10 emerging technologies 2016


Technology is perhaps the most important factor of change in the modern world. While always involve risks, technological advances promise innovative solutions to pressing global challenges of our time solutions. Since hydrogen-powered cars without even computer chips inspired by the human brain emissions 10 this year emerging technologies offer a vivid look of the power of innovation to improve life, transforming industries and protect our planet.

To compile this list, the Meta-Council on New Technologies of the World Economic Forum, a panel of 18 experts, is based on the collective experience of the Forum communities to identify the most important recent technology trends. By doing this, the Meta-Council aims to raise awareness of their potential and help close the gaps in investment, regulation and public understanding that so often hinder progress.

The 2016 list is:

1. Vehicles with fuel cells

Emission-free cars that run on hydrogen

Los vehicles with "fuel cells" have been a promise of many years, as they have the potential to offer several important advantages over electric-powered vehicles and hydrocarbon. However, technology has just now begun to reach the stage where auto companies plan to launch them for sale. It is likely that the initial prices reach around $ 70,000, but should be reduced significantly as volumes increase in the coming years.

Unlike batteries, which must be loaded with an external source, fuel cells generate electricity directly by fuels such as hydrogen or natural gas. In practice, fuel cells and batteries are combined; the fuel cell generates electricity and batteries store the energy until the engines driving the vehicle in need. Therefore, the fuel cell vehicles are hybrid and probably also implement regenerative braking, a key capability to maximize efficiency and autonomy.

Unlike battery-electric vehicles, vehicles with fuel cell behave like any conventional vehicle. With autonomy for long distances, up to 650 km per tank (usually the fuel is compressed hydrogen gas), a hydrogen refueling only takes three minutes. Hydrogen is a clean burning and produces only water vapor as waste, so that fuel cell vehicles with hydrogen combustion will be without emissions, important in reducing air pollution factor.

There are several ways to produce hydrogen without generating carbon emissions. Of course, renewable resources of electricity from wind and solar resources can be used to electrolyze water, although it is possible that the overall energy efficiency of this process is lower. Hydrogen can also be separated from the water in nuclear reactors at high temperatures or generated from fossil fuels such as coal or natural gas, where you take the CO2 and store it rather than released into the atmosphere.

In addition to producing cheap hydrogen on a large scale, a major challenge is the need for a hydrogen distribution infrastructure to coexist and eventually replace service stations gasoline and diesel. Currently, hydrogen transport over long distances, even compressed, are considered economically profitable not. However, the innovative techniques hydrogen storage, as carriers of organic liquids that do not require storage under high pressure in a short time will reduce the cost of transportation over long distances and simplify the risks associated with gas storage and inadvertent filtration.

Vehicles with fuel cells in the consumer market are an attractive option because they offer autonomy and comfort fuel with gasoline vehicles and diesel today, while offer the benefits of sustainability in private transport. However, achieving these benefits will require reliable and economic production of hydrogen from low carbon resources and distribution to a growing fleet of vehicles (which is expected to grow to several million in a decade).

2. Next generation robotics

Shift away from the production line

Popular imagination has always conceptualized a world where robots are responsible for daily tasks. However, the future of robotics has tenaciously refused to materialize still limited to the assembly lines of factories and other controlled robots tasks. Although widely used (in the automotive industry, for example), these robots are big and dangerous to human workers; They must be separated in safety compartments.

Advances in robotics technology make collaboration between humans and machines is a daily reality. Better and cheaper sensors make a robot more able to understand and respond to their environment. The bodies of the robots become more adaptable and flexible, since designers are inspired by the extraordinary flexibility and agility of complex biological structures like the human hand. And robots are increasingly connected thanks to the revolution of cloud computing and the ability to access instructions and information remotely rather than being programmed as a fully autonomous unit.

The new era of robotics removes these machines large manufacturing assembly lines and assigns them to a wide variety of tasks. With GPS technology, like smart phones, robots are now used in precision agriculture for pest control and harvesting. In Japan, robots are being tested in nursing roles: help patients to get out of the beds and assist people who suffered a stroke to regain control of their limbs. smaller and more agile robots, as Dexter Bot, Baxter and LBR iiwa, are designed to be easily programmable and manufacturing tasks are laborious and uncomfortable for human workers.

In fact, robots are ideal for highly repetitive or dangerous tasks for people, and they can work 24 hours a day with lower costs than human workers. In fact, it is likely that robotic machines of the next generation work with people rather than replacing them. Even with advances in design and artificial intelligence, participation and human supervision will be essential.

There is a risk that robots can displace people from their jobs, while earlier waves of automation have tended to lead to greater productivity and growth, with benefits throughout the economy. Fears of decades of robots in network out of control can become more prominent because the robots of the next generation are connected to the web, but will become more common as people use domestic robots for housework . Undoubtedly, the next generation of robotics raises new questions about the relationship of people with machines.

