10 emerging technologies according to World Economic Forum
The World Economic Forum's international experts' network has made it known, which are the ten emerging technologies of this year. It is a shortlist of the most promising technological innovations to face the challenges of contemporaneity and the imminent future of our societies. In short, they are the technologies capable of improving our lives, rejuvenating the production systems, and safeguarding the suffering planet. The list of the most important technological trends of the current year is compiled by a network that includes more than 5000 leading experts from the academic, economic-industrial, political, artistic, civil society and non-profit organizations.
The goal is to inform the general public about what can hopefully be important and concrete transformations in our homes, our cities, and our society in general. Thus it facilitates a process of understanding and adaptation to new, fast, technological revolutions. Not before having prodded the investments necessary for the large-scale introduction of the products and the related regulations, a process without which no change in this direction can begin.
In the last phase of the selection, the last team of judges, led by Mariette DiChristina, director of Scientific American, has tightened the circle on the candidates who attract the most attention of the laboratories. They have more chance of making it in the coming years and which make substantial contributions to more sustainable technological innovation. Let's see in summary what the Top 10 Emerging Technologies includes:
Bioplastics to help the circular economy
The bioplastics are among the possible, the main solutions to the problem of the accumulation of plastic waste that threatens various ecosystems of our planet. Like the old-style plastic, derived from petrochemical products, the biodegradable version also consists of moldable polymers in the molten state. Currently, bioplastics are generally produced from corn, sugar cane, or waste oils. One of the obstacles to their spread is mechanical resistance. New products made from fiber could remedy this problem.
A robotics revolution is long overdue. For the moment, most of the robots actually active in our societies are those engaged in the production system, from production to the transport of goods. The ability to interact with the external environment of these machines are increasingly sophisticated, the day when robots will finally have a real "social" role, from the recognition of the voice, gestures, and emotions, is not far off in order to respond appropriately to a human interlocutor, up to assistance to the sick.
Nano-optics for nano-devices
A nano-optics is a very thin lens, in the order of microns (1 millionth of a meter), generally covered - "functionalized" - by even thinner layers of nano-metric substances (1 billionth of a meter), which provide it with additional, exceptional optical properties. These are very useful performances to miniaturize electronic devices and instruments, otherwise impossible by working lenses only in the old way.
IDP, the target proteins to fight cancer and Alzheimer
Intrinsically Disordered Proteins (IDP) is a bit different from the proteins we have come to know since school. IDPs are less rigid and tend to bind to more molecules, unlike normal proteins. When IDPs malfunction, diseases can arise. By studying IDPs, one can hope to do prevention, but so far, they have been too "elusive" rivalries for cancer tests. Something has changed. However, Spanish and French researchers have successfully used the drug trifluoperazine on IDP targets in tests for a cure for pancreatic cancer.
Smart fertilizers to reduce pollution in agriculture
The world population continues to increase, and there is a need for more and more food. Fertilizers are of great help in increasing crops, but, as is known, they have the serious side effect of a heavy impact on the environment, such as the release of nitrogen, a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. The new class of "slow-release fertilizers" is making huge strides in low impact controlled fertilization. These are tiny capsules that gradually dose nutrients and control the release of toxic substances.
Tele-conferences or teleportation:
We are already used to business meetings or distance greetings via Skype or Facetime. Our way of communicating will be able to make a further leap forward, with a new generation of teleconferences, due to augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies. We may also have the feeling of shaking hands with our colleagues, or doctors will be able to visit patients remotely as if they were present in the same room.
Food increasingly monitored
According to the World Health Organization, around 600 million people suffer from food poisoning every year. Tracing back to the source of these intoxications can be a long and, in some cases, inconclusive work. Two new technologies, "awarded" by the World Economic Forum, can solve both the problem of traceability and food waste intoxication. These are systems based on the blockchain and cloud platforms so as not to lose sight of the foods and the packaging that contains them for a moment, immediately identifying something wrong, for example, contamination or bad quality in general.
A new generation of nuclear reactors
In the energy supply of the future, nuclear reactors will almost certainly have a role to play. However, the safety obstacles that caused those serious accidents when the trust we place in these technologies have cracked (the last most serious in chronological order, that of Fukushima, 2011) must be resolved somehow. Private companies such as Westinghouse Electric Company are working on bars of more resistant combustible materials, which are less likely to overheat than zirconium, among the main causes of the accident as happened in Fukushima, Japan.
DNA for data storage
Every day we produce an endless amount of data, which travels on the network or is crammed into fixed storage units. Soon common hard drives or cloud systems may no longer be sufficient. How to do? The idea of a storage system based on DNA structure is no longer as sci-fi as it seems. A study published in Nature Materials estimates that data produced in one year worldwide could be stored in a "DNA cube" of just one meter per side.
Rethinking the storage of energy for renewables
Without efficient energy storage systems, renewables have an uncertain future and, consequently, the containment of greenhouse gas emissions and the fight against global warming. Lithium-ion batteries - already used in various power plants and electronic devices and electric cars - alone are not enough. The top ten reports are encouraging progress in other, new high-tech options, such as hydrogen systems, gravity storage or flow batteries, especially in the United States.
Author: Vicki Lezama