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Tech Predictions for 2022 and Beyond

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We have reached an inflection point. After AWS pioneered cloud
technology more than 15 years ago, cloud infrastructure has evolved to a
place where we are seeing all parts of the cloud reach practically
anywhere on the planet—and even into space. The cloud has allowed what
was once science fiction to become science fact. Models and techniques
in the artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) realm have
gotten better and better—so much so that we see glimpses of new kinds
of use cases emerging that we previously only imagined in movies and
comics. We are entering a phase where data is abundant, access to it is
almost instantaneous, and our ability to make sense of it in new and
subtle ways is practically automatic. But this technology is not
replacing humans; it is augmenting how we engage with the world. 2022
will be an exciting year for technology, with it pushing all of us, and
our planet, forward in the process.

Prediction One: AI-supported software development takes hold

Software development is a creative process, but one that has many
repetitive tasks. In 2022, ML will begin to play a major role in
augmenting software developers’ workstreams, helping them create more
secure and reliable code.

Since the advent of the cloud, we’ve seen companies across the world
bring new ideas to their customers at scale faster than ever. However,
even with this acceleration in product delivery, people still spend a
disproportional amount of time in one area of technology: software
development.

While there have absolutely been improvements in programming languages,
software development toolkits (SDKs), and other tools that enable
developers to be more efficient, these have all been minor
evolutions. There haven’t been the major leaps forward that we’ve seen
in other areas of technology … yet. Over the past few years, we’ve
started to see the foundations laid for what will become the future of
software development. Tools like Amazon DevOps Guru, Amazon CodeGuru,
GitHub Copilot, and GPT-3 are the first steps in what I see as the
future of development, where ML is used in code development and software
operations workstreams to help developers become more effective. In the
coming years, I believe that we are going to see an explosion of
capabilities in this area.

ML will free developers from the mundane parts of their jobs, such as
code reviews and bug fixes­—the undifferentiated heavy lifting of
their world—and allow them to focus more on creating. The same
technology will help us write sophisticated systems faster than ever and
in ways that open the door to a new class of developers. Imagine a
scenario where a builder describes how they want an app to operate, and
then the tools interpret the request through natural language processing
and deliver back the fully functional code. On the backend, ML
techniques will also check for software bugs and continuously verify
that the software is doing what it is supposed to do. This kind of
ML-supported software development will be a game-changer by allowing
more people across an organization to help define and build software and
software-driven products. Longer term, this same approach of ML freeing
us up to create more will be used in all kinds of other areas, including
media creation. We will see generative AI techniques increasingly create
movies, music, and literature. Just as importantly, in a similar way,
this technology will also start to play a role in detecting fake
content, scams, and fraud. 2022 is the year where AI/ML takes on the
heavy lifting in the lives of developers. 

Prediction two: The everywhere cloud has an edge

The cloud will extend into every locale via purpose-built devices and
specialized solutions. In 2022, we’ll see these solutions bring all the
muscle of the cloud to transform warehouses, restaurants, retail stores,
farms, and more­.

When talking about supply chain and transportation, we refer to the last
leg of a journey as the “last mile.” It’s that final trip to your door.
In ecommerce, it is a challenging part of the journey as there are many
variables depending on the location. For instance, think of the
difference between delivering a package to a customer on a crowded
street in Tokyo and delivering it on a rural road in the United States.
At Amazon, we’re developing specialized solutions for this last mile
delivery, with innovations like [Amazon
Scout
,]{.underline}
a fully electric autonomous delivery device. The cloud has its own
challenges in its “last mile,” and I predict a number of innovations are
coming to help address it.

Over the last 15 years of AWS, we’ve built out an impressive global
infrastructure that spans over 25 geographic regions and 81 Availability
Zones across the globe, with more than 310 points of presence to serve
over 245 countries and territories. But now, we are seeing cloud
services that are pushing beyond the bounds of our traditional AWS
Regions and out to the edges of the network—or, like in ecommerce, the
last mile.

We’ve already seen the cloud go practically everywhere. The shift we’ll
witness in 2022 is the cloud becoming highly specialized at the edges of
the network. To fully realize the benefits of the cloud in workshops and
warehouses, in restaurants and retail stores, or out in remote
locations, there must be tailored solutions at the edge. The parallels
to Amazon Scout in the cloud are devices like Amazon Monitron and AWS
Panorama, purpose-built devices that bring cloud capabilities to the
edges of the network to do a specific job. They bring all of the high
security, advanced features, and speed of delivery of the cloud, but
they can be placed almost anywhere in the world. Yet, rather than
isolated boxes sitting someplace, these devices become true extensions
of the cloud with a link back to all of its core capabilities.

What we will see in 2022, and even more so in the years to come, is the
cloud accelerating beyond the traditional centralized infrastructure
model and into unexpected environments where specialized technology is
needed. The cloud will be in your car, your tea kettle, and your TV. The
cloud will be in everything from trucks driving down the road, to the
ships and planes that transport goods. The cloud will be globally
distributed, and connected to almost any digital device or system on
Earth, and even in space.

Prediction three: The rise of smart spaces, especially in senior
care

In 2022, our homes and buildings will become better assistants and more
attentive companions to truly help with our most human needs. The
greatest impact in the next few years will be with the elderly.

One of the things that inspires me the most about technology is its role
in solving truly hard human problems. After years of meeting with
customers across the globe that are using the cloud to do just that, we
had an idea to begin documenting their stories through a show called
Now Go
Build
. One of
the inspiring customers we featured on the show was a company in Japan
named
Z-Works,
which focuses on improving elder care and helping scale it through
technology.

