AI, cloud computing and Blockchain as a Service to grow in 2020 : Alibaba DAMO Academy

AI, cloud computing and Blockchain as a Service to grow in 2020 : Alibaba DAMO Academy
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6 Jan, 2020

Alibaba DAMO Academy, the global research initiative of China-based conglomerate Alibaba Group, has published its forecast of the leading trends that would gain pace in the tech industry in 2020.

Founded in October 2017, the DAMO Academy is a research and development institute dedicated to exploring the unknown through scientific and technological research and innovation.

“We are in an era of rapid technology development. In particular, technologies such as cloud computing, AI (artificial intelligence), blockchain and data intelligence are expected to accelerate the pace of digital economy,” Jeff Zhang, head of Alibaba DAMO Academy and president of Alibaba cloud intelligence, said.

The academy believes that more technology advancements and breakthroughs are expected to gain momentum and have a big impact on our daily lives. “In addition to exploring the unknown through scientific and technological research, we are also working with industry players to foster the applications of innovation in different industries, making technologies more accessible for businesses as well as the society at large,” Zhang said. 

The following are highlights from the academy’s predicted top 10 trends in the tech community: 

  1. AI has surpassed humans in areas of perceptual intelligence such as speech-to-text, natural language processing and video understanding, but cognitive intelligence requires external knowledge, logical reasoning and domain migration, and is still in its infancy. Cognitive intelligence is set to 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. 
  2. Innovation in processing-in-memory will drive development of AI. The memory and processor are separate, and computation requires data to be moved back and forth in the currently-used von Neumann architecture. However, in the PIM (processing-in-memory) architecture, memory and processor are fused and computations are performed where data is stored, with minimal data movement. Therefore, innovation in the PIM architecture holds the ticket to next-generation AI.
  3. IoT (internet of things), 5G, cloud computing and edge computing will accelerate the fusion of information system, communication system and industrial control system in 2020. Through advanced industrial IoT, manufacturing companies will achieve automation of machines, in-factory logistics and production scheduling as a way to realise consumer-to-business smart manufacturing. 
  4. Traditional single intelligence cannot meet the real-time perception and decision of large-scale intelligent devices. The development of collaborative sensing technology of IoT and 5G communication technology will realise the collaboration among multiple agents -- machines cooperate with each other and compete with each other to complete target tasks. The group intelligence brought by the cooperation of multiple intelligent bodies will amplify the value of the intelligent system -- for example, warehouse robots will work together to complete cargo sorting more efficiently and driverless cars can perceive the overall traffic conditions on the road.
  5. The traditional model of chip design cannot efficiently respond to the fast-evolving needs of chip production. This is set to be replaced by the open-source SoC (system on a chip) design based on RISC-V, high-level hardware description language and IP-based modular chip design methods, which have accelerated the rapid development of agile design methods and the ecosystem of open-source chips. 
  6. BaaS (Blockchain-as-a-Service) will reduce the barriers to entry for enterprise blockchain applications. 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 daily active items will gain mass adoption. 
  7. In 2020, the field of quantum computing will receive more investment, which comes with enhanced competitions. The field is also expected to experience a speed-up in industrialisation. 
  8. Until now, major semiconductor manufacturers have not had a clear answer and option to chips beyond 3 nm. Usage of new materials will make new logic, storage and interconnection devices through new physical mechanisms, driving continuous innovation in the semiconductor industry. 
  9. Compliance costs are increasing due to the recent data protection laws and regulations related to data transfer. Therefore, there has been growing interest in using AI technologies to protect data. Such technologies promise to solve the problems of data silos and lack of trust in today's data-sharing practices. 
  10. Cloud computing technology has grown far beyond the scope of IT infrastructure. It creates new technologies like serverless computing, cloud-native software architecture, software-hardware integrated design, as well as intelligent automated operation. Cloud computing is set to redefine every aspect of IT, making new technologies more accessible to the public.