MIT’s Annual Technology Review Reveals 10 Breakthrough Technologies For 2017

For the 16th consecutive year, MIT Technology Review releases its annual 10 Breakthrough Technologies List. According to the MIT crew, these are innovations that represent advancements in their respective fields. With guidance and input from companies, investment firms, and research labs around the world, MIT Technology Review identifies the technologies that will have the biggest impact on businesses and society.

The 2017 List: Breakthroughs & Key Players

1. Reinforcement Learning: An approach to artificial intelligence that gets computers to learn like people, through trial and reward.

  • DeepMind
  • Mobileye
  • OpenAI
  • Google
  • Uber

2. The 360-Degree Selfie: Consumer cameras that produce 360° images, providing a realistic sense of events or places.

  • Ricoh
  • Samsung
  • 360fly
  • JK Imaging
  • IC Real Tech
  • Humaneyes Technologies

3. Gene Therapy 2.0: The first gene therapies are on track for approval in the U.S. More are on the way.

  • Spark Therapeutics
  • BioMarin
  • BlueBird Bio
  • GenSight Biologics
  • UniQure

4. Hot Solar Cells: A solar power device that could theoretically double the efficiency of conventional solar cells.

  • David Bierman, Marin Soljacic, and Evelyn Wang, MIT
  • Vladimir Shalaev, Purdue University

5. The Cell Atlas: A master catalogue of every cell type in the human body.

  • Broad Institute
  • Sanger Institute
  • Chan Zuckerberg Biohub

6. Self-Driving Trucks: Long-haul trucks that drive themselves for extended stretches on highways.

  • Otto
  • Volvo
  • Daimler
  • Peterbilt

7. Paying with Your Face: Face recognition technology that is finally accurate enough to be widely used in financial transactions and other everyday applications.

  • Face++
  • Baidu
  • Alibaba

8. Practical Quantum Computers: The fabrication of stable qubits, the basic unit of quantum computers.

  • QuTech
  • Intel
  • Microsoft
  • Google
  • IBM

9. Reversing Paralysis: Wireless brain-body electronic interfaces to bypass damage to the nervous system.

  • École Polytechnique Fédérale
  • de Lausanne
  • Wyss Center for Bio and Neuroengineering
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • Case Western Reserve University

10. Botnets of Things: Malware that takes control of webcams, video recorders, and other consumer devices to cause widespread Internet outages.

  • Whoever created the Mirai botnet software
  • Anyone who runs a poorly secured device online—including you?

Obviously, this begs a couple of questions and an observation. Question one, is do you agree with all or any of the so-called innovations on the list? Is there one or more that you feel strongly in favor or disfavor of?

One person says they look forward to self-driving trucks so that delivery folks won’t drive over his lawn. How about you, which do look forward to maturing in the next couple years or months?

Just an observation about the 360-degree selfie camera, this could provide a lot opportunities for growth in a number of fields. Based on some of the unique things people do and try to take a selfie of themselves doing it, with a bit of imagination and integration, a 360-degree selfie camera integrated into a smartphone could provide opportunities for first responders, physical and mental health professionals, apps developers, and more.

For example, and this was inspired by a true NY news story of this month, let’s say a small group of highly misinformed teens decide to wander out on a frozen pond in Central Park to take a group selfie. The first thing the smartphone with camera could do is analyze the environment and warn these teens that what they are about to do is not a brilliant career move. A flashing display with loud blaring warnings might do it.

If that does not work, and the crew goes out on the ice, the phone can send a 911 text message warning local authorities of the impending disaster. Also, the camera could automatically start taking video of the jolly mayhem which is about to ensue. This is about 30 seconds before the ice cracks and crew goes for a moonlight swim.

By the time the ice cracks and they all fall in, emergency crews should already be on shore with personnel heading out to save these brilliant individuals. While that is happening, the smartphone, using the 360-degree camera is assessing injuries, formulating treatment strategies, and listing the best of the nearest hospitals to take the youths to.

Of course, during the ambulance ride, the smartphone can scour the web for post injury therapy options and, of course, grief counselors for these now traumatized teens or, in the worst case, their next of kin. So, which of those innovations strikes your fancy? ~MD

View the list and report at MIT TECHNOLOGY REVIEW.  For more details, CLICK HERE.

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