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Alibaba Predicts 10 Tech Trends for 2019: Faster Deployment of Blockchain Applications, Specialized AI Chips on the rise

From 5G technology and speech AI to blockchain and autonomous driving, Alibaba DAMO Academy—the e-commerce giant’s global research institution working on next-generation technologies—- published its prediction for the Top 10 tech trends in 2019 on Tuesday.


According to the DAMO (the initials stand for “discovery, adventure, momentum and outlook” ) Academy,  commercial applications of blockchain technology, among the key trends, will speed up in 2019. Along with the digitalization of various industries, Internet of Things(IoT) technologies will underpin the trusted mapping from off-chain world into on-chain data, and blockchain technology will expedite the restructuring and optimization of trusted data flow between and among various participants to boost the efficiency of workflow and coordination, said DAMO.

The research institution expects an increasing number of blockchain applications will be seen in our daily life, including cross-border remittances, supply chain finance, electronic invoices and tamper-proof judicial records. As the “chaining” demonstrates its value, layered architecture and cross-chain protocol will become the focus of technology to scale up blockchain infrastructure.

As the blockchain hype starts to cool down, the deployment of its commercial applications will gain speed, said DAMO .

The DAMO Academy has established a dedicated lab for blockchain research in 2018, with an aim to accelerate blockchain applications in commercial and financial fields. The lab, headed by Zhang Hui, director of Blockchain Department at Ant Financial, focuses on seven key areas, including consensus protocols, cryptographic security and privacy protection, trusted execution environments, cross-chain protocols, smart contract language and overall security analysis, integration of blockchain technology with IoT, and Integration of blockchain technology with secure multi-party computing (SMC). In 2019, the blockchain lab is expected to help Alibaba and its financial arm, Ant Financial, make big stride in promoting the adoption of blockchain.

Other 9 tech trends the DAMO expects to see this year include:

  1. Smart cities will arrive, and real-time simulation becomes possible;
  2. Speech AI in certain areas to pass Turing Test;
  3. Specialized AI chips on the rise;
  4. Super-large graph neural networks (GNNs) to give machines “ common sense”;
  5. Computing architecture to be restructured;
  6. 5G networks will enable new applications;
  7. Digital identity becomes a second ID Card;
  8. More-prudent developments in autonomous;
  9. Data-protection technologies will thrive.


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