Ten emerging technology trends to watch over the next decade

by Andrew Maynard on December 25, 2009

Ten years ago at the close of the 20th century, people the world over were obsessing about the millennium bug – an unanticipated glitch arising from an earlier technology.  I wonder how clear it was then that, despite this storm in what turned out to be a rather small teacup, the following decade would see unprecedented advances in technology – the mapping of the human genome, social media, nanotechnology, space-tourism, face transplants, hybrid cars, global communications, digital storage, and more.  Looking back, it’s clear that despite a few hiccups, emerging technologies are on a roll – one that’s showing no sign of slowing down.

So what can we expect as we enter the second decade of the twenty first century?  What are the emerging technology trends that are going to be hitting the headlines over the next ten years?

Here’s my list of the top ten technologies I think are worth watching. I’m afraid that, as with all crystal ball gazing, it’s bound to be flawed. Yet as I work on the opportunities and challenges of emerging technologies, these do seem to be areas that are ripe for prime time.

Geoengineering

2009 was the year that geoengineering moved from the fringe to the mainstream.  The idea of engineering the climate on a global scale has been around for a while. But as the penny has dropped that we may be unable – or unwilling – to curb carbon dioxide emissions sufficiently to manage global warming, geoengineering has risen up the political agenda.  My guess is that the next decade will see the debate over geoengineering intensify.  Research will lead to increasingly plausible and economically feasible ways to tinker with the environment.  At the same time, political and social pressure will grow – both to put plans into action (whether multi- or unilaterally), and to limit the use of geoengineering.  The big question is whether globally-coordinated efforts to develop and use the technology in a socially and politically responsible way emerge, or whether we end up with an ugly – and potentially disastrous – free for all.

Smart grids

It may not be that apparent to the average consumer, but the way that electricity is generated, stored and transmitted is under immense strain.  As demand for electrical power grows, a radical rethink of the power grid is needed if we are to get electricity to where it is needed, when it is needed.  And the solution most likely to emerge as the way forward over the next ten years is the Smart Grid.  Smart grids connect producers of electricity to users through an interconnected “intelligent” network.  They allow centralized power stations to be augmented with – and even replaced by – distributed sources such as small-scale wind farms and domestic solar panels.  They route power from where there is excess being generated to where there is excess demand.  And they allow individuals to become providers as well as consumers – feeding power into the grid from home-installed generators, while drawing from the grid when they can’t meet their own demands.  The result is a vastly more efficient, responsive and resilient way of generating and supplying electricity.  As energy demands and limits on greenhouse gas emissions hit conventional electricity grids over the next decade, expect to see smart grids get increasing attention.

Radical materials

Good as they are, most of the materials we use these days are flawed – they don’t work as well as they could.  And usually, the fault lies in how the materials are structured at the atomic and molecular scale.  The past decade has seen some amazing advances in our ability to engineer materials with increasing precision at this scale.  The result is radical materials – materials that far outperform conventional materials in their strength, lightness, conductivity, ability to transmit heat, and a whole host of other characteristics.  Many of these are still at the research stage.  But as demands for high performance materials continue to increase everywhere from medical devices to advanced microprocessors and safe, efficient cars to space flight, radical materials will become increasingly common.  In particular, watch out for products based on carbon nanotubes.  Commercial use of this unique material has had it’s fair share of challenges over the past decade.  But I’m anticipating many of these will be overcome over the next ten years, allowing the material to achieve at least some of it’s long-anticipated promise.

