Technology Review experts have compiled an annual list of disruptive technologies in 2020 that address important issues. The experts explain that when compiling the list, they tried to avoid being included in the list of gadgets, and focused on technologies that can really change the life around.
1. Internet protected from hackers
A team of scientists led by Stephanie Wiener of Delft University of Technology is creating a network that connects four cities in the Netherlands using quantum technology.
Over the past few years, scientists have learned how to transmit photons over fiber optic cables so that information is completely protected.
A team of scientists in China used similar technology to build a 2,000-kilometer network between Beijing and Shanghai. However, it relies in part on traditional components that pose the risk of being hacked.
2. Personalized healthcare
It often happens that a child suffers from a very rare disease for which there is no cure anywhere in the world, because it is too rare to invest in its treatment.
However, the situation is changing. Scientists are developing drugs that can be altered based on a person’s genes. If a disease occurs due to genetic mutations, then there is a chance to cure it.
3. Electronic money
Conversations about creating an electronic currency have been going on for a long time – for example, Facebook announced the creation of Libra electronic money. In addition, China has also announced its intention to create its own e-currency. It is believed that it is China that can become the first major power to actually create an electronic analogue of money.
4. Anti-aging drugs
The first anti-aging drugs are already being tested. These drugs will not prolong life. They aim to prevent the occurrence of various diseases by slowing down the natural aging process.
The drugs are called senolytics. They work in such a way that they remove certain cells that accumulate in the body as we age.
5. Molecules discovered by artificial intelligence
Scientists have long wondered about molecules that could potentially be converted into drugs. New machine computing tools can analyze large databases of molecules to determine their properties and, using this information, find new possibilities.
6. Mega-complexes of satellites
Satellite launches are becoming more budgetary, which means more satellites will soon be launched to help improve communications on Earth.
The satellites are now smaller, making them more financially feasible to launch. Complexes of small satellites will help even the poorest people on the planet get access to the Internet, experts say.
7. Quantum superiority
Quantum computers store and process data differently than we are used to. In theory, they can do tasks beyond the power of even the most powerful classical computers, including decrypting cryptographic codes or simulating the behavior of certain molecules. There are already working quantum computers in the world, but only under certain conditions can they demonstrate superiority over classical computers. Google demonstrated this superiority last October. However, this was only a demo version, and at the moment the company is faced with the task of building a computer that would solve useful problems.
8. Miniature artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence developers face a problem: in an attempt to build more powerful algorithms, they use more and more data and computational resources, they also depend on centralized cloud services.
In the meantime, a new generation of specialized AI chips are allowing more powerful computing resources to be put into smaller devices, as well as training artificial intelligence using less power.
9. Differential privacy
In 2020, the US government faces a major challenge: collecting data on the country’s 330 million inhabitants while maintaining their privacy. Data should be stored in statistical tables, which politicians and scientists will analyze when writing laws and conducting research. By law, they must appear in such a way as not to indicate specific individuals.
10. Study of climate change
A number of scientists have linked extreme weather conditions such as storms and hurricanes to climate change. Scientists used to be more cautious in their conclusions about how much climate change played a role in certain weather conditions. However, over time, these phenomena have become increasingly associated with climate change, which allowed scientists to operate with more accurate statistics and understand how natural systems work. In addition, understanding the processes associated with climate change will help create simulators and more accurately predict adverse climatic events.