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Simply, advances that we are seeing today and will see in the next five to ten years are the result of work that started years ago. Some advances are baby steps and others are giant leaps, but they are all rooted in the past.
The trends at the forefront of computers and IT impact the multiple uses of the Internet, the ways that technology can make society more productive, and what we give up when we advance society.
The emergence of the mobile cloud is the biggest trend that has affected and continues to affect businesses and consumers.
"The increased need for technology to support cloud infrastructure and access to technology that drives the resolute use of it," explains Gerard Thomas, senior systems engineer, Lockheed Martin Corporation, will impact the way the Internet is used and increase the productivity of society.
There are cyber security issues "due to the demand for seamless integration of cloud capabilities into mobile devices," explains Neal Ziring, technical director, National Security Agency. The leading issue is credentialing: "Your device acts as you...authenticates your identity to the cloud. Engineering needs to protect credentials better," continues Ziring.
Renata Spinks, lead IT project officer, Millennium Corporation at the U.S. State Department adds that being able to make "efficient use of funds and talent" is a challenge the government faces because "security is very expensive."
Balancing identity and privacy is also a major concern as more people put their lives and once private information on the Internet. Spinks asserts, "There is no expectation of privacy," for things you post on the web. Ziring agrees and states, "You may have multiple personas online, but don't assume they will stay separate." He advises using encryption software to protect your information.
The shift from the Internet of Things to the Web of Things is being driven by the "web of interconnectivity" that mobile data creates, says Spinks.
Thomas adds, "Anything that has an embedded processor is going to be networked eventually." This will continue to expand the way the Internet is used and will make society more productive because "sensors represent a challenge and opportunity," says Theodore Colbert, chief information officer, the Boeing Company.
The challenge presented by sensors and embedded processors can be seen in the move from big data to extreme data. As Colbert explains, "The more things with sensors grow, the more data gets created. Extreme data is so much data [that] you don't know [how] to process it...gain insight from it."
Ziring said, "The holy grail of big data is predictive analytics." This is the ability to understand and make predictions based on big data.
This has led to the emerging field of data science and a need for talent "that understands coding and scripting to sift out data and use it," said Spinks.
The need to support new online learning shifts and e-government is a result of the expanded ways the Internet is used. Initially, online learning and e-government provided information to the consumer. As technology has evolved, they have become more interactive. People can attend and participate in live lectures. There has also been an expansion of classroom education to technical job training.
E-government has expanded from providing the public with information to a "flow of information between the public and government," says Ziring. Many people conduct business with the government online, and their information is stored online as well. Ziring sees this as a potential risk because many local governments don't have the funds or technology to defend against cyber-attacks.
Ziring sees mutual cyber defense at the county and municipal levels as the way to defend against this. Spinks stated there has been a "major push for government/private industry interaction." She continues, "Having a knowledge base of engineers that understand these systems and understand the need and [can] adjust to the increased need" is key.
Thomas repeated the point about "need drives technology" when talking about 3D printing. He predicts a shift from professional to consumer products and software as 3D printing becomes more widespread. The average person will be more involved in the manufacturing process, but this raises regulatory concerns. The issue of creating weapons stands out as it is possible to print weapons using components that can't be detected by current technology or regulated under current laws.
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