10 Breakthrough Technologies 2021

For anyone who is interested in the technology trend, check out this year’s MIT Technology Review article. Some might become true. Others might fail. Who knows. One thing for sure, people are relentlessly making progresses on the technological frontiers. Stay tuned, and enjoy the benefits (or dislike the hassles) from technology innovations.

10 Breakthrough Technologies 2021

This list marks 20 years since we began compiling an annual selection of the year’s most important technologies. Some, such as mRNA vaccines, are already changing our lives, while others are still a few years off. Below, you’ll find a brief description along with a link to a feature article that probes each technology in detail. We hope you’ll enjoy and explore—taken together, we believe this list represents a glimpse into our collective future.

Messenger RNA vaccines

The new covid vaccines are based on a technology never before used in therapeutics, and it could transform medicine, leading to vaccines against various infectious diseases, including malaria…

GPT-3

Large natural-language computer models that learn to write and speak are a big step toward AI that can better understand and interact with the world. GPT-3 is by far the largest—and most literate—to date…

TikTok recommendation algorithms

While other platforms are geared more toward highlighting content with mass appeal, TikTok’s algorithms seem just as likely to pluck a new creator out of obscurity as they are to feature a known star. And they’re particularly adept at feeding relevant content to niche communities of users who share a particular interest or identity…

Lithium-metal batteries

According to early test results, the battery could boost the range of an EV by 80% and can be rapidly recharged… 

Data trusts

A data trust is a legal entity that collects and manages people’s personal data on their behalf. Though the structure and function of these trusts are still being defined, and many questions remain, data trusts are notable for offering a potential solution to long-standing problems in privacy and security…

Green hydrogen

Hydrogen has always been an intriguing possible replacement for fossil fuels. The rapidly dropping cost of solar and wind power means green hydrogen is now cheap enough to be practical…

Digital contact tracing

The lessons we learn from this pandemic could not only help us prepare for the next pandemic but also carry over to other areas of health care. Lindsay Muscato explores why digital contact tracing failed to slow covid-19 and offers ways we can do better next time…

Hyper-accurate positioning

But while today’s GPS is accurate to within 5 to 10 meters, new hyper-accurate positioning technologies have accuracies within a few centimeters or millimeters…

Remote everything

The covid pandemic forced the world to go remote. Getting that shift right has been especially critical in health care and education…

Multi-skilled AI

One promising approach to improving the skills of AI is to expand its senses; currently AI with computer vision or audio recognition can sense things but cannot “talk” about what it sees and hears using natural-language algorithms. But what if you combined these abilities in a single AI system? Might these systems begin to gain human-like intelligence? Might a robot that can see, feel, hear, and communicate be a more productive human assistant?

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