• Laura Landmark

5 Biggest Technology Stories of 2018

Technology is advancing at breakneck speed and continuously transforms how we perform basic tasks—but with so much innovation, many developments tend to get lost in the noise. These are the biggest and most important technology stories of 2018.


The General Data Protections Regulation (GDPR) is a ruling intended to protect the data of citizens within the European Union. The GDPR is a move by The Council of the European Union, European Parliament, and European Commission to provide citizens with a greater level of control over their personal data. After several years of refining and debating, the regulation was officially approved by European Parliament on April 14, 2016. The EU has allowed a two-year transition period for organizations to reach compliance. As of May 25, 2018, heavy fines will be levied against any business who does not meet the guidelines set forth by the GDPR.

Businesses that fail to comply with GDPR will be subject to fines starting in May of 2018. This can mean different things for businesses depending on the level of infraction. On the high end, businesses may be required to pay up to 4 percent of their global turnover, or 20 million Euro, whichever is highest. Companies may also be fined 2 percent for not taking appropriate measures to keep records in order. Ultimately, the fine will depend on the nature of the infraction.

2. Deepfakes

You thought fake news was bad? 2018 saw the rise of deepfakes: a technology that generates an imperceptibly accurate, computer-generated video of another person saying and doing whatever you want. Using a machine learning technique, computers are able to look at thousands of photos of an individual, and then produce a new photo or video that approximates those it has seen, but without being an exact copy of any of them.

Deepfakes first came to prominence in late 2017, when a Reddit user started using the tech to superimpose celebrities’ faces onto the bodies of women in porn films. At the start of 2018, they released FakeApp, an easy-to-use platform for making fake media, which put the power to create deepfakes into the hands of everyone with an internet connection. While the first videos were easy to spot as computer generated, deepfakes have now become so lifelike that they can only be identified with finely-tuned algorithms that look at blinking patterns. While some individuals use the FakeApp service to turn themselves into better dancers or create comedy for friends, a number of people are understandably worried that the tech will be used to create propaganda and spread disinformation.

3. Boston Dynamics

Boston Dynamics is an American robotics company which has produced worryingly able robots. Its most prominent creations—an eerie dog-like creation named Spot, and the faceless humanoid Atlas—have shot to YouTube fame for performing actions that machines just shouldn’t be able to do.

While other robotics companies struggle to get their creations to stand up (let alone walk), the 1.5 meter, 165 pound Atlas can run, jump, and even do backflips. It uses stereo vision and lasers to see what is in front of it and make its own decisions about how to tackle an obstacle—plus it keeps its balanced when jostled or pushed, and can get up on its own if pushed over. Spot, meanwhile, has a retractable arm that is able to open doors, and will stay on-task even when swatted out of the way with a hockey stick. Expect to eventually see robots like these on the battlefield and as security guards—and we wouldn’t recommend tangling with them.

4. Bitcoin

Measured in dollars, this year's damage has been much more significant. Roughly $700 billion has been wiped offcryptocurrencies' global market capitalization since the high, according to data from The price of one bitcoin has dropped more than $15,000 since December.

Bitcoin is only 10 years old, but the cryptocurrency has already seen its fair share of bear markets. The most recent one, which some are dubbing "crypto winter," worsened over the weekend. The cryptocurrency slid below $3,500 for the first time in 14 months, then later recovered toward the $3,900 level by Monday, according to data from CoinDesk. That brings its decline from last year's peak to more than 81 percent. That loss isn't the worst bitcoin has suffered, but the world's largest digital currency is getting close.

5. 5G

5G is the fifth generation of cellular mobile communications. It succeeds the 4G (LTE/WiMax), 3G (UMTS) and 2G (GSM) systems. 5G performance targets high data rate, reduced latency, energy saving, cost reduction, higher system capacity, and massive device connectivity.

The first phase of 5G specifications in Release-15 will be completed by March 2019 to accommodate the early commercial deployment. The second phase in Release-16 is due to be completed by March 2020 for submission to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) as a candidate of IMT-2020 technology.

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