For 18 years, MIT Technology Review has chosen 10 recent technology breakthroughs that are poised to deeply impact our lives. From CRISPR to reinforcement learning, the list has often been early to identify major advances before they reach widespread use. Today, MIT Technology Review announced its 2019 10 Breakthrough Technologies list, which was curated, for the first time ever, by a guest editor – Bill Gates.
Gideon Lichfield, Editor-in-Chief of MIT Technology Review, said: “Bill’s list reflects his belief that we’re approaching a tipping point in humanity’s technological development – from technologies that mostly make life longer to those that mostly make it better. His choices highlight some of what he considers the most important challenges and opportunities of our time.”
This year’s 10 Breakthrough Technologies fall into roughly three groups: climate change mitigation, healthcare, and AI. They are:
- Robot dexterity—robot hands that can learn to manipulate unfamiliar objects on their own
- New-wave nuclear power—both fission and fusion reactor designs that could help bring down carbon emissions
- Predicting preemies—a simple blood test to warn of a preterm birth, potentially saving many children’s lives
- Gut probe in a pill—a swallowable device that can image the digestive tract and even perform biopsies
- Custom cancer vaccines—a treatment that uses the body’s own immune system to target only tumor cells
- The cow-free burger—both plant-based and lab-grown meat alternatives that could drastically cut emissions from the food industry
- Carbon dioxide catcher—techniques for absorbing CO2 from the air and locking it away that may finally become economic
- An ECG on your wrist—the ability for people with heart conditions to continuously monitor their health and get early warnings of problems
- Sanitation without sewers—a self-contained toilet that could tackle disease and unpleasant living conditions in much of the developing world
- Smooth-talking AI assistants—new advances in natural language processing that make digital assistants capable of greater autonomy
The March/April issue of MIT Technology Review, which includes the list, hits newsstands on March 5 and features an introductory essay by Gates.
Elizabeth Bramson-Boudreau, CEO and Publisher of MIT Technology Review, added: “The annual 10 Breakthrough Technologies list is one of MIT Technology Review’s most widely-read editorial features. Published every year since 2001, technologies selected in years past – including additive manufacturing, cloud computing, self-driving trucks, and Slack – have gone on to revolutionize the way we live and work. We are delighted to have Bill Gates guest-edit this year’s list. He brings a unique perspective that we hope will inspire our readers to consider what technology makes possible.”