Fast Forward - Technology Developments By 2040

As the pace of  technology advances surges ahead and  IT systems become increasingly interlinked, it is vital to know how these technology advances could impact the world, in order to take steps to prevent the worst outcomes.

Now, expert futurists have forecast how rapid technological changes might shape our world by 2040 and consider the world of digital technology and how things might develop in the next 15 years.  From misinformation and invisible cyber attacks, to irresponsible AI that could cause events involving multiple deaths, expert futurists have forecast how rapid technology changes may shape our world by 2040.

Using a Delphi study, a well known technique for forecasting, a team of cyber security researchers led by academics from Lancaster University interviewed 12 experts in the future of technologies. These selected  experts were asked how particular technologies may develop and change our world over the next 15 years, what risks they might pose, and how to address the challenges that may arise. 

The forecasts were published by the Inst. of Elecrrica & Electronic lEngineers (IEEE)  titles Interlinked Computing in 2040: Safety, Truth, Ownership and Accountability. The lead researcher of the study is Dr. Charles Weir, Lecturer at Lancaster University’s School of Computing and Communications,said “Technology advances have brought, and will continue to bring, great benefits... We also know there are risks around some of these technologies, including AI, and where their development may go, everyone’s been discussing them, but the possible magnitude of some of the risks forecast by some of the experts was staggering." 

By forecasting what potential risks lie just over the horizon, steps can be taken to avoid the  major anticipated problems.

According to Techxplore, most of the experts forecasted exponential growth in AI over the next 15 years, with many expressing concerns about cutting corners in the development of safe AI, possibly driven by nation-states seeking competitive advantage. Most of the experts questioned were also concerned that technological advances will ease the spread of misinformation, which in turn has the potential to make it harder for people to tell the difference between truth and fiction, with ramifications for democracies.

Other technologies were forecast to not have as big of an impact by 2040, including Quantum Computing which experts see as having impacts over a much longer timescale, and Blockchain which was dismissed as a major factor by most of the experts.

These are the experts’ forecasts for the year 2040, as provided by Techxplore:

  • Competition between nation-states and big tech companies will lead to corners being cut in the development of safe AI.
  • Quantum computing will have a limited impact.
  • There will be ownership of public web assets and these will be identified and traded through digital tokens.
  • It will be harder to distinguish truth from fiction because widely accessible AI can massively generate doubtful content.
  • There will be less ability to distinguish accidents from criminal incidents due to the decentralised nature and complexity of systems.

This study includes some suggested solutions for some of the concerns raised, including that governments consider  introducing AI safety guidelines, new laws to regulate AI safety, and having universities introduce courses combining technical skills and legislation.

Lancaster University:    Lancaster University:   Techxplore:     I-HLS:       Science Daily:     IEEE Xplore:   

IEEE Xplore:     Weir, Dyson, Jogunola & Dennis:     WDiarium:     Image: Allison Saeng

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A Brief History Of Artificial Intelligence & Its Potential Future: (£)

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