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Top Ten Trends in Digital Tech according to Tencent
High-Performance Computing, Ubiquitous Operating Systems, Cloud Computing, Spatiotemporal AI, Software-Defined Energy Networks, Next-Generation Networks, New Flexible Technology, Digitized Humans, etc
In January, the first issue of 中国网信 China Cyberspace magazine in 2023 published the article 腾讯研究院：前瞻十大数字科技创新趋势 Tencent Research Institute: Top Ten Innovation Trends in Digital Technology by 司晓 Si Xiao, President of Tencent Research Institute.
For the following four reasons, I think it is important to share the article with you.
Digital technology is hugely and increasingly important.
Tencent is a leading digital technology company in China.
The article was published in China Cyberspace, the official journal of the powerful regulator Cyberspace Administration of China.
It contains a lot of jargon but is still readable and not very long.
The article mentioned two Tencent projects but also highlighted ChatGPT, one from IBM, one from Google, and one from Meta.
(the cover of the 1st issue of 中国网信 China Cyberspace magazine in 2023)
"We must regard science and technology as our primary productive force, talent as our primary resource, and innovation as our primary driver of growth."
--- Report to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China
As the world accelerates toward the digital era, digital technology has served as a key engine for global economic recovery and for China to become a global leader in science and technology.
Digital technology in 2023 features a practical orientation and a continued integration into new application scenarios. We carefully select the most important cutting-edge technologies from a cascade of scientific breakthroughs, major events, innovations in application, etc. from the digital realm. These technologies are then carefully plotted on the "Digital Technology Star Atlas" we drew and categorized into four key technical spheres: IT fundamental reshaping, intelligent world, digital-real interaction, and future networking based on their relevance, impact, and maturity.
Within the atlas, an array of AI applications are also emerging, ranging from large language models (LLMs), AIGC (Artificial Intelligence Generated Content) and autonomous driving, to protein structure prediction. Moreover, breakthroughs in digital office, knowledge co-creation, and remote interaction have shifted our communication paradigm from being purely online to feeling more present and connected, expanding the horizons of coordination beyond boundaries. As humans, machines, and things become more integrated in complex scenarios, processing power has taken on a dual role as not only the driving force of economic growth but also a key indicator of a country's core competitiveness.
We conducted an analysis of 10 key areas of interest, which include high-performance computing (HPC), ubiquitous operating systems, cloud computing, spatiotemporal AI, software-defined energy networks, Next-Gen Networks, robots, digital humans, digital offices, and industrial security. Based on this analysis, we make predictions on the primary trends in digital technology innovation that will shape 2023.
01 High-Performance Computing (HPC) Making Strides towards the "CPU+GPU+QPU" Era
High-performance computing (HPC) has been instrumental in enabling AIGC (whose power has been showcased by the impressive chatbot --- ChatGPT) and breakthroughs in diverse fields such as autonomous driving and protein structure prediction. Driven by application, HPC constantly iterates and updates its design, hardware, and software, and it is now hastening its entry into the "CPU+GPU+QPU" era.
Looking ahead, quantum computing is providing new avenues for even greater processing power. In 2022, IBM unveiled its latest roadmap, announcing plans to launch the 1,121-qubit Condor processor by 2023. Tencent has also launched a "Quantum+" initiative to foster a partner ecosystem to accelerate practical applications in areas such as protein reagents, molecular dynamics simulations, quantum algorithms for antibody design, and semiconductor lithography software. In the future, we can expect to see more practical applications in the global quantum computing field.
02 Ubiquitous Operating Systems (UOS) Speeding up the Integration of Humans, Machines, and Things
As digital technology continues to permeate every aspect of production and life, new applications and demands keep sprouting out. This has created an opportunity for Ubiquitous Operating Systems (UOS) to rapidly evolve and adapt new application scenarios.
Different operating systems on various devices, such as computers, mobile phones, the Internet of Things, and the cloud, will exhibit greater linkage, better supporting the integration of the digital space, physical world, and human society.
By 2023, UOS is expected to expand further into diverse fields, including smart cars, intelligent transportation, smart homes, intelligent buildings, robots, and smart factories, demonstrating its ubiquitous characteristics.
