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2019: The Year Everything Changes

We are approaching critical mass on a number of technologies that we will see increasingly this year. This wave will start at CES, where we will see an impressive number of attempts at personal robots and AI-powered digital assistants. Most will fail. However, both the failures and the few successes will set the stage for the first true mobile personal robots that will arrive in the following years.

The 5G rollout will enable desktop cloud computing, and the Microsoft Virtual Desktop will become real for millions of us shortly thereafter. Ironically, many of us will access it with Chromebooks and if you are located in a city center, you'll increasingly see both electric car charging stations and autonomous cars.

Personal Robotics

Developers of the new digital assistants seem to have realized that we like to gesture, and talking to a tube therefore isn't natural to us. Many entrants in the coming wave of digital assistants can emote, mostly by moving around something that looks kind of like a head or a big eye. This ability does make the device appear more human. As the back-end AI improves, the voices and responses sound more human as well.

The 5G Revolution

What makes 5G different is that it addresses not only bandwidth shortcomings, with its largest impact at the network's edge but also latency issues. There will be some initial adverse impacts in the market with Apple, of the big players, likely getting hit hardest. This is because informed buyers likely will want to wait until the 5G versions of smartphones are out before they refresh to avoid premature obsolescence, and those devices won't show up in volume until after mid-year. The reason Apple is likely to get hit hardest is that its battle with Qualcomm largely locks it out of this technology until its 2020 refresh.

The Rebirth of the Automobile

With autonomous driving (and flying) trials advancing into limited production. The new ones coming in are up to 450 KW (Tesla Superchargers are around 120 KW), which has prompted a number of Tesla owners to order the new electic Porshe Taycan, so much so that this new car already is sold out for 2019, even though it hasn't even started shipping yet. It is interesting to note that attacks on sefl-driving cars and relatively benign attacks on electric charging stations (mostly Teslas).

Real AI

AI has been around in some form or other since the 1950s, and much of it has sucked. The most recent trend to use deep learning promises to give us AI that is not only intelligent, but also adaptable to our needs and capable of advancing at computer speeds.

There is a lot of concern -- well founded -- that this eventually will make us obsolete, but companies like IBM have been working to mitigate that. IBM's Watson may be evolving to become the best doctor in the world.

Let's just hope these systems remain on the "help humans" path, and that they don't watch too many Terminator movies.

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