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2017 – a midyear look at top technologies (part 2)

date: 11 July 2017
reading time: 3 min

In this mini-series of posts, we show to you some of the most impactful technologies which the MIT predicts will have the greatest influence on us long-term.

In our previous post, we presented to you five various topics ranging from reversing paralysis to the 360-degree selfies.

This week, we reveal the remaining five breakthrough technologies according to the MIT Technology Review.

6. Hot solar cells

MIT predicts that in the next 10-15 years, this new technology will enable greater efficiency of solar power and lead to affordability of solar panels. Researchers at MIT have come up with a prototype of a device which first turns sunlight into heat and then converts it back into light, but focused within the spectrum that solar cells can use. The device can potentially double the efficiency of conventional solar cells.

7. Gene therapy 2.0

Gene therapy is now live to some extent – two therapies for inherited diseases (Strimvelis and Glybera) have already gained regulatory approval in Europe and many more are at testing stage. Diseases with more complex genetic causes will, however, be much more difficult to treat with gene therapy. Yet, research in the area is progressing.

8. The cell atlas

The cell atlas is an effort to create a catalogue of all of the 37.2 trillion cells found in the human body. New technologies have allowed researchers to look into each cell and observe the molecules that are active in them. The goal for researchers will be to assign each of these cell types a ‘˜zip code’ and a ‘˜molecular signature’.

9. Botnets of things

MIT have highlighted botnets of things as one of the 10 technologies to watch this year. As Brian Bergstein, executive editor of Technology Review explains: “Hackers are taking a very clever advantage of the low levels of security in some of these web-connected devices to assemble botnets that are extremely large and that is extremely powerful.” The primary focus of IoT devices is connectivity, rather than security which is a major issue, MIT says.

10. Reinforcement learning

Reinforcement learning can be defined as a method that relies on AI (artificial intelligence) to make computers learn like people, without giving the machines any instructions or examples. Making the machine figure out how to complete a given task can make it come up with results that no programmer would have programmed it to do, as Will Knight of MIT Technology Review explains. Reinforcement learning has recently become more powerful thanks to combining it with deep learning which relies on a huge neural network to perform the learning of the computer.

Innovative technologies are being developed in many different areas, but their primary aim is making our lives and work easier and more efficient (that’s with the exception of botnets, of course).

As the MIT says, these technologies have ‘˜staying power’, and some of them are unfolding now while others will take time to develop. Yet, as we are now halfway through 2017, and we are looking at 2017 Breakthrough Technologies it seems high time to get to what they are.



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