3. Plastic recyclable thermosets

A new type of plastic to reduce landfill

Reclos plastics are divided into thermoplastics and thermosets. The first heatable and be shaped many times, and is found everywhere in the modern world, from children's toys to toilet seats. Since they can melt and be given new form, thermoplastics are generally recyclable. Thermosetting plastics can be shaped and heated only once since after these molecular changes are "cured" and retain their shape and strength even under intense heat and pressure.

Because of its strength, thermoset plastics are a vital part of our modern world and are used in everything from mobile phones and circuit boards, even in the aerospace industry. But the same characteristics that make essential in modern manufacture also make them impossible to recycle. As a result, most thermoset polymers end up in the landfill. Because the main goal of sustainability, there has been an urgent need to recycle thermosets.

In 2014, critical progress has been made in this area, with the publication of a landmark study in the journal Science, where the discovery of new types of recyclable thermoset polymers was announced. Called poly (hexahydrotriazine) s, or PHT, these plastics can be dissolved in a strong acid which separates the polymer chains of monomers that can be reused in new products. Like traditional non-recyclable thermosets, these new structures are rigid, heat resistant and hard, with the same possible applications not recyclable their predecessors.

While no recycling is 100% effective, this innovation, if implemented fully, should accelerate the movement towards a circular economy with a large reduction of plastic waste in landfills. We hope recyclable thermosets replace non-recyclable thermosets in five years, and 2025 are everywhere in new manufactured products.

4. precise genetic engineering techniques

A discovery offers better crops with less controversy precla conventional genetic engineering has always caused controversy. However, new techniques are emerging that allow us to directly "edit" the genetic code of plants to make them, for example, more nutritious or better suited to a changing climate.

Currently, genetic engineering of crops is based on agrobacterium tumefaciens bacteria desired to transfer the target DNA genome. The technique is proven and reliable, and despite widespread public fear, there is a consensus in the scientific community that the genetic modification of organisms with this technique is no more risky than conventional breeding modification. However, although agrobacterium is useful, they have been developing more accurate and varied genome modification techniques in recent years.

These ZFN, TALENS and, more recently, the CRISPR-Cas9 system that evolved in bacteria as a defense mechanism against viruses are included. The CRISPR-Cas9 system uses an RNA molecule to the DNA, and cut to a known user selected sequence target genome. This can disable an unwanted gene or modify it so that it is indistinguishable in function with respect to a natural mutation. With "homologous recombination" CRISPR also be used to insert new DNA sequences, or even whole genes in the genome accurately.

Another aspect of genetic engineering that has made a breakthrough is the use of RNA interference (RNAi) in crops. RNAi is effective against viruses and fungal pathogens, and may also protect plants against insect pests, reducing the need for chemical pesticides. Viral genes have been used to protect plants against papaya ringspot virus, for example, no signs of resistance development in over a decade of use in Hawaii. RNAi can also benefit major staple food crops to protect against wheat stem rust, against rice blight, a potato blight and against the banana against scab.

Many of the innovations will be particularly beneficial for small farmers in developing countries. As such, genetic engineering may become less controversial, as people recognize their effectiveness to increase revenue and improve the diets of millions of people. In addition, the modification more accurate genomes can calm public fear, especially if the plant or resulting transgenic animal is not considered because no foreign genetic material is introduced.

Together, these techniques promise to evolve agricultural sustainability by reducing inputs in multiple areas, from soil to water and fertilizer to the crop adaptation to climate change.

5. Manufacturing addition

The future of manufacturing of products, from printable organs to smart clothing

Como the name suggests, manufacture addition is the opposite of manufacturing by subtraction. The latter is the way it has traditionally manufactured: one starts with a larger piece of material (wood, metal, stone, etc.), are removed or subtracted layers until the desired shape. Manufacturing addition, however, begins with loose, liquid or powder material, then is constructed in a three dimensional shape with a digital template.

3D products can be highly customized for the end user, unlike mass-produced goods. An example is the Invisalign company, which uses digital images of teeth of customers to create almost invisible braces exclusive to their mouths. Other medical applications take 3D printing in a biological sense: with direct printing of human cells, it is now possible to create living tissue that can find potential application in the detection of drug safety, and also in the repair and regeneration tissue. One of the earliest examples of this bioimpresion cell layers are printed Organovo liver, which were used in drug testing and that may eventually be used to create organs for transplantation. The bioimpresion already been used to generate skin and bone, as well as vascular and heart tissue, which offers enormous potential in the future of personalized medicine.

