Turning Air into Water and CO2 into Fuel among Emerging Technologies of 2017

A
diverse range of breakthrough technologies, including “artificial leaves” that turn CO2 into fuel, and a technique that harvests water from air, could soon be playing a role in tackling the world’s most pressing challenges, according to the Top 10 Emerging Technologies 2017, an annual list which is published today.

The technologies were selected by the World Economic Forum’s Expert Network and Global Future Councils in collaboration with Scientific American and its Board of Advisors. Each technology was chosen for its potential to improve lives, transform industries and safeguard the planet. The experts were also looking for indications that the technologies have reached a level of maturity that would enable widespread take-up in the coming 3-5 years.

“New technologies are redefining industries, blurring traditional boundaries and creating new opportunities on a scale never seen before. Public and private institutions must develop the correct policies, protocols and collaborations to allow such innovation to build a better future, while avoiding the risks that unchecked technological change could pose,” said Murat Sönmez, Head of the Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution and Member of the Managing Board of the World Economic Forum.

The top 10 technologies are:

Noninvasive Biopsies for Identifying Cancer

Ultrasensitive blood tests known as liquid biopsies promise to improve diagnosis and care

Harvesting Clean Water from Air

New sunlight-powered technologies do not need to be plugged into an electricity grid

Deep Learning for Visual Tasks

Artificial intelligence now rivals or exceeds the ability of experts in medicine and other fields to interpret what they see

Liquid Fuels from Sunshine

Artificial-leaf technology converts carbon dioxide to fuels and more

The Human Cell Atlas

An international project is set to detail how every cell type in the body functions

Precision Farming

Combining sensors and imaging of every plant with real-time data analytics improves yields

Affordable Catalysts for Green Vehicles

Reducing the platinum in fuel-cell catalysts could help bring hydrogen-powered vehicles to the mass market

Genomic Vaccines

Vaccines composed of DNA or RNA, instead of protein, should enable rapid development of preventives for infectious diseases

Sustainable Design of Communities

Moving beyond a focus on solar roofs for single-family homes, ambitious projects are attempting to join blocks of buildings into single sustainable units

Quantum Computing

It will soon open the door to solving new kinds of problems

“Science is a global enterprise, with an ambition – and ability – to address some of the most pressing problems that the humanity faces,” said Scientific American Editor in Chief, Mariette DiChristina. “Scientific American, with more than 170 years of authoritative coverage about the progress of science, is delighted to partner with the World Economic Forum on bringing to light the Emerging Technologies of 2017, and how they’ll be shaping our world.”

The 10 technologies will be discussed at the Forum’s Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2017, which is taking place in Dalian, People’s Republic of China, on 27-29 June. They will form the basis of discussions on how to leverage technology to promote inclusive and sustainable growth.

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