The future is here. What information technology will change our lives tomorrow?

Prosthetic arm on blue background

What we are about to tell you now, ten years ago, could only meet in fantastic films, and even if the writers had a developed imagination. But the future is near, so most of these information technologies are not that close – they are already changing our lives. Choose which of them you like.

Everybody wants to look into the future and find out what awaits us in years to come (type in the number yourself). It is true that progress is now faster than Usain Bolt in a Formula 1 car, so to look beyond the next decade is a thankless thing.

Close up photo macbook pro

But what information technology will help us live better and more fun in the next couple of years – it is already more interesting. Especially since they have already been told about them by experts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), who presented an annual list of technological advances that have already affected our lives. The list is fresh, 2018. True, there are some sketches from Jules Verne with Isaac Azimov inside: the fighting neural networks, artificial intelligence in cloud services, feeling the city. We decided to land a little bit the list of information technologies of the future, making it a little clearer, and tell you about something that will change your and our lives very soon.

Sync and corrections by honeybunny

It was about time! We imagine, somewhere now crying numerous English teachers at home, promising to join you to the famous London aristocrats’ talk for only 99 rubles per hour! Although, the idea has long been on the surface, and it was just necessary to slightly improve the existing online voice translators.

Why is it important? Despite the fact that people are increasingly traveling and learning foreign languages, it is the language barrier (thanks, the builders of the Tower of Babel!) that remains the key problem on the way to the friendship of nations. More recently Google has invented special headphones Pixel Buds, which cost about 150-200 dollars. They work only on Pixel smartphones with Google Translate installed, which allows almost immediately translate what you hear. One person should be wearing headphones and the other should be talking on the phone. The scheme is simple. The one wearing headphones speaks his own language (as long as it is English by default), and the application translates the speech, sends the result to the phone. When you answer, the smartphone translates it into headphones. While the application is very raw, confusing accents, distracted by noise and works only for English-speaking people on Earth, but the fact remains that after a while we will stop learning the phrase “Landan of Ve Capital of Britain”.

Face as password

Why? The scanner reads an image of your face and accepts payment, orders a service or issues the necessary documents. A person is not a passport or ID card, you will not lose it or break it (though Botox and not like this).

Already now in a number of shops, restaurants or government agencies in China, you can get a service just by scanning the face, write local media. For Europeans, it sounds funny (Chinese faces are different!), but in the Celestial Empire, tied to themselves, loved ones, bank account and personal information. He came up, looked strictly, paid for the purchase. Considering the potential of these technologies to ensure public safety, we think that they will find their application in all developed countries. Truth is, it’s not clear what to do with the aging process.

Smart City

We once wrote about smart stuff and smart home. They’re just flowers. Even the cities are smarter now. No, the square won’t do math for you, and the lamppost will write your candidate’s thesis. It’s just that it’s like the city will tell you what the people want.

The integration of digital technology and space planning can lead to a fundamentally new way of life in the cities of the future. Sensors and sensors that will flood cities will monitor pollution levels, noise levels and traffic density in real time and shift some of the troubleshooting tasks to automated programs and robots that will be able to take the necessary regulatory measures at such a speed that residents will never again have to stand in traffic or write a complaint about noise near a residential area.

And this is a close reality. Alphab’s Sidewalk Labs will do it all in the suburbs of Toronto. The project plan talks about automated vehicles and robots working in the subway. In addition, the company will place the software in the public domain so that developers can create and implement their services.

I wish we had sensors like that that would tell us about the level of dirt on the roads, or suddenly the authorities don’t guess…

Neural networks with imagination

Artificial intelligence is very good at objects. Show a million pictures and it will determine with extraordinary precision where a pedestrian crossing a road and where a dog is. It’s another thing that the AI can’t create itself. A graduate student at the University of Montreal, Ian Goodfellow, has proposed a solution to this problem. He described a method called the Generative Competitive Network, or GAN. The algorithm is based on the interaction of two neural networks, a generator and a discriminator. Experts already compare this eternal struggle with confrontation of left and right hemispheres of human brain.

At first, neural networks are trained on identical data. But then the generator adds some new feature to the already familiar image: for example, such element can be the third leg of a person. Assignment of the discriminator to understand if she has seen a similar image before or if it is a fake. The closer to the original, the less likely the criticizing neural network is.

As a result, by adding minor details, leaving the overall picture unified, the generator has learned to fake images so well and so quickly that the discriminator could not distinguish them from the authentic ones. It turns out, in the end, that the neural network organizes and creates something realistic and new. Experts are most proud of the paintings created by Van Gogh, which the Dutchman has never painted, but which have all the features of the great artist.

GAN is rightly considered a technological breakthrough. Some experts believe that with this algorithm, artificial intelligence will learn to better understand the world around them. Is Skynet close?

