Some of the most brilliant minds in the tech scene locally and internationally ventured to the second edition of RISE conference in Hong Kong last week, an event that drew over 8,144 attendees from 88 countries. The audience learnt that many of the innovation leaders have very specific, even surreal, visions of the future on topical issues such as artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), quantum technology and more. Imagine, for example, ultra-lightweight cars made possible thanks to powerful quantum computers. Here are some of the memorable statements that were remarked at the event.
- Human programmer jobs will disappear
Mikko Hyppönen, a Finnish cyber-security expert and Chief Research Officer of F-Secure, a computer security firm based in Helsinki, believes in a future era of artificial intelligence when super machines will code better than humans (who tend to make mistakes). “Programmers will be out of their jobs,” predicts Hyppönen. “Computers will write every single piece of software in the future and they will not make mistakes, of if they make mistakes, it will be so complicated that we won’t be able to fix them,” he said.
- VR devices will get slimmer and screen-free
One of the hottest topics at the conference was VR and augmented reality (AR). While various tech companies are churning out bulky VR headsets, Edward Tang, founder and chief strategy officer of Avegant, predicts that these peculiar-looking hardware will be in the shadows as improved VR technologies develop in the market. “We think screen-based technology fundamentally is going to get phased over the next couple of years,” he says. According to this industry expert, the current VR screens led by Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) panels limit the performance of VRs due to issues such as resolution and latency. “People are going to start moving towards retina projection displays, which is why we are doing direct retina-projection displays,” says this expert. Avegant’s Glyph for example offers headsets that project visuals directly into the wearer’s eyes.
“In next 24 to 36 months, we will see a lot of convergence between VR and the AR space – great AR products will also be able to do a lot of great VR experiences, for example.” He adds, “The ultimate goal is to get these products down to a point where it looks like you are wearing a regular pair of glasses or sunglasses.” Tang believes these barely-there-devices will arrive in the market much faster than you think.
- New and powerful materials will emerge thanks to quantum computers. Imagine: 20-kilo cars.
Russian quantum technology expert Serguei Beloussov foresees a quantum computer-dominated future where new and more powerful materials will be developed from this technology. Beloussov is the founder of data protection firm Acronis and the tech veteran also runs investment firms that support quantum technology research and startups. The entrepreneur argues that super powerful steel produced from quantum technology would be 100 times stronger and thus 100-times lighter than steel that we see today. Imagine the applications of such super steel in the real world, particularly in the motor industry. Currently the average car weighs around two tonnes but when modelings quantum systems on a quantum computer, the vehicle can weigh 100-times less, he says. “With quantum steel, you can make a car that weighs 20 kilos, you could literally put it on the top of the garage with your bare hands. It sounds freaky but it is totally possible and to do this, you need to have quantum computers to simulate [this new steel],” he says.
Quantum computers are devices that harness quantum mechanics. Conventional computers use transistors that process information in a series of ones and zeros- or ‘bits,’ that perform various calculations.
These days, computer power has risen exponentially thanks to many smaller transistors packed onto computer chips but there is a physical limitation in continuing this direction. Quantum computers offer an alternative by going very small, to the level of atoms and molecules. These small particles are also governed by quantum mechanics and not the law of physics people are familiar with. Quantum computers process information through ‘qubits’, where the unit of information is greater than zeros or ones, in fact they can be in both states at the same time unlike the binary world of regular computers. That makes quantum computers capable of processing much more information and solve greater and more complicated calculations, at faster speed. Such a powerful computer will be a new tool for solving problems and developing materials, such as super steel.
- Don’t listen to all the ominous talk about artificial intelligence and mankind
Melonee Wise, CEO of Fetch Robotics, dismissed all this debate at the moment about the threats of AI to humans as “a bunch of fear mongering for no reason.”
“The idea that some computers system is going to be sentient in next 10 to 20 years is almost laughable,” she explains. “The idea it would have the ability to create a extreme impact on the physical world is even more interesting as you have to give it access for it to do that and I can’t imagine why you’d give any system physical access to something that could kill large amounts of people,” adds Wise. If however, people do give these machines physical access to do such terrible things, she sees this decision as a societal choice not Artificial Intelligence running amok. According to this robotics expert, most of these machines today are very simplistic and perform basic tasks such as walking up the stairs.
This article was written by Nan-Hie In from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.