By Conor White

2018 was a year of serious advancement in tech. It brought us more driver-less cars, Bitcoin adoption, and A.I. But as the year dwindles, we're looking to the future, not the past. As we gaze into Cheddar's Crystal Ball, here are our top five picks for the technology that is most likely to advance even further in 2019.

Dueling A.I.

If you thought A.I. was impressive in 2018, just wait until it starts learning from itself. That's right: 2019 is expected to produce dueling A.I. It's simple, really ー if you want your A.I. to be smarter, have it battle another A.I. system. For instance, one A.I. tries to create the most realistic picture of a boat it can, and the other A.I. is tasked with determining whether the picture is an actual photo, or a computer-generated image. The concept is called "Generative Adversarial Networks," and could lead to rapid advancements in several industries.

New Uses for Blockchain

While the technology is mostly associated with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin ー which has been struggling for much of the past year ー new ways to incorporate blockchain technology continue to emerge. Chief among them: privacy. Blockchain was created in part to provide industries with incorruptible, encrypted record-keeping ー so it's a natural fit to protect against identity theft. Blockchain could play a huge role in data and identity protection next year.

3D Metal Printing

This technology has been lingering in the shadows of consumer consciousness for a year or two, but 3D printing is poised to take another leap forward in 2019. Metal, it seems, is the next material to get the 3D treatment. HP is already offering its Jet Fusion printer, which the company hopes will disrupt in the metal parts manufacturing sector. GE ($GE) is busy 3D printing metal nozzles for jet engines while Nike ($NKE) is using the tech to print metal cleats.

5G and IOT

5G broadband cellular networks aren't expected to fully replace 4G until 2020, but since big-name networks like AT&T and Verizon are planning to switch on in some areas in 2019, the impact should be felt sooner rather than later. 5G is expected to revolutionize industries like mobile gaming and streaming ー thanks to speeds expected to surpass those of gigabit ethernet connections. 5G also ideally will help push the internet of things forward, allowing travelers to use their smartphone as a hotel key or subway ticket, while also improving the performance of smart home devices. There could be more than 20 billion IOT devices by 2020, according to research firm Gartner.

Green and Renewable Energy

What's old is new again. Literally. Thanks to new attitudes and cultural shifts, green and renewable energy initiatives are expected to grow in the year ahead. Hybrid and plug-in electric vehicles are expected to reach 7 percent of the global market by 2020 according to CleanTechnica, and rapid price drops for alternative energies like solar and wind are only adding to public demand ー while helping the planet consecutively. Certainly, there's no one magic fix for earth, but we seem to be moving in the right direction. Even if it took us longer than it should have.

Read all the 2018 Cheddar Awards here.