Supermarkets without cashiers…

In spring 2017 the world’s first supermarket without cash registers, cashiers and cash was opened. Amazon Go, in the center of Seattle, is like any other supermarket, only in it the word self-service has acquired full meaning. You need to install a special app on your phone and tie a bank card to it. And then there’s magic. You take what you need, you just walk out of the store through turnstiles. You don’t need to take out your credit card – the funds are automatically deducted from your Amazon account at the exit.

Thanks to product and camera sensors everywhere, every time customers pick up a product from the shelf it’s automatically added to their Amazon online shopping cart and removed if the customer has returned it. The only employee for the entire store is the person who checks the passport of the liquor shoppers.

Within a year, the idea has healed up and stores of this format have already started using it in Europe (Sweden in particular) and even in Moscow. “What about…”, you ask. They don’t steal.

Artificial intelligence for everyone

AI is an expensive toy used by the world’s giants. But it seems that everyone who can improve it and use it can now access it. Why would they want to do that? To make money! Here’s what the experts write: “Until now, AWS, a subsidiary of Amazon, has dominated this area. Google did not stand aside and developed TensorFlow, an open source AI library. It is used to develop programs with machine learning. The search giant recently announced Cloud AutoML. It’s a set of systems that will make AI easier to use.”

Today, the artificial intelligence system helps to create new products and services in the technical field, but it is less involved, for example, in medicine and energy. With the involvement of market leaders, this problem will be solved. And users will get new solutions.

Look at all the interesting things! And this is just the beginning, because MIT is preparing a selection for 2019…


Development of the idea of corporate information spaces as a response to the new information paradigm

Man in white shirt sitting on chair

The nature of the changes in information technology (IT) over the last decade shows that there is a shift from the data industry to the information and knowledge industry.

The results of the research show a cycle of 50 years after the change of the leading technology, in other words, the main innovation paradigm. According to the classification of analyst Norman Poiret of Merrill Lynch, there are six waves of paradigm shift. The previous waves were textile, railroad, automobile and computer. Now there is a “wave of distributed intelligence”. And the next wave is nanotechnology, biotechnology and possibly new types of energy.

It would be more correct to use the term “distributed intellect” rather than “distributed systems of information and knowledge provision“. Information is defined as a set of data and corresponding metadata, while knowledge is defined as information structured and provided in the most adequate form for the consumer (text, table, graph, sound or a set of them) depending on the context.

Working pattern internet abstract

At present, IT has approached this critical point of “paradigm shift” from two sides – the information itself and from a technical point of view. According to Poiret, the paradigm of classical computing has already reached its maturity. But the development of distributed intelligence systems requires adequate computational and communication capabilities.

According to many experts, multicore and multithreaded solutions will gradually evolve into systems of distributed information. Sun Microsystems ideologist Greg Papodopoulos speaks about such systems in the context of Internet waves. Avalanche-like increase in the number of devices connected to the network, gradually transformed the classic network of computers in the network of specialized devices, and then the network of things. The basis of such networks will be cheap micro- and nanoprocessors capable of simultaneously processing many parallel data streams.

One more convincing argument of the possibility of implementing a new paradigm on the part of computational means (CT) is the development of GRID-systems. However, in IT sphere there are a number of problems which deter movement in the specified direction, namely:

  • – orientation of information systems (IS) towards data and information rather than towards information and knowledge;
  • – change of character of the software and hardware environment towards distribution is insufficiently supported by means of work with the distributed information convenient for end users;
  • – unstructured public information and avalanche-like growth of its volume;
  • – lack of generally accepted conceptual apparatus, which can be used by software tools for automatic information processing;
  • – dependence of information on hardware-software environment leads to constant loss of information and knowledge at change of this environment, so it is impossible to store and increase them in electronic form for a long time;
  • – location of a considerable part of the useful information;
  • – change of character of problems solved and necessity not only wide use of means ICT, but also increase of their efficiency.

Thus, it is possible to ascertain, that IT are in a condition of change of information paradigm.

One of the forms of implementation of the new paradigm should become information spaces (IE) with the given properties.

Two opposite tendencies of the decision of arising problems are observed: scaling of the corporate centralized storehouses (or a database) and use of space the Internet for the decision of corporate problems. In other words, attempts to make a DBMS (or data warehouse) the size of the Internet from the Internet.

But in the first case the Internet space will lose the public access to the information with different service levels, in the second case the database will lose many local services.

Black samsung tablet computer

The way out of this deadlock is to create IE of different scale with predefined properties. Such a corporate or a single IE, on the one hand, may have a very high service level, and on the other hand – a predefined compatibility with other IEs and the Internet space.

By IE we understand the information environment, which includes information sources and consumers, united within a corporation (which may be of any scale and be virtual or even conditional). FE must have any degree of nesting (up to a single computer) and scaling (without space limitations). Each individual FI may have some unique properties within itself, but must also be compatible with surrounding FIs.

