As AI and blockchain make their way into the tech ecosystem, developers will be exposed to a wide range of opportunities, many of which are unheard of to date, says Mark Kovarski, a Toronto-based technology consultant, Kovarski is also the head of emerging technologies at 85 Advisors in New York, an accelerator for growth companies focused on disruptive technologies innovation.
“There is a huge growth factor thanks to AI and blockchain,” he says. “This, in turn, is creating a whole new category of application development on a distributed platform which will form the next generation internet. While a lot of startups are viewing blockchain and AI separately, people are realizing they now need to connect them to build a brand new global and interconnected internet.”
One telling example of what the future will bring is a relatively new startup 85 Advisors has begun working with that is literally two people in a garage. They have managed to combine DevOps and AI in an entirely new way.
“They not only have taken application lifecycle management and injected AI/deep learning, they are also combining that with a security play,” explains Kovarski. “The implications of something like that in uncovering unknown vulnerabilities are mind-boggling. We don’t even know what to call it or what bucket to put it in.”
The impact of mashups such as these is far reaching for developers in a number of technology areas, including collaboration tools, CRM, fintech, healthtech, education, insuretech, and agritech. “With CRM for example, you could create a combined DevOps and IT solution that would route feedback from CRM ticketing directly back to developers to continuously improve the software,” he says. “We are seeing more and more of this mashing up of technologies already, and will see a lot more with AI and blockchain.”
As far as the industries that stand to benefit from this approach, Kovarski sees enterprises, healthcare, automotive, and food and agriculture (including cannabis) as sectors that are ripe for various combinations of AI and blockchain innovation. “These are all areas of opportunity for people to build a new ecosystem with multiple new programming languages and technologies.”
While a decentralized approach will significantly impact DevOps activity moving forward, Kovarski stresses that centralized platforms will also have their place. “Even though we are entering a decentralized economy (Deconomy), there will always be cases where a centralized approach makes sense.”
In considering potential investment areas of interest, Kovarski offers his top five list of industry-changing development opportunities:
- Middleware and integration apps for blockchain. With the rise in multiple blockchain platforms, there will be a compelling need to merge existing, centralized technologies with decentralized models. “There is no enterprise-grade middleware for blockchain yet, but there needs to be. If you look at something specific such as smart contracts being programmed in new languages, a new breed of middleware needs to be developed,” Kovarski notes.
- Next-generation security that combines AI and/or deep learning with new and emerging security technologies. “Essentially deep learning will change the entire security landscape. We have barely touched on the potential ramifications of combining blockchain and deep learning in cybersecurity.”
- Next generation cloud services. Kovarski predicts a lot of consolidation and opportunities for startups using AI and blockchain to build on top of current large, cloud-based ecosystems such as Salesforce.com. Enterprise software is shifting towards public clouds as well. He also sees the potential combination of GPUs (graphics processing units) and CPUs (central processing units) in the cloud environment. “Now companies are building specialized chips for specific functions. For example, there is a lot of interest in using GPUs for crypto mining and gaming. Going forward, data centres and computing hardware, which is a $100 billion business opportunity, are going to have a mix of regular CPUs, as well as specialized chipsets with very specific apps built on top of them.”
- The Humanized Internet. With the democratization of identity and data through blockchain, there are limitless opportunities to create a secure education, supply, and healthcare delivery ecosystem for not-for-profits engaged in projects in the emerging world. “As a distributed database, blockchain can be applied to solving both human and business problems,” Kovarski says. “Once you bring blockchain together with AI and data, the impact is that much more powerful.”
- Regtech (regulatory tech). In the brave new world of decentralized platforms, regulatory compliance is very much in its infancy. “The big topic on everyone’s mind is regulating all this,” Kovarski says. “How do you deal with the abusers and the scammers? No one has heard much about regtech, but we will definitely be seeing a lot more focus on solutions for regulators trying to tackle the countless implications that come with cryptocurrency and smart contracts. For example, what happens in a smart contract if there is a bug? Who is responsible? As we move pieces like currency into the software world, what happens from a legal and taxation perspective?”
This is only the beginning of a decentralized world that promises to be transformational, he adds. “The World Future Fund scholars believe – and I would agree – that the largest internet company has not been created yet.”