As 2022 begins in earnest, it’s nice to look at the year ahead. Traditionally, we like to make resolutions, set up our goals, and look with optimism at what we hope to accomplish. It’s a time of renewal, refocusing, and determination. And hopefully, this year will give us a chance to hang on to this optimism for 2023.
One of the things we enjoy speculating on is what new innovations we will witness in the near future. Fortunately, there is not just one but two technologies that have been developing steadily—and will very likely breakthrough to mass adoption in 2022. Let’s take a moment before the madness of the year hits and look at what we can hopefully expect to experience this coming year.
Technology 1: Artificial Intelligence (AI)
What Is It?
The concept of AI has been around for a long, long time. Even visionaries like Jules Verne saw elements of what was to come over a hundred years ago. The basic structure of a neural network—a key element for advanced AI—was theorized as computers were still the size of a large room. However, the 2010s saw a lot of work, research, and true advances, with the technology becoming much more mainstream. The concept of AI as we know it today can be a bit fuzzy, but the basic definition is a computer program that can learn to solve problems without explicit programming. There is wild speculation—and wild misinformation—as to what AI can accomplish.
At its core, AI is very, very good at solving certain kinds of problems, given it has a lot of data to learn with and is trained correctly by its human programmers. Key specialties for AI include classification (is this picture of a dog or cat?) prediction (what news article do I want to see next?). Or detection (does this product have a defect?). Even this simple definition can blur lines, as anomaly detection on a factory line uses classification, prediction, or detection elements.
Where Is It Now, and Why Will It Explode in 2022?
Believe it or not, we already use AI daily. When you search for something online, when you use Siri or Alexa, and when you get “you may also like” suggestions, you are benefitting from AI algorithms that have constantly been learning and improving over the last decade. The emerging use of driverless cars is AI-in-action, with many sensors providing instant data to a model that has learned to interpret, analyze, and make decisions over millions of actual miles (and billions of simulated miles) of practice.
AI stands to explode in 2022 because of the advances in computing technology, the efficiencies in AI computing, and our understanding of “transfer learning”—the ability to take an already trained AI model and point it at a different problem, with minimum re-training. With the advances made to robotics, we will continue to see drones, industrial robots, and embedded systems move away from explicit programming and toward a model-learning approach.
Another area making very fast advances in AI is the DeFi (decentralized finance) industry. Companies like Oraichain are making the logical leap and utilizing AI to improve blockchain-based processes. Oraichain provides AI-driven Oracles that can be embedded into a smart contract instead of relying on an external source, making DeFi platforms more robust, tamper-proof, and trustworthy.
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? AI Layer 1 with high interoperability
? Scale-up with Layer 2 solution
? Verifiable and Trustless AI execution
? Decentralized Data and AI platform
? Standardized protocols for high applicabilityhttps://t.co/EMa99DBslW pic.twitter.com/6n0f95DFis
— Oraichain (@oraichain) January 7, 2022
Technology 2: Blockchain
What Is It?
Blockchain as a technology has likely seen the most meteoric rise in popularity over the last few years, with news stories few and far between in 2018, to it hitting the news daily in 2021. Like AI, blockchain’s popularity is matched by the misconceptions held by the general public.
At its core, blockchain is a time series of computations that create “blocks”, which are defined chunks of information copied over many different “nodes”, or computers responsible for holding a copy of the growing chain of blocks. These nodes each have an identical copy of the chain and use advanced algorithms to verify that the information within is the same as when it was first created.
As a new block is created, the nodes must agree on whether the block was created correctly and should be added to the chain. The ability for the chain to guarantee it hasn’t been changed, the consensus of many nodes to guarantee a new block is created correctly, and the decentralized nature of the nodes protecting against system crashes or hacks makes blockchain a highly prized technology. People can use blockchain to mint tokens/coins as a decentralized currency, which many think of when they hear the term “blockchain”. But blockchain has offered many viable use cases for personal and commercial benefit.
Where Is It Now, and Why Will It Explode in 2022?
Blockchain platforms exploded in 2021, with some already failing and others gathering significant momentum. The mass adoption of these platforms has been largely limited to the blockchain community, but that stands to change in 2022 as the platforms have shown their stability and created user interfaces that are friendly enough for non-tech individuals to use. Expect to see companies adopt blockchain to track supply chain shipments and validate authenticity.
Hold sensitive data on-chain so users can selectively share access, track manufacturing data, store for auditing purposes, and create/sell NFTs as collectibles, artwork, game pieces, and more. A key piece missing for mass adoption has been the general public not understanding what blockchain can do and having easy access to platforms with solutions they need. 2021 has gone a long way to addressing both of these gaps, and 2022 should reap the benefits.
On the technical side, another gap preventing mass adoption has been the lack of scalability. With Proof-of-Work consensus requiring the heavy environment-killing energy costs and Ethereum gas fees skyrocketing and turning away many potential use cases, the industry scrambled for alternative solutions. While the Proof-of-Stake consensus has gone a long way to reducing costs and raising the transactions per second (TPS) on some platforms, the key to even more scalability has been to improve an unlikely factor: the humble random number.
There are entire masters courses dedicated to random number generation, and a key takeaway is that random numbers are critical for advanced technology and surprisingly difficult to generate. Several companies have found ways to improve random number generation and use it within the blockchain community.
As mentioned above, Oraichain’s AI Oracles utilize a special function called VRF, which can verify a randomly generated number completely on-chain. This is important because it means smart contracts now have everything they need to operate autonomously on-chain without having to risk bottlenecks/hacks by reaching out to an external source.
QAN is another platform using random numbers, but in their case, they have used it as a linchpin for the consensus method. Their Proof-of-Randomness keeps the same level of security and manipulation-prevention by bad nodes while avoiding the massive amount of computation needed for Proof-of-Work consensus.
Due to the minimal processing, the platform claims that block mining can be performed on a mobile phone or Raspberry Pi, which completely eliminates the need for problematic blockchain mining operations. They offer users a chance to put their claims to the test on January 17, when their Testnet is live.
?We are pleased to announce that #QANplatform, the Quantum-resistant Layer 1 hybrid blockchain platform, launched its TestNet. @QANplatform is the world’s first Quantum-resistant & Ethereum compatible Layer 1 blockchain platform. https://t.co/7eqmT9se47$QANX pic.twitter.com/eQ14PfH35D
— QANplatform (@QANplatform) January 17, 2022
Quantum computing is another technology that likely won’t explode in 2022—but maybe ready for prime time in 2023. This is important to blockchain because quantum computing stands to threaten one of blockchain’s biggest features: encryption/security. While blockchain is incredibly secure today, a quantum computer may be able to brute force it’s way past the current encryption standards. This means that blockchain must figure out a way to remain relevant in a “post-quantum” world.
Thankfully, QAN and a few others are working on this as well, and their lattice-based post-quantum cryptography has been confirmed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to be a top contender for quantum-resistant protection. This is good news for blockchain as a whole, which needs to be protected against quantum hacks well before quantum computing becomes mainstream.
Despite the other areas of uncertainty that lie ahead in 2022, at least we can be optimistic about the exciting technology ready to go mainstream this year. AI and blockchain will continue to benefit our daily lives, become indispensable, and continue to mature and find new and innovative use cases.
Given the other emerging technologies, such as quantum computing, we will need to be prepared to protect our data more than ever using elements such as quantum-resistant blockchain protection. So far, however, we seem to be on track for an amazing, innovative, and groundbreaking year.