Predicting the future can be difficult. You can see what is possible today, but something unexpected can happen tomorrow that can quickly change the future. When predicting the future of technology, it is critical to get the opinions of those people already working on future technology, like the folks at Microsoft Research.
This article provides the comments from various members of Microsoft Research.
What will be the key advance in algorithms for machine learning in 2017?
Deep learning is transforming many aspects of our technology, however deep learning algorithms today are still largely heuristic, based on the experience and intuition of leaders in the field. In 2017, we will develop a more principled understanding of deep learning and hence more robust algorithms. The insights here will come from many fields, including the intersection of statistical physics and computer science.
What will be the key advance in virtual reality in 2017?
In 2017 we will see the emergence of virtual reality devices that feature better body tracking. A positive outcome of this will be the ability to experience embodiment of virtual avatars from a first-person perspective.
What will be the key advance in artificial intelligence and machine learning in 2017?
In 2017 computer games will take center stage in the development of AI. Experimentation platforms based on games, such as Project Malmo — which my team and I have developed to enable AI experimentation in Minecraft – will allow for rapid testing of new ideas. I am especially excited about the potential for collaborative AI. We are now at the point where we can start to understand how AI can learn from us and collaborate with us to help us achieve our goals.
What will be the key advance in mathematics and cryptography in 2017?
New mathematical solutions allowing for computation on encrypted data will be deployed to protect the privacy of medical and genomic data for patients and hospitals. The new homomorphic encryption schemes will secure the data while allowing the cloud to compute on it to make useful risk predictions and provide analysis and alerts. Homomorphic encryption will be deployed soon in the financial sector to protect sensitive banking data.
What will be the key advance or topic of discussion in programming languages and software engineering in 2027?
By 2027, the majority of software engineers will be facile in programming systems that reason about estimates and produce models with statistical methods. This sea change will deliver applications that seamlessly integrate sensors, machine learning and approximation to interact with human beings in entirely new, meaningful and correct ways.