10 breakthrough technologies in 2018
10 breakthrough technologies that have not yet found wide application, but perhaps in 2018 will be made publicly available.
1. 3D metal printing
By itself, 3D printing has been around for a long time, but it was used mainly for working with plastic. All other materials — especially metal — were too expensive for this technology. Now 3D-printing of metal products has become available, widely applicable and will soon change the system of mass production itself.
In particular, the missing part can be simply printed on the printer in a single copy, instead of organizing large-scale production. For old cars, TVs and other rare technology, the problem of lack of spare parts will disappear. Plants will be able to diversify the range of their mechanisms, adapting them to the specific needs of customers. And for this you do not need to buy new equipment.
For example, in the UK, titanium printed ribs were installed. The French company Stelia Aerospace has printed a fuselage panel with a self-reinforcing effect.And the Dutch shipbuilders presented the first fully printed ship propeller. And these are just a few of the dozens of examples of the successful application of 3D metal printing over the past year.
2. Artificial embryos
Scientists from Cambridge completely change the very concept of creating a new life. They managed to grow a mouse embryo in a test tube using stem cells alone. Neither the egg nor the sperm was required. Stem cells somehow self-organized into an embryo, which, however, is still unable to further develop. Nevertheless, this is the first step towards the creation of viable human embryos by this non-standard method.
Such studies will help scientists understand how to grow artificial organs and edit genes, prevent hereditary diseases and study the development of embryos at the earliest stages. However, there are a number of ethical problems that need to be addressed before the technology can be improved to the desired level.
3. Smart cities
Sidewalk Labs, a subsidiary of Google will build in the Canadian Toronto "smart" Quayside area of 8 square meters. kmIt will be located along the eastern coastline of the city, and the local division of the Google Canada Internet search engine will transfer its head office there. The company will become the anchor resident there and invest $ 50 million in the development of the region.
The project will cost the Sidewalk approximately $ 1 billion, and Toronto’s government will add another $ 1.25 billion. The plan includes a complete upgrade of the transport system (all cars will be unmanned and ridesharing), as well as the creation of affordable housing. There will be strict requirements for the protection of the right to privacy, especially with regard to government interference. In addition, autonomous transit lines and the most environmentally friendly energy systems will appear in the “smart” area.
An extensive network of sensors will help improve the infrastructure, collecting information about everything, starting with air quality and noise levels, ending with the daily activities of citizens. Sidewalk Labs will make all its software free so that IT companies can create new, interesting applications based on it.
If the project in Toronto is successful, smart areas will be built in San Francisco, Denver, Los Angeles and Boston.
4. AI for all
Today, Amazon, Baidu, Google and Microsoft dominate the AI market. But technology giants have begun to place some of their development on cloud platforms so that other companies can use machine learning for their own purposes. This will allow the industry to develop much faster and help to make a revolution in medicine, manufacturing and energy.
The problem is that few people can afford to hire specialists in AI. Therefore, even the availability of information does not guarantee that it will be able to properly use. Understanding this, Google and Amazon offer advisory services to help prepare new AI personnel.
5. Competition of neural networks
Neural networks learned to recognize millions of images, but for a long time they couldn’t think of anything on their own. They simply had no imagination. The decision came up with Ian Goodfellow of the University of Montreal, creating a generating adversarial network (GAN). It consists of two neural networks (simplified mathematical models of the human brain) that play cat and mouse with each other.
At first, both neural networks teach on the same data. Then one of them, which is called the generator, adds a new line to the already familiar image - for example, a third hand appears on the pedestrian.The second neural network - the discriminator - must understand whether it has seen such an image before, or whether it is a fake. That is, she must understand whether a three-armed person can be real. Over time, the generator so dexterously learned how to fake images that the discriminator could not distinguish them from the real ones. It turns out, the neural network imagined and created something new and realistic.
GAN has become one of the most breakthrough technologies of this year. Developers from Nvidia, having compiled hundreds of thousands of celebrity images, created the faces of people indistinguishable from the real ones - despite the fact that these people never existed. Another group of studies was able to make paintings that were indistinguishable in style from the paintings of Van Gogh, which he never wrote. The technology opens the way for high-quality fakes, but at the same time allows AI to give the imagination necessary for better work with the surrounding reality.