03 Cloud Computing Becoming More Refined, Integrated, And Heterogeneous.
Cloud computing is a vital infrastructure for the digital economy, providing the foundation and resources for various industries. More and more businesses are now closely connected to the cloud. As users' demands for cloud services grow more urgent and diverse, new utility delivery models such as hybrid clouds, private clouds, and distributed clouds also emerge increasingly diversified. Additionally, newer service models, such as container and serverless computing, enable cloud providers to offer more refined services.
Furthermore, the development of the Complete Reality of the Internet (CRI), which connects the real and virtual worlds to fully integrate online and offline experiences is driving demand for digital native services. To meet the complex computing needs of CRI, cloud-based heterogeneous computing systems are maturing at an accelerated pace through closer integration of cloud computing, AI, big data, and other technologies using cloud-native approaches.
04 Spatiotemporal AI applied to complex urban systems
In the future, cities will be a combination of physical, social, and information spaces, with efficient supply and demand matching of urban resources and services as the core feature.
Efficient data management is key to spatiotemporal AI, whose data is collected through digitized perception of natural, artificial, and cultural elements in the physical world. The collection process accurately captures the location, attributes, and functions of various elements, providing data support for the digital economy, digital twins, and other applications. Related spatiotemporal perception technologies include positioning, information and communication, vision, data fusion, and scenario mapping.
Spatiotemporal knowledge-based reasoning and decision-making is another key area for future exploration in the industry. By leveraging advanced technologies like deep learning, machine learning, and spatiotemporal knowledge graphs, it is possible to establish feature vectors based on digital twin bases and models of spatiotemporal knowledge attribution. These can help cities, parks, communities, enterprises, and other entities to make better decisions, and hence realize the efficient supply and demand matching of urban resources and services.
05 Software-Defined Energy Networks (SDEN) Becoming a Prerequisite for Grid Balance
With the goal of carbon peaking and carbon neutrality by 2030 and 2060, the urgency for energy reform is at an all-time high. The integration of new energy into traditional power grids has caused increased grid volatility, and traditional means of grid regulation are no longer sufficient. This has led to a shift towards digital methods, with software-defined energy networks being one of the core infrastructures of future digital energy systems. These networks enable remote business deployment and flexible adjustments to organizational methods and operating modes.
Software-defined energy networks define the future of energy, particularly for the development of the new power system. After years of development, the energy industry has amassed a wealth of interfaces and data models, and complex abstraction processing can enhance the value of digital connections in energy systems. Against the backdrop of the "dual carbon" goals, the era of “Energy + Internet” is accelerating, with software-defined local area networks (SD-LAN) and wide area networks (SD-WAN) becoming key technologies for future urban energy systems, as well as the foundation for the national energy system.
06 Scalability and Privacy Breakthroughs to Land on the Next-Generation Networks
07 New Flexible Technology Promoting Advancement of Robot Bionics
In recent years, there has been significant progress in the research and development of flexible electronic technology. Through the use of optical, capacitive, and electromagnetic sensing technologies, robots' tactile sensors have made remarkable advancements in various usability indicators such as spatial resolution, accuracy, repeatability, intensity, and profile thickness. This technology enables robots to wear electronic skin that conforms better to curvatures, providing them with multi-degree-of-freedom tactile perception and nimble grasping capabilities for small and soft objects. Haptic actuators are also becoming more sophisticated, and force-feedback gloves that use mechanical braking are becoming more accessible to consumers. At International Consumer Electronics Shows, tactile gloves developed with microfluidic technology have already made their appearance. Moreover, Tencent Robotics X laboratory and the City University of Hong Kong have achieved the fusion of pressure and force sensation by developing high-resolution, wearable electrotactile rendering gloves.
With the continued advancement of flexible electronic technology and machine learning algorithms, the spatial resolution and precision of tactile sensors are expected to increase significantly. This development will enhance the dexterity of robots and optimize the human-machine interaction experience. As a result, the application space and service level of intelligent robots are poised to expand into other fields, such as remote control of industrial robots, medical surgical robots, simulation training, prosthetic devices, space exploration, smart cockpit, and beyond. Additionally, this technology will extend to the next generation of interactive terminals, such as extended reality (XR) technology.
