AI set to drive major tech advancements in 2024, IEEE study finds

Artificial intelligence (AI) in its many evolving forms will be the most important area of technology in 2024, according to a new global survey of chief technology officers and IT directors conducted by IEEE, the world’s largest technical professional organization.

The new study titled “The Impact of Technology in 2024 and Beyond: An IEEE Global Study” polled 350 chief information officers, chief technology officers, IT directors and other technology leaders in the U.S., China, U.K., India and Brazil about the technologies that will drive growth over the next year.

AI and its subsets like machine learning (ML) and natural language processing dominated the technology outlook, with 65% of technology executives picking it as one of their top three most important tech fields for 2024. 

“Generative AI has become so prolific across all business sectors to assist in gathering data, creating reports, analyzing trends, and developing new products,” said IEEE Fellow Karen Panetta in an exclusive interview with VentureBeat. “The applications are limitless, including healthcare, marketing, cybersecurity, and streamlining manufacturing processes.”

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The proliferation of AI across industries will lead to major advancements in software development, supply chain management and cybersecurity, according to experts. Extended reality, cloud computing, 5G networks, and electric vehicles rounded out the top five technologies cited by survey respondents.

AI use cases expand across industries

The IEEE report highlights AI’s expanding use cases across industries like telecommunications, manufacturing, financial services, transportation, and energy. 

Advanced AI applications and algorithms will optimize data, automate complex tasks, and facilitate decision-making comparable to human cognition, according to the study findings.

Top potential AI applications include real-time cybersecurity monitoring, supply chain and warehouse automation, aiding software development, speeding up recruitment and accelerating drug discovery.

“AI will dramatically redefine and improve software development and cybersecurity with profound improvements in efficiency, security, and resilience,” said Yale Fox, IEEE Member, in an interview with VentureBeat. He cited AI’s ability to accelerate coding, enhance code quality, strengthen predictive threat detection and automate routine security tasks.

However, AI’s expanding capabilities pose new cybersecurity challenges that companies must address. Deepfakes, advanced social engineering attacks, and AI-enabled discovery of software vulnerabilities were chief among the concerns cited.

“As the threat landscape changes due to these new technologies, a few stand out. First of all, the ability for anyone to easily create realistic fake audio/video (deepfakes) by AI creates a number of new issues,” Fox told VentureBeat.

5G enables next stage of AI growth

Per the IEEE study, 5G networks will provide a vital backbone enabling the next stage of AI growth through reduced latency, faster data transfer speeds and expansive connectivity for smart devices.

“The amount of information being generated and transmitted is exploding,” Panetta told VentureBeat. “5G will help us ensure that we have the capability to gather and transmit monitoring/cybersecurity data rapidly so that cybersecurity protocols can detect, isolate, and, if necessary, execute defensive actions to stop attacks on our businesses and critical infrastructure.”

“5G will significantly shorten data transfer times, empowering AI systems to swiftly process and respond to real-time information more effectively than ever before,” Fox added. “This performance boost is crucial for applications that rely on data analysis and decision-making.” 

Quantum computing to unlock next-gen AI

Continued innovation in quantum computing is also set to unlock a new generation of AI systems. “In the coming years, the collaboration between quantum computing and AI is expected to bring about transformative changes, heralding a new era of technological advancements,” Fox noted.

“Quantum computing will help build new computing infrastructures that are more conducive to the needs of computation for AI,” Panetta said. “This will hopefully allow us to develop more robust AI and new algorithms that help address the critical need for improved explainability and allow AI systems to be more scalable.”

While highlighting AI’s massive potential, IEEE experts emphasize pursuing AI advancement responsibly and prioritizing human oversight. The new study underscores AI’s position as an economic driver and technology leader in 2024 and beyond.

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