6. "Babylon fish"
Google has released headphones Pixel Buds for $ 159 - the equivalent of the "Babylonian fish" from "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." They are able to automatically translate from 40 languages, you just need to press a button or say something like: “Help me speak Spanish!”. True, this feature is only available with another novelty - Google Pixel 2 smartphone.
One person puts on headphones, the other is holding a smartphone. The man in the headphones speaks his own language - the smartphone automatically translates his speech on the speakerphone. A person with a smartphone is answering - a simultaneous translation is heard in the headphones. It is clear that to communicate in such a way on noisy streets will be problematic, since the system is not easy to recognize speech among hundreds of other sounds. And yet, it's better than talking through Google Translate, since each of the participants in the dialogue can control the microphone in the headphones and in the phone, bringing it closer as necessary.
7. Zero Emission Gas Power Plant
Startup Net Power built a zero-emission gas power station in Houston. The technology is based on a fundamentally new turbine with a size of 1/10 of a conventional turbine, which is placed in a room of 5.6 square meters. At the same time, it remains as powerful due to more efficient heat transfer using supercritical fluid.
In a small turbine, natural gas is burned in a combustion chamber in an environment of pure oxygen, and only water vapor and carbon dioxide are produced. Moreover, the chamber is already filled with supercritical carbon dioxide under high pressure and temperature.The combustion chamber produces carbon dioxide and some water vapor. Then this high-temperature mixture under high pressure is sent to a gas turbine, where the energy of pressure rotates the shaft and produces electricity. The cooled gas mixture leaves the turbine, where it is divided into parts.
The required amount of carbon dioxide is compressed to a supercritical state and returned to the chamber to maintain the necessary gas circulation in the system. The remaining stream of carbon dioxide can be buried underground or sold to other businesses, and clean water is discharged. The fuel efficiency of such a power plant will be 80% (for comparison, the efficiency of many Russian power plants does not exceed 21-22%, for American it is about 60%).
Despite the popularity of renewable sources, Net Power believes that with the massive transition to electric cars, the demand for electricity will increase more than ever. Therefore, natural gas may have a good prospect: if the power plant remains equally efficient, but does not pollute the environment, why not use fossil fuels?
eight.Real privacy online
The new internet identification system can confirm your identity without the requirement to provide a date of birth and other personal data, thanks to a protocol called zero-knowledge proof. Despite the fact that the developers worked for decades on its creation, a special interest in it woke up only last year, thanks to the cryptocurrency Zcash.
The developers emphasize that the currency is based on an improved cryptography system that allows you to send money anywhere in the world so that they cannot be traced. This is the main difference between Zcash and Bitcoin. Each Bitcoin owner receives an address composed of letters and numbers, and any transactions go through a distributed registry, a blockchain. Law enforcement agencies through data analysis can find out who owns this address and track the progress of transactions. Blockchain has repeatedly helped investigators find drug dealers selling goods on the black market.
Zcash is based on the zk-Snark cryptography method developed by Israeli scientists together with colleagues from MIT.All transactions are confirmed online, but it is impossible to track the addresses of participants in the operation
However, with all the advantages of zk-Snark, this is a very complex and slow technology. So now developers are looking for ways to simplify it and make it more accessible.
9. Genetic predictions
The day is near when children will receive a genetic passport at birth. It will indicate what is the probability of getting a heart attack in the future, a tendency to certain types of cancer or diabetes. Investigating the colossal amount of data, scientists derive “polygenic risk assessments”, which in the future will help to identify serious diseases in the early stages and successfully treat them.
Pharmaceutical companies will also need this information to test drugs that prevent Alzheimer's disease or cardiovascular diseases. For testing, they can attract patients with a propensity for these diseases to create the most effective drugs.
10. Quantum computers
Most chemists are waiting for the advent of quantum computers. They already anticipate how they will create new molecules with their help.New proteins for much more effective drugs, new electrolytes for batteries, as well as compounds that can turn sunlight directly into liquid fuel. Ordinary computers do not have enough computing power to build such, and with the advent of quantum computers, this will become part of the everyday life of chemical scientists.
California startup Rigetti Computing has proven that a quantum computer can be used for machine learning. The company also opened access to its Quantum Computer Forest, located in the cloud and capable of performing calculations using a 19 qubit processor.