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Deep Fakes, Digital Twins, 4D Printing, Brain Computer Interfaces, Quantum Computing – what will technology look like in 5, 10, 20 years?

Deep Fakes, Digital Twins, 4D Printing, Brain Computer Interfaces, Quantum Computing — what will technology look like in 5, 10, 20 years? The Emerging Technology team in the Department of Internal Affairs’ Service Innovation Lab has created a 20-year Emerging Technology Landscape to help government agencies understand the technology that’s speeding toward us.

Emerging Tech lead, Dr Hazel Bradshaw, says the Landscape has been produced to give agencies and individuals a resource they can refer to, with the aim of building a shared understanding of the incredibly complex environment we will soon all, in varying degrees, have to engage with.

The Lab is undertaking this work as part of its work to provide advice and guidance across government on the digital landscape of Emerging Technology.

The 20-year Emerging Technology Landscape

Download double-sided printable A3 poster (PDF 271KB)

You can email for an editable version.

Detailed description of the Emerging Technology Landscape poster


The main table displays the 20-year emerging technology landscape.

There are 4 rows representing periods of time, from top to bottom:

  • Current
  • 0 to 5 years from now
  • 5 to 10 years from now
  • 10 to 20 years from now.

Each row illustrates how far in the future the technology is expected to become commonly used.

There are 13 columns labelled with categories of emergent technology, from left to right:

  • Cloud Computing
  • Big Data/Analytics
  • Encryption/Privacy
  • Internet of Things
  • Spatial Computing
  • Artificial Intelligence Tools
  • Artificial Intelligence Applications
  • Robotics, Production
  • Autonomous Agents
  • Symbiotic Application
  • Bio-Tech
  • Quantum Computing.

Columns for technology categories which are in common use now are on the left.

As you read each column from left to right, the technology categories are increasingly experimental, still in research and development, or limited to academic of private institutions.

53 technologies are represented in the diagram, each one placed in its respective column (for its category) and row (for when it will be in use, for example in 10 to 20 years.)


This section describes the categories of emergent technology, the technology itself, and where they fit in the timeline.

Technologies with Cloud Computing:

  • Storage (AWS, AZURE, etc) - Current
  • Applications as a Service - Current

Technologies with Big Data:

  • Big data / data analytics
  • Hadoop Ecosystem, Spark, R - Now
  • Data Lakes, NoSQL Databases - Now
  • Big Data Governance Solutions - 0 to 5 years

Technologies with Encryption/Privacy:

  • Digital Ledgers - Current
  • Blockchain - Current
  • Distributed Ledgers - Current
  • Homomorphic encryption - 0 to 5 years
  • Wearable two-factor authentication - 0 to 5 years

Technologies with Internet of Things:

  • Digital Twins - 0 to 5 years

Technologies with Spatial Computing:

  • Augmented Reality - Current
  • Virtual Reality - Current / 0 to 5 years
  • Mixed Reality - 0 to 5 years

Technologies with Artificial Intelligence Tools:

  • Facial Recognition - Current
  • Machine Learning - Current
  • Cognitive Computing - Current / 0 to 5 years
  • Computer Vision - 0 to 5 years
  • Generative Adversarial Networks - 0 to 5 years
  • Natural Language Processing - 0 to 5 years

Technologies with Artificial Intelligence Applications:

  • Identification(Facial Recognition, fingerprints, voice, gait) - Current
  • Process analysis/optimisation - Current
  • Monitoring, Surveillance - Current
  • Deep Fakes - 0 to 5 years
  • Natural Language Generation - 0 to 5 years
  • Digital/Intelligence Systems - 0 to 5 years
  • Conversational Interfaces - 0 to 5 years
  • Digital Twins - 5 to 10 years

Technologies with Robotics:

  • Robotic Process Automation - 0 to 5 years
  • Advanced Robotics - 5 to 10 years

Technologies with Production:

  • 3D Printing - 0 to 5 years
  • 4D Printing - 0 to 5 years
  • Bio Manufacturing - 0 to 5 years/ 5 to 10 years
  • Self Assembling Components - 5 to 10 years