Synthetic biology

Ten years ago, few people had heard of the term “synthetic biology.”  Now, scientists are able to synthesize the genome of a new organism from scratch, and are on the brink of using it to create a living bacteria.  Synthetic biology is about taking control of DNA – the genetic code of life – and engineering it, much in the same way a computer programmer engineers digital code.  It’s arisen in part as the cost of reading and synthesizing DNA sequences has plummeted.  But it is also being driven by scientists and engineers  who believe that living systems can be engineered in the same way as other systems.  In many ways, synthetic biology represents the digitization of biology.  We can now “upload” genetic sequences into a computer, where they can be manipulated like any other digital data.  But we can also “download” them back into reality when we have finished playing with them – creating new genetic code to be inserted into existing – or entirely new – organisms.  This is still expensive, and not as simple as many people would like to believe – we’re really just scratching the surface of the rules that govern how genetic code works.  But as the cost of DNA sequencing and synthesis continues to fall, expect to see the field advance in huge leaps and bounds over the next decade.  I’m not that optimistic about us cracking how the genetic code works in great detail by 2020 – the more we learn at the moment, the more we realize we don’t know.  However, I have no doubt that what we do learn will be enough to ensure synthetic biology is a hot topic over the next decade.  In particular, look out for synthesis of the first artificial organism, the development and use of “BioBricks” – the biological equivalent of electronic components – and the rise of DIY-biotechnology.

Personal genomics

Closely related to the developments underpinning synthetic biology, personal genomics relies on rapid sequencing and interpretation of an individual’s genetic sequence.  The Human Genome Project – completed in 2001 – cost taxpayers around $2.7 billion dollars, and took 13 years to complete.  In 2007, James Watson’s genome was sequenced in 2 months, at a cost of $2 million.  In 2009, Complete Genomics were sequencing personal genomes at less than $5000 a shot.  $1000 personal genomes are now on the cards for the near future – with the possibility of substantially faster/cheaper services by the end of the decade.  What exactly people are going to do with all these data is anyone’s guess at this point – especially as we still have a long way to go before we can make sense of huge sections of the human genome.  Add to this the complication of epigenetics, where external factors lead to changes in how genetic information is decoded which can pass from generation to generation, and and it’s uncertain how far personal genomics will progress over the next decade.  What aren’t in doubt though are the personal, social and economic driving forces behind generating and using this information. These are likely to underpin a growing market for personal genetic information over the next decade – and a growing number of businesses looking to capitalize on the data.

Bio-interfaces

Blurring the boundaries between individuals and machines has long held our fascination. Whether it’s building human-machine hybrids, engineering high performance body parts or interfacing directly with computers, bio-interfaces are the stuff of our wildest dreams and worst nightmares.  Fortunately, we’re still a world away from some of the more extreme imaginings of science fiction – we won’t be constructing the prototype of Star Trek Voyager’s Seven of Nine anytime soon.  But the sophistication with which we can interface with the human body is fast reaching the point where rapid developments should be anticipated.  As a hint of things to come, check out the Luke Arm from Deka (founded by Dean Kamen).  Or Honda’s work on Brain Machine Interfaces.  Over the next decade, the convergence of technologies like Information Technology, nanoscale engineering, biotechnology and neurotechnology are likely to lead to highly sophisticated bio-interfaces.  Expect to see advances in sensors that plug into the brain, prosthetic limbs that are controlled from the brain, and even implants that directly interface with the brain.  My guess is that some of the more radical developments in bio-interfaces will probably occur after 2020.  But a lot of the groundwork will be laid over the next ten years.

Data interfaces

The amount of information available through the internet has exploded over the past decade.  Advances in data storage, transmission and processing have transformed the internet from a geek’s paradise to a supporting pillar of 21st century society.  But while the last ten years have been about access to information, I suspect that the next ten will be dominated by how to make sense of it all.  Without the means to find what we want in this vast sea of information, we are quite literally drowning in data.  And useful as search engines like Google are, they still struggle to separate the meaningful from the meaningless.  As a result, my sense is that over the next decade we will see some significant changes in how we interact with the internet.  We’re already seeing the beginnings of this in websites like Wolfram Alpha that “computes” answers to queries rather than simply returning search hits,  or Microsoft’s Bing, which helps take some of the guesswork out of searches.  Then we have ideas like The Sixth Sense project at the MIT Media Lab, which uses an interactive interface to tap into context-relevant web information.  As devices like phones, cameras, projectors, TV’s, computers, cars, shopping trolleys, you name it, become increasingly integrated and connected, be prepared to see rapid and radical changes in how we interface with and make sense of the web.

