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What is the Next Great Technology Trend?

Our 2021 On Point interviewees share their take on the next great technology trend.

Throughout 2021, On Point’s guest columnists answered a variety of questions geared to spurring discussion on new and emerging technologies. However, each columnist also answered one common question, and below is a summary of their responses to this single query:

What do you think is the next great technology trend?

Quantum effects seem to have the edge. Using them produces significant gains in sensitivity and thus signal-to-noise ratio. I admit, however, that I am less excited about quantum key distribution, believing that post-quantum public key cryptography that is resistant to cracking by quantum computation may prove to be more reliable.
—Vint Cerf, vice president and chief Internet evangelist at Google, considered by many to be one of the fathers of the Internet

Convergence is a broad trend that is going to impact every element of society. It is the synergistic impact of new capabilities feeding off of each other. Think of the mission impact of all these topics converged: cloud computing, artificial intelligence, mobility, big data analytics, robotics, IoT [Internet of Things], cybersecurity, quantum computing, virtual reality, augmented reality, additive manufacturing, space sensing, advanced communications (especially 5G, Wi-Fi6). So, imagine the power of transformation by considering them all at once!
—Bob Gourley, chief technology officer and co-founder of OODA LLC, a due diligence and cybersecurity consultant who also publishes OODAloop.com and CTOvision.com

The ethical and responsible use of consumer data. Particularly as emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, edge computing and 5G continue to grow, the conversation around data privacy and data usage is not going away anytime soon. This notion of “what do we do with data privacy” will continue to determine the way we approach legislation, enforcement and consumerization. We’ll need to figure out how to unblur the lines around data privacy responsibly.
—Juliana Vida, chief technical advisor, public sector at Splunk Inc., a former Navy deputy chief information officer

Advanced nanotechnology capabilities that could repair damaged cells could be tooled into the next generation of vaccine delivery systems to target viruses at the cellular level. Intelligent systems could review and assess situations and deliver recommendations with a predictive probability of success of 97.999999%. For multifactor authentication, the fusion of cybersecurity technology and biometrics could increase that to include aspects of one’s blood type, hair color, DNA and even hundreds of other aspects. The cross-fertilization of varying technologies across numerous disciplines will integrate with information technology advancements to open up brand-new fields of research, development and capabilities.
—Col. Karlton Johnson, USAF (Ret.), chairman of the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) Accreditation Body board of directors

We virtualize compute, storage and networking. We’ll extend abstraction to include all data itself. Data virtualization systems could underlie more capable and usable handling of classification levels, ideally including “the anywhere SCIF.” And predictably, generative neural nets will exploit data virtualization for good and malign purposes, so keep on your toes.
—Lewis Shepherd, senior executive at VMware and the vice chair of AFCEA’s Intelligence Committee and an advisor to several government agencies.

The mainstreaming of artificial intelligence/machine learning algorithms in the core of our businesses and the platforms that we use. We have to understand: are the algorithms sound behind the decisions; were they developed without bias with good and broad and diverse data sets; are we allowing these algorithms to make decisions for us and/or increase our bias or proclivity to things?
—Melissa Hathaway, president of Hathaway Global Strategies and former cyber advisor to President George W. Bush and President Barack H. Obama

Current encryption technology (AES 256) is more than 20 years old. While quantum computing is still in its infancy, it offers the promise of providing better security and encryption technologies. We will be seeing more innovations in the next few years in the areas of post-quantum cryptography, quantum key distribution and homomorphic encryption.
—Srini Iyer, chief technology officer and head of ManTech’s Innovation & Capabilities Office

Needing to remember dozens of long, complex passwords is difficult and cumbersome. Weak passwords are easily targeted by malicious actors, resulting in 679 password attacks every second (more than 18 billion each year). My company is moving to a passwordless future. The new availability of passwordless sign-in to Microsoft accounts for enterprise accounts will enhance security of millions of users.
—Rick Wagner, corporate vice president for Microsoft Federal

Advances in computing techniques and biomedicine will unlock physiological potential, while advances in manufacturing will unlock potential for our tooling. We started innovating with fire and wheels, and now we’re working on interplanetary space flight, factories that can make suggestions about what they should produce next, and finding new ways to overcome
the human body’s inherent limitations.
—David Benhaim, Chief Technology Officer, Markforged

It is how the digital revolution is driving an Age of Consciousness. This changes everything.
—Dr. William Halal, Professor emeritus of Management, Technology and Innovation at The George Washington University and author of the book Beyond Knowledge