A look ahead at 2017

17 for '17: Microsoft researchers’ predictions for 2017 and 2027

This industry changes so much that it's tough to see what's coming, but Microsoft's researchers—all of whom are women—say they know

17 for '17: Microsoft researchers’ predictions for 2017 and 2027
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Microsoft researchers have shared their annual predictions of what they believe will be the big advancements in technology within the next 10 years. The predictions were made by 17 different researchers at the company, covering 10 different areas.

Predictions are always a dicey thing. Stewart Alsop will never live down his prediction that "the last mainframe will be unplugged on March 15, 1996." Twenty years later, IBM still sells its z Series mainframe. Oops. 

Still, the Microsoft wizards have some interesting predictions. And for this year's list, Microsoft's prognosticators are all women. Microsoft is celebrating Computer Science Education Week around the globe, with special emphasis on women and girls, given the fact women account for only 20 percent of computer science graduates in 34 of the countries which are members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) yet are half the population. 

Some of the predictions from the women:

  • One of the great algorithmic advances of the next decade will be the development of algorithms that are fair, accountable and much more robust to manipulation. 
  • The search box will disappear. It will be replaced by search functionality that is more ubiquitous, embedded and contextually sensitive. 
  • By 2027, we will have ubiquitous virtual reality systems that will provide such rich multisensorial experiences that will be capable of producing hallucinations that blend or alter perceived reality. 
  • By 2027, automation will give rise to a new economy in which most people’s societal contribution comes from the data they generate as they go about their lives rather than the work they do.
  • By 2027, we will have a quantum computer that can break at least low-strength traditional cryptographic systems.
  • By 2027, the majority of software engineers will be facile in programming systems that reason about estimates and produce models with statistical methods. 
  • In 2017, systems will increasingly re-architect themselves to support interactions without a graphical user interface. We’ll see fewer users installing apps on their devices and more apps turning into behind-the-scenes services for chatbots and personal digital assistants.

See all of the researchers' predictions here.

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