Top 10 Emerging Technologies Of 2023: WEF Report
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Top 10 emerging technologies of 2023: WEF Report

By Tekato Longkumer Updated: Jun 26, 2023 10:18 pm
Top 10 emerging technologies of 2023 WEF Report
Source: World Economic Forum.

The World Economic Forum (WEF), in partnership with Frontiers, has recently released a report called ‘Top 10 Emerging Technologies of 2023,’ featuring insights from over 90 experts worldwide.

The report covers a diverse range of solutions, from environmental innovations like sustainable aviation fuels and wearable plant sensors to advancements in artificial intelligence. According to WEF, these ten emerging technologies are “the most likely to impact people and the planet in the next three to five years.”

Here are the top 10 emerging technologies that are likely to play a crucial role in improving our lives in the future.

Top 10 emerging technologies of 2023

Flexible Batteries

Flexible batteries are becoming increasingly important in the world of electronics because of the growing popularity of wearable devices and bendable displays. Unlike traditional batteries, these flexible ones are made from lightweight materials that can be twisted, bent, or stretched.

Flexible batteries have a wide range of uses, from medical devices to smartwatches and flexible displays. This has led to a surge in the global market for flexible batteries, fueled by the demand for wearable technology and the trend of making devices smaller. Major companies like LG Chem, Samsung SDI, and Apple are actively engaged in developing and commercialising these batteries.

Nevertheless, challenges remain in terms of safe disposal and recycling. Despite this, the future of flexible batteries looks promising as technology continues to advance.

Generative AI

Generative AI models are now an integral part of our lives. AI language models like OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard have transformed education and work, boosting productivity and fostering creativity.

Generative AI in WEF list of emerging technologies
Image: Midjourney, Studio Miko.

The applications of generative AI extend beyond text, images, and sound. In drug design, generative AI generates candidate molecules for targeted medical conditions, improving treatment efficiency. It also aids architecture, engineering, and space exploration by creating designs and reducing development time. In education and the workplace, generative AI personalises learning and automates tasks, enhancing engagement and output quality.

However, ethical considerations like bias, privacy, and copyright are vital for building trust. Responsible use ensures leveraging the benefits of generative AI while mitigating risks.

Sustainable aviation fuel

Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is an effective solution to reduce carbon emissions in the aviation industry. Unlike ground transport, aviation requires energy-dense fuels for long-distance flights, making electrification difficult. SAF, produced from various resources, provides a viable alternative.

Currently, SAF only makes up a small fraction of global jet fuel demand, but it needs to significantly increase to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. This requires the establishment of hundreds of new SAF plants. Encouragingly, airlines are committing to SAF, and production methods are advancing.

The increased adoption of SAF is a crucial step in the pursuit of decarbonising the aviation industry.

Designer phages

Scientists are using designer phages to manipulate the microbiome and enhance human health and agricultural productivity. Phages are viruses that target specific bacteria and can be reprogrammed to modify their behaviour.

These lab-grown human-designed phages have the potential for treating microbiome-related diseases and have applications in livestock growth, plant disease management, and food safety. These promising findings have attracted venture capital for further testing, with several clinical trials already in progress.

Phage-based therapies, whether natural or engineered, are proving to be a powerful approach to improving the well-being of humans, animals, and plants.

Metaverse for mental health

Virtual shared spaces, also known as the metaverse, are digital environments where people can connect and interact professionally or socially. These spaces can be enhanced with augmented or virtual reality and are expected to have different versions catering to various purposes and immersion levels.

The current mental health crisis has reached unprecedented levels, creating an opportunity to use the metaverse for mental health treatment due to the shortage of providers. Gaming platforms are already being used to address mental health issues and reduce stigma.

Advancements in interface technologies can improve social and emotional connections, while neurotechnologies can provide feedback on users’ emotional states. By utilising the metaverse for mental healthcare, we can benefit patients and drive its development by addressing real mental health needs.

Wearable plant sensors

To meet future food demands, agriculture requires technological advancements. Recent innovations have improved crop monitoring by using sensor-equipped drones and tractors for higher-resolution data. The next step is wearable plant sensors that continuously monitor individual plants, measuring temperature, humidity, moisture, and nutrient levels.

These sensors optimise yields, detect diseases, and enable precise interventions. Companies like Growvera and Phytech have already created micro-sized sensors that analyse plant health data in real-time, allowing farmers to make precise interventions when needed. However, there are challenges to overcome, such as cost, data interpretation, and long-term plant growth effects.

Nevertheless, wearable plant sensors have the potential to revolutionise agriculture by boosting productivity and reducing waste.

Spatial omics

Spatial omics is an innovative approach that combines advanced imaging and DNA sequencing to understand how cells function and interact at the molecular level. By slicing tissue into thin sections and visualising the locations of biomolecules, researchers can uncover the intricate architecture and events within cells that were previously unseen.

Spatial Omics WEF report 2023
Image: Midjourney, Studio Miko.

This method has paved the way for the development of comprehensive cell atlases, shedding light on biological processes across different organisms. Spatial omics also hold promise in therapeutic discovery and investigation of diseases like Alzheimer’s and COVID-19.

While the market for spatial omics solutions is expanding, there are technical challenges and the need for broader applications that must be addressed. Nevertheless, the potential impact of spatial omics on our understanding of life is profound and transformative.

Flexible neural electronics

Flexible neural electronics have the exciting potential to transform brain-machine interfaces (BMIs). Unlike current implants made of rigid materials, flexible circuits can conform to the brain, minimising discomfort and drift in position, which improves the accuracy of captured signals.

Moreover, these flexible BMIs have the capacity to stimulate millions of brain cells simultaneously, surpassing the capabilities of traditional probes. They hold promise for advancing neuroscience research, deepening our understanding of neurological conditions, and enhancing control over neuroprosthetics.

Clinical trials are already in progress, and further advancements in materials manufacturing could unlock even greater potential. However, it is crucial to address ethical concerns related to privacy, data usage, and public acceptance before these interfaces can be widely implemented.

Sustainable computing

Sustainable computing is essential to combat the environmental crisis caused by data centres. These centres consume a significant amount of global electricity, but efforts are underway to achieve net-zero-energy data centres.

Data centres are now using AI to optimise energy usage in real-time, leading to notable energy reductions. Modular and demand-based infrastructure, such as cloud and edge computing, enables distributed data processing and storage.

Innovations in software and hardware, like systems on a chip and energy-proportional computing, contribute to improved energy efficiency. Achieving net-zero-energy data centres will require integrating these approaches with new electricity generation, storage, and management technologies. Ongoing innovation and investment in this field provide hope for a sustainable computing future.

AI-facilitated healthcare

AI-facilitated healthcare holds promise in addressing healthcare system shortcomings exposed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Efforts are underway to integrate AI and machine learning into healthcare to improve system efficacy and expand access to care.

By utilising quality data in AI models, healthcare can be optimised to anticipate and respond effectively to health crises. AI technologies also have the potential to reduce delays in receiving medical care by optimising treatment and facility availability.

AI tools can enhance healthcare capabilities and reach underserved populations in developing nations with limited infrastructure. However, challenges such as data privacy, public acceptance, patient compliance, and national security concerns need to be addressed.

Additionally, efforts are underway to establish legal and ethical guidelines for the application of AI in healthcare. Over the next few years, AI-based healthcare solutions are anticipated to gain wider adoption and transform the healthcare landscape.

By Tekato Longkumer Updated: Jun 26, 2023 10:18:56 pm
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