Alibaba’s DAMO Academy Releases Top Ten Technology Trends in 2022

The DAMO Academy released its “Top Ten Technology Trends in 2022,” marking the fourth time that the institution has offered a forecast of cutting-edge science and technology trends.

Operated by Chinese tech giant Alibaba, DAMO Academy analyzed 7.7 million public papers and 85,000 patents covering 159 fields in the past three years, and interviewed nearly 100 scientists in depth. The top ten technology trends covered artificial intelligence, chips, computing, communication and other fields.

AI for Science

Today, the advancement of AI is making new scientific paradigms possible. Machine learning can process massive amounts of multidimensional and multimodal data and solve complex scientific problems, allowing scientific exploration to flourish in areas previously thought impossible. In the next three years, the academy expects that AI will be broadly applied in the research process of applied science and be used as a production tool in some basic sciences.

Coevolution of Large- and Small-Scale Computing Models

Future AI research will shift from the race for massive-scale parameter capacity computing models to the co-evolution of large- and small-scale models. Large-scale models deliver the basic capabilities to small-scale models running at the edge, which take over the inference and execution workloads. Then, the small models feed algorithms and execution results back to the large models. This way, the large models can continue to iterate, learn, and evolve to form an organic intelligent system.

Silicon Photonic Chips

Silicon photonic chips vary from electronic chips in that they use photons instead of electrons to transmit data. Photons do not directly interact with each other and can travel longer distances, and therefore silicon photonic chips can provide higher computing density and energy efficiency. In the next three years, the academy can expect to see the widespread use of silicon photonic chips in the implementation of high-speed data transmission in large-scale data centers.

AI for Renewable Energy

The rapid development of technology in renewable energy forms such as wind and solar power in recent years has made renewables a tempting energy source to add to the power grid. However, issues such as difficulty in grid integration, low energy utilization rate, and storage of excess energy are major roadblocks along the way. The application of AI in the industry is pivotal in improving the efficiency and automation of electric power systems, maximizing resource usage and stability. This will be conducive to achieving carbon neutrality.

Perceptive Soft Robotics

Perceptive soft robots take advantage of state-of-the-art technologies such as flexible electronics, pressure adaptive materials and AI, which allow them to perform highly specialized and complex tasks and deform to adapt to different physical environments. In the next five years, perceptive soft robotics will replace conventional robots in the manufacturing industry and pave the way for wider adoption of service robots in our daily life.

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High-Precision Medicine

The convergence of AI and precision medicine is expected to boost the integration of expertise and new auxiliary diagnostic technologies and serve as a high-precision compass for clinical medicine. With this technology, doctors can diagnose diseases and make medical decisions as quickly and accurately as possible. In the next three years, the academy expects to see people-centric precision medicine become a major trend that will span multiple fields of healthcare.

Privacy-Preserving Computation

For a long time, the application of privacy-preserving computation has been limited to a narrow scope of small-scale computation due to performance bottlenecks, lack of confidence in the technology, and standardization issues. However, as more and more integrated technologies, such as dedicated chips, cryptographic algorithms, whitebox implementation, and data trusts, are emerging, privacy-preserving computation will be adopted in scenarios such as processing massive amounts of data and integrating data from all domains.

Satellite-Terrestrial Integrated Computing

Satellite-Terrestrial Integrated Computing (STC) connects high-Earth orbit (HEO) and low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites and terrestrial mobile communications networks. STC also creates a computing system that integrates satellites, satellite networks, terrestrial communications systems, and cloud computing technologies. This way, digital services can be more accessible and inclusive across the globe.

Cloud-Network-Device Convergence

The rapid development of new network technologies will fuel the evolution of cloud computing towards a new computing system: cloud-network-device convergence. In this new system, clouds, networks and devices have a more clearly defined division of labor. The cloud functions as a “brain,” which is responsible for centralized computing and global data processing. Networks serve as the interconnecting “tracks” that converge various forms of networks on the cloud to build a ubiquitous, low-latency network. Devices offer light-weight, cost-effective interfaces on various forms of applications to deliver a smooth, reliable and immersive user experience.

Extended Reality (XR)

The development of technologies such as cloud-edge computing, network communications, and digital twins brings XR into full bloom. XR will reshape digital applications and revolutionize the way people interact with technology in scenarios such as entertainment, social networking, office, shopping, education and healthcare. In the next three years, the academy expect to see a new generation of XR glasses that have an indistinguishable look and feel from ordinary glasses entering the market.