Predicting the future requires hubris, and it should therefore be met with more than a terabyte of skepticism. In past years, I’ve made some calls that have proved prescient like predicting way back in 2011 that social media would determine the U.S. presidential election. Meanwhile, some took decades longer than I had foreseen such as my 1992 prediction that this new thing called the Internet would lead Hollywood studios to merge with telecommunications companies.Over the years, I’ve learned that the best way to predict the future is to hang out with the people creating it. When you work with a top consultancy and have leading technology innovators as clients, it’s pretty easy to recognize trends that have the greatest potential impact.Here are my top four tech trends for 2018:1. IoT becomes BIoTThe biggest mistake most prognosticators make is underestimating the potential for fast growth in our hyper-connected world. Automobiles took time to catch on because would-be drivers had to wait for roads and gas stations to be built.But today’s disruptive innovations rely on existing infrastructure for mobile devices that puts most companies just a few clicks from billions of consumers. One of those is the Internet of things (IoT), which involves adding smart sensors to connected devices so that users can do things like ask Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant to turn off the lights or order a pizza.But blockchain, one of the underlying technologies for the hot cryptocurrency bitcoin, can make IoT devices even more useful. It creates a digital record across hundreds or thousands of computers, vastly reducing the risk of hacking.Combining IoT with blockchain —or BIoT—ushers in a whole host of new services and businesses. For example, BIoT can be used to track shipments of pharmaceuticals and to create smart cities in which connected heating systems better controls energy use and connected traffic lights better manage rush hour.In 2018, companies will begin to use Application Programming Interfaces, or software used to connect different databases and computer services. Combined with the blockchain Internet of things, it will be as easy to get data from sensors in a warehouse as accessing websites on our mobile phones. When manufacturers, retailers, regulators, and transportation companies have real-time data from sensors imbedded on products, trucks and ships, everyone in the distribution chain can benefit from insights that they were previously unable to get. With BIoT, companies and consumers can also be assured that their most valuable data on the blockchain cannot be hacked.2. The fintech renaissanceWhile bitcoin and blockchain were grabbing the headlines in 2017, social and mobile payments have fundamentally changed the financial markets. In China, mobile payment volumes now exceed $5 trillion annually.All aspects of the payments chain are open to disruption as blockchain speeds clearing house functions while smart contracts handle settlements. In 2018, look for biometrics such as facial recognition, voice ID, and fingerprints to help make shopping far quicker —by eliminating the need to swipe a credit card at checkout, for instance. Instead, you will be able to verify your identity for a merchant scanning your eyes with your smartphone, in what’s known as a retinal payment. A bold clairvoyant could even predict that some major retailers will hop on the cryptocurrency bandwagon and issue their own secure currency next year.Fintech will likely also become greener in 2018. With cryptocurrencies reaching over $300 billion in total value, there is now a financial incentive for investments into quantum computing, which involves using the behavior of energy at a subatomic level to process computing functions at a billion times faster than today’s microprocessors.By