Solar power

Is the next decade going to be the one where solar power fulfills its promise?  Quite possibly.  Apart from increased political and social pressure to move towards sustainable energy sources, there are a couple of solar technologies that could well deliver over the next few years.  The first of these is printable solar cells.  They won’t be significantly more efficient than conventional solar cells.  But if the technology can be scaled up and some teething difficulties resolved, they could lead to the cost of solar power plummeting.  The technology is simple in concept – using relatively conventional printing processes and special inks, solar cells could be printed onto cheap, flexible substrates; roll to roll solar panels at a fraction of the cost of conventional silicon-based units.  And this opens the door to widespread use.  The second technology to watch is solar-assisted reactors.  Combining mirror-concentrated solar radiation with some nifty catalysts, it is becoming increasingly feasible to convert sunlight into other forms of energy at extremely high efficiencies.  Imagine being able to split water into hydrogen and oxygen using sunlight and an appropriate catalyst for instance, then recombine them to reclaim the energy on-demand – all at minimal energy loss.  Both of these solar technologies are poised to make a big impact over the next decade.

Nootropics

Drugs that enhance mental ability – increasingly referred to as nootropics – are not new.  But their use patterns are.  Drugs like ritalin, donepezil and modafinil are increasingly being used by students, academics and others to give them a mental edge.  What is startling though is a general sense that this is acceptable practice.  Back in June I ran a straw poll on 2020 Science to gauge attitudes to using nootropics.  Out of 207 respondents, 153 people (74%) either used nootropics, or would consider using them on a regular or occasional basis.  In April 2009, an article in the New Yorker reported on the growing use of “neuroenhancing drugs” to enhance performance. And in an informal poll run by Nature in April 2008, 1 in 5 respondents claimed “they had used drugs for non-medical reasons to stimulate their focus, concentration or memory.” Unlike physical performance-enhancing drugs, it seems that the social rules for nootropics are different.  There are even some who suggest that it is perhaps unethical not to take them – that operating to the best of our mental ability is a personal social obligation.  Of course this leads to a potentially explosive social/technological mix, that won’t be diffused easily.  Over the next ten years, I expect the issue of nootropics will become huge.  There will be questions on whether people should be free to take these drugs, whether the social advantages outweigh the personal advantages, and whether they confer an unfair advantage to users by leading to higher grades, better jobs, more money.  But there’s also the issue of drugs development.  If a strong market for nootropics emerges, there is every chance that new, more effective drugs will follow.  Then the question arises – who gets the “good” stuff, and who suffers as a result?  Whichever way you look at it, the 2010′s are set to be an interesting decade for mind-enhancing substances.

Cosmeceuticals

Cosmetics and pharmaceuticals inhabit very different worlds at the moment.  Pharmaceuticals typically treat or prevent disease, while cosmetics simply make you look better.  But why keep the two separate?  Why not develop products that make you look good by working with your body, rather than simply covering it?  The answer is largely due to regulation – drugs have to be put through a far more stringent set of checks and balances that cosmetics before entering the market, and rightly so.  But beyond this, there is enormous commercial potential in combining the two, especially as new science is paving the way for externally applied substances to do more than just beautify.  Products that blur the line are already available – in the US for instance, sunscreens and anti dandruff shampoos are considered drugs.  And the cosmetics industry regularly use the term “cosmeceutical” to describe products with medicinal or drug-like properties.  Yet with advances in synthetic chemistry and nanoscale engineering, it’s becoming increasingly possible to develop products that do more than just lead to “cosmetic” changes.  Imagine products that make you look younger, fresher, more beautiful, by changing your body rather than just covering up flaws and imperfections.  It’s a cosmetics company’s dream – one shared by many of their customers I suspect.  The dam that’s preventing many such products at the moment is regulation.  But if the pressure becomes too great – and there’s a fair chance it will over the next ten years – this dam is likely to burst.  And when it does, cosmeceuticals are going to hit the scene big-time.

So those are my ten emerging technology trends to watch over the next decade.  But what happened to nanotechnology, and what other technologies were on my shortlist?

