The most important events in technology 2022: A rearview into the future
If I could give a Noble Prize to a year, it would be 2022!
With deep impact on society, this year marked a turning point in the development of 5G, extended reality (XR), computer generated imagery (CGI), artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computers (QC) and robotics.
The first tech triplet: 5G, AI and CGI
The first tech triplet, i.e. 5G – XR – CGI, will drive the emergence of a novel, spatially immersive internet, a.k.a the metaverse. This year, we have published eight thought-leadership blogs on topics related to its role in our telco industry; the importance of 5G; key metaverse use cases in society, enterprise and education; the role of Web3.0 and related blockchain challenges & opportunities; as well as very personal metaverse experiences.
So, what happened with 5G over the past 12 months? 5G rollouts have matured globally! Ericsson prides itself for being a market leader, ensuring that the majority of the world’s 5G traffic flows securely between billions of mobile phones and the internet. We introduced radios that are substantially more energy efficient and we augmented the in-network intelligence by a huge margin.
XR has also enjoyed impressive advancements in 2022! Meta made a splash this year when they announced their headset Meta Quest Pro that “can enable a wide range of new VR and mixed reality experiences”; the consumer-grade Quest 3 is expected somewhen in 2023.
In terms of AR, Qualcomm announced a $100M Snapdragon Metaverse Fund, underpinning their efforts in AR/VR with the Snapdragon chipsets, XR reference designs and various commercial products.
I was also excited by the announcement by Mojo Vision, a Silicon Valley company, on their aspirations around contact lens AR – a real game changer for the future. And not to mention Niantic’s partnership announcement with Qualcomm where Niantic’s Lightship visual positioning system will work with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Spaces to create real-world AR experiences. Endless other innovative XR features were announced at AWE 2022. I am looking forward to the 2023 edition!
What about CGI? The biggest announcements of the year were undoubtedly by Epic and Meta. Epic released Unreal Engine 5 with several breakthrough rendering technologies; notably, Nanites to handle much higher polygon rendering counts and Lumen to enable real-time lighting – all at significantly lower compute costs. Meta, on the other hand, announced AI-based Codec Avatars 2.0 to predict the life-like movements of lips and face expressions – all using some simple metadata.
With networks (5G), devices (XR HMDs) and applications (CGI-powered apps) maturing, they jointly enable a fascinating proposition for the emerging metaverse. The ecosystem is finally ready to commercially launch 5G-enabled AR experiences with some iconic consumer applications. Will this happen in 2023? Let’s see!
The second tech triplet: AI, Quantum and Robotics
What about the second tech triplet, i.e. AI – Quantum – Robotics? 2022 was a pivotal year for these technologies too. And their impact on humanity could potentially be gargantuan. Let’s deep dive into some of the fascinating developments of the past months.
In the realm of AI, 2022 was truly remarkable! We saw the emergence of AI that has begun improving itself: DeepMind’s AlphaTensor optimizes matrix multiplication; Nvidia’s PrefixRL optimizes circuit placement on chips; and Google’s large language models (LLMs) exhibit accelerated self-improvements.
We saw the emergence of NeRFs and Diffusion models which are able to create believable art at scale. And to top this year, OpenAI has released ChatGPT which is able to intelligently engage in conversations, write code and compose poems.
Incredibly, it took ChatGPT 5 days (!) to reach 1 million users; Instagram took 2.5 months, Facebook 10 months and Netflix 3.5 years. I made ChatGPT write a piece of poetry to close this blog – you will be impressed (at least, I was).
And as Jack Soslow remarked on Twitter: "in 2011, software was eating the world; in 2022, AI is eating software.” Any company without a viable AI strategy will be marginalized by the end of this decade. You’d better get ready!
What about Quantum? I had the pleasure to attend QC Ware’s Q2B event in Silicon Valley, an international flagship conference with leaders in the industry sharing insights on all things quantum.
We have seen incredible advances in quantum sensing and quantum compute; the biggest surprise to me was Microsoft to showcase a practical embodiment of 1/3 of a topological qubit.
The emergence of middleware or quantum operating systems is hugely important, allowing for the decoupling of applications from the underlying quantum fabric. And applications are advancing at incredible speed!
The biggest gains are being observed when quantum computers are put against true quantum design challenges, such as finding new materials. Quantum promised the exponential acceleration of NP-hard problems, and we are getting closer!
Finally, let’s have a look what happened in Robotics in 2022. The big announcements came late in the year! Elon Musk’s Tesla team has revealed a humanoid robot called Optimus at its AI Day 2022. Whilst far behind the capabilities we have seen from Boston Dynamics, Tesla’s team has accomplished the semi-sentient droid in a few months – imagine what they can do over a span of years with all their expertise in AI.
What else? Nvidia released a transformer-based generalist robot agent VIMA and Google its RT-1, a robotics transformer for real-world control at scale. Think of it as “GPT meets robotics” – I hope you understand the magnitude of this breakthrough!
We are quickly drifting into a world where AI approaches singularity, accelerated by exponential quantum compute power and empowered by semi-sentient real-world robots. What can go wrong?
I wrote an entire policy paper with Cambridge University on that topic. And Prof Erik Brynjolfsson of Stanford’s Digital Economy Lab has developed an economic hypothesis on AI which he named “The Turing Trap”. Don’t tell me we didn’t warn you!
There is some real soul-searching ahead for us in 2023. However, if we get it right, the future is bright!
Over and out!
PS: By the way, did you see this? Controlled fusion energy is finally not 20 years away anymore. We are there, almost!
PPS: I promised you the poem which OpenAI’s ChatGPT wrote for me after I chatted with it about AI, quantum and robotics. The latent knowledge retention of our conversation was incredible: it seamlessly applied it to the poem without me needing to ask again about the topics. I simply asked it “Please write a rhyming poem about the year 2022” (do you see how I use ‘please’ with machines?!) – and the result which came back within seconds was astonishing:
The year 2022 has come at last,
A time of change, of growth, and of the past.
It's a year of breakthroughs and new beginnings,
Of exciting technology and the future winning.
In the world of AI, we see great strides,
Neural networks that learn and adapt with great pride.
In quantum computing, we reach new heights,
Solving problems once thought to be out of sight.
And in robotics, we see great advancements too,
Machines that work with humans, and tasks they can do.
So here's to the year 2022,
A time of change, of growth, and of what's yet to come.
May it be a year of progress and success,
For all of us, and for the world, no less.
Get more insights from our breakthrough metaverse blog series:
Blog post: What is a metaprise?
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