What I Wish for in 2022…
Happy New Year (I hope).
With my wife, Sarah, having contracted Covid just before Christmas, it has been a difficult time, not just for me, but for all those who have been affected by this cruel pandemic.
Due to the various restrictions imposed across the United Kingdom, many have had a mixed start to 2022 – yes, the Coronavirus has now entered its third year and it has been difficult to shake it off. Overall, the onset of New Year celebrations have been somewhat muted, with those in Scotland and Wales having been hit the hardest by restrictions on partying and socialising. Primarily, such restrictions were introduced to inhibit the spread of the virus, but with a self-absorbed sense of exemption, many party-hungry inhabitants of the Welsh and Scottish borders travelled into England to celebrate the new year in what can only be regarded as ignorant bliss.
We are overwhelmed and stressed!
The British government are still ruminating about what to do and insisting it’s business as usual. Now, whilst this is a wonderful “stiff-upper-lip” British sentiment the continual shifting of guidelines and restrictions has turned our Great British stoicism into a game of snakes and ladders. Alas, our essential services, including our health professionals, food supply chain workers and logistic employees have all naturally become overwhelmed and stressed from the uncertainly – so, not the best way to start a New Year! Where possible, working from home is still recommended and proximal or physical contact should still be avoided.
Anyway, back to what I’m looking forward to in 2022. You might recall that last year, I offered a wish list for 2021 because I wanted to avoid the usual rhetoric about what I foresee or predict happening. I’ll be honest, I don’t think anyone can confidently place their hand on their heart and really know what’s going to happen. We are still very much in a process of change and adaptation, and whilst many companies forge ahead with their technology roadmaps and evolutionary technical shenanigans, it’s become difficult to know what we should do and where we are headed.
The Future of Work & Engagement
I talked about this topic last year and it is as relevant now as it was then. With numerous companies ‘rethinking’ their office 9-to-5 mantra and debating whether their employees should commute, potentially putting themselves and others at risk, working from home seems a very sensible option for our workforce or at least for those who can equally type into a keyboard at their home dining table or desk. For me, I ask “Is it worth the risk of the daily commute to the office?” – “Computer says no!”
It has never been so important to limit our physical interactions, especially in the light of the new variant that seems to be spreading rapidly across the UK and the world. I hope that companies around the globe realise that we can often be just as, if not more, productive at home, given the connectivity now afforded to many.
Agritech & Agriculture
Following Britain’s decision to leave the European Union (EU) the country is faced with new challenges to feed its nation. Both Britain and the EU continue in their churlish redtape automata to facilitate trade between other nations as a professional means of conducting business and, as such, the British people are faced with food shortages and empty shelves. What I really don’t understand, and perhaps someone can ping me to let me know is “What has really changed?” You see, we successfully manged to trade goods, products, and services quite successfully before leaving the EU so why are things being made so difficult? Please don’t tell me that this is all down to a case of sour grapes on the part of our European neighbours!
Anyhow, with this in mind, for me, it’s become increasingly important to have the ability to sustain ourselves using the breadth and availability of new technology. Such technology would surely enable the growth of produce and other ingredients that we can harvest for ourselves without relying on so many imports. For example, we currently have the technology to replicate numerous environments whether it’s the extensive vineyards of France growing the most succulent of red grapes and, in turn, producing wonderful wines; or the Caribbean climate, growing the creamiest of bananas and the sweetest of pineapples.
Now, artificial intelligence is a particularly important subject for both Sarah and I, since we are currently in the throes of writing the new book covering this topic. As such, I do get particularly narked when I read some nonsensical headline claiming that true AI has arrived and I want to reaffirm that we must remain realistic as to what this umbrella term currently offers today, whilst keeping sight of what it may achieve in the future. After all, today, AI is still nothing more than clever programming and smart technology.
What’s more, Sarah and I both agree that currently artificial intelligence is often used to describe what we like to call assistive technologies, those that alleviate some of the mundaneness surrounding daily tasks and that often use automation to both increase and monitor workflow and productivity. I don’t see a lot changing in 2022, but I hope that industry now sees the true value in adopting more automated technology into factories and warehouses, especially in light of the pandemic and its risk to our human workforces.
Health Care & Medicine
I suppose this follows neatly from my artificial intelligence section, since I hope we can apply assistive technology to aid the numerous physicians and health care professionals on their efficacy at identifying those at risk and aiding those in need. It’s such a big ask from those who have chosen a profession in medicine and health care, but I’m confident that employing technology effectively in a sector that’s so utterly demanding will prove its worth on an ongoing basis. I have to confess to being enormously relieved following Sarah’s diagnosis of Covid that her dependency on the health care system wasn’t too demanding, due to the fact that she had been vaccinated!
I suppose it may have been a lot worse, otherwise.
This 5G-thing (again)
I also touched upon this last year and, while everyone is super-excited about the next generation cellular technology, some have already begun to speculate what happens next with 6G! Now, I need to be ever-so careful, as to what I say because over the last year or so, I’m aware it’s been an emotive subject for all involved.
But I want to remind all those architecting such technologies about 4G. Parts of the UK still don’t have 4G coverage and then there’s the rural areas – despite the government’s broadband for all before 2024 pledge, how do we realistically propose to implement solutions for those in the remotest of areas – where’s the blueprint Boris? I’d like to see us delivering on the services we have already promised to our consumers before we start fantasising about newer technologies.
Until next time…
So, this is where ‘wishing you all a fabulous safe and healthy New Year’ Dr G signs off.
Published in Technically Speaking (abridged).