Nanotech has been a dominant emerging technology over the past ten years.  But in many ways, it’s a fake.  Advances in the science of understanding and manipulating matter at the nanoscale are indisputable, as are the early technology outcomes of this science.  But nanotechnology is really just a convenient shorthand for a whole raft of emerging technologies that span semiconductors to sunscreens, and often share nothing more than an engineered structure that is somewhere between 1 – 100 nanometers in scale.  So rather than focus on nanotech, I decided to look at specific technologies which I think will make a significant impact over the next decade.  Perhaps not surprisingly though, many of them depend in some way on working with matter at nanometer scales.

In terms of the emerging technologies shortlist, it was tough to whittle this down to ten trends. My initial list included batteries, decentralized computing, biofuels, stem cells, cloning, artificial intelligence, robotics, low earth orbit flights, clean tech, neuroscience and memristors – there are many others that no doubt could and should have been on it.  Some of these I felt were likely to reach their prime sometime after the next decade.  Others I felt didn’t have as much potential to shake things up and make headlines as the ones I chose.  But this was a highly subjective and personal process.  I’m sure if someone else were writing this, the top ten list would be different.

And one final word.  Many of the technologies I’ve highlighted reflect an overarching trend: convergence.  Although not a technology in itself, synergistic convergence between different areas of knowledge and expertise will likely dominate emerging technology trends over the next decade.  Which means that confident as I am in my predictions, the chances of something completely different, unusual and amazing happening are…  pretty high!

Update, 12/27/09  Something’s been bugging me, and I’ve just realized what it is – in my original list of ten, I had smart drugs, but in the editing process they somehow got left by the wayside!  As I don’t want to go back and change the ten emerging technology trends I ended up posting, they will have to be a bonus.  As it is, drug delivery timelines are so long that I’m not sure how many smart drugs will hit the market before 2020.  But when they do, they will surely mark a turning point in therapeutics.  These are drugs that are programmed to behave in various ways.  The simplest are designed to accumulate around disease sites, then destroy the disease on command – gold shell nanoparticles fit the bill here, preferentially accumulating around tumors then destroying them by heating up when irradiated with infrared radiation.  More sophisticated smart drugs are in the pipeline though that are designed to seek out diseased cells, provide local diagnostics, then release therapeutic agents on demand.  The result is targeted disease treatment that leads to significantly greater efficacy at substantially lower doses.  Whether or not these make a significant impact over the next decade, they are definitely a technology to watch.

Update 12/29/09  Which emerging technologies do you thing will trend over the next decade?  Join the discussion on the 2020 Science Facebook page.

1 Stuart December 29, 2009 at 7:47 am

A more diverse list than I expected, thanks for enlightening me. I would ask though why you felt the need to include smart grids? Do you not think that over the next decade, a more distributed infrastructure will arise?

2 Andrew Maynard December 29, 2009 at 9:02 am

Thanks Stuart. I absolutely think that we’ll see a move toward a more distributed infrastructure – although how far we go in that direction over the next ten years is uncertain. However, such an infrastructure is highly unlikely to work without an appropriate smart grid – we need some way of connecting the various power sources to users intelligently.

3 Hilary Sutcliffe December 29, 2009 at 10:41 am

Like this a lot, as usual! Very helpful and totally agree about nano. Love to know what others think should be on the list.

I wondered if military apps may have a bigger influence than we can currently see? Though the apps will use many of the areas you mention here, it would be really interesting to get your views on military tech and its implications of specifically one day?

4 Scott Lewis December 29, 2009 at 4:32 pm

What about social gaming? Games are going to have a greater effect on the future of our planet than all those items combined. Especially in the next 10 years as “Everyone” starts playing for more than just entertainment.

5 Andrew Maynard December 29, 2009 at 4:57 pm

Now that’s an intriguing one! I’m yet to be convinced about the impact of social gaming – but I can see how it could be one of those trends that suddenly and radically flips society.

