Four Foundational Technology Trends to Watch In 2024

IEEE SA explores emerging technologies shaping societal connection and charting a path for advancement


As we enter a new phase of the digital era, the convergence of trends is reshaping our world in unprecedented ways. Whether it be the symbiotic relationship between the metaverse and AI, the critical role of trust and data governance in our increasingly connected communities, the importance of child safety online, or the exciting advances in quantum computing, a major evolution is taking place.

In anticipation of their profound impact, IEEE SA has uncovered four key future-focused trends expected to shape the foundational technology landscape for 2024 and beyond.

Evolution of the Metaverse

The metaverse stands at a remarkable crossroads, where the synergy between AI and this digital universe promises an era of transformative growth.

An immersive digital realm, be it a virtual reality universe, augmented reality extension, or digital twin, the metaverse’s expansion finds a compelling ally in AI. Instead of overshadowing it, AI is poised to fuel the metaverse’s ascent, reciprocally benefiting from its growth. Generative AI emerges as a vital catalyst—it powers the supply side by expediting the creation of diverse virtual worlds, objects, and non-playable character-driven experiences. Similarly, on the demand side, while AI augments human productivity, it also reshapes labor dynamics, creating new job avenues within the metaverse and fostering a more leisure-oriented lifestyle.

This collaboration between the metaverse and AI extends beyond mere convenience; it’s becoming an incubator for AI advancement itself. The metaverse serves as an invaluable training ground for AI, offering diverse, cost-effective, and risk-mitigated environments for AI development. For instance, it enables complex simulations like testing autonomous driving in different virtual terrains, revolutionizing AI research and development.

The mutual acceleration between the metaverse and AI represents a growing trend, reshaping industries and labor concepts, and is poised to intensify its impact on how we work, interact, and innovate in the digital age.

To help drive the industry forward, IEEE is actively developing multiple standards relevant to the metaverse. IEEE P2048™ – Standard for Metaverse: Terminology, Definitions, and Taxonomy emerges at a time when the metaverse industry is nascent, enveloped in significant hype, confusion, and misconceptions. The absence of consensus on even the most rudimentary terminology, definitions, and classification not only misguides early adopters but also needlessly impedes progress. This standard stands out as it aims to provide a standardized vocabulary and a direct roadmap tailored for metaverse developers, and seeks to establish a comprehensive metaverse lexicon, incorporating categorizations and hierarchical structures. Its objective is to forge a shared understanding, laying the groundwork for ongoing discussions, fostering sustainable development in metaverse-related pursuits, and nurturing a robust and progressive metaverse market.

Building Trust with Data Governance

As the world becomes increasingly more digital and, by extension, connected, an emphasis will continue to be placed on universal human values including Trust, Identity, Privacy, Protection, Safety, and Security (TIPPSS).

When we take a closer look at the identity, privacy, and security portions of TIPPSS in the healthcare segment, their importance is evident. As digital health records become more prevalent, ensuring the privacy and security of such sensitive information is crucial. Identity verification mechanisms need to be robust to prevent unauthorized access, while also being user-friendly for healthcare providers and patients. Trust is fundamental in this sector, as patients must have confidence that their personal health information will be handled with discretion and respect.

In the mobile devices segment, identity, privacy, and security take on slightly different but equally important responsibilities. With the expansion of mobile applications and services, users are regularly sharing personal data, sometimes without realizing it. Moving forward, strong privacy measures are needed to ensure that this data is not misused or accessed without consent. Security features, such as encryption and two-factor authentication, can protect data from being intercepted or accessed with malicious intent, and identity verification can prevent unauthorized access to a user’s device or accounts. In this instance, trust is built when users feel confident that their mobile devices and the applications on them respect and protect their privacy and security.

In both segments, adhering to the principles of TIPPSS is not just about preventing data breaches, but also about building trust and ensuring the ethical use of technology. As we continue to embrace digital transformation, these principles will become increasingly important in safeguarding universal human values.

IEEE SA is actively developing standards and projects focused on safeguarding privacy and security, while some address societal or ethical viewpoints. These include IEEE P2933™ – Standard for Clinical Internet of Things (IoT) Data and Device Interoperability with TIPPSS – Trust, Identity, Privacy, Protection, Safety, and Security. This standard establishes a framework with TIPPSS principles 1 (Trust, Identity, Privacy, Protection, Safety, Security) for clinical IoT data and device interoperability. This includes wearable clinical IoT and interoperability with healthcare systems including Electronic Health Records, Electronic Medical Records, other clinical IoT devices, in-hospital devices, and future devices and connected healthcare systems.

Child Safety Online

A large number of internet users are children, and enabling them to be active participants in the online world while protecting them from harm is more complicated than measures used in the physical world. Children are more vulnerable to content and social interactions that can be harmful. The internet was built for everyone, and there are risks, but banning children from the internet, which they can use for healthy content, interactions, learning, and research, is not an appropriate measure either. Thus why the United Nations developed General Comment 25, which explains how children’s rights also apply in the digital world.

Many policymakers, civil society organizations, and companies want to advance a digital world that is designed with children in mind, but until now there has been no guidance as to how, or even where to start. 5Rights, an organization focused on creating digital environments suitable for children, and IEEE SA set out to address this gap by pioneering IEEE 2089™-2021 Standard for Age Appropriate Digital Service Framework, published in November 2021 and available for free through the IEEE GET Program. This represents an important milestone as it introduces a series of processes that companies can follow to put young people’s needs at the heart of the design, offering a practical tool for helping to deliver age-appropriate design. IEEE P2089.1™ Draft Standard for Online Age Verification is a next step in enabling this.

Moving forward, global regulations governing the delivery of online services to minors are rapidly evolving, and companies should monitor legal developments closely.

Advances in Quantum Computing and New Applications

Quantum computing, currently in its early phase of evolution, is making significant strides. The field is witnessing the establishment of benchmark standards, marking a pivotal moment in its development. The core elements of quantum computing, including its unique taxonomy, are being meticulously worked out.

In this exciting time for quantum technology, we’re seeing the introduction of qubits, the fundamental units of quantum information. These qubits are being harnessed to build quantum simulators and are actively laying the groundwork for the quantum architecture of the future.

While quantum computing technology is attracting attention from a variety of industries for a broad range of applications, some of the most promising applications of this technology lie in the realm of personalized medicine and pharmaceutical drug discovery. Quantum computing has the potential to revolutionize this field, enabling us to explore vast molecular configurations and interactions at an unprecedented scale and speed.

IEEE SA is supporting the ongoing advancements in the quantum computing space and facilitates the development of quantum standards as the field continues to be a priority.

Get Engaged with IEEE SA

The role of organizations like IEEE SA in shaping these trends and setting standards is crucial in ensuring a responsible and ethical digital future. These trends will play an important role in 2024 and not only reshape our digital experiences but also redefine societal norms and expectations.

Learn More About IEEE SA’s Foundational Technologies Practice

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