Sam Ampah, a member of our tech team gives us his views on how the newest tech developments will impact on our lives in 2018.
2017 was a dynamic year for tech not only in the UK but globally and it’s almost impossible for us to have missed a number of the tech-related events reshaping our lives.
One of the major tech stories centered on the Bitcoin bubble we experienced in the latter part of the year. On the 27th December 2017 the value of a single coin had soared to $15,400 from its value of $5000 only three months earlier.
2017 was a year to forget for the old Silicon Valley favourite Uber whose reputation took a battering. They not only lost their licence to operate in London but also had a number of legal actions filed against them, most notably on workers’ rights and on the potential some of their IP had been stolen. They were also forced to sack their CEO and founder, Travus Kalanick, because of string of scandals and accusations made against him.
Meanwhile you can’t round off the year without mentioning the advancement in AI, Fintech and the way drones have started to transform the medical industry in developing countries, which for me is possibly the most exciting development.
However the advancements in tech during 2017 aren’t all scientific. Tech also enjoyed commercial and financial success. In the UK alone it was reported that Venture Capital investment in the tech industry reached an all-time high of £2.99bn which has forced some experts to ask themselves whether 2018 will be able to compete.
In my opinion there is no reason to believe 2018 won’t be another great year for the technology sector and to back that up, here are five of tech stories I look forward to seeing develop in 2018:
1.More More Monzo Mania
2017 was a pioneering year for UK based Fintech challenger bank, Monzo.
The startup was rated the UK number one startup according to LinkedIn’s Top Companies. The bank rolled out its first current account and by the 6th January 2018 201,756 people had opened up their own account with Monzo.
According to its CEO Tom Bloomfield big things can be expected in 2018. PDS2 could very well transform the way we bank by making sure all of Monzo’s current account customers have the best Direct debit plans, potentially saving them hundreds of pounds at the click of a button.
In addition Monzo are also expected to have another funding round within the year and some commentators have even suggested we may see them file for an IPO in the year so I’d be astounded if we don’t see rapid international expansion in 2018
2. Little Brother Lyft taking big steps
I remember when first reading about ride hailing platform Lyft, it was referred to as Uber’s little brother. As a little brother myself I always wanted to learn from my big brothers mistakes and in 2018 I can see Lyft taking the same approach!
With Uber’s reputation in tatters and the world crying out for a ride hailing service it can trust, Lyft are posied to fill this void. The US firm secured a $1.5 Billion funding rounding in December 2017 and there is currently talk of a European expansion centered around a particular push in London. If Uber fails in its legal appeal, I do not think it will be too long before we see Lyft Drivers operating in the capital.
But even more exciting for me is that Lyft, partnered with Aptiv, are going to be offering rides in a self-driving car pre-programmed with over 20 pre-programed destinations at this year’s CES conference in Las Vegas. If that doesn’t scream “look at me 2018” then I don’t know what does!
3.Bitcoin, No it’s all about the Blockchain
I would be lying if I said I expected the hype surrounding Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies to diminish in 2018.
However, I do see a greater focus on what else can be revolutionised by using Blockchain, given it is perfect for underpinning any transaction that requires a trustworthy record. This has led it to be tipped to replace stock markets as many companies seeing it as a more transparent way of offering shares to the public.
4.‘Cyber Police. Let us in’
Not a week went by in 2017 without a Cyberattack. There is even serious evidence to suggest that cyberattacks were used to disrupt national elections across the world. We cannot afford another year of such attacks.
Half the problem stems from the fact that we are not protecting ourselves properly at home, so first and foremost I see 2018 being a tipping point in making people aware of the dangers and the start of a much greater emphasis on prevention.
Last year Barclays launched a marketing strategy which categorically told the public how to protect themselves. Awareness is going to be key to winning this fight and both individuals and companies will have to take the threat more seriously in 2018 to make it much harder for hackers to operate.
5.Alexa, what’s the meaning of life?
2017 was a ground breaking year for AI and I believe it was the year that as consumers we had our first real taste of what AI could do to make our lives easier.
Amazon’s Alexa entered our homes and it is now hard to think of life without her.
We saw Google’s AlphaGo learn the Chinese game of ‘Go’ from scratch and subsequently beat the world champion.
We had our first Irobot moment when Facebook robots learnt to communicate with each other in a cryptic form of English.
But did 2017 only scratch the surface of AI? For me 2018 will be the year AI really comes to life; it may not be the year we have our first Robot colleague but I do think it’ll be the year in which ‘management’ starts to consider the benefits of introducing AI technology.
2018 is set to be another pioneering year in Tech and it would take a brave man to bet against it being another record breaking year for investment.
However, a lot of mistakes were made in 2017 and a lot has to be changed. It’s important that the ‘boy’s club’ culture disappears and women and ethnic minorities are promoted and encouraged. Tech has an opportunity to change our world and I see 2018 being the year we really start to see the benefit of a truly connected society.