Would love this in the mix on the discussion on the 2020 science FB page, if you felt like adding it: http://www.facebook.com/pages/2020-Science/244290147558?v=app_2373072738#/topic.php?uid=244290147558&topic=14983

6 George Elvin December 30, 2009 at 6:50 am

Very inspiring to speculate about what life will be like (and what we will be like) ten years from now as these technologies converge.

And I can’t resist asking one question that may be too personal for you to respond to: What nootropics do YOU take?

7 Andrew Maynard December 30, 2009 at 7:20 am

A very fair question!

I like my caffeine, which some claim is a rather well established nootropic, but I’m not sure I buy that. Beyond this, I don’t take anything close to a nootropic I’m afraid. When I did the straw poll earlier this year, I was surprised to find my attitudes somewhat out of sync with many of my peers, but I don’t like the idea of messing with my mind just so I can work harder/better! I’d rather be happy with myself than artificially enhanced to meet social expectations – not that I am, but we’re talking ideals here :-) (And you need to be aware that I’m the sort of person who’s most adventurous forays into therapeutics usually involve the occasional use a couple of Tylenol to counter the effects of another social drug…).

That said, there are plenty of people who make a strong case for taking nootropics.

Of course, the pressure is then on me – if my peers are out-performing me because they pop pills, what do I do? Conform and keep up, or resist and sink? I sincerely hope there’s a third option out there somewhere…

8 Jody Roberts December 30, 2009 at 9:57 am

A very interesting list. I wonder how many of these we’ll have already forgotten by the end of the decade. But there’s another element sticking out here: most of these technologies have fairly serious ramifications (politically, ecologically, morally). Since this blog is ostensibly about “developing science and technology responsibly” I wonder if you can comment about the responsibility of developing (or not developing) some of these areas of research.

9 Andrew Maynard December 31, 2009 at 12:56 pm

very weird – my first reply to your comment disappeared. Is my spam filter now filtering me I wonder!

You are absolutely right – although it wasn’t explicit in the piece, I did have the broader social/ethical/political issues going around my head as I put the list together. I didn’t want to get bogged down by these here, but rest assured, I will be covering them on 2020 Science – as I have already done for some of the emerging technologies.

For now though I’ll limit myself to saying that most of these technologies have potential for social good (giving away my politics there…) but also could be very damaging if not handled appropriately. In some cases, there could be serious consequences to NOT developing them – especially as the challenges of living in an over-populated, resource-starved world increase. But the key here has to be working out how to develop them responsibly.

More in 2010…

10 Vladimir Mironov January 1, 2010 at 4:02 pm

The essence of synthetic biology is developing or creating something using molecular engineering tools that a) does not exist b) has useful practical purpose.
I think in reality synthetic biology can lead to synthetic cells, extracellular matrices, tissues, organs and humans. These are possible scenarios for future developments:
a) synthetic biomembrane + synthetic cytoskeleton + synthetic genes = synthetic cell;
b) synthetic cells + synthetic extracellular matrix = synthetic tissues;
c) synthetic tissues + synthetic tissues + synthetic tissues = synthetic organs
(organ printing = computer-aided additive 3d living tissue biofabrication);
d) synthetic organs + synthetic organs + synthetic organs = synthetic organism
( human printing).
If we can print human organs and eventually whole humans then we can design human evolution. The most essential basic aspects of human life such as birth, reproduction, diseases and death will change dramatically.
Everything can be bioprinted again and again from the scratch with desirable level of diversity.
Thus, the idea of bio-interface or hybrid human-machine is nothing more then continuing of underestimating, neglecting or ignoring the real transforming power and long term impact of emerging field of synthetic biology.
Of course, human printing and even engineering of artificial living human cells or protocells from the scratch is a very log shot, but the first human organ will be bioprinted from preexisting cells during next decade with high level of predictibility.
The future is in combination of Info-Nano-Bio-Robo.
So: my point is that organ printing (or synthetic biology on tissue and organ level) can be one of ten emerging technology trends to watch over the next decade.

11 Mike January 2, 2010 at 9:26 am

Now that’s futuristic! Printing humans, awesome. I love tissue engineering, but it doesn’t receive the attention it deserves in my opinion.