A next important step in the manufacturing stage would be adding 3D printing of integrated electronic components such as circuit boards. Computer parts nano-sized, such as processors, are difficult to manufacture in this way because of the challenges of electronic components combine with other compounds of several different materials. 4D print now promises to introduce a new generation of products that can alter themselves to environmental changes such as heat and humidity. This could be useful in clothes or shoes, for example, as well as health care products, as implants designed to change in the human body.

As the distributed manufacturing, manufacturing addition has the potential to be very disruptive with respect to conventional processes and supply chains. But it is still a nascent technology today, with applications primarily in the automotive, aerospace and medical sector. rapid growth in the next decade is expected, as more opportunities arise and innovation in this technology ever closer to the consumer market.

6. Emerging artificial intelligence

What happens when a computer can learn on the job?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is, in simple terms, the computer science of making things that people can do. In recent years, AI has advanced considerably: most of us use smartphones that can recognize human speech, or passed through the immigration line at an airport using image recognition technology. Autonomous cars and automated flying drones are in stages of testing before widespread use; while, in certain learning tasks and memory, machines outnumber people. Watson, a computer system with artificial intelligence, defeat the best human competitors in the quiz game Jeopardy.

Compared with standard hardware and software, artificial intelligence allows the machine sense and respond to their changing environment. Emergent AI further advances with a progress from machines that automatically learn the assimilation of large volumes of information. An example is the NELL, Never-Ending Language Learning Carnegie Mellon University, a computer system that not only reads data from hundreds of millions of web pages, but attempts to improve their reading and understanding the process to perform project better in the future.

Similarly to the next generation robotic way, improvements in IA lead to major advances in productivity as machines take over certain tasks, and even perform better way. There are several tests to claim that the cars that drive themselves reduce collisions, and deaths and injuries that they produce, in land transport, since the machines do not make the mistakes that humans do, or have flaws concentration or defects in view, among other problems. Smart, having faster access to much more information and to respond stored without human emotional influences, machines could also perform better than doctors diagnosing illnesses professionals. Currently, the Watson system is used in oncology for diagnosis and treatment options to offer products with empirical basis to patients with cancer.

As in the typical dystopian science fiction nightmares, it is clear that the IA has its risks; the most obvious of these is the possibility that the super-intelligent machines dominate and enslave humans. While it will not happen until a few decades, experts this risk are taken increasingly seriously; many of them signed a open letter coordinated by the Future of Life Institute in January 2016 to ward off the future of AI difficulties that may arise. From a more prosaic perspective, economic changes brought about by intelligent computers to replace human troubadours could aggravate social inequalities and threaten existing jobs. For example, automated drones could replace drivers who ship, just as taxis would not be necessary because the vehicles that drive themselves and can be rented for a short period of time.

However, emergent AI could give more explicit value certain attributes that are uniquely human: creativity, emotions, relationships. As the machines are developed in human intelligence, this technology will increasingly test our vision of what it means to be human, as well as the risks and benefits present in this process in which man and machine they are increasingly different.

7. Manufacturing distributed

The industry of the future is given online (and doors of your home).

Distributed manufacturing reshapes the manufacture and distribution of products. In traditional manufacturing, the raw material is gathered and was assembled and manufactured in large centralized until identical final products which are then distributed to client factories. In the distributed manufacturing, raw materials and manufacturing methods are decentralized and the final product is manufactured close to the end customer.

Basically, the idea of ??distributed manufacturing is to replace the supply chain of materials as it can for digital information. To manufacture a chair, for example, instead of getting the wood and with it make chairs in a central factory, you can distribute digital plans to cut parts of the chair for Local manufacture using tools digital cut known as planers CNC. Then the customer or local manufacturing workshops can assemble the parts for the final products. US furniture company AtFAB is already using this model.

Current uses distributed manufacturing rely heavily on "creative movement" known as "do it yourself" in which enthusiasts use 3D printers and make local products with local materials. We see here is these elements of open source thinking, as customers can customize products to their needs and preferences. Rather than being centralized, creative design element can be more open collaboration; products can get to evolve as more people join visualize and produce.

It is expected to allow distributed manufacturing more efficient use of resources, waste less capacity in the central factories. It also facilitates market entry by reducing the capital required for the construction of the first prototypes and products. Something important is that it should reduce the overall environmental impact caused by the manufacture digital information is sent over the web instead of sending physical products through roads or railways, or on ships; and the raw material is obtained locally, reducing the amount of energy required transport.

If their use were to extend, distributed manufacturing derail traditional markets work and the economics of traditional manufacturing. It has its risks: it could be more difficult to regulate and control medical devices manufactured remotely, for example, and products such as weapons could be illegal or dangerous. Not everything can be done through traditional manufacturing, and supply chains should be maintained for the goods of most important and complex consumption.

