Thoughtworks, a global technology consultancy, has re-released its Looking Glass Report, a guide to the key technology-driven changes that will shape the economy in 2022 and beyond.
The report offers companies recommendations on how they can successfully compete and become disruptors themselves. This reflects Thoughtworks’ approach to equip companies with cutting-edge technology before new technologies reach mass adoption.
The Looking Glass Report covers a total of 100 different technology trends, which can be viewed through five lenses. The list provides companies with insights into how they can deal with these trends: anticipate, analyze or already adopt?
It should be noted that technology often has ethical implications. An example of this is the metaverse. It promises endless possibilities for consumers and businesses to work, live, play and learn in this new medium of augmented reality (XR). When XR is combined with artificial intelligence (AI) and devices, there are many creative ways to play to human strengths and achieve good results for the benefit of society. But this technology is fundamentally changing the user experience and people portray themselves differently in virtual worlds, which can have moral and ethical implications.
“As AI-enabled technologies become more mainstream, they can touch more areas of our lives, and their implications need to be considered from an ethical perspective,” said Dr. Rebecca Parsons, chief technology officer at Thoughtworks. “It will therefore be important for companies to develop balanced and productive partnerships between their employees and AI in order to get the maximum benefit from future technologies such as extended reality (XR) solutions, without neglecting the potential ethical implications of the losing eyes. Truly understanding how AI systems work is key to identifying and mitigating unintended consequences. “
The five lenses in the Looking Glass Report are:
- The evolution of human-machine interaction: We are changing the way we interact with the digital world and what we expect from it. Traditional hardware extends its reach through gesture and voice interaction, and real-world scenarios are tested through the use of digital twin simulations that guide consumers and model outcomes. The physical and digital worlds are inevitably converging towards the metaverse, opening up new opportunities for businesses.
- Partnership with AI: Machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) continue to gain momentum across industries. Thoughtworks is seeing rapid adoption in use cases ranging from automating day-to-day operations to improving strategic decision making. Precisely because AI-supported technologies are affecting more and more areas of life, their effects must be considered from an ethical point of view. This drives research and development of tools to support explainable AI (XAI) and more robust governance processes, including automated compliance.
- Acceleration towards sustainability: As consumers, governments and investors demand greater environmental responsibility from companies, going green has become an economic imperative rather than just an option. Consumers want to feel good about the impact of their actions on the environment and will increasingly consider sustainability when choosing a brand or supplier. This requires companies to consider the environmental costs of their products and operations and then adopt more sustainable strategies and technologies. Sustainability is not a rule to be followed, but should be understood as an active contribution to the company’s goals.
- Growing Influence of Hostile Technologies: Hostile tech is commonly associated with criminal activities such as ransomware, breaching a data-stealing system or computer viruses – but this misses the bigger picture. The definition should be broadened to include legal, even widely accepted, acts that ultimately threaten the well-being of society. Not all malicious behavior is malicious or intentional. An example are biases in algorithms or machine learning systems. These may exhibit “harmful” tendencies towards certain consumer groups without being compromised or designed to be so, but due to unplanned and unnoticed biases in the way they were designed or developed.
- Exploiting the potential of platforms: The construction of platforms is a central element of modern corporate strategy – but also an area that is fraught with a lot of ambiguity. This is not only due to the fundamental difficulty of building a platform well, but often also to a fundamental misjudgment of the benefit that the platform is supposed to achieve. Thoughtworks sees a new focus on removing the uncertainty surrounding platforms and connecting platform building to clearly defined business goals.