Tech

AI Ranked the Most Important Technology in 2024, IEEE Survey Finds


Extended reality, cloud computing, 5G and electric vehicles are also in the top five, according to the global survey of CIOs, CTOs and tech leaders.

Vector illustration of a virtual AI chip on a circuit pattern background.
Image: putilov_denis/Adobe Stock

Different aspects of artificial intelligence – predictive and generative AI, machine learning and natural language processing – will be the most important technologies globally in 2024, according to a new study from IEEE. The other technologies rounding out the top five are extended reality (28%), which includes the metaverse, augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality, along with cloud computing (24%), 5G (22%) and electric vehicles (20%).

Tech leaders also identified digital twins, 6G, quantum, sustainability and cybersecurity as priorities for the coming year.

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How AI will be used in 2024

In 2024, AI applications and algorithms that can optimize data, perform complex tasks and make decisions with human-like accuracy will be used in diverse ways, the study finds. Of the top potential applications for AI next year, tech leaders surveyed selected:

  • Real-time cybersecurity vulnerability identification and attack prevention (54%).
  • Increasing supply chain and warehouse automation efficiencies (42%).
  • Aiding and accelerating software development, automating customer service (38%).
  • Automating customer service (35%).
  • Speeding up candidate screening, recruiting and hiring time (34%).
  • Accelerating disease mapping and drug discovery (32%).
  • Automating and stabilizing utility power sources (31%).

Forty-one percent of survey participants said they expect 26% to 50% of jobs across the global economy will be augmented by AI-driven software in 2024.

Although generative AI is being incorporated into more areas, Tom Coughlin, IEEE life fellow and 2023 IEEE president-elect, told TechRepublic in an email interview: “I would not be surprised to see some pull-back in the hype” next year.

He added, “Also, with the expansion of data centers for AI workloads it is possible, given the reduced data center infrastructure funding in the second half of 2022 and throughout 2023, that there will be temporary shortages that could impact the rollout of AI applications in 2024 until suppliers can ramp up their production to meet demand. This will be particularly true of memory and storage technologies.”

Benefits of extended reality, digital twins, 5G and 6G

XR and digital twins

Virtual simulations using XR and digital twin technologies to more efficiently design, develop and safely test product prototypes and manufacturing processes will be important in 2024, according to the IEEE survey.

5G

Respondents said they believe 5G will benefit areas including transportation, infrastructure and sustainability. More specifically:

  • Telemedicine, including remote surgery and health record transmissions (54% in 2024 and 2023).
  • Personal and professional day-to-day communications (46% in 2024 vs. 49% in 2023).
  • Remote learning and education (46% in 2024 vs. 56% in 2023).
  • Entertainment, sports and live event streaming (43% in 2024 vs. 51% in 2023).
  • Transportation and traffic control (39% in 2024 vs. 29% in 2023).
  • Manufacturing/assembly (27% in 2024 vs. 25% in 2023).
  • Carbon footprint reduction and energy efficiency (30% in 2024 vs. 23% in 2023).

6G

Nearly nine out of 10 global technologists (88%) agreed that 6G will primarily be an evolving work in progress in 2024 but will be standardized in the next three to five years. In addition, a strong majority of global technologists (94%) agreed that the development of communication satellites for mobile connectivity will bring parity to some rural and developed regions globally in 2024.

Quantum is on leaders’ radar

Generative AI may continue to dominate the technology landscape, but other technologies such as quantum will have significant impacts.

Further, 86% of respondents agreed that in 2024 quantum computing will gain the most attention for significantly higher computing power — a trillion times higher than that of today’s most advanced supercomputers — as well as for its application to post-quantum cryptography and cybersecurity.

SEE: Interview: Quantum Test Chip Lets Intel and Researchers Shape What Comes Next for Quantum Computing (TechRepublic)

“There are new efforts, particularly by startups, to create more powerful quantum computing technologies” next year, Coughlin said. “I expect more announcements of advances in this area in 2024 for computing applications beyond its use in cryptography and cybersecurity.”

IEEE member Carmen Fontana agreed, saying that “Quantum is having its space race moment of sorts – both within private industry and at a global political scale. Expect to see more frequent announcements of milestones and breakthroughs from the various players in the space focusing on both heft (quantum advantage) and accuracy (error correction). And like we are seeing with AI, we may see more government investment, and oversight, in quantum.”

Sustainability remains a priority

Technologies that foster sustainability continue to be a priority. The study found that a strong majority (92%) agreed they have prioritized sustainability goals for 2024 and beyond, and any technologies their company implements are required to be energy-efficient and help shrink their carbon footprint.

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Cybersecurity is still a big concern

The cybersecurity concerns most likely to be in technology leaders’ top three in 2024 remain the same as last year:

  • Data center vulnerability (43% in 2024 and 2023).
  • Cloud vulnerability (42% in 2024, down from 51% in 2023).
  • Security issues related to the mobile and hybrid workforce/employees using their own devices (41% in 2024, down from 46% in 2023).

The study found that other cybersecurity concerns will rise in 2024, including:

  • Ransomware attacks (37% in 2024, up from 30% in 2023).
  • Phishing attacks (35% in 2024, up from 25% in 2023).
  • Insider threats (26% in 2024, up from 19% in 2023).

Top industries most impacted by tech in 2024

The top five industry sectors that will be most impacted by technology in 2024, according to survey responses, are:

  • Telecommunications (41%, compared to 40% in 2023).
  • Manufacturing (39%, compared to 30% in 2023).
  • Banking and financial services (39%, compared to 33% in 2023)
  • Automotive and transportation (31%, compared to 39% in 2023)
  • Energy (31%, compared to 33% in 2023)

“One of the most surprising things … is that healthcare was not highlighted as one of the top five industries to be impacted by technology in 2024,” Fontana told TechRepublic in an email interview. “During the pandemic years, healthcare disruption was a common talking point. There is still quite a bit of technological advancement needed in the sector, so I am surprised that it was not top of mind.”

Fontana theorized that one potential reason could be “COVID fatigue,” given the amount of dialogue dominated by healthcare in the past few years. “That said, I was pleased to see telemedicine was cited as the top 2024 use case for 5G, as technology is a key component of bridging the healthcare divide.”

Study methodology

The Impact of Technology in 2024 and Beyond: an IEEE Global Study surveyed 350 CIOs, CTOs, IT directors and other technology leaders in the U.S., China, U.K., India and Brazil at organizations with more than 1,000 employees across multiple industry sectors. The surveys were conducted on Sept. 19-23, 2023.



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