The distributed manufacturing can encourage a wider variety of objects that today already standardized, such as smart phones and automobiles. Size is not a problem: a company in the UK, Facit Homes, uses custom designs and 3D printers to create customized according to the client's taste homes. The characteristics of the products evolve to meet different markets and places, and there will be rapid growth of goods and services in regions of the world where traditional manufacturing currently does not arrive.

8. Drones to "detect and avoid"

flying robots that review wirings or provide emergency aid

Unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, have become an important and controversial part of military capacity in recent years. They are also used in agriculture, in films and in many other applications requiring a cheap and extensive air monitoring. But so far all these drones have human pilots; the difference is that the drivers are on the ground and lead the unit remotely.

The next step in the technology of drones is to develop machines that are leading themselves, which would extend its use to other applications. For this to happen, the drones should be able to detect their local environment and respond to it; thus, they will have to modify its height and flight path to avoid collisions with other objects in their path. In nature, birds, fish and insects congregate in herds or swarms, and every animal responds almost instantaneously to its neighbor to allow the fly or swim together as a single unit. Drones can mimic this.

Thanks to its reliable autonomy and be able to avoid collisions, the drones can perform tasks that would be far too dangerous or if a human's conduct: control wirings, for example, or deliver medical supplies in an emergency. Shipping Drones can find the best route to your destination and take into account other flying vehicles and obstacles. In the agricultural sector, autonomous drones can collect and process large amounts of visual information from the air, which allows precise and efficient use of fertilizer and irrigation inputs, for example.

In January 2014, Intel and Ascending Technologies presented prototypes multicopteros drones that can navigate an obstacle course and automatically avoid those who walk in his way. The machines use the camera module RealSense Intel, which weighs only 8 g and less than 4 mm thick. This level capacity to avoid collisions mark the beginning of a future of shared airspace with many drones that will fly close to humans, and which operate in and near buildings to perform a lot of tasks. Drones are basically robots operating in three dimensions instead of two; advances in robotic technology of the next generation will accelerate this trend.

The flying vehicles never be free of risks, whether handled by humans or intelligent machines. For adoption extensively, drones that detect obstacles and avoid them should be able to operate reliably in the most difficult conditions: at night, during snowstorms or sandstorms. Unlike our digital wireless devices (which are not really moving, because we have to transport them), drones will be transformational as they move alone and have the ability to fly in the three-dimensional world that is far from direct human . When they are ubiquitous, they will expand the presence, productivity and human experience greatly.

9. neuromorphic Technology

Computer chips that mimic the human brain

Incluso the best computers of today are no match for the sophistication of the human brain. Computers are linear and carry information back and forth between memory chips and a central processor over a high-speed backbone. The brain, on the other hand, is fully interconnected with logic and memory crisscrossed with density and diversity billion times greater than what can be found on a modern computer. Neuromorphic chips aim to process information in a fundamentally different way to traditional hardware because it mimics the architecture of the brain to cause a large increase in the ability of a computer to think and respond.

Miniaturization has caused massive increases in conventional computing capacity over the years, but the obstacle of having to move information constantly between storage memory and central processor requires large amounts of energy and induces unwanted heat, which limits other improvements. Conversely, neuromorphic chips can be more energy efficient and more powerful, because they combine components storage and processing of information in the same interconnected modules. In this sense, the system copies networked neurons, in billions, make up the human brain.

Neuromorphic technology will be the next stage of powerful computers, by allowing information processing widely faster and better learning ability for machines. The TrueNorth IBM chip with a million neurons, whose prototype was presented in August 2014, has a capacity for certain tasks that are hundreds of times higher than that of a CPU (central processing unit) conventional, and for the first time more comparable to the human cortex. Much more computing power available with less energy and volume, neuromorphic chips should allow machines to small scale smarter control the next stage of miniaturization and artificial intelligence.

Possible applications include: more capable drones to process and respond to visual cues, cameras and more powerful and intelligent smartphones, and review information at a level that can help unlock the secrets of financial markets or the weather . Computers will be able to anticipate and learn, rather than just respond pre-programmed ways.

10. digital Genome

Medical attention for a time when its genetic code is on USB memory

Mientras the first sequencing of 3,200 million base pairs of DNA that make up the human genome took many years and tens of millions of dollars today its genome can be sequenced and digitized in minutes, and the cost of a few hundreds of dollars. The results can be sent to your computer on a USB stick and can be shared easily via the Internet. This ability to determine our unique and individual genetic makeup quickly and cheaply promises a revolution towards a more personalized and effective care.

Many of our more intricate challenges of health, from heart disease to cancer have a genetic component. Certainly the best way to describe cancer as the disease is genome. With digitization, doctors can make decisions about cancer treatment for a patient with information about the genetic makeup of a tumor.