Microsoft researchers predict 16 scientific advancements for 2016

In a rather utopian compilation, Microsoft has asked 16 of its "future tech" employees - most of them from Microsoft's Research division - to offer 16 predictions for what technological advancements they think will come in 2016.

The office of Microsoft Research in Cambridge, UK

In response to comments from Microsoft Research NExT Corporate VP Peter Lee calling 2016 a "new Golden Age of technological advancement," the tech giant has pulled responses from some of its 1,000 R&D employees, asking them to name their key technological breakthroughs in 2016, and over the next decade. We've compiled some of the best answers below.


Chris Bishop

Managing Director of Microsoft Research, Cambridge, UK

What will be the key technology breakthrough or advance in 2016?

During 2016 we will see the emergence of new silicon architectures that are tuned to the intensive workloads of machine learning, offering a major performance boost over GPUs.

Looking forward 10 years to 2026, what will be the major technological advance within Europe and what impact will it have on a person’s computing experience?

By 2026 we will have ubiquitous, human-quality translation among all European languages, thereby eliminating the language barrier throughout Europe.

How would you complete this sentence: 2016 will be the year that…

We see interesting new applications of depth camera technology on mobile phones.


Lili Cheng

Distinguished Engineer & General Manager, Microsoft Research NExT

What will be the key technology breakthrough or advance in 2016?

Our online conversations will increasingly be mediated by conversation assistants who will help us laugh and be more productive. This will lead us to question and blur the way we think about our computers, phones and our memories and relationships.

Looking forward 10 years to 2026, what will be the major technological advance and what impact will it have on a person’s computing experience?

Every kid who goes to school will learn to code and create the kinds of experiences we use every day. This means we’ll be able to better design and control how computers impact our lives.

How would you complete this sentence: 2016 will be the year that…

More kids’ first jobs will be virtual rather than in a physical place. Over time, this will cause us to rethink the way we work, and the way we design our physical cities, neighborhoods and local communities.


Li Deng

Partner Research Manager, Microsoft Research NExT

What will be the key deep learning breakthrough or advance in 2016?

There will be continued rapid progress in natural language processing based on deep learning methods and state-of-the-art machine translation performance may be set by attention-based sequence learning techniques based on deep learning.

Looking forward 10 years to 2026, what will be the major deep learning advance and what impact will it have on a person’s computing experience?

Deep learning will advance to match or exceed human-level AI competence in several major areas of speech and vision, and possibly in some areas of cognitive functions as well. And Artificial Intelligence technologies will be used pervasively by ordinary people in their daily lives.

How would you complete this sentence: 2016 will be the year that…

Deep learning is making inroads into business applications including predictive analytics, which will excite new interest in deep learning technology beyond its commonly accepted successes in speech, image and natural language processing.


Brian LaMacchia

Director, Security & Cryptography, Microsoft Research

What will be the key cryptography breakthrough or advance in 2016?

The key cryptographic technology advance in 2016 will be the demonstration of an end-to-end encrypted TLS connection using quantum-resistant public-key algorithms for both key exchange (for confidentiality) and digital signatures (for authentication). The coming advent of quantum computers of reasonable size over the next 15 years will necessitate the migration of all our existing public-key cryptosystems to new quantum-resistant algorithms, and a quantum-resistant TLS (used for every https:// secure Web connection) is the first step.

Looking forward 10 years to 2026, what will be the major cryptography advance and what impact will it have on a person’s computing experience?

Hopefully by 2026 we will have deployed a new quantum-resistant public-key cryptosystem in all of our in-use security protocols and will be well on the way to deprecating a few remaining quantum-vulnerable cryptosystems. Ideally, if we do it properly, the migration will make all of our communications secure against attacks using quantum computers but otherwise have no impact on a person’s daily computing experience.

How would you complete this sentence: 2016 will be the year that…

Continued advances in quantum computing will draw broad attention to the threat it represents to all of today’s widely used public-key cryptosystems – the cryptography that underlies electronic commerce and secure communications on the Internet. The security community will begin planning the migration to new `quantum-resistant’ public-key cryptosystems for which quantum computers provide no computational advantage.


Chandu Thekkath

Managing Director, Microsoft Research India

What will be the key technology breakthrough or advance in India in 2016?​

Low-cost access technologies like TV white spaces and affordable mobile devices will make the Internet more widespread in India.

Looking forward 10 years to 2026, what will be the major technology advance in India and what impact will it have on a person’s computing experience?

Every Indian will have a mobile device and network bandwidth in abundance and will experience the mobility and access they provide in ways that beggars our imagination today.

How would you complete this sentence: 2016 will be the year that…

Rural connectivity takes off in India and significant portions of India come online.


For more perspectives from Microsoft's multi-disciplinary collection of researchers, click here.

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