Wednesday, 07 December 2016 04:50

Ericsson looks at future: 10 hot trends for 2017

By
Anders Erlandsson, Ericsson ConsumerLab Anders Erlandsson, Ericsson ConsumerLab

Australians — or at least 500 of them in Sydney — are among a group of several thousand of advanced users of the Internet around the world who see technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality playing a much more prominent role — both in society and at work — than ever before.

That’s according to the latest look into the future by Swedish communications giant Ericsson in the sixth edition of its annual trend report – ‘The 10 Hot Consumer Trends for 2017 and beyond’.

In fact, AI is an important theme in this year’s report from Ericsson, with 35% of advanced Internet users globally wanting an AI adviser at work, and one in four saying they would like an AI device as their manager.

In Australia, where 500 advanced Internet users were surveyed, 20% said they want an AI adviser at work (35% globally), while almost 20% said would like an AI device as their manager – compared to one in four globally.

And those Aussies were a little bit behind their global counterparts in their concern about AI robots soon making a lot of people lose their jobs – with 40% in Australia concerned compared to almost half of the global respondents.

While the survey looks at the “future” of technology, including AI, Anders Erlandsson, a senior adviser, Consumer Insights, at Ericsson ConsumerLab in Sweden — currently in Australia — told iTWire that, in many ways, the future is already here.

Erlandsson says because individuals are already exposed to advanced technologies, including AI and Virtual Reality, it’s not surprising that these “early adopters” — including the Aussies surveyed — are already saying they want an AI adviser or even an AI device as their manager.

“We picked an advanced sample. These individuals are already exposed to multiple examples of technology, exposed to VR and interacting with artificial intelligence.

“It’s a no brainer for these individuals. They can think about why they prefer an AI as line manager, or even as chief executive.

“Maybe it is because they trust an AI will be more objective and give a more accurate judgement with their contributions. And, in the case of a CEO maybe an AI will be more impartial when it comes to showing favouritism.  

“On the other hand they see a risk of these AI taking away jobs and making some work more redundant.”

Erlandsson says the world is already seeing jobs taken over by robots, which he says is really the second step of automation.

On the survey findings that close to 20 % of respondents in Australia want an “implant to replace their intelligence” — and one-third globally — Erlandsson says “maybe they want the AI implant to compete with their boss”.

After all, he says, “we know people are not afraid of enhancing themselves. In sports we see doping scandals where people enhance their performance. So, who would stop with physical enhancement, why not with mental?”

Here’s the 10 trends for 2017 and beyond, including AI, which Ericsson offers insights into:

1.    AI wverywhere: 35% of advanced internet users want an AI advisor at work, and one in four would like an AI as their manager. At the same time, almost half are concerned that AI robots will soon make a lot of people lose their jobs

2.    Setting the pace for Internet of Things: Consumers are increasingly using automated applications, encouraging IoT adoption. Two in five believe smartphones will learn their habits and perform activities on their behalf automatically.

3.    Pedestrians drive autonomous cars: Car drivers may not exist in the future. One in four pedestrians would feel safer crossing a street if all cars were autonomous, and 65%  of them would prefer to have an autonomous car.

4.    Merged reality: Almost four out of five virtual reality users believe VR will be indistinguishable from reality in only three years. Half of respondents are already interested in gloves or shoes that allow you to interact with virtual objects.

5.   Bodies out of sync: As autonomous cars become reality, car sic kness issues will increase, and three in ten foresee needing sickness pills. One in three also want motion sickness pills for use with virtual and augmented reality technology.

6.  The smart device safety paradox: More than half already use emergency alarms, tracking or notifications on their smartphones. Of those who say their smartphone makes them feel safer, three in five say they take more risks because they rely on their phone.

7.  Social silos: Today, people willingly turn their social networks into silos. One in three says social networks are their main source of news. And more than one in four value their contacts’ opinions more than politicians’ viewpoints.

8.  Augmented personal reality: Over half of people would like to use augmented reality glasses to illuminate dark surroundings and highlight dangers. More than one in three would also like to edit out disturbing elements around them.

9.  The privacy divide: Two in five advanced Internet users want to use only encrypted services, but people are divided. Almost half would like to have just reasonably good privacy across all services, and more than one out of three believes privacy no longer exists.

10. Big tech for all: More than two out of five advanced internet users would like to get all their products from the biggest five IT companies. Of those, three in four believe this will happen only five years from now.

Reflecting on the rise of virtual reality, Michael Björn, head of Research, Ericsson ConsumerLab, says that beyond real time, he believes “we should be talking about reality time”.

“In fact, what we call reality becomes ever more personal and subjective. Consumers not only surround themselves with the like-minded on social networks, but also are also starting to customise the way they experience the world with augmented and virtual reality technologies.

“Consumers also want the future to remain fully mobile, implying that demand for battery-friendly, instant and fast connectivity is set to grow rapidly. In that sense, reality time means it is time for 5G networks.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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