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Part 1: From 5G to robotics, forecasts for 2019

Leading technical experts and academics in their fields, and all Senior Members of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), have come up with some predictions for next year.

In the first of two blogs we look at security, 5G and artificial intelligence and take a look at what 2019 could hold.

So, what does 2019 hold for cyber-security? According to Steven Furnell, Professor of Infosecurity at Plymouth University: “The threats we already know of will continue to grow in scale, and we will face them from a greater range of sources. Malware, phishing, and other attacks will continue to be an ever-present and routine backdrop to our use of IT.

“All the while, technologies such as mobile, cloud and IoT are all the more pervasive, and will continue to increase the routes for exposure and exploitation. Also, our technology use and dependency will continue to increase disproportionately to our efforts (and perhaps appetite) to secure it.

“In our GDPR-enhanced era, many organisations face the challenge of data that they can’t track, stored in places that they don’t know about, and accessed from devices they don’t control. This will only increase in 2019.

“Against this backdrop, how much certainty do they have? Do they believe they’re secure, hope they’re secure, or simply hope that no-one finds out that they’re not?! In this respect, many will be going into 2019 just hoping that it’s not the year that the wheels fall off!"


2019 is expected to see the first commercial 5G devices. A number of major players in the industry are committing huge sums of money for 5G spectrum in order to stay ahead of the game. But the next generation of mobile network hasn’t been without its issues.

How will 5G progress in 2019?

According to Professor William Webb, CEO of Weightless SIG: “2019 will see lots of 5G trials and claims of "5G firsts" but there will be no significant handset availability and very few, if any, mobile subscribers. There might be some fixed wireless subscribers in the US, but that initiative will move less quickly than hoped.

“We will see Google's Fi offering (which links Wi-Fi and cellular) expanded to multiple handsets and start to become available in various forms from various companies (not necessarily Google) in selected countries.

“Fibre deployment will take off at pace with a bit of a "gold rush" of deployment, which is great for consumers but will leave a complex landscape that will subsequently need consolidation

“Next year will also see a few more mobile operators merge, following trends in the US and we will see the first allowed merger in Europe for many years.”

Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence has been touted as a game-changer for a number of years and with AI baked into our phones and customer services harnessing AI prowess to improve relations with customers, we look to be on the verge on something huge.

Robotics expert, Dr Antonio Espingardeiro said: “It is difficult to look at AI in the timescale of 12 months. But next year will likely see the start of five-year phase that will see AI become more integral to business operations.

“The 3 business that will benefit the most in the next 5 years from AI - Business, industry and communications. In business AI will be used in automating processes, increasing security and customer service; in industry, advanced AI techniques applied to robots will help to produce more goods at a faster rate and in communications AI will enable higher quality of service (audio/video) and omnipresence.

“In the next few years we will see more AI in the transportation sector. Cars will have more sensors: proximity, night vision, image processing through on board cameras, and in a long term a certain level of autonomy (self-driving cars).

“However, AI will not be without its challenges. The biggest challenge deals with common sense. It is a philosophical question. We still don’t understand how the human brain process information and how we make “conscious” decisions.

“On the other hand Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) doesn’t have to be a copy, a replica of the human brain. The plane is not a copy of the bird, but it flies higher, faster, it is bigger and serves a human purpose which is to travel long distances. Similarly when thinking about AI we have to be inspired by the biological principles involved, and not by the true replication purpose. On a technical level there is still a lot challenges related to algorithms and computing power which will be possibly decentralized in the cloud.”

Neil Tyler

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