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In the year 2030: Five predictions for technological change

  • Eight years might not seem like long, but in the fast-changing world of technology it might as well be a lifetime.

  • Technologies that are emerging now are set to change society in ways only just being understood.

  • PwC Australia’s technologists imagine what tomorrow’s future could look like.

It’s 2030, seven years from now. What does the tech landscape look like? PwC’s tech experts share their thoughts on the technologies that will be changing our lives in the not so distant future.

An augmented work reality

Jacqui Visch, Chief Digital and Information Officer, PwC Australia

In 2030, we work in a world of holographic collaboration spaces where, by simply putting on a headset, we join teams from all over, using realistic avatars that mimic human behaviour. We ‘beam in’ specialist expertise from across the globe to learn, grow and collaborate.

The COVID-19 pandemic, thankfully all those years ago now, taught us that we needed to look for new ways to bring individuals and work teams together. Augmented reality (AR) glasses that layer digital information and objects over our view of the world, now not only allow people to access and interact with information visually, but provide better ways to collaborate on solving problems.

When you talk, you feel like you're in the same room with someone. You can visualise thoughts around you by sketching ideas out on paper or digitally, then use 3D tools to brainstorm and manipulate objects around the room. You can research, expand and validate your ideas by seamlessly pulling in external information wherever it’s useful. AR will bring people and ideas together into a collaboration space that helps us work together and solve problems in ways we never thought possible.

Betting on Blockchain

Asanga Lokusooriya, Partner, Digital Innovation & Cloud Engineering business, PwC Australia

The societal, financial and trade systems of the past were expensive, complex and cumbersome and the consolidation of service providers has created intermediaries with power to deny access. Now, in 2030, blockchain technology is facilitating greater fairness through an ecosystem run by clear rules, transparency and trust and has overcome its early hurdles of transactional speed, fees and the environmental impact by improving its consensus mechanisms and layered extensions. 

Blockchain underpins everything. The tech is ensuring supply chain provenance and accountability for ethical sourcing and traceability so that everyone has access to what they paid for, artefacts such as pharmaceuticals are no longer easily counterfeited as verifications are final and immutable. Identity is easily verified across online platforms, giving full, easy access to services for citizens and consumers alike, including activities like electing our governments and distributing aid around the world. Complex contracts are codified into blockchains for greater governance and major contractual disputes are becoming rare. Customer engagement is greatly enhanced through access, control of one’s own identity and the choice for personalisation.

Above all, blockchain technology has created a rapid growth in innovation creating new businesses, services and ecosystems. This creates economies of scale due to the network effect where a growth in a singular feature can generate benefits across a much wider network making us truly global citizens.

Financing the future

John Studley, Partner, Data Analytics Lead, PwC Australia

Remember 2022? The year the mainstream discovered the transformative nature of distributed ledger technology. Traditional finance incumbents and fintechs grappled with a wave of privately issued stablecoins – crypto currency tethered to real world assets – excited by the promise of greater choice, lower fees, higher yields, and greater transparency. Despite early failures of algorithmic approaches, Stablecoins felt easier and simpler to understand than the 10,000+ crypto-assets on the market.

Eight years later, banks have fully embraced distributed ledger technology and with it, decentralised finance (DeFi). They’ve moved to digital banking and autonomous business processes using smart contracts. Transactions are more secure than ever, and with paperless onboarding and approval banks can offer lower fees and higher yields.

Stablecoins and central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) have critically advanced society. No longer do financial systems shoulder the burden of currency printing costs, the exploitation of cash for illicit trade is greatly reduced and tax collection is automatically collected at the time of transaction. International payment remittances have gone down and banking accessibility for people in developing countries with limited financial infrastructure is now the norm. 

The quantum leap

Rob Di Pietro, Partner, Cyber, PwC Australia

By 2030, quantum computing has shifted from existing largely in the R&D domain to impacting the technology and business landscape all around us. The theoretical promise of quantum computers – based on physical phenomena from the weird and wonderful field of quantum mechanics —has been talked about for decades, but now there are affordable commercial-grade quantum hardware and software propositions in the market. Quantum computers are still expensive and advancing at a rapid rate year-on-year, and larger organisations have started installing them for specialised purposes. 

The applications of quantum computing (and quantum technology more broadly) is extremely diverse, from solving hugely complex environmental challenges, to developing revolutionary materials, enabling complex manufacturing and chemical engineering. The full potential of artificial intelligence and machine learning is being unleashed. Cyber security, data and encryption has been disrupted (through the demise of non-quantum safe cryptography) and strengthened thanks to technologies such as quantum key distribution. Despite some of the claims that these systems are ‘unhackable’ or ‘require an attacker to circumvent the laws of physics,’ a prevailing truth remains that any technology is only as secure as its weakest link - the humans that build and operate them. 

Despite the vast array of applications for the private and public sector (including the military), the ‘problem space’ that quantum technologies lend themselves to is still growing – as the technology evolves, so too does our understanding of how it benefits society and our way of living.

Metaverse madness

Amy Gibbs, Editor in Chief, Digital Pulse

The metaverse, a novel concept in the early 20s, has gone through its trough of despair – some forays into the ‘verse have succeeded, but many have failed. Those that stayed the course, invested carefully in the technology and kept an eye on the prize are now poised to take advantage as use cases begin to pay off. The real metaverse is beginning to take shape as true interoperability begins to bring disjointed online realities into one and people move easily between online and offline spaces without restrictions, changing apps, differing privacy policies or corporate gates.

Everyday, people interact with the metaverse in the ways that suit them. Some glimpse its value through flashes across their AR glasses as they walk down the street of the physical world, peeking at shop wares and sales prices before deciding to step inside. Or perhaps they dine at their favourite local restaurant, using their NFT membership token  to reserve a table in an exclusive dining room that comes with a chat with the chef.

Others ‘jack in’ from home via their VR goggles. They wake up their avatar in a virtual reality home they bought and decorated, dress for the day in the latest of couture that shows off their personality and step into the virtual office where they can meet workmates to collaborate. Still others jump on to participate in the latest VR live concert from their favourite band – alongside 3 million other fans –  accessing the virtual concession stand to order exclusive food that turns up at their physical door.

And it’s only the beginning.


Interested in learning more on the technologies changing society now and tomorrow? Why not take a look at PwC Australia’s Digital Transformation hub.

 


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Jacqui Visch

Jacqui is Chief Digital Information Officer, PwC Australia

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Asanga Lokusooriya

Asanga is a partner in the Digital Innovation & Cloud Engineering business, PwC Australia

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John Studley

John is lead partner of Data Analytics, PwC Australia

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Robert Di Pietro

Rob is a partner in the Cyber and Digital Trust business, PwC Australia

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Dr Amy Gibbs

Amy is the Editor in Chief for Digital Pulse, PwC Australia

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