The following basic information properties should be provided in a IP: distribution, notions, openness, heterogeneity, atomicity, interoperability.

To achieve the fundamental goals of IP it is necessary to solve the problems of multidimensionality of information and homogeneity of information entities.

The problems of multidimensionality are solved by separating each aspect into an independent information entity, e.g. content, structure, ontology, interconnections, assembly and use scenarios, etc. This information essence is formed as an independent information resource (IE) of this IP.

Due to the heterogeneity of the DI, in order to achieve the principal objectives it is necessary to make these resources homogeneous for this IP. For this purpose, the meta-tiers and meta-meta-tiers of the description of the DI in this PI are introduced sequentially. Thus, any information object can be described and atomized into multiple DI. In this PI, human being is also considered a resource.

The diversity of information objects in this IP is built by applying some resources to others. For example, the resource design is applied to the resource content and a publication is obtained, similar to a web page. In addition, we apply the resources of the class structure, get a publication of an electronic document.

Objects, classes, metaclasses and relations between them can act as a DI.

Traditional information tasks of design, management, etc. can be rethought in this DI. Many problems, for example through designing, simply cease to be such, and become ordinary problems of work with the information.

Concerning a basic element of IE, namely IE, the characteristic of a problem in terms of the target indicators defining level of its decision can be given as follows.

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Distribution of the DI. The DI (and any aspect of it) can be located on more than one computer, presenting itself to the user as a single whole.

Notion of the DI. The presence of a connection of the DI with ontology elements for the purpose of automatic semantic processing of the resource.

Openness of the DI. Compliance with the principles of open IS. The degree of openness of the DI is determined by the availability of rules of formation and use of the DI for third-party users or applications.

Interoperability of the DI. Ability to use the DI from another hardware-software environment and transfer the DI to another environment.

Heterogeneity of the DI. Ability to use data of different nature and formats in a DI both when formalizing knowledge and when using them.

Multipurpose use of the DI. Possibility to use the DI, including knowledge, references to ontologies, etc., for different tasks.

Structural connectivity of different DI. Structural connectivity of different DI, including different expressive means (for example, structural connectivity of a flat drawing and text, three-dimensional model and table).

The basic role in construction of DI is played by systems of metadata which together with ontologies should provide semantic interpretation of information resources. As already existing metadata systems, the following can be mentioned:

  • – Dublin Core – for general descriptions of PI;
  • – CERIF-2004 – metadata for research information;
  • – LOM (Learning Object Metadata) – the metadata of learning objects;
  • – USMARC, RUSMARK – metadata for bibliographic descriptions;
  • – HL7 (Health Level Seven) – Health Level Seven: a metadata standard for health information exchange and others.

The implementation of such a corporate IE will make it possible:

  • – substantial cost savings in the creation of information and knowledge by reuse of previously obtained results;
  • – a significant increase of the information and knowledge service due to a larger volume of available information, its relevance, speed of obtaining and processing;
  • – new possibilities in information activity (designing, management, etc.) at the expense of possibility of processing of very large volumes of the information which are necessary for the decision of new on scale of problems;
  • – continuity of results of information activity at the expense of long persistence and compatibility of these results;
  • – occurrence of new technologies of information interaction between people, based on mobile devices and the distributed information;
  • – the emergence of new ways of organizing various works and activities (collective, remote, distributed, virtual).
  • – information integration of DI with other corporate IPs;
  • – automatic integration of all IPs developed as part of such corporate IPs.

Advanced countries are now moving from the post-industrial stage to the stage of information society. Such transition is possible only through the widespread use of information and communication technologies (ICT) tools. But much less obvious is the evidence of a significant slowdown in efficiency gains from the use of ICT tools due to the fact that, with significant cost increases in this area, the usefulness (return) grows much slower.

Woman wearing white and pink hijab

This undesirable development can be reversed by developing and implementing the following directions:

  • – ways of working with both structured data and raw data, unstructured and weakly structured;
  • – metadata systems;
  • – ontologies as a description of the system of concepts in the subject area;
  • – ways and means of integrating different IPs;
  • – agent-based approach as a way to create highly automated IPs;
  • – theory and practice of corporate IPs;
  • – service-oriented architecture;
  • – semantic methods of information and knowledge processing;
  • – ICT tools;
  • – instrumental means in the above directions.

Essentially, it is a question of creation of a new infrastructure for paradigm of the distributed knowledge. It is a large and multidimensional work. It is impossible to see at once all problems and tasks connected with new technological breakthrough in the field of creation and use of distributed intelligence. But even the consideration and implementation of certain aspects of the new paradigm will certainly have a tangible effect. It is impossible to solve the task of implementing a new paradigm within a single theme or organization, but its implementation should bring an explosion of useful properties, functions and types of work with information.