June 23, 2016Michael Sutherland-Shaw
From batteries that can provide power to entire villages, to “socially aware” artificial intelligence, the World Economic Forum has released its top 10 emerging technologies of 2016.
“As we enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it is vital that we develop shared norms and protocols to ensure that technology serves humanity and contributes to a prosperous and sustainable future,” said Jeremy Jurgens, Chief Information and Interaction Officer, Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum.
According to WEF, the top 10 Emerging Technologies 2016 list highlights technologies with the power to improve lives, transform industries and safeguard the planet.
The top 10 technologies – compiled by the Forum’s Meta-Council on Emerging Technologies – to make this year’s list are:
- Nanosensors and the Internet of Nanothings– It is said that 30 billion devices are expected to be connected to the Internet by 2020 thanks to advancements in nanosensors that would be capable of circulating in the human body or being embedded in construction materials.
- Next Generation Batteries– Thanks to recent advances in energy-storage using sodium, aluminum and zinc based batteries makes mini-grids feasible to provide clean, reliable and round the clock energy to entire villages.
- The Blockchain – With venture investment exceeding $1 billion in 2015, the electronic ledger behind the online currency of Bitcoin has the potential to change the way markets and governments operate.
- 2D Materials – Plummeting production costs mean 2D materials like Graphene are emerging in a wide range of applications, from air and water filters to new generations of wearables and batteries.
- Autonomous Vehicles– Self-driving cars may not yet be fully legal, but their potential for saving lives, cutting pollution, boosting economies, and improving quality of life for the elderly and other segments of society has led to rapid deployment of key technology forerunners including Google.
- Organs-on-chips– Miniature models of human organs could revolutionize medical research and drug discovery by allowing researchers to see biological mechanism behaviours in ways never before possible.
- Perovskite Solar Cells – Not only are these new photovoltaic cells easier to make, they can be used virtually anywhere and generate power more efficiently.
- Open AI Ecosystem– Advances in natural language processing and social awareness algorithms, coupled with an unprecedented availability of data, will soon allow smart digital assistants help with a vast range of tasks, from keeping track of one’s finances to advising on wardrobe choice.
- Optogenetics– Thanks to recent developments in the use of light and colour to record brain activity, light can now be delivered deeper into brain tissue, something that could lead to better treatment for people with brain disorders.
- Systems Metabolic Engineering – Advances in synthetic biology, systems biology and evolutionary engineering mean the list of building block chemicals that can be manufactured better and more cheaply by using plants rather than fossil fuels is growing every year.