IEEE Computer Society Reveals Its 2021 Technology Predictions

Technology Predictions Evolve from Hypothetical Exercise to Enable Critical Planning in a Pandemic
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LOS ALAMITOS, Calif., 16 December 2020 – The IEEE Computer Society (IEEE CS) has revealed its 2021 Technology Predictions Report focusing on the pandemic’s impact on human lives, supply chains, workforces, and the unpredictability of operations and markets. The report explores how technology predictions provide important insights that go well beyond hypothetical exercise to yield critical data and planning to help combat the pandemic.

“The unprecedented effects of the pandemic forced the acceleration of digital transformation in work, education, and private life,” said Dejan Milojicic, Hewlett Packard Enterprise Distinguished Technologist and former IEEE CS president (2014). “Technologies have increasingly played a crucial role across a wide spectrum of influence and are becoming essential for survival.”

“Out of necessity, in 2020, we have witnessed many accelerated technological advances due to the impact of the pandemic,” said Leila De Floriani, IEEE CS president. “With the 2021 Technology Predictions from the Computer Society, we strive to globally facilitate the future progress of research and solutions-based computing technology.”

The “2021 Technology Predictions” includes a deep dive of each prediction with analysis of: specific problems and current demands; the opportunities for the technology; the impact the technology will have on the public, products and services, and related technologies; and the sustainable solutions and business opportunities that it could potentially inhibit and/or enable.


The top 12 technology trends predicted to reach adoption in 2021 are:

  1. Remote Workforce Technologies: Tools, policies, and regulations for remote work will evolve rapidly, improving existing remote roles and expanding to use cases that don’t currently have ideal solutions, such as education, manufacturing, and healthcare.
  2.  Social Distancing Technologies: Many technologies are converging, creating streams of data that will be processed locally and globally, as well as creating a framework of massively distributed intelligence with impact on apps, wearables, and sensors.
  3.  Reliability and Safety for Intelligent Autonomous Systems: Fueled by the pandemic, substantial growth in autonomous systems will further improve reliability and safety of those systems.
  4.  Synthetic Data for Training Machine Learning (ML) Systems Free of Bias: We will see a substantial increase in the adoption of synthetic data for training ML in the coming year.
  5.  Disinformation Detection: The critical importance of having accurate information will trigger techniques to determine disinformation in politics, business, and social media.
  6.  HPC as a Service (HPCaaS): During 2021, we will see increasing progress towards delivering medium HPC systems as a Service
  7. Election Security and Disinformation: Technological tools and new laws will develop to safeguard election security, increase trust and confidence in the democratic process, and curb the spread of disinformation.
  8. Trustworthy & Explainable AI/ML: In addition to performance, AI/ML developers will start focusing on explainable and trustworthy tools and code.
  9. Low Latency Virtual Music Collaboration: We predict emergence of musical appliances that will enable real-time virtual rehearsal by choirs and orchestras as well as performances to larger audiences.
  10. Computational Storage and In-Memory Processing: Increased deployment of IoT sensors with minimal power consumption will accelerate development and deployment of computational and in-memory processing devices, software stacks, and products.
  11. AI for Digital Manufacturing: We will see further uptake of additive and subtractive manufacturing with lower design-to-production times, higher part quality, and increased customization opportunities provided via new applications of data science and ML.
  12. Advanced Cyber Defense and Weapons: New advanced cyber defenses will emerge to counter innovative cyber weapons that are being developed, which could otherwise cause physical harm on a massive scale, theft/corruption, and failure of critical infrastructure systems.

Access the 2021 Technology Predictions Report.

The technical contributors for this document are available for interviews. The IEEE CS team of leading technology experts includes Mary Baker, HP Inc.; Tom Coughlin, Coughlin Associates; Paolo Faraboschi, Hewlett Packard Enterprise VP and Fellow; Eitan Frachtenberg, data scientist, Reed College; Kim Keeton, entrepreneur; Danny Lange, VP of AI at Unity Technologies; Phil Laplante, professor, Penn State; Andrea Matwyshyn, Professor and Assoc. Dean of Innovation, Penn State Law – University Park, and professor, Penn State Engineering; Avi Mendelson, professor, Technion and NTU Singapore; Cecilia Metra, professor, Bologna University and IEEE CS past president; Dejan Milojicic, Hewlett Packard Enterprise Distinguished Technologist and former IEEE CS president; Roberto Saracco, chair of the IEEE-FDC’s Symbiotic Autonomous Systems Initiative; and Jeffrey Voas, NIST.

At the end of 2021, the IEEE CS technical contributors for this report will review the accuracy of the 2021 predictions and determine how closely they match up to reality. Check back in December 2021 for the scorecard of the 2021 technology predictions.


About the IEEE Computer Society

The IEEE Computer Society is the world’s home for computer science, engineering, and technology. A global leader in providing access to computer science research, analysis, and information, the IEEE Computer Society offers a comprehensive array of unmatched products, services, and opportunities for individuals at all stages of their professional career. Known as the premier organization that empowers the people who drive technology, the IEEE Computer Society offers unparalleled international conferences, peer-reviewed publications, a unique digital library, and training programs. Visit for more information.