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The Next Decade, An Architect's View

It's about that time of the year that people start making outlandish predictions that the world will have fully autonomous vehicles, every household will have a robot of some form and electric cars will be ubiquitous (that last one is quite likely to be true). I don’t believe that anyone who tries to make these predictions ever truly believes that they know the answer to the question, there are far too many variables that can cause any kind of prediction to vary.

With that being said, there are certain areas that I see some substantial changes over the next decade within the enterprise IT space. As I previously mentioned, these can be influenced by a number of different factors which have a huge influence on timescales. The increasing generalisation of AI, the move from application centric to data centric infrastructure, and the transition towards edge-based intelligence.

AI Generalisation

AI generalisation, or general-purpose AI is something that scientists and mathematicians have been striving for since the 60’s. Every year we get closer to this being a reality, humanity has now created AI which can beat humans and incredibly complex games with millions, if not billions of permutations. Comparatively, these models are simplistic as they only have a single goal, when you look at generalising it there are multiple goals and as humans, we must balance these. There is a mathematical breakthrough that is needed, whilst I can’t guarantee that this is going to happen in the next 10 years it will be an area that has much greater focus due to the availability of computational power.

Data Centric Infrastructure

With the significant rise in virtualisation over the last decade, we have seen a change in the IT industry from being system centric to application centric. The physical platform that a specific piece of software runs is becoming less important, virtually (pun slightly intended) all businesses are nearly fully virtualised at this point with quite a few having their first forays into containerisation. All of these are still very much application centric, often storing data within a single application rather than having it in a single centralised location. Over the next 10 years I believe that there will need to be a greater level of interoperability between applications, giving a much better view into data, company wide.

Edge Based Intelligence

As more of our lives becomes IT enabled there has been a proliferation of data that has been created away from the data centre. Accessing, processing and understanding this data will be one of the largest challenges for businesses over the next 10 years. The ability to process all of this data centrally is going to be impossible, therefore new models of data processing are going to be required. As these systems become able to adapt to change by leveraging AI, I believe that there is going to be a substantial rise in swarm reinforcement learning, distributed AI system that each have their own environmental factors but sharing knowledge between edge points. Allowing for a subset of data to be further processed centrally for a deeper insight.

These three trends, AI generalisation, data centric design and edge intelligence are what I believe to be the three largest impactors for the next decade. We are already seeing some of these trends in prototype today however over the next decade there will be vast leaps forward in computational power which will help enable these. However, don’t panic, I don’t believe AI sentience is going to be here. Humans instead will be here to manage to unexpected and the exceptions, rather than do the repetitive and mundane.

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Written by Matt Beale, Presales Architect - Modern Data Centre


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