Now that we are well into the 17th year of the new millennium, the sheen and excitement that was felt when we started 2000 may not be quite as bright. The reality is that things are changing at an incredible pace, and some things that are considered miracles now could be ho-hum to people just a short five or 10 years from now. One thing is for sure, the technological breakthroughs for 2017 are certain to astound even the most jaded of our society.
A recent Jefferies research report included a link to Massachusetts Institute of Technology Review that listed 10 absolutely incredible potential technological breakthroughs for 2017. Whether they all indeed come to fruition this year or in years to come, they truly are game changers for all of us.
1. Reversing Paralysis. Scientists are making incredible progress at using brain implants to restore the freedom of movement that spinal cord injuries take away from people.
2. Self-Driving Trucks. We all have heard how numerous companies are in the process of autonomous cars. The MIT team feels that tractor trailers will also soon be equipped with autonomous driving capability.
3. Paying With Your Face. In a huge effort to combat fraud and identity theft, face-detection systems in China now authorize payments, provide access to facilities and track down criminals.
4. Practical Quantum Computers. According to the article, huge technology advances at major companies like Google and Intel and at research groups indicate that computers with previously unheard power are within reach. Recently the Department of Energy announced that the Oak Ridge National Laboratory is expected to take delivery of a new IBM system, named Summit, in early 2018 that will now be capable of 200 peak petaflops. That would make it almost twice as fast as the current leader. Summit will deliver over five times the computational performance of Titan’s 18,688 nodes using only about 3,400 nodes.
5. The 360 Degree Selfies. Inexpensive cameras that can make spherical images are ushering in a new photography era, and they could change the way people shares stories.
6. Hot Solar Cells. Converting heat to focused beams of light may provide a new solar device that could create cheap and continuous power.
7. Gene Therapy 2.0. Scientists are solving fundamental problems that were prohibiting the ability to find cures for rare hereditary diseases. The hope is the same approach may be used to cure cancer, heart disease and other deadly illnesses that plague mankind.
8. The Cell Atlas. The MIT article says that biology’s next major mega-project will truly find out what humans are really made of.
9. Botnets of Things. In a rather frightening scenario, the report makes that case that the huge push to add connectivity to home gadgets like webcams, digital video recorders and other devices is creating dangerous fallout that could get worse. A botnet (also known as a zombie army) is a number of internet computers that, although their owners are unaware of it, have been setup to forward transmissions (including spam or viruses) to other computers on the internet.
10. Reinforcement Learning. This is another scenario that could be a little frightening. By experimenting, computers are learning how to do things that programmers can’t teach them to do. Needless to say, there are more than a few Hollywood movies that have put forth this scenario.
Of course, some of this is still very much in the genesis process, but one thing seems evident. The ability for scientists, inventors and even tech entrepreneurs to innovate is being made easier by the day as technological advances continue to move at light speed.
Plus, it’s important to remember that now people with an ordinary smartphone have the ability to access all the knowledge from literally the beginning of time in a device that fits into their pocket. That didn’t exist at the turn of the century. That’s an example of how fast things can change.