by Robert Balan
The development of new technologies is expected to radically change the world as we know it. What you saw in Sci-Fi movies years ago is quickly becoming a reality. We might not yet have flying cars, but there are dreams and plans for everything you can think of, from colonising Mars, to self-driving vehicles and artificial intelligence (AI) that will take care of the most basic tasks for us. But what Master’s degree could you study to add your contribution to turning fiction tech into practical reality?
Keep on reading, because we’ll talk about the 5 top emerging technologies of the future that will end up changing human society. We’ll also suggest some universities where you can study a Master’s degree that will help you become part of this change – the start of a tech career that is sure to be very envied in a few years.
1. The Blockchain – The Holy Grail of future security?
The Blockchain is the technology used by cryptocurrencies, with Bitcoin and Ethereum taking the lead when it comes down to popularity. While many have heard about this new type of currencies, few actually know how the tech behind it actually works.
A blockchain is a decentralised online system of transactions, which uses encryption and the P2P (peer-to-peer) network in order to make sure all the information is secure. Think of it as a large Excel document, which is stored and shared on all the computers on the blockchain, but not owned by a single entity (e.g. a government or a bank).
The information is stored and encrypted in blocks, which are linked to each other (that’s where the name blockchain comes from) and every block has an ID and is connected to the previous block. This technology makes it almost impossible to make illegal modifications to a single block, because it would affect the other ones as well. Even if you managed to do this on one computer, the other ones on the network would see it and immediately make it invalid. That’s why it is all so secure.
Even though cryptocurrencies are the most popular application of the blockchain, the possibilities are limitless. Blockchain technology can be used for securing medical records, real estate transactions, voting and elections, taxes and so on. This technology alone has the potential to eliminate digital corruption, data loss and theft.
If you’re dreaming about becoming a successful blockchain developer or are passionate about Cyber Security, check out these universities:
2. Personal Assistants – Hey Google, do all my chores for today!
Ok, maybe we’re not there yet, and perhaps we should never get to the point where a personal digital assistant will replace all our activities (wouldn’t want to get too bored, would we?). But the capabilities of these assistants are getting more and more impressive.
Did you know that Google has been working on an advanced Google Assistant named Duplex, which is able to actually make phone calls and reservations for you? Their demo impressed everyone and showed a glimpse into a future where personal assistants can really become a part of our daily lives.
It's incredible how far machine learning has come. It’s one thing to ask ‘what’s the weather?’ and it’s a totally different thing to say ‘Hey, make an appointment for a haircut tomorrow at 2, take the trash out and open the windows’.
Of course, Google is not the only player in this market. Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana have teamed up as they try to grow together. Apple has Siri and even Samsung has come up with their own assistant, Bixby (don’t ask how they chose that name). The amount of resources these big companies invest in this technology shows how much they bet on it being a great success in the future.
This also means that you would make a great choice to study in this field at one of these universities:
3. Cloud and Remote Computing – No need to invest in a new computer
More and more applications run in a web browser on a company’s private servers. This means that your computer doesn’t need to be cutting edge for you to be able to do your job. Everything will be processed remotely. You only need a great internet connection and a computer that can run a web browser.
You can already see steps taken in that direction by companies like Microsoft or Google. Both the Office Suite and Google Docs are available online. It’s true that their functionality is still limited for now (I’m especially looking at you, Microsoft). However, in a few years, we could use the full Word editor, Adobe Photoshop or even DaVinci Resolve remotely.
If gaming is your thing, don’t despair. There are already companies working to overcome the limitations of streaming games using the latest cloud technologies. While the experience is not yet the same as playing locally and enjoying great frame rates, don’t bet against anyone being able to play any game in the future, regardless of their computer’s performance.
If you’re interested in a career in the field of Cloud and Remote Computing, here are some universities we recommend:
4. The Array of Things (AoT) – Using data to improve societies
An Array of Things is a network of sensors that collect data which is used by scientists or policymakers to implement appropriate changes and solve various problems in a city. The idea here is simple. All the gathered data reveals various patterns.
The information is then uploaded on a portal that’s available to everyone: students, companies, public institutions. Finally, software developers can use it to create new applications and come up with solutions for existing problems.
For example, if you have asthma, the sensors from the city could show the areas with the most polluted air so you can avoid them. Want to go for a quiet stroll through the park? The sensors will be able to tell you how many people are there and then you can choose when it’s best to go for a walk.
There are many possibilities here, and Chicago is the first city where they are implementing this technology. Based on their results and discoveries, you can expect this to be adopted by other cities around the world.
Want to be part of all this? There are numerous opportunities available for you in this multidisciplinary field. Here are some degrees you should check out:
- Electronics & Embedded Technology - learn how to develop and improve the data gathering sensors and devices
- Data Science & Big Data – learn how to analyse the gathered information, observe patterns, draw conclusions and help with the decision-making process
- Public Policy – learn how to use the data to make better decisions and implement significant changes in the society
5. Self-driving vehicles and drones – just make sure the tank is full
Companies like Apple, Google or Tesla have been working on self-driving cars for years. It’s safe to say that the whole process is based on trial and error, but their progress is definitely impressive.
In the US, Domino’s Pizza is already testing its self-driving pizza delivery car. If that’s not amazing enough for you, did you know that Amazon’s Prime Air delivery service, which uses autonomous drones, is already being tested in the UK? The data gathered and the feedback from customers will be used to expand the service even further.
If you want to be one of the people who’ll improve this autonomous technology, these are some universities where you can learn how to do it:
- Cranfield University
- EURECOM - Graduate school and Research center in Digital Science
- Kaunas University of Technology
The future is exciting
We are heading towards an era where technology will help us overcome many challenges we are currently facing. They will also create new job opportunities, while others will become obsolete.
The most important aspect of developing and using all this new and shiny tech is to remember the human principles and core values which should be used as a cornerstone. We have not yet found a way to give machines ethics or consciousness, which means that the responsibility for how they are programmed and used is entirely ours.
After all, technology should be used to make our lives and societies better, and everyone should benefit from it.