Expect technology to become more human in 2017

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As 2016 comes to an end, we've asked our top technologists to share their predictions and insights about the most disruptive tech trends that lie ahead. As part of our Tech Trends 2017 series, Sundar Rangamani of Verizon Labs shares his predictions about how tech trends like VR, AI and smart cities will accelerate in 2017.

VR and AR will evolve with the help of consumer feedback.

Everyone's talking about how VR and AR are the next logical steps for how we will consume content in the coming years, and 2017 will be another step in that direction.

More VR devices will come to market, and they'll be popular first for gaming, and then in the sports arena, because immersive technology lends itself to action. We might begin to  see things like NFL action being made available through VR or AR.

2017 will be about companies trying to figure out what consumers want from these new immersive technologies, and how to learn from that feedback and make the content more professional. We'll see a very tight feedback loop, with users commenting and blogging and giving active, public feedback on content. Both VR and AR, with the help of that feedback, will become more consumer-friendly both on the device and content sides.

Ethics will be a bigger part of the AI conversation.

Artificial Intelligence and machine learning will be similar to VR and AR in that consumers will be giving their feedback and the technology will grow with that in mind. We will see this in action in areas like “bots” for chat or customer support. Currently, people call or use the web to figure out answers to questions, and it takes a while. AI will continue to make that much simpler. People will be able to ask more specific questions, like "Explain this charge on my bill.” or “Suggest a better rate plan for me,” and have them answered quickly by bots.

With all of these innovations come ethical quandaries. Now, all of a sudden, we have powerful computing and tools, and the question becomes: how are we going to use them? A lot of people have been asking that question, and it's going to be an even bigger part of the conversation in 2017:

What are the ethical aspects of all of these technologies, and how can we make sure we use them for good?

It will be interesting to see how that conversation shapes our approach to these technologies.

Smart cities will gain momentum.

When it comes to IoT, we're going to see even more connectivity in homes, and companies will continue to innovate toward technologies like safe autonomous vehicles. But one area that doesn't get talked about quite as much is going to make big strides—the smart city.

Think of every part of a city's infrastructure, like lamp posts, traffic lights and parking meters. Now think of every single one of those parts becoming connected and able to send and receive data to and from a central dashboard. There are all kinds of conveniences that can come from the connected city, from easing traffic to making parking simple and efficient. But there are also big use cases that companies are working on figuring out. For example, imagine an emergency happening in a connected city—those devices like light poles and traffic lights can alert people and guide them to a safe location based on an emergency plan. The possibilities for smart cities are endless, but it requires significant public and private investments, which will ultimately determine the pace of development.

Leading these disruptive trends in 2017 requires the best talent.

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