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Jan 2, 201811:16 AMInside Wisconsin

with Tom Still

Tech trends for 2018: It’s still all about people

(page 1 of 2)

There are many who believe society has “summoned the demon” through technologies that threaten to addict us to screens and games, more susceptible to cyber-snoops and replaceable by machines.

Those dangers and more are possible, of course, if the same society that creates technologies fails to remember the purpose for doing so — helping people to lead better lives.

In 2018, the pace of tech innovation will accelerate in areas where once-fanciful ideas are becoming integral to commerce, health, entertainment, security, learning, energy, manufacturing, and more. Here are a few trends to watch:

BIoT — That acronym describes the intersection of blockchain, a shared ledger program that allows institutions to more selectively and securely share information and assets with others, and the internet of things, which connects devices through sensors. Experts believe the maturing use of blockchain will make IoT more useful while reducing the risk of hacking through a “chain” of digital records spread over thousands of computers. Possible applications include shipping goods, managing financial records, and making energy systems more efficient.

CRISPR — Another acronym, it’s shorthand for a scientific technique that can be used to modify DNA in plants, animals, and humans to better protect genes from bacteria and disease. It’s the next step in genetic editing that led to Food and Drug Administration approval in 2017 of therapies for certain leukemias and blindness. Such therapies don’t work for everyone and they may not last forever, but the head of the National Institutes of Health believes a revolution is at hand. Future applications may include hemophilia, sickle cell, and muscular dystrophy.

Quantum computing — While still theoretical in some ways, there have been breakthroughs that suggest useful quantum computers are within reach. It harnesses the behavior of energy at subatomic levels to vastly speed up computing for a variety of uses. As Chemical & Engineering News reported, quantum computing could be used to model chemical systems that cannot be solved by conventional computers. Possible applications include advances in motors, magnets, power grids, fuels, and solar-cell materials.

Computing job market — Even if quantum computing is still a bit “Star Trekish,” the demand for computer workers will continue to grow. In a recent presentation by leading faculty at the UW–Madison, it was noted that projected job openings for people who hold a bachelor’s degree or higher in computer science will far outstrip the number of degree holders through 2024. The demand is even greater than what the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts for life scientists, physical scientists, and engineers.

(Continued)

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About This Blog

Tom Still is president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. He is the former associate editor of the Wisconsin State Journal.

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