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Ten things impacting the world: automation

According to Moore’s law, based on increased affordability and greater access, computing power will increase exponentially. When we examine the evolution of computing technology on a timeline (see below), we can see that this is already happening.

And some theorize that as computing power continues to progress at such a rapid pace, we could be bound for The Singularity—the runaway effect of computers becoming super intelligent based on their ability to program their own evolution—and eventually doing so beyond our brainpower and control.

The Exponential Growth of Computing Power

There is no denying that automation is already reshaping our workforce. Over the next 20 years, automation will replace up to 47% of all jobs in the U.S. Though some will be mundane or repetitive tasks, other jobs, such as loan officers, receptionists, legal assistants, chauffeurs, security guards, cooks, and bartenders could also become automated.

In a best case scenario, automation will complement the nature of labor, with humans working happily alongside their new cobot (collaborative robot) colleagues. This will create new jobs in the process. A study in the U.K. found that the technologies that replaced 800,000 jobs also created 3.5 million new (higher-paying) jobs.

On the home front, by 2020, it is estimated that 50 percent of U.S. homes will be automated. This will increase the demand for automation at the macro level, giving rise to the expectation for our workplaces and cities to be as automated, connected, and intelligent as our homes.

Networks powered by artificial intelligence (AI) will give our homes a brain, or a nervous system to support all connected and automated devices. With artificial minds of their own, they will sense our presence, learn our habits, and self-regulate accordingly.

Over the next 20 years, the computers that drive AI will be so powerful, they will be able to emulate a cortex. This will be enabled by quantum computing.

Y2K was the year of the Millennium Bug, an issue created by computerized systems projected to wreak havoc in many computer systems as they transitioned to the year 2000. Y2Q describes the “Year to Quantum,” when quantum computing will become a mainstream platform.

Instead of the classical bit, quantum computers use qubits, a unit of quantum information. Quantum computing gives programmers the ability to solve problems that would normally take several years of (current) processing in mere seconds. Quantum computing is expected to dramatically progress the fields of AI, cloud security, defense, financial services, logistics, and medicine.

Based on quantum computing, Grover’s algorithm is a search algorithm that processes faster than any classical algorithm. Where a classical algorithm is limited to searching through one million possibilities, Grover’s algorithm, on the other hand, uses those million operations to search through hundreds of billions of possibilities. Imagine being able to access commercially available cyber-encryption that allows you to unlock your front door, sign in to your computer, or login to your bank account in seconds, automatically. Quantum computing will make this a reality.

When robotics, analytics, and AI are combined with quantum computing, this will push the limits of extreme automation. As technology evolves and becomes more sophisticated, we will find new and innovative ways to apply automation to transform all aspects of our lives. AI will be critical to the next step in this transformation. This will be the topic of my next blog.

Mark Barrenechea

Mark J. Barrenechea is OpenText's Vice Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Technology Officer. A prominent thought leader, he has extensive experience in information technology and his vision is to enable the digital world to help transform organizations.

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