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MIT Technology Review names 10 technologies that will change the World

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April 20, 2010

What technologies that will change the World (Photo: Stephan Uhlmann, CC license)

What technologies that will change the World (Photo: Stephan Uhlmann, CC license)

Here we are in the Information Age. Never before has the flow of ideas, innovation and new technologies been so strong, so much so that it's hard to imagine what the world will be like in 10, 20 or 50 years time. So which of today's fledgling technologies will have a fundamental impact on the way we live our lives in the future? MIT’s Technology Review has turned its attention to this question with the release of its annual list of 10 emerging technologies and it makes thought provoking reading.

Technology Review 2010 TR10 - technologies likely to change the world

Media Release:

  • Solar fuel. Joule Biotechnologies’ Noubar Afeyan has created genetically engineered microorganisms that can turn sunlight into ethanol or diesel — a feat that could allow biofuels to compete with fossil fuels on both cost and scale.
  • Mobile 3-D. Recent box-office hits like Avatar and Up have added to the growing popularity of 3-D movies. Julien Flack of Dynamic Digital Depth is leading the charge to take 3-D mainstream not only on TVs, but also smart phones and mobile devices, through a technology that can convert existing 2-D content to 3-D on the fly.
  • Dual-action antibodies. Genentech’s Germaine Fuh has found a promising way to fight conditions like cancer and AIDs through dual-action antibodies that give patients two drugs for the price of one, offering the promise of drugs that work better and cost less.
  • Real-time search. Amit Singhal is leading Google’s quest to mine social networks for up-to-the-second search results that offer the same relevance and quality of traditional Web searches.
  • Light-trapping photovoltaics. By depositing nanoparticles of silver on the surface of a thin-film cell, Kylie Catchpole of the Australian National University has found a way to boost the cells’ efficiency — an advance that could help make solar power more competitive with fossil fuels.
  • Engineered stem cells. James Thomson of Cellular Dynamics and the University of Wisconsin has potentially revolutionized the way we screen drugs and study disease by providing a way to make — in the test tube — any kind of cell from patients with different diseases.
  • Social TV. People are already trying to combine their social networks with TV, using laptops and smart phones to comment on live events like the Oscars or the Olympics. MIT’s Marie-José Montpetit is working on social TV — a way to seamlessly combine the active experience of social networks with the more passive experience of traditional TV viewing.
  • Green concrete. The production of cement is responsible for about 5 percent of global carbon emissions. Novacem’s Nikolaos Vlasopoulos has created a cement that is a carbon “sink” rather than a source. His innovation could greatly reduce the global carbon emissions that result from cement production.
  • Implantable electronics. Tufts University’s Fiorenzo Omenetto is developing implantable electronic devices that can be used to deliver drugs, stimulate nerves, monitor biomarkers, and more. And once they’ve done their job, they almost completely dissolve away.
  • Cloud programming. At the University of California, Berkeley, Joseph Hellerstein is creating better software for building cloud applications, and this could herald a new wave of applications for social media analysis, enterprise computing, or sensor networks monitoring for earthquake warning signs.

What do you think? Anything missing - advances in nanomedicine perhaps, or the advent of personal flight? Let us know in the comments section.

More info on each of the 2010 TR10 (and previous years) is now online and will be featured in the May/June edition of Technology Review.

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15 Comments

At no time in the history so many innovations are taking place bringing in breakthroughs to benefit mankind. MIT contribution to innovative research is well known. It is hoped other Institutions and Individuals in Developing countries emulate MIT.

Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

Dr.A.Jagadeesh
21st April, 2010 @ 06:37 am PDT

Where's my flying car? They promised me an affordable one by 2000 in the 70s...

Luddite
21st April, 2010 @ 07:58 am PDT

Nanomedicine may lead better results in cancer therapies,less side effects better results.Augmented reality will find many uses in future also.

tarkan1972
21st April, 2010 @ 11:37 am PDT

Tweel by Michelin

woodsman
21st April, 2010 @ 01:37 pm PDT

Mobile 3D sounds lame in comparison to the other technologies that will change the world.

Other contenders are:

- Personal Air Vehicles (PAV) that take off vertically and are automated (easier to do than car automation).

- Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) also known as pod cars are taking off in Sweden, Poland, Abu Dhabi (Masdar City), and the UK.

Edgar Walkowsky
21st April, 2010 @ 08:43 pm PDT

What is missing from the list is the slowly developing understanding of social capital in the community that it provides the environment for technology to develop. The focus on governance assistance for third world countries is an example of this.

Most people cannot express how trust is built, or understand the significance of reciprocity in everyday life. Nor do they understand the importance of the formal and informal rules that govern societies or the significance of the institutions that have been created to support the rules and create trust environments.

Wealth differences around the world are highly correlated to the effectiveness of a nation's social capital.

As communities develop an understanding of what is social capital and the strengths and weaknesses of their own social capital, we should see another revolution as significant as the industrial revolution.

pete2100
21st April, 2010 @ 08:52 pm PDT

nuclear fusion?

bio-power jeff
21st April, 2010 @ 10:26 pm PDT

How about colon-izing the moon???

Chris7527
22nd April, 2010 @ 11:04 am PDT

ALL of the MIT choices are childish and immature.