08 Digitized Humans: New Gateway to Complete Reality of the Internet (CRI)
Complete Reality of the Internet (CRI) is bringing online and offline experiences closer than ever before, transcending time and space. As the new gateway to this new reality, digitized humans are evolving towards immersive, lifelike experiences and intelligent interactions. This means that digital humans will not only look better, but also become smarter.
With modeling technology becoming more advanced, creating hyper-realistic digital humans is becoming easier and more cost-effective. Furthermore, Iterations in physics simulation algorithms are improving the dynamic display of clothing, creating more realistic representations. Rendering engines and GPU computing power are making digital human images even more refined and real-time. The optimization of algorithms is making professional motion capture devices more convenient and suitable for user-oriented applications. Facial capture technology is becoming more accessible, allowing for simpler hardware, more delicate expressions, and more automated processes. Interaction is moving from text-based to semantic-based, enabling a better expression and perception of emotions. Finally, the application of artificial intelligence technology is expanding to different areas, such as 2D digital human video generation, 3D digital human modeling, video driving, and physics simulation.
09 Digital Offices Expediting towards In-Person Collaboration and Knowledge Co-Creation
Digital office collaboration is on the rise globally. By 2023, 70% of the 2,000 global enterprises or organizations will adopt remote or hybrid office, according to Internet Data Center (IDC). With the support of cloud platforms, audio and video processing, digital collaboration, data operation, artificial intelligence, and expressive rendering, the communication in digital space is becoming increasingly real and perceptible, with more and more collaboration and knowledge co-creation scenarios emerging.
Technology giants are making efforts to layout digital office technologies for the future. For example, Google's Project Starline uses a unique light-field display system to project a lifelike 3D image of the person you're speaking with, creating an immersive video call experience in a booth-like device. Meta, the parent company of Facebook, has a remote work solution called Horizon Workroom, where users interact and collaborate with peers through their digital avatars. These technologies are gradually transforming us from online connections to a new era of "in-person" experience that features real-time interaction features.
The widespread use of digital collaboration tools and knowledge digitization is driving the development of digital office collaboration. This is causing future digital offices to increasingly move towards large-scale collaboration including text, images, videos, audios, and other information, as well as design, research and development, production, and management, which in turn is sparking a paradigm shift of knowledge co-creation.
10 Diverse Technologies Drive the Evolution of Industrial Security towards One-stop and Scenario-based Solutions
As the digital and physical worlds become increasingly intertwined, security risks in areas such as new-type infrastructure, data, digital industrial chain, and network security are becoming more prominent. To address these challenges, a range of technologies including integrated protection, one-stop data governance, zero-trust security systems, threat intelligence, artificial intelligence, big data, and privacy technology are driving new ideas and methods for industrial security.
As China's cloud computing market continues to grow rapidly, traditional information technology applications are transitioning to cloud-native applications, making cloud-native an important engine for enterprise digital transformation. In the future, computing power will develop into a computing network that covers the center, edge, and even the terminal. Traditional security defense boundaries will continue to expand, and cloud-native security will become a systematic and integrated approach.
With the explosive growth of data, one-stop data governance is becoming the core trend for future data security. New laws and regulations, such as the Cybersecurity Law of the People's Republic of China, Data Security Law of the People's Republic of China, and Personal Information Protection Law of the People's Republic of China, are putting forth new requirements for network security. Data-intensive enterprises in finance, Internet, and other industries will increasingly rely on artificial intelligence, big data, and other technologies to strengthen their security capabilities.
The trend of digital-real integration is sweeping through various industries. With the rapid development of digital technology, it has become easier to connect and immerse ourselves in digital reality. CRI is not only driven by technology, but it is also a crucial force driving social and industrial advancement. CRI is used to solve practical problems, serve real-world scenarios, and create greater value in industries such as urban development, energy, manufacturing, transportation, education, culture, tourism, finance, and retail. (Enditem)
A short while ago in Pekingnology’s sister newsletter, The East is Read
which is intended as a follow-up to the critically-claimed and influential