Technologies with Autonomous Agents:

  • Vehicles - 0 to 5 years
  • Drones - 0 to 5 years
  • Weapons - 0 to 5 years / 5 to 10 years

Technologies with Symbiotic Applications:

CoBot Robots - Current

  • Wearables - Current / 0 to 5 years
  • Brain Computer Interfaces - 0 to 5 years
  • Smart Prosthetics - 0 to 5 years
  • Human Machine Convergence - 5- 10 years/ 10 to 20 years

Technologies with Bio Tech:

  • Genetics - Current
  • Proteomics - Current
  • Nano Bio-tech - 0 to 5 years
  • Bio Computing - 5 to 10 years

Technologies with Quantum Computing:

  • Artificial Intelligence - 0 to 5 years
  • Financial Modelling - 0 to 5 years / 5 to 10 years
  • Cryptography - 5 to 10 years
  • Weather Forecasting - 5 to 10 years
  • Molecular Modelling - 5 to 10 years
  • Particle Physics - 10 to 20 years.

How the Landscape was constructed

The positioning of the emerging technologies on a timeline came as a result of research from multiple organisations and forums (such as those listed below) and knowledge held within the Service Innovation team.

“Our particular lens is on the emerging technologies that enable digital public services. In this case, we are seeking to provide advice and guidance across government on the digital landscape of Emerging Technology,” says Hazel.

What the team wants from other agencies

This is a first draft and Hazel says her team understands if their lens differs from that of other organisations, so welcomes changes and feedback on elements such as:

  • Positioning of cards
  • Maturity of technology
  • Category descriptions
  • The difference in how your organisation would prioritise the technology.

“Our message to our fellow agencies is that this is a very general take on the landscape which has proven useful to us when engaging across government. It is also likely to be useful to them as they plan and prepare for the future. I expect agencies will have a lens of their own they wish to put over this work. They may also want to come and talk about it to learn more — and I hope there will be things we can learn from similar work being undertaken elsewhere.”

Key areas of focus

Dr Bradshaw says the SI Lab lens is on emerging technologies that enable a digital public service. Using this, the team has prioritised the following key areas to focus on:

Artificial intelligence tools and applications

AI Tools can be used for an individual function to complete a specific task, such as facial recognition or Machine Learning (ML). A set of tools can be used collectively to create a broader AI application. Applications are a combination of several tools developed together to perform certain tasks, across a wide range of activities e.g. a digital assistant.

Spatial computing

The collective name for virtual (VR), mixed (MR) and augmented reality (AR). It uses a real-world physical space instead of a screen, allowing the user to physically interact with computer generated content. The user engages with the content via a headset or mobile device.


Assists in protecting privacy. It turns sensitive information into ‘for your eyes only’ that’s intended only for the parties that need to access and see it.

Internet of things (IOT)

The connection via the internet of web-enabled devices that are embedded in everyday objects e.g. mobile phones - that allows them to acquire, send and receive data.

Big data

Extremely large data sets that could be analysed through the use of computers to reveal patterns, trends and associations relating particularly to human behaviours and interactions.

Robotics and autonomous systems

This is the use of robots, as well as computer systems for their control, sensory feedback and information processing abilities. Autonomous systems allow for 'things' to perform desired tasks without continuous human guidance.

Quantum computing

Uses Qubits’ as opposed to the current binary processing, resulting in a huge leap in computer processing power and speed. A foreseen risk of this advancement in computing power is the vulnerability of encrypted information to be open to brute force (raw computing power) attacks.

Get in touch

Individuals and agencies interested in engaging in this work can email You're also welcome to come to the Lab (191 Thorndon Quay, Wellington) to talk and learn more about the Lab’s approach and decisions.

The Lab team anticipates there could be a lot of interest in this work, so they will be running workshops in coming months. You can register your interest or email the team directly if you would like to participate.

All posts by Hazel Bradshaw

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