some estimates, mining today’s cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin, requires more electricity annually than the amount of energy used in 159 countries. With cryptocurrency’s carbon footprint rapidly growing, quantum computing has the potential to greatly reduce the estimated 28TWhs of electricity consumed by all of the current computers processing bitcoin.Analysts now anticipate that banks will derive over $1 billion annually from blockchain-based cryptocurrencies within the next two years as traditional financial institutions start treating cryptocurrencies and other digital assets similar to traditional fiat currencies with more efficient payment systems, loan processing, and credit instruments. Going green by using less energy to create bitcoins, will translate into earning more green.3. Augmented reality goes mainstreamBefore smartphones existed 10 years ago, most people would consider spending five hours daily staring at your phone as crazy. In 2018, the bent-neck trend will start to reverse itself.The mobile game Pokémon Go has unleashed a billion-dollar demand for augmented reality entertainment, and major brands are taking notice. Thanks to the introduction of affordable augmented reality glasses, our phones will remain in our pockets and Heads Up Displays (HUD) will improve how we work, shop, and play.HUDs, best known today as the instrument gauges that fighter pilots monitor on their visors or windshields, will become a standard in consumer eyeglasses. Imagine walking down the street in a foreign country, for example, and having all of the store signs instantly translated into English thanks to your trendy sunglasses.AR will customize in-store experiences with mannequins that match your body type and display enough virtual inventory to rival any online site. Merchants will create AR experiences with their packaging so that demonstration videos can appear when you look at the product on the shelf or celebrity spokespeople can magically stand in the aisle to pitch the product. Virtual pop-up stores can be built to appear anywhere that crowds are gathered (in a stadium, a busy street corner, or even inside a subway). These non-brick and mortar retail locations will bring new opportunities for merchants to create engaging shopping experiences anywhere with accessible bandwidth.Li-Fi, a new light-base wireless connection with data speeds 100 times that of Wi-Fi, will bring high-definition virtual objects into stores. With Li-Fi and AR, consumers can see limitless virtual inventory in store, at scale.With just a wave of your hand, a car salesperson can change the model, color, and customized features of the car “sitting” on the dealership’s showroom floor. Combining real and virtual objects can enhance experiences for all out-of-home activities. Sports stadiums will be brought into the 21st century with personalized HUDs of players on the field. Imagine watching a live football game in the stadium and seeing personalized stats floating above the fantasy sports players you follow. When watching sports from home, AR has the potential to bring the excitement of life-size boxing matches into your living room. The real promise of AR is to bring people the information they need without having to ask for it.For many, 2018 will be the start of living an augmented life.4. 