The Future

Forecast: Big data still big kahuna in 2030

holographic bar graph

Want to turn big data into holograms on a handheld? The day may come. (Stock image)

Technology will be a critical game-changer worldwide in the decades to come, according to a new report from the National Intelligence Council.

Looking ahead to 2030, big data in particular is poised to make an impact, the report states, noting that as the world enters the era of big data, new markets and services and unprecedented access are emerging. It is a disruptive technology though — a double-edged sword that will continue to create challenges.

“Process power and data storage are becoming almost free; networks and the cloud will provide global access and pervasive services; social media and cybersecurity will be large new markets,” states the “Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds” report, which was released this week by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. “This growth and diffusion will present significant challenges for governments and societies, which must find ways to capture the benefits of new IT technologies while dealing with the new threats that those technologies present.”

The report goes on to state that as big data continues to grow, the government could face pressure to restrict or dismantle big-data systems as people fear “an Orwellian surveillance state,” particularly in the developed world.

The council produces the forecast every four years after the U.S. presidential election. In the latest assessment, it sees technology as the key to solutions that maximize economic productivity and quality of life, while minimizing the consumption of resources and further environmental decline. Technology could prove crucial to the viability of megacities that both rely on and trigger new technologies, according to the report.

The continued expansion of technology will give governments unprecedented power, including the ability to more closely monitor their citizens, but it also will present leaders with unmatched challenges, threats and adversaries.

“As societies become more dependent on software and systems become more interconnected, the potential levels of damage that cyber weapons will be able to inflict will increase,” the report states while also predicting a cyber arms race to protect critical infrastructure.

Furthermore, the report notes the growing influence of social networks and says that although they present opportunities for industry and government, they could prove difficult to govern in the future.

“Because social networking technologies are becoming the fabric of online existence, they could become an important tool for providing corporations and governments with valuable information about individuals and groups, facilitating development of robust human social predictive models that can have applications ranging from targeted advertising to counterterrorism,” the report states. “Social networks could also displace services that existing corporations and government agencies now provide, substituting instead new classes of services that are inherently resistant to centralized oversight and control. For example, social networks could help drive the use of alternative and virtual monetary currencies.”

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.

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