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Leading Tech Trends of 2020

Alibaba DAMO Academy, the global research initiative by Alibaba Group, provides its forecast of the leading trends that would gain pace in the tech industry in 2020. The following are highlights from the Academy’s predicted top 10 trends in the tech community for this year:

1. Artificial intelligence (AI) evolves from perceptual intelligence to cognitive intelligence

Cognitive intelligence will draw inspiration from cognitive psychology, brain science, and human social history, combined with techniques such as cross domain knowledge graph, causality inference, and continuous learning to establish effective mechanisms for stable acquisition and expression of knowledge. These make machines to understand and utilize knowledge, achieving key breakthroughs from perceptual intelligence to cognitive intelligence.

2.In-Memory-Computing addresses the “memory wall” challenges in AI computing

With the rapid development of data-driven AI algorithms in recent years, it has come to a point where the hardware becomes the bottleneck in the explorations of more advanced algorithms. In Processing-in-Memory (PIM) architecture memory and processor are fused together and computations are performed where data is stored with minimal data movement. As such, computation parallelism and power efficiency can be significantly improved.

3. Industrial IoT powers digital transformations

Through advanced Industrial IoT, manufacturing companies can achieve automation of machines, in-factory logistics, and production scheduling, as a way to realize C2B smart manufacturing. For manufacturers with production goods that value hundreds of trillion RMB, If the productivity increases 5-10%, it means additional trillions of RMB.

4 Large-scale collaboration between machines become possible

The development of collaborative sensing technology of Internet of things and 5G communication technology will realize the collaboration among multiple agents – machines cooperate with each other and compete with each other to complete the target tasks. The group intelligence brought by the cooperation of multiple intelligent bodies will further amplify the value of the intelligent system: large-scale intelligent traffic light dispatching will realize dynamic and real-time adjustment.

5. Modular design makes chips easier and faster by stacking chiplets together

Traditional model of chip design cannot efficiently respond to the fast evolving, fragmented and customized needs of chip production. The open source SoC chip design based on RISC-V, high-level hardware description language, and IP-based modular chip design methods have accelerated the rapid development of agile design methods and the ecosystem of open source chips. In addition, the modular design method based on chiplets uses advanced packaging methods to package the chiplets with different functions together, which can quickly customize and deliver chips that meet specific requirements of different applications.

6. Large-scale production-grade blockchain applications will gain mass adoption

BaaS (Blockchain-as-a-Service) will further reduce the barriers of entry for enterprise blockchain applications. A variety of hardware chips embedded with core algorithms used in edge, cloud and designed specifically for blockchain will also emerge, allowing assets in the physical world to be mapped to assets on blockchain, further expanding the boundaries of the Internet of Value and realizing “multi-chain interconnection”. In the future, a large number of innovative blockchain application scenarios with multi-dimensional collaboration across different industries and ecosystems will emerge, and large-scale production-grade blockchain applications with more than 10 million DAI (Daily Active Items) will gain mass adoption.

7. A critical period before large-scale quantum computing

In 2020, the field of quantum computing will receive increasing investment, which comes with enhanced competitions. The field is also expected to experience a speed-up in industrialization and the gradual formation of an eco-system. In the coming years, the next milestones will be the realization of fault-tolerant quantum computing and the demonstration of quantum advantages in real-world problems.

8. New materials will revolutionize the semiconductor devices

New materials will make new logic, storage, and interconnection devices through new physical mechanisms, driving continuous innovation in the semiconductor industry. For example, topological insulators, two-dimensional superconducting materials, etc. that can achieve lossless transport of electron and spin can become the basis for new high-performance logic and interconnect devices; while new magnetic materials and new resistive switching materials can realize high-performance magnetics Memory such as SOT-MRAM and resistive memory.

9. Growing adoption of AI technologies that protect data privacy

Abstract: The compliance costs demanded by the recent data protection laws and regulations related to data transfer are getting increasingly higher than ever before. In light of this, there have been growing interests in using AI technologies to protect data privacy. The essence is to enable the data user to compute a function over input data from different data providers while keeping those data private. Such AI technologies promise to solve the problems of data silos and lack of trust in today’s data sharing practices, and will truly unleash the value of data in the foreseeable future.

10. Cloud becomes the center of IT technology innovation

With the ongoing development of cloud computing technology, the cloud has grown far beyond the scope of IT infrastructure, and gradually evolved into the center of all IT technology innovations. Cloud has close relationship with almost all IT technologies, including new chips, new databases, self-driving adaptive networks, big data, AI, IoT, blockchain, quantum computing and so forth. Cloud has become the backbone of the entire digital economy.