For the first time in its 18-year history, MIT Tech Review’s 2019 breakthrough list has been picked by a contributing editor, Microsoft founder, and former CEO Bill Gates. Gates correctly predicted the rise of the home computer, the graphical desktop operating system, and the internet, so he seems like a natural choice for the esteemed publication’s first guest editor. Bill Gates Reveals The 10 Breakthrough Technologies That Will Change The World in 2019 Adobe Stock MIT creates the list every year, highlighting where it feels technological developments will most impact on human life, during the coming year. The move towards using a guest editor represents another paradigm shift in this year’s list – rather than focusing on technologies that are likely to extend human life; greater emphasis is put on those that could also improve it. Many of the breakthroughs chosen for the list are aimed at solving challenges in two fields that are particularly relevant to improving human quality (and duration) of life – healthcare and the environment. And as would be expected, artificial intelligence (AI) has a part to play in the majority of them. One of the highlights for me was the inclusion of “robot dexterity.” Those who have been following the rise of robotics and automation often comment that, while great at operating in carefully controlled environments, today’s robots often struggle when expected to cope with the unexpected or unfamiliar. The field of robot dexterity revolves around building mechanical devices – for example, robotic hands – that can use AI to learn about unfamiliar devices and environments as they encounter them, and adapt to become more proficient at exploring and handling them. The “cow-free burger” is another exciting addition to the list, demonstrating how high-tech and low-tech solutions can both help solve the same challenges – in this case, the vast amount of carbon emissions caused by the meat industry, and the contribution they make to climate change. This category explicitly includes both plant-based meat alternatives, and artificially-grown “cultured meat,” which has been the subject of much scientific experimentation during the previous decade. The first artificially-grown meat burger was created in a laboratory by Mark Post at Maastricht University in 2013 at the cost of $300,000. By 2017, the cost of producing the same amount of artificial meat had been reduced to just over $11. Of course, questions remain to be answered about whether people will feel comfortable eating meat that is produced in-vitro. But with a growing awareness of the need to feed an ever-growing world population while reducing the amount of carbon released into the air by the livestock and meat packing industry, Gates clearly believes this technology has the potential to change the world. Speaking of carbon emissions, carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology also wins a place on the 2019 breakthrough list. Once again, it’s an idea that isn’t new, but due to ongoing research and development is now beginning to become available at a price that makes it a viable […]
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