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New Delhi:Come 2025, we could well see a robot in the boardroom, changing the decision-making process as we know it today. If the findings of a World Economic Forum (WEF) survey turn into reality, we could well see a paradigm shift in technology and the way it shapes our lives, with disruptive innovations and concepts like the driverless car, 3D printing, wearable clothes and implantable mobile phones.

WEF’s Global Agenda Council (GAC) on the Future of Software and Society interviewed leading software executives and other experts to predict dates when game-changing technologies could become mainstream and see increased adoption. The survey lists 21 tipping points (from 2018 to 2027) across six larger trends which include people and the Internet, computing communications and storage everywhere, the Internet of Things (IoT) or devices connected to the Internet, artificial intelligence and big data, the sharing economy and distributed trust and the digitization of matter.

Storage

The survey predicts that the first tipping point could come as early as 2018, when 90% of people are likely to have unlimited and free (ad-supported) storage. The shift, according to the survey, will happen largely thanks to “the ultra-low cost of data storage and the rise of new services," which will provide anyone with access to “almost unlimited storage". The other big shift that the survey predicts might happen in the next six years could involve robotics, and by 2021, we could well see the “first robotic pharmacist in the US".

Internet of things

The tipping point for IoT, the survey says, could be in 2022, when nearly 1 trillion sensors are expected to be connected to the Internet. Related technologies like the wearable Internet would also see its tipping point by 2022. In fact, 90% of the survey respondents believe that at least 10% of people will be wearing clothes connected to the Internet by 2025.

3D printing

3D printing began as a niche technology, but as this Forbes report says, “Manufacturers across a broad spectrum of industries including automative, aerospace, dental, discrete, high tech and medical products are all actively piloting and using 3D printing technologies today." The WEF survey confirms the trends, especially that of a technology growing in importance, and its respondents predict that “the first transplant of a 3D-printed liver is likely to become reality by 2024". Nearly 84% of the respondents believe that by 2025, we could see the first 3D printed car in production. Likewise, 81.1% respondents said that 5% of consumer products in 2025 could well be printed in 3D.

Driverless cars

Another drastic shift, according to the survey, could come in the form of the driverless car. 78.2% of those surveyed believed that by 2025, driverless cars could equal 10% of all cars on American roads. The baby steps towards the eventual shift is taking place in countries like the UK, where the department of transport “has launched a report to confirm that it will make changes to road regulations and car maintenance checks to accommodate driverless cars on the roads. It has also established a code of practice in details to allow for testing autonomous cars."

Sharing economy

Also, 67.2% of those surveyed predicted that the sharing economy, which today is led by start-ups like Airbnb and ZipCar, will see its tipping point in 2025, with many people expected to undertake more trips and journeys via car sharing than in private cars.

Derek O’Halloran, director of WEF said, “We already feel like technology has changed our lives, but the results from this survey indicate that we are just at the beginning of a fundamental shift in society. Any one of these technologies by themselves would change our lives significantly. Taken together, they represent a fundamental re-write of what’s possible and how we organize our society—raising deep economic, political and ethical questions which we must address together."

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