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Considering MIT’s List of 10 Breakthrough Technologies for 2017

Posted May 26, 2017 in Articles

Earlier this year, MIT’s Technology Review published its list of 10 “breakthrough technologies” for 2017. The list includes several noteworthy additions, many of which reflect broader trends in the evolution of technology as a both a means and an end for innovative companies.

Here are our thoughts on some of the technologies that we think have the most staying power. You can review the full list here.

1. Medical Technology

Three of MIT’s breakthrough technologies for 2017 are in the fields of medicine and biology. With an availability horizon of 10 to 15 years, the Technology Review anticipates the technological reversal of paralysis as one of the next major breakthroughs in medical technology. Scientists in France have reported successful animal testing of an implantable device that is designed to “read the . . . intention to move and then transmitted it immediately in the form of bursts of electrical stimulation to its spine.”

Gene therapy has been a focus of medical research for a while now, and the Technology Review reports that scientists have finally discovered a pathway to curing hereditary disorders. Next up is finding a cure for cancer and heart disease – the leading causes of death in the United States and other countries around the world.

Elsewhere, researchers are focused on developing the first-ever “cell atlas” – a complete map of what makes us human and a “technological marvel” that could change the way we approach the development of vaccines and medications.

2. Self-Driving Trucks

Though it has been a while since we reached a point of inevitability for self-driving vehicles, self-driving trucks have generally been considered a category all their own. But, companies like Ottomotto (which Uber purchased for an estimated $680 million in 2016) are well on their way to putting millions of driverless 18-wheelers and tractor trailers on the road. Self-driving trucks are expected to become commonplace within the next five to ten years, with legal and regulatory issues – as opposed to technological ones – presenting some of the biggest roadblocks the rest of the way.

3. Cybersecurity Threats

Hackers are keeping pace with computer engineers at the world’s largest Internet service providers (ISPs) and, in many cases, are ahead of the curve. As a result, the Technology Review anticipates that botnets – huge collections of compromised Internet-connected gadgets that are designed to take down ISPs – will continue to wreak havoc on the Internet. In fact, the risk may be growing, as personal and in-home connected devices are continuing to lead sales despite having only limited logical security.

4. Consumer-Level Facial Recognition

Facial recognition has been around for decades, but its accuracy – and therefore its use – has been limited. Now, however, companies like Chinese startup Face++ (which has been valued at approximately $1 billion) are bringing the technology to the mainstream. The latest versions rely on artificial intelligence to “learn” users’ faces, and they are expected to have the reliability required for banking and financial transactions.

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