Arcus unveils its breakthrough technology list for 2020 – a review of 10 inspiring scientific and technological trends that have the potential to change the way we live our lives in dramatic ways.
Here is why these technology breakthroughs were selected, why they are exciting – and the importance of ethical frameworks for these breakthroughs in the near future.
Arcus selected the list by asking leading technical and trend forecasting experts about new technologies they will be covering this year and the associated long-term impact. The goal is to identify fundamentally new advances in technology that will have widespread consequences.
1. 3D Material Printing
The ease of 3D plastic printing has accelerated advances in design and prototyping. As a result, instant metal fabrication has become more of a reality, opening a new world of possibilities. 3D metal printing allows manufacturers the ability to make a single or small number of metal parts at a significantly lower cost instead of existing mass-production techniques. The impact on inventory will be dramatic for large manufacturers who wont need to store a large inventory of parts as it will be possible to print a part after a customer orders equipment. Additionally, with 3D metal printing it will be possible to manufacture highly complex parts at short notice, especially higher performance parts.
2. Embryo-like structures from stem cells
Researchers last year developed embryo-like structures from stem cells without starting with egg or sperm cells. The possibilities are significant. It will be possible to artificially produce living forms comes raising ethical and philosophical questions. Artificial embryos may make it possible to eventually make it possible to create living organisms from one stem cell taken from an embryo. No sperm, no eggs. With the creation of life placed in the hands of laboratory researchers.
3. Smart Cities
Google’s parent company, Alphabet, is implementing sensors and analytics into a model city in Toronto to reinvent how cities are designed, operated and lived in. The goal will be to seamlessly integrate urban design into “smart cities” making living and working more affordable, convenient and environmentally sustainable. The opportunity to integrate big data into how cities operate will lead to cleaner and safer environments.
4. Machine learning
Technology leaders such as Amazon, Google, IBM and Microsoft are working on improving machine learning and artificial neural network technologies to make it more affordable and easy to use. This will facilitate advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence tools will be available to businesses to improve their productivity in areas such as manufacturing and logistics, making Artificial Intelligence easier for organizations to deploy.
5. Duelling Neural Networks
Dueling Neural Networks allows artificial intelligence to create images of things it has never seen. It gives AI a layer of imagination. AI systems with “imagination” is the next frontier that organizations like Google Brain, Deep Mind and Nvidia are working on to enable computer systems to generate realistic, images or sounds, beyond what is currently possible. A concern is that this technology could be used for digital fraud for example, altering existing video content.
6. Instant translation earbuds
Instant online translation technology will allow humans to understand each other in real time while speaking different languages. Google’s Pixel Buds will make it easy to carry out natural conversations with someone speaking a different language. The technology is available today in Google’s voice-activated translation services on computers and mobile devices.
7. Natural Gas with zero carbon
Advancements in carbon capture will allow the burning of natural gas thus avoiding the release of greenhouse emissions. Currently, the US produces 32 percent of its energy by burning natural gas. The energy accounts for a third of the carbon emissions of the power sector. Key players in this technology include 8 Rivers Capital, Exelon Generation and CB&I.
8. Online Privacy Max
Blockchain-based privacy systems will allow digital transactions to be recorded and validated with total privacy of information and identities underlying the exchange of information. This will make it easier to disclose information without a risk to privacy, fraud or identity theft.
9. Genetic Health Projection
Genetic Health Technologies will make it possible to determine intelligence and health quotients of individuals. It will also allow neural networks to understand and predict behavioural traits of people. Advances in predictive analytics using genomic data by Helix, Myriad Genetics, BK Biobank and the Broad Institute will make it possible to predict the probability of diseases such as cancer, diabetes or even IQ, by analyzing genetic data. The benefit for public health protection and cost savings is enormous with the downside being the risk of genetic discrimination.
10. Materials’ Quantum Leap
Researchers at Harvard have built the most complete simulation of a simple molecule using a seven-qubit quantum computer. The molecule – Beryllium Hydride – is the biggest yet simulated by quantum computing. Scientists could use quantum computers to design new types of materials and precisely tailor their properties. This could make it possible to create miracle materials, that could make solar cells more efficient, make fuels cleaner and drugs more effective.
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