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I’ve been posting annual predictions on VentureBeat every year for the past 10 years, and I’m embarassed to say that I missed the mark badly on a couple of my predictions for last year. With the Internet of Things heating up and autonomous vehicles emerging, I thought we’d see intelligent highways in 2017. Wrong. And with so much movement in the FinTech sector, I was sure we’d see the launch of a global online-only bank last year. Wrong again. While that prediction fell short for 2017, though, it’s possible a startup like Beam will launch this year instead.
I also expected cybersecurity to be the number one topic of conversation in tech last year. While it certainly was one of the top five topics in the tech media, it was seriously overshadowed by Bitcoin mania and the cryptocraziness of 2017.
My two other predictions — that China would invade the U.S. tech sector and that we’d see artificial intelligence continue to surge ahead — were on target. China’s investment into the U.S. tech sector hit a rapid pace, with various Chinese entities still wanting more investment opportunities here. And AI’s hotness continued into 2017, and will continue to blaze through 2018. Fear of the machine world and Terminators will continue too.
But enough about last year’s predictions. Let’s get to this year’s.
Here’s what I foresee for 2018:
1. Blockchain Bounty Hunter will become a job
By the end of 2018, “blockchain bounty hunter” will become a new job category. As blockchain technologies become more prevalent in enterprise and government, we will see a wave of new job roles created. Imagine federal agencies placing their information on public distributed ledgers that hold millions or billions of records. Short-staffed government bureaucracies will need dozens or maybe even hundreds of people who are a cross between today’s bug bounty hunters and futuristic blade runners to find discrepancies across public records (ledgers). These blockchain bounty hunters could be forensic financial fraud experts or maybe data scientists using AI engines to find the next Bernie Madoff within SEC records on a public blockchain or violators of YouTube’s content policies.
2. Quantum computing will become the new Bitcoin
We’ll start to see some real-world applications of quantum computing, and it will become the new rage by the end of the year. Particles teleporting or mirroring each other miles apart? Quantum chips that fit in your hand having more computing power than a farm of supercomputers? Google is supposedly coming out with its 50-qubit quantum computer in 2018, so no wonder it sold Boston Dynamics to decrease the possibility of Skynet and Terminators becoming a reality. With the leading AI technology and quantum alone, Google might be set up to become the dominate company for the next 100 years.
3. China and 5 other OECD nations will launch their own cryptocurrency
As regulatory bodies decide on how to move forward with cryptocurrencies and ICOs, I’ve stated for a few months that the overall market will become more regulated and more sane. I also believe major OECD nations will begin launching their own cryptocurrencies this year, starting with China. I’d bet on at least 5 others following suit. Smaller nations, such as Estonia and Venezuela have already started their plans, but the market will not change until major global economies become active in this space. I assume there will be a consolidation or collapse of many of the smaller cryptocurrencies as nations create their own cryptocurrencies over the next several years.
4. Self-driving taxis will be running in five cities
Autonomous vehicles will still be a hot topic in 2018 as more trials get underway beyond Chandler, Arizona. By year end, we should see full running autonomous taxi services in five cities across the U.S. As these get underway, don’t be surprised to see a whole new line of startups providing complementary services when longer rides become feasible, such as food, massage, and tutoring.
5. Brain-controlled machines will explode onto the market
Various devices have been doing cute tricks with mind-control interfaces, but this year we will see dozens of industries pick up the technology. Nissan just announced the integration of brain wave technology with its cars. We’ve already seen mind-controlled computer interfaces and robots, but as this technology becomes more mature we will see it tested across home appliances, the construction industry, and dozens of other verticals where time or multitasking are important factors.
Bernard Moon is cofounder and Partner at SparkLabs Group, a network of accelerators and venture capital funds.
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