Each year MIT unveils a list of the most exciting advancements in technology set to revolutionise society. From the looks of things, 2018 is shaping up to be a very exciting year.
The key players this year are cutting edge. They will change how we mass produce, will shatter the language barrier, and even shake up the notion of morality and the creation of life.
Here is the latest technology to look out for this year, according to MIT.
6 New Technology Advancements
1. 3D Metal Printing
3D printing isn’t a new venture; designers have been 3D printing for decades. However, 2018 will see an exciting advancement – the introduction of 3D metal printing.
Until now, industrial 3D printing has been reserved primarily for plastic materials. With 3D metal printing, however, we will be able to manufacture metal parts that are larger, lighter and stronger. Think kitchenware, jewellery, prototypes, miniatures, etc.
3D metal printing will revolutionise how the world mass produces and how much waste is produced. According to All3DP, when an aircraft is manufactured 90% of the material is cut away. However, with 3D metal printing producing smaller parts using less energy, the aviation industry will save billions of dollars.
2. Artificial embryos
In breakthrough technology that blurs the creation of life itself, scientists have created artificial embryos.
Embryologists at Cambridge University, UK, have grown mouse embryos using just stem cells – no sperm and no egg. The result is almost uncanny to real mouse embryos.
Though the team behind the investigation are doubtful that the ‘synthetic’ embryos could develop into real mice, the possibilities seem limitless. What could this mean for humans? In particular, what could this mean for human infertility?
Despite these incredible scientific milestones, artificial embryos pose a serious ethical conundrum. Many people are averse to the research.
3. Babel-Fish Earbuds
Up until now, Google Translate has been the leading solution to the language barrier, offering instant translations on its app.
Now, though, there’s a new communication technology player in town: the Babel-Fish Earbuds.
Like something from a sci-fi movie, Babel-Fish Earbuds will translate languages to you in real-time. They are more seamless than Google Translate, and allow for organic human interaction.
How they work is very simple. One person has a earbuds in, the other holds their smart phone. The earbud wearer speaks his or her language, tapping the right earbud as they do so. The sentence will then be translated out loud on the phone for the other person to hear.
People have found that using Google Translate with the Pixel Buds are problematic. The app has difficulty picking up on words, especially when there’s background noise. With the Babel-Fish Earbuds, however, nothing gets lost in translation.
What’s more, Babel-Fish Earbuds allow two people to maintain eye contact – something that is crucial for effective communication.
4. Genetic fortune telling
Genetic fortune telling is one of the most useful technological developments – one that will save lives. Scientists can now predict a lot about a person at birth just by looking at their genome. They can predict their probability of getting heart disease or breast cancer, and even their IQ.
These predictions are called “polygenic risk scores” and will advance healthcare. It means that if someone is found to have a certain “health trait” preventative measures can be put in place. For example, if a person was found to have a higher risk of developing breast cancer, they would have access to more mammograms.
However, there is a lot of controversy around this. After all, who wants to know their mortality rate? What parents will want to learn that their child is likely to suffer with Alzheimer’s? And if IQ predictions become readily available, what impact will that have on society?
5. Perfect Online Privacy
We may not realise it, but we share a lot about ourselves online – information that should be confidential.
We’ll readily share our date of birth for the permission to enter certain websites; we will share our location to make Google searches more relevant to us; we will even share banking information. With all the information we share, the internet can form a picture of our identity, and this is scary.
To combat this age of oversharing, scientists are perfecting a cryptographic tool called a “zero-knowledge proof”. A company called Zcash is currently at the forefront of this development with zk-SNARK – a method that allows users to transact anonymously.
6. Dueling Neural Networks
Artificial intelligence excites and scares people in equal measure. AI is getting incredibly adept at identifying things and then replicating them. However, what AI doesn’t have – and what may future-proof our careers – is imagination.
Ian Goodfellow, a former PhD student at the University of Montreal, wanted to improve how AI accurately identify fake images. Until now, AI can easily identify a pedestrian on the street, but what if that pedestrian had an extra arm?
Goodfellow’s solution was to create two neural networks and pit them against each other in an experiment. One network is the “generator” with the job of creating slight variations of images its already seen (i.e. the pedestrian with an extra arm). The other network is called the “discriminator” and its job is to sort the real from the fake. With this exercise, AI will eventually be able to recognise images of people, animals and inanimate objects. Not only that, it will also be able to conjure up images so real that they can fool humans.
These developments in AI are so advanced. Experts predict that before long its level of imagination will not be far behind ours.
Technology is evolving every day. This breakthrough technology is something to watch out for.