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Top 10 Technology Trends in 2020 By Alibaba


This year marks the start of a new decade in the 21st century, which mean it's time to learn how technology trends will change in the world.

The Alibaba DAMO Academy, the global research initiative by Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group, recently published a forecast of the trends that would define the global tech industry in 2020. It is predicted that Industrial IoT (Internet of Things) will power digital transformation this year. 

We can expect 5G, rapid development of IoT devices, cloud computing and edge computing will accelerate the fusion of information, communication, and industrial control systems. 

With exponential technologies in place, the world will look very much different in another 10 years from now. 

Founded in 2017, Alibaba DAMO Academy is dedicated to exploring the unknown through scientific and technological research and innovation. 

The academy is composed of 15 laboratories focusing on machine intelligence, data computing, robotics, financial technology and X laboratory. Alibaba Group Founder, Jack Ma, has mandated that DAMO must outlive Alibaba, and use technology to overcome challenges of the future.

Here are Alibaba DAMO Academy’s Top 10 Technology Trends in 2020:

Top 10 technology trends in 2020 by Alibaba

Trend 1:  
Artificial Intelligence Will Evolves From Perceptual intelligence to cognitive intelligence

In the next decade, Artificial Intelligence will move on to evolve further to have cognitive Intelligence. 

What we know as perceptual intelligence in AI includes speech to text, natural language processing, video understanding and more. In the field of cognitive Intelligence, external knowledge, logical reasoning, or domain migration are required. 

Currently, AI in this domain is still in its infancy. This area will draw inspiration from cognitive psychology, brain science, and human social history, combined with techniques such as cross domain knowledge graph, causality inference, and continuous learning to establish effective mechanisms for stable acquisition and expression of knowledge. 

These will make machines to understand and utilise knowledge, achieving key breakthroughs from perceptual intelligence to cognitive intelligence.

Trend 2:
In-Memory-Computing addresses the “memory wall” challenges in AI computing

In the past, Von Neumann architecture is the backbone of hardware development for memory and data processor. Such system architecture requires data to be moved back and forth that turn into bottom-neck for processing of more advanced algorithms.

Soon, Processing-in-Memory (PIM) architecture will be coming to the rescue. 

This brand new system architecture is developed to have memory and processor fused together, to allow minimal data movement and high speed computations. 

Computation parallelism and power efficiency can be significantly improved, hence making it possible to move the whole AI industry forward. 

Trend 3: 
Industrial IoT to power digital transformation

5G technology, Industrial IoT devices, cloud computing and edge computing will boost the fusion of information, communication and industrial control systems together. 

This will make C2B (Consumer-to-Business) smart manufacturing happen at a faster pace. 

As industrial systems became more interconnected, upstream and downstream vendors within the manufacturing business makes the whole supply chain more effective and efficient. Manufacturers’ productivity and profitability is set to increase significantly.

Trend 4: 
Large-scale collaboration between machines become possible

Teamwork always makes the dream work. In the past, traditional single intelligence cannot meet the real-time perception and decision of large-scale intelligent devices.  

In the near future, system-to-system, machine-to-machine, business-to-business collaboration will be interconnected by the collaborative sensing technology of Internet of Things and 5G communication technology. 

For the first time in human history, inter-connected systems will bring about group intelligence that can make real-time perceptions and decisions. 

Fundamentally, large-scale intelligent devices will make effective collaborations to enable joint tasks to happen. 

Trend 5: 
Modular design makes chips easier and faster by stacking chiplets together

The traditional model of chip design cannot efficiently respond to the fast evolving, fragmented and custom needs of chip production. 

The open source system on chip (SoC) design based on RISC-V, high-level hardware description language, and IP-based modular chip design methods have accelerated the development of agile design methods and the ecosystem of open source chips. 

In addition, the modular design method based on chiplets uses advanced packaging methods to pack the chiplets with different functions together. This will make it possible to quickly customise and deliver chips that meet specific requirements of different applications.

Trend 6: 
Large-scale production-grade Blockchain applications will gain mass adoption

BaaS (Blockchain-as-a-Service) will further reduce the barriers of entry for enterprise blockchain applications. 

A variety of hardware chips embedded with core algorithms used in terminals, cloud and designed specifically for blockchain will also emerge, allowing assets in the physical world to be mapped to assets on blockchain, further expanding the boundaries of the Internet of Value and realising “multi-chain interconnection”. 

In the future, a large number of innovative blockchain application scenarios with multi-dimensional collaboration across different industries and ecosystems will emerge. This will see large-scale production-grade blockchain applications with more than 10 million DAI (Daily Active Items) will gain mass adoption.

Trend 7: 
A Critical Period before Quantum Computing Takes Off

In 2019, the race in reaching “Quantum Supremacy” brought the focus back to quantum computing. 

The demonstration, using superconducting circuits, boosts the overall confidence on superconducting quantum computing for the realisation of a large-scale quantum computer. 

In 2020, the field of quantum computing will receive increasing investment, which comes with increasing competition. 

The field is also expected to experience a speed-up in industrialisation and the gradual formation of an ecosystem. In the coming years, the next milestones will be the realisation of fault-tolerant quantum computing and the demonstration of quantum advantages in real-world problems. 

Either is of a great challenge given the present knowledge. However, one thing is for sure: Quantum computing is entering a critical period.

Trend 8: 
New materials will revolutionise semiconductor devices

Under the pressure of both Moore’s Law and the explosive demand of computing power and storage, it is difficult for classic Si-based transistors to maintain sustainable development of the semiconductor industry. 

Until now, major semiconductor manufacturers still have no clear answer and option to chips beyond 3nm. 

New materials will make new logic, storage, and interconnection devices through new physical mechanisms, driving continuous innovation in the semiconductor industry. 

For example, topological insulators, two-dimensional superconducting materials, etc, that can achieve lossless transport of electron and spin can become the basis for new high-performance logic and interconnect devices. 

Trend 9: 
Growing adoption of AI technologies that protect data privacy

Data privacy and protection mechanisms are now demanded and enforceable by law. 

The compliance costs to implement data protection are getting higher. AI technologies have shine light on this. 

Using AI technology, we can enable the data consumer to compute a function over input data from different data providers while keeping those data private.

Such AI technologies promise to solve the problems of data silos and lack of trust in today’s data sharing practices, and will truly unleash the value of data in the foreseeable future.

Trend 10: 
Cloud becomes the centre of IT technology innovation

Cloud computing technology is redefining every aspect of IT and they have evolved into the centre of all IT technological innovations. 

The cloud is linked to almost all IT technologies, including new chips, new databases, self-driving adaptive networks, big data, AI, IoT, blockchain, quantum computing and so forth. 

Cloud computing also creates new technologies, such as serverless computing, cloud-native software architecture, software-hardware integrated design, and intelligent automated operation.

Innovators will continue to turn new IT technologies into accessible services and becoming the backbone of the entire digital economy. The Sci-Fi world that we see in movies are turning into reality! 

Smart investors shall start taking bold steps to learn and master these valuable innovations, and figure out how to use them to the greatest benefit in this digital economy. 


Top 10 technology trends in 2020 by Alibaba
Top 10 technology trends in 2020 by Alibaba
Top 10 technology trends in 2020 by Alibaba

What do you think?

Would these present more opportunities or crisis?

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