By the way, when can I try shmeat Vladimir?

12 Vladimir Mironov February 13, 2010 at 8:15 pm

Hello Mike,
I think you can try a first “shmeat” soon but not in USA. In The Netherland
Dutch guys got $2 mln grant and published already one professional review paper.
Dr Krumel – who is a Chair of Department of Surgery at Stanford University and author of new textbook on Innovation in surgery wrote
” There is no such things a science fiction, there is only science eventuality”.
New Harvest website content a lot of information about so-called “shmeat” .
I somehow think that it is a better source of information about “shmeat” then Colbert show.
Concerning tissue engineering.
If attention can bring money for reasonable projects then it is probably justifiable. Tissue engineering got a lot of attention but the problem is that tissue engineers did not deliver yet too much. According to Google. Trends interest to tissue engineering is going down. Stem cells or Synthetic Biology is now “A Next Big Thing” in biology and medicine. In order to adapt tissue engineers added term “Regenerative Medicine ” (or application of developmental and regenerative and stem cells biology in clinical medicine) to the official name of their society. It is called TERMIS now . I think it was a very smart move…
Adaptation is an art of survival according to Mr. Darwin.

13 Mauve June 25, 2011 at 1:46 pm

Furaelrz? That’s marvelously good to know.

14 Vladimir Mironov February 13, 2010 at 8:59 pm

If some brave Venture Capitalist firm will decide to give me $10 mln
I can develop industrial prototype of large scale production in vitro meat during
5 years.
It is difficult to bioprint human organ if funding agency does not want invest because they have “an impression” that it is not possible to accomplish during 10 years. Now with secured $20 mln NSF grant we definately can make certain progress in organ biofabrication.
Thus: perception and funding has a strong connection.
The only one way to create the future is not by speculative forcasting but
by actual work on building this future.
So when people are talking about future :
“When human organ will be bioprinted?” – Is it a wrong question
The right question is: “How much it will cost?”.
One can learn about it from the history of development of military technology.
What is better to spend annually $600 bln to develop technology which can kill human being more effectively or spend at least $1bln on development of promising technologies which can actually save human life.
Intel built $2 bln plan in China to produce microprocessors.
Why we could not build $1bln plan to bioprint human organs.
What is more important for society iPhone or Bioprinter?
New bomber or organ bioprinting plant?

I hope that one day USA President will say in his/her speech:
” I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, bioprint human organ and implant it safely to the human”.

15 Andrew Maynard January 4, 2010 at 12:03 pm

Thanks Vladimir,

My own impression is that we have a long way to go in understanding the underlying biology before organ printing becomes a reality – but definitely one to watch for the future!

16 Vladimir Mironov February 13, 2010 at 8:28 pm

It is all depend what definition of so-called “reality” is…
Tissue engineered organ is already a clinical reality.
People are already bioprinting branched vascular vessels.
Moreover, one group in France really demonstrated bioprinting of bone in vivo.
Sometimes impression is just a replacement of real knowledge.
But I 100% agree on value of understanding of underlying biology.
“Face off” movie was science fiction in 1997, in 2003 Pittsburgh robotic experts introduced a concept of bioprinting in vivo and in 2009 I saw poster presentation with title printing in vivo.
San Diego based company “Organovo” introduced a first prototype of future clinical bioprinter last year…
Again my point is :
“There is no such thing as a science fiction, there is only science eventuality”
I think we must accept this as a reality.

17 Steven Hill January 4, 2010 at 7:06 am

This is an excellent and comprehensive list. What an exciting future we have to look forward too! Or do we? The pace of technological innovation raises the question of how can society make balanced and robust decisions about the deployment of new technologies. I suspect this represents as much of a challenge as making some of the scientific advances needed to make these technologies real.

18 Andrew Maynard January 4, 2010 at 12:07 pm

I couldn’t agree more Steve. I was being a bit of a tease here highlighting the emerging technology trends without addressing the implications of these trends. But there is no doubt in my mind that as these and other technological advances gather speed, we are going to need new and innovative thinking on how we ensure their appropriate development and use in an increasingly complex social/economic/political environment.

