Biggest players debate the biggest trends in tech… and the audience picks a winner

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Silicon Valley’s top VCs met on stage to debate which technology trend would be most explosive over the next five years. The competition was the 18th annual, and the fourth consecutive time organizers used Poll Everywhere to select the winner.

Together the panel– comprised of Pat Grady of Sequoia Capital, John Lilly of Greylock, Emily Melton of DFJ, Ann Miura-Ko of Floodgate, and Aydin Senkut of Felicis Ventures–  proposed and then vigorously debated ten trends. The criteria were whether the trend was non-obvious, and whether it would see explosive growth.

The audience had the final say… and say they did! The cheers and jeers were rowdy, and the poll participation was tremendous. The winner was Pat Grady of Sequoia Capital for “Data is the New Oil”. Grady received a striking wizard cape, which he will hopefully don for all partner meetings henceforth.

Here is the audience’s ranking of the 10 trends most likely to change the landscape of technology in the next five years.

Top tech trends poll

Number 1
77% audience agreement
Data is the New Oil
Pat Grady, Sequoia Capital
Machine learning allows for geometric improvement in digital experiences, but cycle time is governed by availability of training data. Data fuels the digital economy as oil fuels the physical economy.

Number 2
66% audience agreement
The Rise of the Health Activated Individual
Emily Melton, DFJ
The rapid democratization of genomic and other personalized health data will give rise to a new wave of health conscious individuals. More than ever before, education and understanding about one’s own health will become ubiquitous. Beyond preventative care or reactive compliance to an existing illness, individuals will understand and manage their overall health much like their personal finance.

Number 3
63% audience agreement
New Killer Application of Gene Sequencing
Aydin Senkut, Felicis Ventures
There will be $10B+ new market cap created in 5 years, leveraging gene sequencing for a biotech cure, extended longevity, diagnostics or more.

Number 4
51% audience agreement
Kicking Our Mobile Addiction – An Untethered Future
Emily Melton, DFJ
The ubiquitous adoption of cell phones has profoundly impacted our lives, but in addition to the benefits there are substantial negative consequences to our addiction to these small screens. The dispersion of sensors, ‘smart’ products, and sophisticated interfaces will mean that consumers will no longer be tied/ tethered to a single device. Ambient computing interfaces will transform how humans interact with technology and hopefully each other.

Number 5
50% audience agreement
Rise of the Designer
Pat Grady, Sequoia Capital
Last ten years: everyone built software. Developers were king. Next ten years: everyone builds GREAT software. Designers are king.

Number 6
47% audience agreement
The Rise of the Digital State (and Digital Embassies) 
John Lilly, Greylock
Digital sovereignty is now as important as physical. Countries will protect citizens’ digital identities and assets; international laws will respect bits as well atoms now.

Number 7
44% audience agreement
True Human-Level A.I. Mimics Brain
Ann Miura-Ko, Floodgate
The human brain will be mapped and the brain circuits underlying intelligence will start to be decoded. We will begin to see algorithms and machines that think not just optimize.

Number 8
33% audience agreement
The Empire Strikes Back
Ann Miura-Ko, Floodgate
After a decade of tech pushing the boundaries on regulation, local, state and national government will try to aggressively reign things in. Everyone loses as bureaucratic process lacking technical knowledge overtakes innovation.

Number 9
31% audience agreement
Maker Revolution: 3D Printing Will Become Mainstream Starting with Toys
Aydin Senkut, Felicis Ventures
10% of all toys (in North America) will be 3D printed locally or at customers’ homes.

Number 10
31% audience agreement
Household Robots
John Lilly, Greylock
We will all start to live with several robots in our houses, doing special purpose chores for us all the time. First Roomba, now becoming pervasive.