After Amazon Web Services (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 1: 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.
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. 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 2: 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.
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 3: 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.
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 4: 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.
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.
Prediction 5: 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.
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.