Internet of things, cloud computing, big data analysis, artificial intelligence: How can we forecast their middterm development?

The Internet has helped to globalize our world. Now, the Internet is changing our day-to-day behaviors. For most people, communication with a bank takes place mainly or only on the Internet. A lot of things are purchased on the Internet. If we have a question about a subject, than we are not looking in a lexicon, now we use search engines like Google to find explanations. But all these changes are only the beginning of a much deeper influence of the Internet in our life. Let us briefly discuss these developments, which are ongoing and will influence our lives in the next 3 to 6 years. The three main influencers will be:
1. The Internet of things: On the Internet, people are connecting, communicating, and exchanging data and information. But why should people only be on the Internet? Today, we have many machines, sensors and actors that can communicate via the Internet. All of these elements can exchange data and information between each other. This gives us a lot of additional possibilities. On the Internet, we have access to data about the weather, traffic, maps, events, and so on. On this database, we can imagine things like autonomous cars, transport system optimization, demand-driven infrastructure systems, and so on.
2. Cloud computing: In cloud computing, the full IT structure is provided by service companies. We divide this into SaaS (software as a service), IaaS (infrastructure as a service), and PaaS (platform as a service). All the services or part of the services are provided from service providers.
3. Big data analysis: The amount of information and data available on the Internet today is hugs. With the Internet of things, it will multiply even more. To combine this data in real time drives us toward new business opportunities and will increase the productivity of a lot of businesses.
4. Artificial intelligence: With complex algorithms and intelligent sensory and learning systems, we will become more and more capable of building systems, including service systems that are unimaginable today.
These above mentioned developments are not a far-fetched vision. These developments are already available today, waiting for us to use them. They will influence our lives in the short- and mid-term. Here are a few examples:
1. Autonomous cars: It started with some distance sensors, which initiated active braking if the distance from a car in front of your car is too short. A lot of cars already offer an automatic parking device. You stop your car outside the parking lot, your car measures the parking area, than you drive the car at the beginning of the parking lot and push the button for automatic parking. Your car will drive perfectly into the parking space if you do not disturb it. Even the Tesla can drive on highways mostly autonomously. It keeps distance and can over take over other cars autonomously. These are the systems that are already released to the public. On a few test tracks and even on a few highway pieces in Germany, there are test cars that drive autonomously every day. So we should expect that autonomous driving will be released in the new future to public use. To make autonomous driving possible, we need a lot of communication with the environment around the car. We need precise information from a map, distances to barriers around the car, exact road pictures, general traffic information, and so on. We have to bring all this data together to go with the car autonomously and safely to our desired destination. For this, we need the combination of the Internet of things, artificial intelligence, and big data.
2. Guidance in health data: In the health-care sector, first applications are on the way. For a few days, I have had a sensor on my arm, measuring continuously my heart frequency, how many steps I take, how often I climb stairs, and how I sleep. It is calculating how many joules I used. Once a day, I get an e-mail with hints to my behavior in relation to my health. This looks like a gadget, but if we develop it further, it can become a serious device that can improve the health of the whole population, reduce costs for health care, and extend the life expectations for people. Maybe we can develop it to call for emergency help if necessary because the location of people is always possible to navigate. Heart frequency, blood pressure, blood sugar level, and so on can be monitored continuously, and in case of disorder, a message or help will be sent. There are even developments on the way that compare the behavior of people to a reference base and to calculate best behavior to extend a person’s life span. This can then be given continuously to people, providing them the opportunity to correct their behavior. An American friend of us got from their health insurance a step tracker. Exceeding a certain level of steps per day reduces their health insurance fee.
3. Sharing economy: For people in future social systems, it will not so much be important to have personal items. It will be more important to experience and socialize. This will increase the sharing economy. I need a car only if I cannot reach a destination directly by public transport. For these distances, I need an organization, which assures that I have access to a car in close reachable distance or someone gives me an individual service. This has to be managed. From a big database, which is continuously updated, the best solution will be extracted and proposed to me. I choose by best price, shortest time or whatever my requirements are. I want to cook a Chinese meal and need a rice cooker. A rice cooker I need only twice a year. It makes no sense for me to buy one. I look to a database, where I find possibilities to share such a device. We can imagine that this list of devices can grow.
4. Energy availability: This is an area that has been discussed for a long time, but has been blocked due to lobbyism by the politicians. In Germany, two big energy companies Eon and RWE divided their companies into the fossil-driven division and the renewable-driven division. This shows me very clearly that they finally understand: the future is renewable. But this renewable energy does not have the same conditions as the energy coming from fossil fuel plants or nuclear plants. Renewable energies are much more volatile and composed of a lot of small energy producers. If I go with my electric car and need to charge it, I can look to the Internet to guide me to a place that is convenient for me, which has energy available and so on. If in a house nearby, a family decides to use a washing machine within the next six hours, the artificial intelligence can calculate how both, the family and I, can be served best. I can immediately charge my car, and the family gets their clothes washed in 1 hour.
We have now seen developments in different areas regarding the Internet of things, cloud computing, big data, and artificial intelligence. We can see that this is not fiction. It is already partly in place and has started to change our way of life. In the end, it will change our social system and society.
I predict we will appreciate and accept most of the technical changes. In my opinion, the more difficult part will be the necessary change of social behavior and society. These changes require generations. The described technology will change within the next 10 to 15 years.
In this respect, we will have the biggest challenges in the future.
But for people who understand these changes, they can already start to develop their businesses in this direction or develop business models according to these changes. I would like to be a member of this group.