Saturday, June 22, 2024

AWS: AI will claim spotlight, tech educ delivery will shift, ‘femtech’ will rise in 2024

As 2024 gathers momentum, technology companies are racing to call the course of technology developments with cloud service provider Amazon Web Services (AWS) revealing the five trends it believes will have a place in the technology industry over the coming years.

In a virtual media briefing last Feb. 26, AWS identified the five tech trends as:

  1. Generative artificial intelligence (AI)’s progress in understanding cultural differences
  2. The growing usefulness of Generative AI assistants for developers
  3. Generative AI’s impact on cybersecurity
  4. The changes in technology education
  5. The increased attention directed to women’s healthcare technology (femtech).

AWS chief technologist Oliver Klein kicked off the briefing by stressing that “a lot of [the trends] will be related to data and artificial intelligence” and proceeded to explore the various AI trends that would feature in 2024 and beyond.

The first AI-related trend is the need for and emergence of culturally aware Generative AI.

AWS stated that many of today’s existing Large Language Models (LLMs) were trained on data from nonprofit Web crawl organization, Common Crawl, whose datasets are composed of 46 percent English content and an even greater percentage of its data is couched in Western cultures. As a result, these LLMs will naturally generate answers rooted in Western contexts.

As more global regions adopt generative AI, however, the technology company predicts that LLMs trained on other languages will be more common in the coming years.

AWS offered as evidence early, non-Western LLMs that have already appeared such as Jais, trained on Arabic and English data, Yi-34B, trained on bilingual Chinese/English model, and Japanese-large-lm, trained on a Japanese Web corpus.

Besides training LLMs on a wider variety of languages, different training strategies will help generative AI become more culturally accurate.

One such strategy is Reinforcement learning from AI feedback (RLAIF), which entails separate models interacting with each other to update their grasp of cultural concepts.

The next trend revolves around the advancement of AI assistants for developers. From merely acting as code generators, AWS believes that AI assistants like their Amazon CodeWhisperer will soon streamline developer’s learning, handle tedious tasks, and facilitate innovation.

AWS asserts that these assistants will quicken the developer’s learning process as they will be able to connect to an organization’s databases and applications to answer company-specific questions personalized to each employee’s security clearance and simply explain the workings of complex systems.

These tools may even shorten the time it takes to assess the impact of a code change as they can instantly examine modifications, summarize their effects on other parts of the system, and suggest revisions as needed.

These assistants are also capable of taking over a developer’s time-consuming, menial tasks such re-architecting and migrating entire legacy applications, like upgrading from Java 8 to 17 or decomposing from a monolith into microservices as well as writing unit tests, boilerplate code, and debugging errors.

Even the act of brainstorming can be expedited by AI assistants as they can turn a napkin sketch into scaffolding code, generate templates from a requirements doc, or recommend the best infrastructure for developers’ projects.

The third trend concentrates on the unfolding impacts of Generative AI in cybersecurity as AWS expects that Generative AI will help security teams better understand their security tools and systems, draw attention to business resilience, and aid authorization upgrades.

While many cybersecurity technologies already employ AI for cases such as threat detection, the cloud provider envisions that Generative AI will evolve into an indispensable tool for security teams as it will make vital information more easily found and digestible as well as suggest solutions when cybersecurity issues occur.

As Generative AI becomes an essential part of organizations, AWS additionally anticipates that organizations will emphasize this technology’s resilience because its availability will be crucial to customer experience and business operations.

In this way, cybersecurity teams will be pressured to better comprehend the different use cases for generative AI and how to make its workloads resilient to ensure business continuity.

Lastly regarding cybersecurity, AWS predicts that security teams will continue enhancing their authentication process to contribute towards zero trust implementation in their organizations and that Generative AI may shortly benefit this process.

For example, a generative AI-supported cybersecurity system could be used to analyze authorizations for user groups at scale to better detect when a user deviates from an expected norm. 

Speaking during the briefing, AWS global head of customer security outcomes and global services security Phil Rodrigues neatly summarized Generative AI’s primary cybersecurity advantage. 

“[Generative AI will] accelerate security teams’ efficiency by redirecting the time and resources for the humans to work on the ambiguous problems that can’t be solved by technology so that we can match our limited, critical supply security engineers with the problems that we need to solve the most,” he said.

Besides the trends focused on AI, AWS also drew attention to two other technology trends.

First, the changing delivery of technology education. While AWS states that traditional higher education will be irreplaceable in certain areas of technology, the cloud provider held that this educational method currently cannot keep up with industries that are releasing new products at an unprecedented pace.

To fill these industries’ need for talent, skills-based programs delivered by either education companies like Coursera or technology companies themselves are becoming more widespread.

These skills-based programs are gaining traction because they enable learners at any point in their career to gain the skills necessary for in-demand roles, without the time commitment or expense demanded by traditional multi-year programs.

Finally, AWS highlighted the increasing emergence of “femtech”. AWS set the stage for this trend by pointing out that women’s healthcare advancements have been sidelined.

For instance, on average, women are diagnosed later than men for many diseases and women report adverse side effects for prescription medication at significantly higher rates than men. These findings show that compared to men’s health, women’s healthcare is not as thoroughly investigated.

Luckily, AWS noticed that attempts to address this inequity have been rising recently due to increasing investment in femtech.

AWS reported that they had been working closely with women-led start-ups and observed that funding in women-led femtech startups increased by 197 percent in 2023 alone.

AWS expects that these investments and access to technologies like the cloud, machine learning, and connected devices, as well as more extensive data will affect how women’s healthcare is understood and administered in the next few years.

To wrap up the discussion on the trends, Klein reaffirmed AWS commitment to empowering organizations to keep pace with the dynamic technology landscape.

“Our vision is ‘What can we do to democratize technology as a whole?’” said Klein. “You can get access to the latest and greatest technology through the AWS platform. No matter if you are a small startup or one of the largest enterprises, everybody gets access to the same technology. The same applies for the generative AI space.”

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