A Look Back At 2018 In Tech

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The following was published in yesterday’s edition of Foster’s and Seacoast Sunday.

2018 has been quite a year for technology. While mostly good, there was also some pretty bad press for technology this past year.

Data breaches, privacy concerns and infiltration of social media platforms certainlypexels-photo-273011 highlighted the bad. Facebook, Google and others have been repeatedly grilled on Capitol Hill this year, mostly for good reason. Facebook has had perhaps their worst year since their meteoric rise to the top of the social media ladder. Concerns about Facebook were worsened by revelations that nefarious influence campaigns took advantage of serious privacy shortcomings within the platform’s ecosystem.

2018 started with the revelation of the Meltdown and Spectre flaws in nearly all of the chips that power computers. While the concern was valid, the impact was quickly contained and patched. As the new year took hold, more concerns came to light about potential foreign influence across the technology industry. From the before mentioned social media issues to concerns that companies like Huawei, ZTE and others could be embedding spy technology within their products, the year was off to a rocky start for tech.

Two of the biggest tech stories of the year are the arrival of GDPR, the strict European data privacy law and the reversal of net neutrality rules by the Federal Communications Commission. Europe’s GDPR or General Data Privacy Regulation, places the most stringent requirements yet on the protection of personal information. It reaches across borders and continents so that even if a company exists outside the European Union, if they employ just one citizen of the EU, they must comply.

With the number of households cutting the cable cord and moving to online only live TV and streaming services, the repeal of net neutrality rules raised a huge red flag. The concern is that high speed Internet providers would make deals with content providers and make some content available quickly and smoothly and other content painstakingly slow to frustrate the consumer into using the preferred content. There are some real concerns that some of this may be playing out, but so far, it does not seem to be so blatant as to draw legal attention. Time will tell, but the intersection of regulation and technology is front and center.

Hands free technology improved dramatically this year. Smartphones are safer than ever, provided you take advantage of their handsfree capabilities, especially in the car. Wireless power has also come on strong this year, allowing you to charge your favorite tech just by playing it on a charging pad. Maybe the battle for the charger will finally be over.

Collaboration tools really took off in 2018. Platforms such as Slack and Microsoft Teams have redefined the collaborative workplace. The ability to communicate in real time, whether in or out of the office and share content, have never been easier or more productive.

Personal devices continued to mature this year. The Apple Watch, now in its fourth iteration, has become the smart watch of choice. The capabilities and battery life continue to get better with every release. Similarly, smartphones like the iPhone or Galaxy Note are so powerful they may be the only device you need. Smartphones, tablets, wearable and portable PC’s continue to get smaller, lighter, more powerful and more capable, allowing you to do nearly anything that you can imagine almost anywhere at any time.

With all this technology comes the need for an ever more skilled technology workforce. We need the skilled labor force to continue to design, develop and support the technologies of today and what’s yet to come. Our schools need to rethink current curriculums to be sure that we are grooming the workforce of the future before the future passes us by.

It’s been a great year for technology, despite the high-profile headlines that expose the inevitable dangers that these same technologies may bring. In my next article, I’ll look forward into what 2019 may hold for technology developments. In the meantime, my best wishes for a Happy and Healthy New Year.