2018 is the year of the botsWe all have gotten use to speaking with bots whenever we call to make airline reservations or to confirm our bank account balances. The use of natural language bots will expand from use as automated customer service agents to become routine for daily living.Home bots will do more than just respond to requests, to being able to provide timely information such as, “It’s time to take your medicine.” You may even feel like Don Quixote as mobile bots become dedicated Sancho Panza servants—always at the ready and by your side.Imagine a bot whispering in your ear “don’t make that purchase or you will be over your credit limit” or “your parking meter expires in two minutes.” Bots will help with the children, act as financial investment advisors, and be an omnipresent value-add from the brands you trust. With phones staying in our pockets, businesses will likely spend more on creating chatbots in 2018 than on apps in an effort to better serve their customers.There’s always room for the future to unfold unpredictablyAs timely as I believe these four predictions to be, the pace of disruption can be slowed by a host of issues, including cyber security, government regulation, and, most importantly, consumers’ ability to adapt and accept change. In this era of endless innovation, the only prediction you can be 100% assured of is that future will look very different from today.Jay Samit is independent vice chairman of Deloitte’s Digital Reality practice and author of the bestselling book “Disrupt You!”预测未来是一件狂妄自大的事情,因此人们有权对其提出各种质疑。在过去几年中,我曾经做过一些预测,并在随后得到了证实,例如我在2011年曾预测社交媒体将左右美国总统选举。与此同时,有一些事情比我预测的时间晚发生了几十年,例如,我曾在1992年预测,当时出现的新事物“互联网”将推动好莱坞电影工作室与电信公司合并。这些年以来,我意识到,预测未来的最佳方式便是与塑造未来的人进行交流。如果你在顶级咨询公司工作,而且客户是领先的科技创新者,那么发现拥有最大潜在影响力的趋势并不是什么难事。以下是我对2018年四大顶级科技趋势的预测:1. 物联网变成区块链物联网大多数预言者所犯的最大错误便是低估超级互联世界快速增长的潜力。汽车行业迎头赶上需要一定的时间,因为在道路和加油站建好之前,司机没法上路。但如今的突破性创新依赖的是现有的移动设备基础设施,消费者在弹指间便能够通过这些设备访问绝大多数公司。其中的一个设施便是物联网,它要求在互联设备上安装智能感应器。这样,用户便可藉此做一系列事情,例如要求亚马逊的Alexa数字助理关灯或点比萨。区块链作为大热的加密货币比特币背后的一项基础技术,能够让物联网设备更加实用。它能够在数百个或数千个计算机上创建数字记录,从而大幅降低黑客入侵风险。物联网与区块链结合所产生的区块链物联网(BIoT)将催生一整套新服务和新业务。例如,BIoT可用于跟踪医药的发货情况,并打造智慧城市,因为互联供热系统能够更好地控制能源利用,而互联的交通信号灯能够更好地管控高峰期间的车流量。2018年,各大公司将开始使用应用编程界面或软件,来连接不同的数据库和计算机服务。借助区块链物联网,获取仓库传感器数据将像手机上网那样方便。当制造商、零售商、监管方和运输公司能够实时获取来自于产品、卡车和船舶内置感应器的数据时,配送链上的各方都将受益于他们此前无法获得的信息。借助BIoT,各个公司和消费者无需再担心其区块链上最宝贵的数据会被黑客窃取。2. 金融技术的复兴尽管比特币和区块链成为了2017年的关注焦点,但社交和移动支付已彻底改变了金融市场。中国的年移动支付总额如今已经超过了5万亿美元。随着清算所功能在区块链的帮助下不断提速,以及结算交由智能合约处理,支付链的各个环节都将迎来巨大变化。2018年,人们会通过生物特征,例如面部识别、语音识别和指纹,来大幅提高购物速度,例如,上述技术可以让人们做到无卡结账。除此之外,你还可以用智能手机扫描虹膜,以便让商家验证你的身份,也就是所谓的虹膜支付技术。有胆识的预言家甚至还会预测,一些主要零售商将加入加密货币大军,并在明年发行其自有的安全货币。金融科技在2018年也将变得更加绿色。随着加密货币总市值超过3000亿美元,如今量子计算已成为投资界的新宠,该技术涉及利用亚原子级别的能量应变来运行计算功能,比当今微处理器的速度快十亿倍。据估计,挖掘当今的虚拟货币,例如比特币,每年所需要的电力比159个国家所使用能源的总和还要多。随着加密货币碳足迹的迅速增长,量子计算有可能大幅降低当前所有比特币处理计算机所消耗的电量(约28TWhs)。当前,分析师预计,随着传统金融机构开始利用更加高效的支付系统、贷款流程和信贷工具,来交易加密货币和其他类似于传统法定货币的数字资产,各大银行在未来两年中都将从区块链技术支撑的加密货币业务中斩获超过10亿美元的年收入。减少比特币生产能耗这种环保的做法将带来更加环保的收益。3. 增强现实成为主流在10年前智能手机还未面世时,每天花5个小时的时间看手机对于大多数人来说是不可思议的事情。2018年,低头看手机的趋势将开始出现逆转。移动游戏《Pokémon Go》已经揭开了10亿美元的增强现实娱乐需求,引发了主流品牌的关注。得益于廉价增强现实眼镜的面世,我们的手机将回到我们的口袋中,而头戴显示器(HUD)将改善人们工作、购物和娱乐的方式。如今,人们最熟悉的HUD莫过于战斗机飞行员在其护目镜和挡风玻璃上所看到的测量仪表。它将成为消费眼镜的一项标准。例如,试想一下漫步于外国街头的场景,人们可以用时髦的眼镜将所有的店面标识立即翻译成英语。增强现实利用与客户身材相匹配的模特,定制客户的在店体验,同时向客户尽可能多地展现可与任何网店相媲美的虚拟库存。商户可通过打包的形式来打造增强现实体验,这样,演示视频便可在客户查看货架上的产品时播放,或者明星代言人会魔法般地出现在过道中,向客户推荐该产品。虚拟快闪店可随时出现在任何人群密集的地段(在体育场、繁忙的街头,甚至是地铁)。这些没有实体的零售网点将为商户带来新的机遇,从而在任何配备有可访问网络带宽的地点,打造极具吸引力的购物体验。借助新的光无线通信Li-Fi,数据传输速度将达到Wi-Fi的100倍。这种新技术将把高分辨率的虚拟物体引入实体店。消费者可通过Li-Fi和现实增强技术,大规模地浏览店面无穷无尽的虚拟库存。只需挥挥手,汽车销售人员便可以改变经销商展厅中汽车的型号、颜色和定制特色。真实、虚拟物体的结合能够提升所有户外活动的体验。从HUD中观看赛场球员将赋予体育场21世纪的气息。试想一下,在体育场观看现场足球赛事、追逐你所喜爱的球员时,球员上方会出现个性化的数据信息。在家里观看体育节目时,人们可以在起居室通过增强现实技术感受真人大小的拳击赛事。增强现实的真正价值在于为人们提供他们所需的信息,而且无需人们去刻意要求。对于很多人来说,2018年将成为增强现实生活的开端。4. 2018年将成为机器人年每当我们订机票或确认银行账户余额时,我们都已经习惯与机器人说话。使用自然语言的机器人将走出自动客户服务代理的范畴,成为日常生活中必不可少的一部分。家庭机器人不仅能够应对各种要求,还能够提供及时的信息提醒,例如“该吃药了。”你甚至会成为堂吉诃德这样的人物,而移动机器人将成为桑丘·潘沙这样恭敬的仆人,随时待命,日夜守候。试想一下,一个机器人在你耳边悄悄说“不要购买,否则你的贷款额度就要超了。”或“你的停车计时器将在两分钟后开始计费。”机器人将成为儿童的保姆,担任金融投资顾问,并成为所信任品牌所提供的无所不在的附加值。由于手机将停留在我们的口袋中,各大企业在2018年将有可能投入更多的物力来打造聊天机器人,而不是应用,从而为客户提供更好的服务。未来总有你意想不到的地方尽管我认为这四个预测是十分符合现实的,但其到来的步伐将受制于一系列因素,包括网络安全,政府监管以及最重要的一点——消费者适应和接收变化的能力。在这个创新无止尽的时代,唯一绝对精准的预测就是:与现在相比,未来将发生翻天覆地的变化。(财富中文网) 作者杰·萨米特是德勤数字现实业务的独立副主席,也是畅销书《颠覆你!》(Disrupt You!)的作者。