19 Mohan Arun L January 7, 2010 at 4:01 am

Great list! It seems to be missing something about nanotechnology though, or am I missing something. I havent read it fully, I am just printing it out before reading. I thought nano-scale mechanical and electronically controlled instruments and motors and biologic devices such as devices which propel themselves through your arteries and blood vessels cleaning up cholesterol deposits (micro motors with nano level navigation capabilities) should be achievable within the next decade?

20 nanotürkiye January 20, 2010 at 3:48 am

Thanks for the list. It is easy to read but difficult to write. Thank you for your efforts!

I think that nanotechnology will not be so popular in the next decade, but it will be discussed more realistically and applied more seriosuly.

Our new popular headlines will be about technologies listed in this post, applications of them will be in the next decade.

What do you think?

21 Robert Mucic February 17, 2010 at 1:29 am

A lot of opinions to consider, and this has been brought up above – but I will chime in. Before you read my take – here’s my qualifications. A very successful graduate career, with a super successful professor. I now have 30 patents, Nature + Science published articles, and made a good amount of money from stock options in one company (and hopefully will make more in another). But after 10 years of being an industrial scientist/engineer – I realized that applications from discovery is very very rare. It is more like discovery from applications.

At one company, over 300 million dollars invested – no real products in the marketplace. How many neat things were found? Many, but they had no room and were pushed aside. In Academia, people make room for interesting things.

My main point is this – you can’t predict what will be useful and common (ever read the Black Swan by Taleb) – and industry makes it worse.

22 Andrew Maynard February 17, 2010 at 9:28 am

Thanks for the reality check Robert – which confirms my suspicions that we need to take the blinkers off when it comes to assuming innovation will flow efficiently out of research investment, and we need to rethink how to best use science discovery and tech innovation.

I couldn’t agree more that predicting tech success stories is near-impossible, and gets harder the more precise you try to be. Yet I also think it is essential to at least get a handle on emerging trends if innovation is to be coupled more strongly to effective use. Predictions will be wrong – that’s a given. But hopefully they will be less wrong that simply sticking our heads in the sand :-)

23 Dr. Nimita Limaye April 28, 2010 at 12:02 am

Fascinating article. Nootropics, synthetic biology, personal genomics and data and bio-interfaces, smart drugs. All of these will interconnect somewhere. Will this at times seems far-fetched, I think it will not be too far off where a lot of this gets widely applied. I also liek Vladimir’s comment, “There is no such thing as a science fiction, there is only science eventuality”. I think all of this will happen, but the success will be based on the appropriate and effective deployment of these technologies.

Read more: http://2020science.org/2009/12/25/ten-emerging-technology-trends-to-watch/#ixzz0mMe0mDcA

Thank you for writing such an interesting article!

24 jester June 22, 2010 at 3:46 am

the best

25 jester June 22, 2010 at 3:47 am

the best
thank you for the knowlege the you give to me

26 Priyanka Phogat October 19, 2011 at 3:39 am

i think geo-engineering is the best way to combat climate change and it also promotes the use of sustainable development

27 Khalid November 17, 2011 at 8:22 am

Rana is Graet

28 Tanny January 25, 2012 at 5:20 am

Hi,

Excellent list of emerging technologies with explanations of their potential impact.
3D Printing is said to potentially revolutinise manufacturing. Driverless vehicles and screenless displays could also make their impact before 2020.

The following page on Wikipedia will also be of interest (although unlike this article relative impact is not evaluated):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_emerging_technologies#IT_and_communications

The related topic of the technological singularity may also be of interest. My own viewpoint of accelerative change can be read at

http://www.zoologicalhistory.blogspot.com

Here i look at matters from the broadest perspective possible by starting from the evolution of complex animals. One of my conclusions is that there could be an economic revolution soon during which i expect many of the technologies mentioned in this article to flourish.

Tanny

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PLS DOES ANY ONE HAS MATERIAL ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF ELECTRICAL ELECTRONICS ENGINEERING IN THE PAST DECADE(10 YEARS)

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