Large-scale blockchain applications with more than 10 million daily active items could gain mass adoption in 2020, according to a report from Alibaba global research program DAMO (Discovery, Adventure, Momentum, and Outlook) Academy on Wednesday.

Why it matters: China’s tech mainstays are piling in on the global drive toward deep-technology innovations with increasing focus and investment in research and development (R&D) capabilities.

  • This year’s report is the second time that Alibaba’s in-house R&D division has weighed in on major tech trends. DAMO predicted that real-time simulation of smart cities, commercialized blockchain technology, and applied 5G application would move forward in 2019.

Details: This year’s predictions cover multiple deep-tech sectors, from artificial intelligence and blockchain to the industrial internet of things.

  • Large-scale production-grade blockchain applications will gain mass adoption, the report states. The blockchain-as-a-service model will further reduce barriers of entry for enterprise applications.
  • AI will evolve from perceptual intelligence to cognitive intelligence, drawing inspiration from cognitive psychology, neuroscience, and human social history, the report continued.
  • The report predicts that processing-in-memory (PIM) innovations will spur on next-generation AI. PIM architecture involves the fusing of memory and processor together. Computations take place where data is stored with minimal data movement, allowing improved computation parallelism and efficiency.
  • DAMO expects the onset of 5G, the rapid development of IoT devices, as well as cloud and edge computing, to accelerate the fusion of information, communications, and industrial control systems in 2020.
  • Large-scale collaboration between machines will also become possible thanks to collaborations involving IoT and 5G, the report states.
  • The report also expects modular design to ease chip manufacturing and new materials to revolutionize semiconductor devices.

Context: Alibaba Group launched DAMO Academy in October 2017 to boost technical collaboration worldwide.

  • The $15 billion high tech unit has offices in Beijing, Hangzhou, Singapore, Seattle, Sunnyvale, Tel-Aviv, and New York.
  • DAMO has become an R&D engine for the tech giant, backing a series of projects from its neural network chip to cloud computing.
  • In addition to DAMO Academy, Alibaba leverages Luohan Academy to boost open-research.

Alibaba’s Luohan Academy celebrates first anniversary

Emma Lee (Li Xin) was TechNode's e-commerce and new retail reporter until June 2022, when she moved to Sixth Tone to cover technology and consumption. Get in touch with her via or Twitter.

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