The problem Z-Works faced was how to offer smart and attentive care for
seniors in Japan when there are fewer and fewer people available to do
the job. The solution this company arrived at was to arrange sensors in
beds and throughout rooms in senior homes and connect all of them to the
cloud for continuous data analysis. The sensor arrays don’t just monitor
vital signs. Because they run machine learning models trained in the
cloud, the sensors can also tell if a person goes to use the bathroom
and simply doesn’t return. In that case, the system can notify someone
on duty to check on the resident’s well-being. In essence, it is a very
human response made possible by a very smart space. People would do that
intrinsically, if they were aware of the need. In this case, ML models,
fed by a private and secure stream of data, arrive at a similarly
intelligent action to signal people. We are approaching a point where
concepts like ambient computing, collections of IoT sensors,
remote/mobile data collection and processing at the edge, and smart
devices like Amazon Alexa will have the positive impact we always knew
they would.

Over the next several years, we’ll see smart spaces come to life in a
number of settings, but none with higher impact than elder care. It will
be a combination of the simple tasks you would expect—from dimming
lights, locking doors, and switching off the oven if someone
forgets—to the more contextual and proactive things that technology
can do: asking questions when normal living patterns diverge and
enacting common sense solutions when necessary. It will result in taking
better care of people, and in the case of an aging population, it means
that we will create a new class of homes­ so people can actually stay at
home.

Prediction four: Sustainability gets its own architecture

In 2022, developers will begin to make sustainability-conscious
decisions about the systems and applications they are building. They
will seek new approaches to cloud architectures that optimize for the
needs of the planet as well as the needs of end users.

As developers, we are trained to think about how to optimize our
architectures for factors like security, performance, reliability, and
cost. In 2022, you can add sustainability to that list. What we will
begin to see in the coming years is developers taking an active role in
building sustainability-conscious architectures that take into account
not just the problems they are solving, but the planet as well.

As consumers, we have long wanted our videos and music streamed in
higher quality, our webpages to load faster, and the ability to store
more and more photos, but people are also beginning to realize the
negative impacts this convenience can have on the environment. Do
consumers truly need a download to happen as fast as absolutely possible
or can we help them make informed decisions about storing an asset in a
more carbon-friendly way with a minor penalty in download speed?
Likewise, can we provide the ability to stream a video in slightly lower
quality than 4K to reduce our carbon footprint and, by doing this at
scale, have a positive impact on the planet? Sustainable architectures
will take decisions like these into account.

Developers will take an active role in reducing the carbon footprints of
their applications. This will happen in a variety of areas, like taking
into account where in the world they choose to run their applications to
take advantage of green energy in the grid, considering the time needed
to process a task, or even specifying the chipset they use. When
operating at web scale, small savings can scale out to have a large
impact. We will also start to see developers further consider the power
of switching off resources. “Always on” is a mantra that many build to,
but it comes with a cost. When considering the idle resources needed for
an “always on” architecture, we may start to see a new mantra emerge
that “the greenest energy is the energy we don’t use.” This doesn’t mean
we don’t architect for high availability; it just means being more
sustainability-conscious in our architectural decisions.

Let’s be clear: technology uses energy, and at AWS, we are committed to
making smart infrastructure choices. We’re on track to run on 100%
renewables by 2025—five years ahead of our original goal of 2030. But
making the cloud run on wind, sun, or hydropower is only part of the
sustainability responsibility that we developers, and really anyone
running a company, must shoulder. It is a shared responsibility and a
genuine effort that customers, employees, and potential employees will
increasingly demand to see.

Prediction five: A new wave of connectivity will bring about a new
class of applications

Low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites are set to bring affordable broadband
to every corner of the planet. This will change the lives of billions of
people as teachers, students, small businesses, and virtually anyone
gets online.

Over the next five years, more than 20,000 satellites are going to fan
out in LEO above our planet. Among them will be about 1,500 from
Amazon’s Project Kuiper, a network of satellites with the goal of
delivering fast, affordable broadband to unserved and underserved
communities around the world. (The first are planned to go into orbit in
the fall of 2022.) What I see coming along with this planet-scale
broadband are a whole new class of applications that will benefit from
it.

Today, most digital applications are constrained by the existing
network—designed for low bitrates or intermittent connectivity. In
some cases, we have digital applications and systems that are designed
to be operated offline, but these typically go out of date quickly or
have limited functionality compared to their connected counterparts.
Think about a traditional GPS navigator as compared to using a mobile
app on your phone. But what happens when you are no longer constrained
by connectivity, bandwidth, or high latency? A world of untapped
possibilities will become reality when affordable connectivity reaches
these places. Enter LEO satellites.

With ubiquitous connectivity, we start to unlock use cases that simply
aren’t possible today. Try to imagine what happens in schools when every
kid can use the same learning tools, or when small and medium-sized
businesses get hold of digital tools they need to win more customers,
grow their businesses, and create jobs in rural and remote communities
around the world. We can more readily monitor reforestation efforts in
remote locations, and we can better track and take quicker action on
disaster situations such as fires and floods. Large enterprises with
remote assets—such as solar installations, heavy equipment, or
far-flung buildings—will be able to better optimize the use and
maintenance of those assets. Transportation companies with vehicles,
planes, and vessels on the move will have access to continuous data
streams uploaded to the cloud, and regular updates downloaded to
vehicles and vessels on the ground, in the air, and on the water.
Ubiquitous connectivity will take us from intelligent spaces to
intelligent cities, intelligent countries, and finally, toward an
intelligent world.

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