Technology changes quickly! The top computer science trends of 2022 are not the same as they were even a couple of years ago. Mobile apps used to be considered a hot computer science trend, now mobile apps are a normal part of everyday life. What does the future look like? Understanding today’s technology trends can help us answer this question.

What do all these tech buzzwords mean? Does cloud computing have anything to do with clouds? What does “quantum” mean in quantum computing? There are many more trends in computer science than we cover here, but here are ten major trends:

1. Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning

Artificial intelligence and machine learning is about making computers smarter. Artificial intelligence can be as simple as the programming behind the bots in your favorite video games or as complex as enabling computers to have human-like critical thinking. Machine learning enables computers to learn on their own and recognize patterns. While these sound like radical concepts, they are everywhere in our daily lives. As said before, very simple forms of artificial intelligence have existed in games as early as the 1950s! Machine learning determines the recommendations we see when online shopping or watching streaming videos.

2. Big Data

The world generates over 59 trillion GB of data per day, including 306.4 billion emails! Where is all this data stored? How is all this data recorded so quickly? That’s what Big Data tries to solve - how to capture and process tons of data to make it easily and quickly accessible. Big data intersects a lot with cloud computing because they both relate to behind the scenes software infrastructure.

3. Bioinformatics / Medical Technology

Just like other aspects of our lives, computers are revolutionizing medicine. Bioinformatics is the use of computers to study biological data such as DNA. By analyzing DNA with AI / ML techniques, computers can assist scientists in uncovering the root causes of diseases developing cures, including this recent potential cure for certain cancers here. Other computer science trends intersect with medicine. For example, using robots for surgery is becoming more widespread. Computer vision can read and interpret X-rays and other medical images. Smart devices enable doctors to record real time patient data. Technology truly has the ability to save lives.

4. Cloud Computing

Cloud computing enables software to scale quickly. For example, in the past if your website grew really fast you would have to physically buy and set up more computers. This would limit the amount of growth to how fast you can set up computers. Today, if you set up your website in the cloud, you can instantly expand your virtual computer by buying more resources from a cloud computing provider to accommodate for the additional traffic. Due to their ease of use and ability to expand quickly, cloud computing has become the standard way to deliver software such as websites, apps, and games. In fact, 94% of data center traffic nowadays is for cloud computing.

5. Computer Vision / Natural Language Processing

These fields give computers the ability to see and listen. Computer vision is the technology behind enabling computers to see the world. It is the crucial technology behind self-driving cars, facial recognition, and Snapchat / Zoom filters. The technology has become so advanced that it is even more accurate than humans in identifying images!

Natural Language Processing (NLP) is how computers are able to recognize what humans say. NLP is found in voice enabled smart devices like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa. These fields overlap with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning because computers use the same AI/ML algorithms to process inputs, whether it is visual or audio.

6. Cybersecurity

In the past, information was secured from robbers by metal vaults and security guards. Today, digital information is secured from hackers by cybersecurity. As more of our lives is online, the more important cybersecurity becomes. There’s a successful computer hack every 39 seconds! There are many sub-fields within cybersecurity. For example, cryptography finds new algorithms to encrypt sensitive information, or make it such that information cannot be read unless the reader knows a password. Another example is network security - ensuring computer networks or cloud networks are only accessible by the correct users and applications.

7. Internet of Things

Everything is “smart” nowadays - smart watch, smart TV, even smart fridges. This is all thanks to the Internet of Things, or IoT for short. In fact, there are 12.3 billion IoT devices as of 2021. IoT imagines a world where physical products use technology and software to improve the user experience. IoT is not just for “smart homes”. “Smart cities” that can use IoT to manage utilities or traffic in real time, enabling a city to be more environmentally friendly. Smart medical devices could provide real time patient data to doctors and detect worrying trends ahead of time.

8. Quantum Computing

Currently, normal computers contain processors with billions of on and off switches called “bits”. The processors in quantum computers use “qubits” that can be any amount of energy between 100% on and 100% off. The infinite amount of possibilities between each bit enables quantum computers to perform really fast. In theory, quantum computers could perform tasks within seconds that would take normal computers today would take millions of years to complete.

For example, while computers the fastest computers today can analyze 200 million chess moves per second, a quantum computer can analyze 1 trillion moves per second, a 5000x increase in speed! With that said, quantum computing is still in a very early prototyping stage.

9. Robotics

Although robots aren’t walking and talking with normal people like they do in science fiction movies, robotics still play an important role in our everyday lives. Hospitals use robotic arms to assist surgeons in surgery. Food and packages are starting to be delivered by drones. Factories use robots to assemble the products we use everyday like phones and cars. In fact, 2.7 million robots work in factories across the world. Future advancements to robotics is to integrate computer vision and natural language processing to enable them to interact with the world more naturally.

10. Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality (VR) is the technology that enables humans to interact with a virtual world. VR used to be considered super futuristic but now anyone can buy an Oculus headset and experience VR at home. In fact, in 2020 20% of U.S. adults claimed to have used a VR headset once during that year.

With that said, VR can still be improved further with higher quality graphics, lighter hardware, and faster processing speeds. VR today is mainly used for entertainment and games but could be used in the future for education or socializing.

Do any of these top computer science trends stand out to you? If so, many of our advanced Create & Learn classes for kids relate to these topics. For example, AI Creators gives students hands-on experience with AI/ML, Intro to Computational Biology enables students to sequence genomes, and Cloud Computing for Web Apps exposes students to the world of cloud computing. For younger students, Junior Robotics provides fun project-based learning about robotics.

By getting on top of these tech trends early, your child will be prepared for whatever the technology world throws at them in the future. Up next, read all about famous women in computer science.

Written by Brandon Lim, a Create & Learn instructor and curriculum developer. Brandon also works full-time as a software engineer and holds a BS in Computer Science from Johns Hopkins University. Brandon has experience teaching coding to students of all ages from elementary school to college and is excited to share his deep knowledge and relentless passion for coding with the next generation of technology leaders.