Over many years, the United States has been a global leader in science and technology. Some of the brightest minds have made the biggest strides in innovation, bringing about solutions that have completely changed the way we as individuals and companies operate day-to-day.
From IBM’s initial size-of-a-closet computers in the past century and up until the iPhones and Apple Watches were practically inseparable from users, some groundbreaking advancements have established the United States as a major center of innovation on a global scale. With the rise of Silicon Valley in California as the hub of engineering and technology, America’s position as a leader has only solidified.
Perhaps the hardest thing about being a leader isn’t becoming one; it’s about maintaining the leadership position for as long as possible. And for the United States to be able to achieve this, to keep up with the technological advancement pace that’s picking up elsewhere, it’s necessary to make innovation a continuous — and accelerating — process that keeps the country ahead of the curve across a multitude of industries.
There are a few rising opportunity spaces that can help business development leaders keep their companies — and thus the United States — competitive and a step ahead at all times.
The first — and most widely used — technology is artificial intelligence (AI). AI has certainly been a buzzword that has been thrown around quite a lot in the last few years; however, the more investment occurs in this area, the more sophisticated the solutions backed by AI get. Particularly with unsupervised machine learning, AI opens the door to possibilities that will redefine major industries across the board.
Let’s dive into how unsupervised machine learning works in the first place. The entire process is built on the notion that the algorithm is able to piece together elements of completely unstructured data. The algorithm then works on identifying patterns with as little supervision from humans as possible, gradually developing the ability to identify anomalies and even predict events before they occur.
This means a few things when applied directly to specific industries. For healthcare, this technology can make it possible to diagnose patients more accurately and earlier on, develop drugs and treatments that are incomparably more effective, and improve the medical care in the country overall. In the finance industry, AI can enable better investment and prevent fraud by identifying digressions ahead of time. In manufacturing, AI-powered robots can streamline production processes and streamline processes. And this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all the changes the technology can bring about with the proper investment.
Another and more advanced technology that will become more available in the future is quantum computing.
If you think that creating the computer has been the biggest tech advancement in the past century, quantum computing is here to challenge that notion. Quantum computers are essentially supercomputers — they operate at an infinitely faster speed than the computers people use on a daily basis.
The biggest difference between the two lies in how they operate: while regular computers operate based on the binary system with bits or a sequence of 1’s and 0’s, quantum computers operate based on qubits. While for regular computers, bits can only take on properties of 1 or 0 but not both, qubits can take on more than one state at a time — a concept known as superposition.
What this means is that a supercomputer will be able to achieve in seconds the same results that will take a regular computer much, much longer. This opens so many possibilities for innovation across industries.
In healthcare, it can bolster faster drug discovery and development. In finance, it can help develop more accurate forecasting models for risk optimization. And the list goes on. While quantum computing is an opportunity for the future, active investment can make these possibilities a reality before we even know it.
Finally — and potentially most importantly — is cybersecurity. Especially in light of the quantum computer rise, online security — and traditional encryption that has been the main defense mechanism to date — will be at risk. The new frontier of cybersecurity lies in leveraging quantum technology to develop new encryption methods that will provide the necessary support against the ever-evolving threats to online privacy and security as innovation globally continues at a faster pace. Early investment in this technology specifically will allow the U.S. to stay ahead of the curve and be prepared for when quantum computing becomes more widely available and, consequently, easily used as a weapon.
Historically, the U.S. has always been at the forefront of technological advancement, which has made the country a superpower and a land of opportunities. What’s more important, though, is the ability to maintain the leadership position as the world moves into a future where advanced technology develops at an increasingly faster pace around the world.
Originally published in Forbes