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Quora Answer : What are the biggest areas of opportunity for IT today and future?

Feb 8, 2016

There's opportunity everywhere.

There isn't an area of IT that can't be rethought. Applications aimed at individuals can be made social. Social things can be made for individuals. Big things can be made smaller and cheaper. Small things can be made big. Asynchronous things can be made synchronous and vice versa. Graphical things can get textual representations and vice versa. Expensive things can be made free or freemium. Things we currently don't pay for can become the basis for paid improvements. There are opportunities for disintermediation and new middle-men. Areas that are technical can be made accessible to the non-technical. And things that don't currently need a computer can have a computer or sensor or online interface attached.

So don't limit yourself ...

In particular there are three mega-trends or super-areas that you can use to orient yourself.

  • big data / machine learning / AI / data-mining. ie. anything that's about collecting, storing, manipulating large amounts of data, and running algorithms to look for patterns in and search and summarize and resynthesize it. Increasingly this allows jobs previously done by smart humans to be done by computers. (Everything from driving trucks to analyzing legal documents to diagnosing diseases to making scientific hypotheses and designing experiments to test them.)
  • IoT / ubicomp/ robotics / device swarm / wearables / augmented reality / desktop manufacturing ie. anything that's about putting computing power, sensors and actuators in new formats and objects, that are scattered around the physical world and more intimately tied into our bodies and activities within it. Also, the use of things like 3D printing that let small startups and makers get involved in designing and prototyping physical things with computers in them.
  • security / darknets / cryptocurrencies / privacy / block-chains ie. the application of cryptography in new places. Both to protect and extend privacy, and to attack it; to extend trustworthiness and reliability. Surprising things happen when the block-chain promises to make data-bases of, say, financial transactions that literally can't be faked or hacked ..in particular, seems like we may be able to do without all kinds of institutions that exist simply as authorities to put our trust in. Imagine a world where capitalism really can work without any banks to issue or manoeuvre money; without accountants to audit companies' books and ensure they're telling the truth; and without market platform providers like New York or London Stock exchanges or the investment banks that underwrite company offerings.

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