When it comes to futurism, 2016 was no slouch. Lots of technology first-evers were introduced in 2016, including reusable rocket ships that pinpoint landed on barges floating in the middle of the ocean, the possible detection of gravity waves, autonomous cars reaching new thresholds in acceptance, and major steps in quantum computing.
What does 2017 hold? According to industry experts and futurists, expect the size and pace of technological change to only increase. And, if the future is already here, but not evenly distributed, these experts also say the future will begin to spread lava-like from labs and into the mainstream next year.
Here are some things futurists are predicting for 2017:
After breakthrough medical technology, like the revolutionary genetic engineering CRISPR system and CAR-T cancer therapeutics, were introduced a few years ago, these technologies will transition from labs and animal experiments into human trials this year.
Here are a few of these budding technologies that should bloom in 2017.
CAR-T -- which stands for Chimeric Antigen Receptor T cells (aren’t you sorry you asked) -- tweaks the body’s own immune system to fight cancer. It was a rough year for CAR-T companies, such as Juno Therapeutics, which ran into problems with their CAR-T therapy in 2016, but researchers say Juno only experienced setbacks with one therapeutic approach. Other variations should make their human trial debut this year, hopefully with better results.
CRISPR -- Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, but we’ll just call it “crisper” -- is like a RNA-DNA guided missile that can precisely target genes and prompt the body's self-repair mechanism. Chinese doctors have already tested the process in humans this year. Most people expect the first wave of CRISPR therapies to start hitting human trials in 2017.
An artificial pancreas might hit the market this year, as well. The device could help diabetes patients and replace insulin shots.
We can also expect to see the faster, smaller, more powerful trend of computing technology to become even faster, even smaller, and much more powerful. In fact, we may be on the precipice of an entirely new domain of computing -- quantum computing. Artificial Intelligence -- AI -- may begin to mature.
Google’s quantum computer -- predicted to be in the 50 qubit range -- may be unveiled in 2017, according to some experts.
Expect deep learning -- machine learning that's loosely modeled after the human brain’s own neural networks -- to get even… well.. deeper. In 2017 experts expect to see the release of blockbuster commercial apps that use deep learning. Also deep learning, once relegated to big labs and insanely high tech research facilities, to reach Main Street. We will start to find deep learning algorithms churning in smart phones and in virtual reality setups. Speaking of virtual reality…
Virtual and Augmented Reality Trends
There is a good chance that virtual reality will change, if not usurp, the 2-dimensional internet and social media world. That probably won’t happen in a year. However, this year, virtual reality experts say that more advertisers will be entering the VR space and more companies will invest there, too. With the influx of money, VR is poised to be the next great platform.
It may be the next great entertainment platform, too. It sounds like movie makers are already experimenting and that type of dabbling will start to move from experimental-level to semi-serious hobbyist level some time this year.
"We'll see relatively few cinematic narratives on the high end systems, though a small number of standouts will achieve good market share relative to games," notes August Bradley Cenname, COO and CMO of Kite & Lightning told Rebekah Iliff Chief strategy officer, AirPR and columnist for Inc. Magazine. "These will be computer graphic animation narratives built on gaming engines, not live action films. High end position tracking in live action will require a new kind of technology enabling volumetric capture, this is not going to be happening at any scale in 2017 -- though it will be the future of VR film making down the road."
While most technology trend watchers were expecting virtual reality to break out in 2016, augmented reality -- AR -- popped up on their radar like a Pikachu appearing in the smartphone screen. A lot of AR developers will be working on the next Pokémon Go in 2017, retailers want in on the AR revolution in a big way.
Some experts say there will be no clear winner between augmented and virtual reality systems. They expect mixed reality -- augmented reality, virtual reality, mobile reality, and plain old reality reality -- to create a sphere called mixed reality where all the alternative realities will merge to be the dominant story.
They say you should expect to see this trend to taking shape in -- you guessed it -- 2017.