2019 The Year of Sensors, Analogue AI,and Gene Hacking?

I’ve spent most of 2018 in China (or it feels that way) involved in water treatment, intelligent sensing and advanced composite materials. It’s been useful to get a perspective on the words second largest economy, but also working with Chinese colleagues and getting to know their sometimes different expectations and priorities. At the same time I’ve continued to voraciously devour information, talk to everyone and everything, and press every button to see what it does.

I’m not on the list of professions to be replaced by AI anytime soon, but just in case, and as the BBC picked up my intelligent sensor prediction, here’s the rest of my list of predictions for 2019.

  1. The gap between graphene’s hype and reality will continue to widen. Academics will construct more new buildings promising a graphene solution to everything while at least one high profile graphene company will be unable to raise yet another round of financing and either be cheaply acquired or enter insolvency.
  2. Expect to hear a lot more about the return of analogue computing. The end of Moore’s law coupled with the low power requirements of the Internet of Things is promoting a resurgence of interest in new architectures such as neuromorphic computing.
  3. Sensors will be everywhere to satisfy the voracious appetite of Artificial Intelligence. Expect to see more demands for information not just raw data as information is increasingly acquired and processed at the edge of the Cloud.
  4. Gene editing will continue to push the ethical boundaries. Everything looks like a nail to a child with a hammer and the same is true for a scientist with CRISPR/cas9.
  5. Autonomous vehicles will have the brakes temporarily applied by increasing ethical and legal concerns, although the underlying technologies such as LiDAR and real time image processing will continue to develop. Issues over the security and venerability of 5G telecoms (Huawei) will create further obstacles to deployment.

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