Energy makes the world go around. So when the source is privatized, personal, and

essentially infinite, individuals will be building and using their own aircraft, boats, vehicles,

and personal submarines, with unlimited range. What energy do you use?

http://www.blacklightpower.com/

Mental ability makes the world go around. So use synthetic intelligence.

http://www.imagination-engines.com/

Self-replicating factories are the way of the future.

http://www.molecularassembler.com/KSRM.htm

Space colonization is the way of the future.

http://www.islandone.org/MMSG/aasm/

That is just for starters. To improve individual minds expect

wearable computers with heads up displays that can access the information

contents of memory sticks by monitoring where you are looking at the display,

and display the contents as fast, or faster, than your organic mind could recall the

information. That is 20 year old technology, all people have to do is start using it.

Immortality research will result in greatly extended life spans within a few years.

Understanding what the mind is, and transferring it from the human brain to an

immortal machine brain is the way of the future.

These are the kind of technologies that WILL, not just likely, change the world!

mockan
22nd April, 2010 @ 11:14 am PDT

There is one advance that will change the face of mankind forever and make all other developments seem trivial - the "˜Neural Link'. The initial step will be the tapping into our nervous system, permitting us to "˜read' the electrical signals of the brain. The ensuing stages will lead to: retrieving and reading memories; implanting "˜memories' that will give us physical and mental skills instantly (and limitless knowledge); downloading our memories to digital storage and, perhaps, to other "˜connected' brains; and the ability to interface with digital equipment, particularly "˜wireless' communications. Then will come the inevitable, final, evolution...

Since our individuality derives from the sum of our nurturing, experiences, education, and inherited traits and basic mental endowments, these all can be summarized as "˜memories'. Once these memories (one could say that they represent our "˜soul') can be moved, cloned, stored, and retrieved via digital technology, then we have attained a reasonable working definition of "˜Immortality'. Who needs a body? We would "˜move' from our "˜analog' shell into an indestructible, virtual, digital environment. We now could access our memories flawlessly - electronically, communicate with others instantly - electronically, and could dispense with once-implacable imperatives like eating, sleeping, washing, etc.. Nanotechnology will boost this overall capability and lead us to interstellar travel. We will tour the Universe without the need of a towel nor, as the Universe hums with energy, the need to remember spare batteries. Distance will be meaningless as we can either hibernate or slow our "˜cpu' down to a trickle. We will create an entirely new Civilization, and when we visit other worlds with sentient life, those creatures will think the same thoughts that our ancestors did when they saw the same event - they will believe us to be gods,

At our current arithmetic technological growth rate, the human race has perhaps 30 years left of "˜traditional' existence. The nation that gets to "˜Der Tag' first could easily take over the World with hardly a whimper from those so who place second in the race. However, should the technology become available to the common citizen, who would care??

Goodbye Old Planet! ... and thanks for all the fish!

truun
22nd April, 2010 @ 08:04 pm PDT

Hello truun, what you say may happen IF progress towards the goal(s) both you and I talk about is not hindered. What would stop it? Well, tests and their behavior have revealed probably around 10% of humanity is pathological. And although it does not seem reasonable to you or I, those people would really get off preventing "common citizens" from ever obtaining our visions of the future. My answer is to learn how to implement the technologies on an individual basis, and not be dependent on the collective to develop them and give them to the world. Not completely of course, that would be beyond the ability on any one person, but try to contribute to their development in some way. Meanwhile keep studying the way of the future, and recognize who the enemies are.

mockan
25th April, 2010 @ 03:22 pm PDT

There are many technologies to change the world, we've just need remember the old nuclear fission.

The hard task is select the top 10 that can change the world for better.

Therefore I think that all the technological development's key is the responsability to preceed this ranking by a serious study of their impact on nature and on human beings.

Sergius
12th May, 2010 @ 09:33 am PDT

11 - Real Holograms !!!

Suleyman Suleyman-zade
6th July, 2010 @ 01:37 pm PDT

The increase in public fetishization of technics seems to outstrip even the arithmetic growth in engineering and technological innovation.

Paul Varilio wrote that "If truth is what is verifiable, the truth of contemporary science is not so much the extent of progress achieved as the scale of technical catastrophes occasioned."

Many of our contemporary catastrophes - the deaths of tens of thousands to seize oil reserves in Iraq and the BP oil spill in the Gulf, to bring up two more extreme examples - are linked to our energy-dependence. The inclusion of alternative energy sources in this list demonstrates acknowledgment of our energy-dependence by its authors and by cutting-edge engineers. All the other inventions listed depend on massive amounts of energy. Without the success and universal deployment of such energy alternatives, not only will the other innovations fall short, but, in a time of peak oil, many in the industrialized world would find difficulty in simply surviving beyond a few months. So are these alternatives the gamble that we should stake all our lives and communities on? Are innovations what we should be looking to structure our world around - as is suggested just by the title of this article alone! - or should we instead be invested in structuring a world that doesn't require constant technological fixes to the problems caused by the "progress" we've created? If we are going to "change the World," should we laud the changes the make our lives even more dependent upon technological fixes?

Cathartic Process
17th July, 2010 @ 11:49 am PDT

I see positive things like high efficient electric motors, high efficient batteries, the Lithium battery is undergoing a magnitude of improvements lately and also high efficient solar cells are all going to contribute to us getting off of our dependency on oil and it's pollution and global warming. Electric cars, solar power and better batteries are going to help solve the worlds energy crisis and pollution and warming problems all together. Let's not forget Cigarettes, without them we would be overpopulated with people who want to look cool. drugs and selective diseases also keep the population under control, but why can't we overcome these problems and find a better way to limit our population problem? Better education is still needed everywhere.

Ronald Wade Cooper
2nd August, 2010 @ 07:26 pm PDT
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