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'Machine learning is the big one': Deloitte expert looks to the future of tech trends

  • "Machine learning is the big one," Duncan Stewart, the director of technology, media, and telecommunications research at Deloitte Canada, told CNBC.

The dominant tech trend in places like Southeast Asia will not be artificial intelligence as a whole, but rather it will be the more specific AI field of machine learning, according to a researcher from Deloitte.

"Machine learning is the big one, not AI. AI's a very broad field, we are talking about the very narrow field of machine learning," Duncan Stewart, the director of technology, media, and telecommunications research at Deloitte Canada, told CNBC.

Deloitte predicts that the next 12 months will see significant progress in augmented reality, mobile device usage, and increasingly sophisticated chips. But the most dominant trend will be machine learning — when programs predict or explain using large amounts of data without being explicitly programmed — according to Stewart.

In fact, big companies like Amazon and Netflix use machine learning all the time to analyze and improve user experiences, predicting what their next purchase or binge viewing may be. Stewart, however, added that it's not just major tech firms employing machine learning: "I am seeing large companies do more and more with machine learning in their own data centers — this isn't just Google, Amazon and Microsoft, the big cloud guys — this is Southeast Asia companies making investments in new chips to accelerate machine learning."

While consumer products like Google Home and Amazon Alexa have long used machine learning as a buzzword, enterprise applications such as voice recognition, natural language processing and fraud detection are picking up, according to Stewart.

A large part of that push comes from significant improvements in computer hardware.

"The hardware is about a million times better over the last two years. That means Deloitte is predicting that the enterprise — the business use of machine learning — will double in 2018 compared to the year before; it will double again by 2020. Now that's exponential growth in a market that's already worth tens of billions of dollars in size."