viable at scale will their impact will grow significantly. Businesses must have the will to seize the opportunities and begin exploring possibilities and investments with a strategic focus—to leap ahead of competition in a brand-new competitive landscape.
The author is SVP & Head of APAC, GlobalLogic.
DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and ETCIO.com does not necessarily subscribe to it. ETCIO.com shall not be responsible for any damage caused to any person/organisation directly or indirectly.
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