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The tech trends of 2024: Science, cybersecurity security and a more sustainable future

The technology trends of 2023 were dominated by artificial intelligence, but what will the year 2024 bring? As usual, DNA gathered next year's technology trends into one list. This year, too, the Technology Trend Report offers views of experts in various fields and, of course, predictions about the technologies that will define our future.

DNA's Technology Trend Report 2024 consists of four thought-provoking expert interviews and 14 future trends. What is smart dust? And what is happening in the field of cybersecurity? 

In this article, we present five trends from the report. You can read the rest by downloading the free Tech Trends 2024 report

Dust-size particles transform data collection 

Intelligent dust, intellidust, smart dust... A technological concept known by many names. Smart dust is based on tiny, independent microelectronic devices that function as data collectors with different sensors. Essentially, smart dust is a conglomeration of multiple individual devices, some as small as a fraction of a millimeter in diameter. 


The concept of smart dust may sound wildly futuristic, but the term was coined in 1992 by a think-tank at the RAND Corporation. Smart dust can detect variations in a specific environment's light, temperature, vibration, or chemical composition. The data collected by the particles can then be transmitted to the cloud for extensive analysis. 

As each smart dust particle operates independently, they require a power source. In 2022, researchers at the University of Washington introduced feather-light wireless sensors that operate on solar energy. Such breakthroughs mean that the propagation of smart dust to areas such as scientific research and defense may take place faster than we think. 

Researchers and technology professionals are engaged in a race of speculation about the breakthroughs we may encounter as networks formed by billions of microscopic sensors become a part of our daily lives. 

The world's first digital nation 

In April 2019, a significant part of the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris was destroyed by a fire. The demanding restoration project was offered a surprising helping hand from an unlikely source. The video game company Ubisoft had extensively studied Notre-Dame for nearly 5,000 hours for their video game, which takes place in Paris. Precise 3D blueprints were provided to the French government to facilitate the reconstruction efforts.  

Now, another nation has harnessed digitalization to rebuild under dramatic circumstances: the island nation of Tuvalu is the world's first country transitioning to the metaverse. Due to climate change, Tuvalu's land mass comprising nine atolls will disappear beneath the waves in just a few decades. At the same time, this small country's history, culture, and oral traditions risk disappearing into the depths of the sea.  

Tuvalu's government has chosen an exceptionally modern solution: all of Tuvalu's traditional knowledge, from the islands' ecology to the achievements of Tuvaluan sports teams, is gradually being transferred into the metaverse. By creating a digital representation of their state, Tuvalu is leaving behind a unique digital footprint, ensuring the preservation of their history for future generations. Hopefully, the nation's fate will also leave its mark on the present, serving as a reminder of the grievous impact of climate change. 

NIS2 directive tightens cybersecurity requirements 

The European Union introduced the first version of cybersecurity regulations in 2016. The purpose of the NIS directive was to centralize cybersecurity requirements for operators in the digital realm and socially critical sectors. However, digital threats have increased significantly, so the original directive is updated to NIS2.  

The European Parliament ratified the revised NIS2 directive in November 2022, and will be incorporated into Finnish legislation in October 2024 at the latest. The NIS2 directive will entail even tighter collaboration between companies and national entities to prevent cyberattacks.  

The directive applies to various sectors, including the energy industry, finance, healthcare, and public services, as well as a wide range of entities in the digital world. The NIS2 represents a significant and comprehensive effort to equip businesses and key societal organizations with the most efficient tools to prevent modern digital threats from materializing into corporeal form.  

Business decision-makers need to become acquainted with the NIS2 directive well in advance. In Finland, inquiries related to NIS2 should be directed to the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency's Cyber Security Center (Traficom). This applies to all sectors apart from the financial industry – finance sector operatives will receive NIS2 assistance from the Finnish Financial Supervisory Authority (Finanssivalvonta).  

Advances in quantum computing demand a security overhaul  

One downside of the rapidly advancing field of quantum technology is that quantum computers may be used as part of cyberattacks in the future. As the capabilities of quantum computers grow, it is theoretically possible to use them to breach commonly used encryption algorithms such as RSA and ECC cryptography. Digital signatures for data and currency transfers are also at risk. The potential downfall of old encryption algorithms could provide clandestine operators with, say, open access to a company's or organization's bank accounts and data vaults.  

Since this scenario could potentially threaten substantial societal structures, preparations are made at governmental levels. In the United States, options for quantum-resistant encryption algorithms are explored extensively, and Finland's Defense Research Institute is also closely monitoring the development of quantum-secure encryption. Experts in the field unanimously agree that the capabilities of quantum computers will soon reach a level where their malevolent use poses a significant global threat.  

Implementing quantum-secure solutions will eventually be part and parcel of numerous businesses. It is high time to begin monitoring the development of quantum technology as part of a company's cybersecurity procedures. Sooner or later, implementing quantum-resistant encryption algorithms into existing systems will become necessary. 

Emission-free fusion energy soon a reality?  

The global demand for primary energy continues to rise steadily. Due to the limited nature of fossil fuels and the environmental issues they pose, experts are urgently seeking new alternatives to conventional energy sources.  

A significant energy sector breakthrough was recently achieved in the United States. Researchers managed to create a fusion reaction that produced more energy than it consumed for self-sustaining operation. Although the experiment generated only a tiny amount of power, the crucial aspect was the consumption ratio: the fusion reaction produced more energy than it used. This, in and of itself, is a monumental achievement that has been sought after for decades.  

Concurrently, the ITER reactor is being constructed on the Old Continent in Provence, Southern France. Nearly half of the world's nations are involved in the project, which is expected to be completed in 2027. The goal is for ITER to begin producing fusion energy by 2050.  

Understandably, researchers are excited about the recent breakthroughs in fusion energy, as they are essential steps towards a global jackpot. Fusion reaction does not produce greenhouse gas emissions or radioactive waste, making it nearly emission-free. Fusion energy would also be significantly safe to use because, unlike traditional fission-based nuclear reactors, a fusion power plant cannot trigger a nuclear catastrophe. Fusion fuel would also provide a renewable, nearly inexhaustible energy resource not reliant on fossil fuels. It is truly the cocktail of a brighter future. 


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