The dynamic landscape of technology is an ever-evolving tapestry, brimming with innovative ideas, prototypes, and transformative solutions. This article seeks to shed light on the Top 10 Emerging Technologies of 2023.
The list was meticulously constructed over a series of meetings, where the steering group debated and ranked the nominations based on novelty, applicability, depth, and potential disruptive power. The ultimate aim was to identify novel and impactful technologies that are still in their nascent stages but are positioned to have substantial societal and economic benefits in the near future.
To provide a more holistic understanding of the potential of each technology, expert groups were asked to rate their expected impact across five distinct metrics: people, planet, prosperity, industry, and equity.
A total of 18 countries contributed to their assessment, providing a diverse and robust perspective. The top ten emerging technologies, as agreed upon by the experts, are:
1. Flexible Batteries
These pioneering devices could be the key to powering next-generation wearable technologies, from healthcare devices to electronic textiles (e-textiles). By delivering power to flexible and ergonomic devices, this technology holds the potential for unprecedented convenience and functionality in mobile technology.
2. Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Generative AI has the potential to expand the boundaries of human endeavour, from creating original artworks to generating innovative design solutions. With its ability to generate new, previously unimagined outputs, this technology could revolutionise industries like entertainment, architecture, and software development.
3. Sustainable Aviation Fuel
As climate change becomes an increasingly pressing concern, sustainable aviation fuels have the potential to dramatically reduce the carbon footprint of the aviation industry. If fully adopted, these fuels could significantly decrease greenhouse gas emissions from one of the most carbon-intensive sectors, making an essential contribution to global decarbonisation efforts.
4. Designer Phages
By engineering viruses to augment human, animal, and plant health, designer phages represent a revolutionary development in healthcare. They could potentially offer effective alternatives to antibiotics, combat drug-resistant pathogens, and even boost crop yields, having immense implications for health and agriculture.
5. Metaverse for Mental Health
The integration of shared virtual spaces and mental health treatment is a novel approach to improving mental well-being. By enabling users to navigate and interact within comforting and therapeutic digital environments, the metaverse could provide new avenues for therapy and support.
6. Wearable Plant Sensors
These sensors have the potential to revolutionise agricultural data collection, providing real-time insights into plant health and environmental conditions. They could help optimize agricultural practices, resulting in more efficient food production to feed our growing global population.
7. Spatial Omics
This emerging field involves molecular-level mapping of biological processes, which could unlock mysteries of life that remain elusive today. By enhancing our understanding of cellular function, spatial omics could lead to breakthroughs in areas like medicine, genomics, and bioengineering.
8. Flexible Neural Electronics
By engineering better circuits to interface with the nervous system, flexible neural electronics could advance the field of neuroprosthetics and improve the lives of those with neurological disorders. They could lead to more precise and effective devices, from cochlear implants to brain-computer interfaces.
9. Sustainable Computing
Net-zero-energy data centres are on the horizon, with the advent of sustainable computing. This technology focuses on reducing the energy consumption of data centres while maximising their computational power, paving the way for more sustainable digital infrastructures.
10. AI-Facilitated Healthcare
AI-facilitated healthcare encapsulates a wide array of applications that leverage artificial intelligence to improve the efficiency and efficacy of health systems. The innovative blend of AI and healthcare can potentially revolutionise the way we approach medical care, from diagnosis to treatment, patient care, and health administration.
Diagnosis and Prognosis
AI can significantly augment diagnostic processes, enabling quicker and more accurate detection of diseases. Machine learning algorithms can analyze complex medical data – such as radiographic images, genomic sequences, or electronic health records – and identify patterns that might be missed by human practitioners. As AI algorithms become more sophisticated, they can help identify diseases at earlier stages, predict patient trajectories, and suggest personalised treatment plans.
Patient Care and Management
AI has the potential to dramatically improve patient care and management. Intelligent virtual assistants, for example, can remind patients to take medication, monitor their symptoms, or help manage chronic diseases. Furthermore, telemedicine platforms powered by AI can provide medical consultation and support, expanding access to healthcare services and offering convenience to patients.
AI can optimise healthcare administration by automating routine tasks, such as scheduling appointments, managing patient records, or processing insurance claims. By freeing up healthcare professionals' time from administrative tasks, AI allows them to devote more time to direct patient care.
AI has great potential in predicting and mitigating health risks. Predictive analytics can identify individuals at high risk for certain conditions and initiate early interventions, while real-time monitoring systems can alert healthcare providers to immediate concerns, such as falls in the elderly or sudden deteriorations in chronic disease patients.
Research and Development
AI can also accelerate drug discovery and development, reducing the time and cost of bringing new treatments to market. By analyzing vast datasets and simulating the effects of potential drugs, AI can identify promising candidates for further investigation.
Despite the promising benefits, the incorporation of AI into healthcare also comes with challenges and risks. These include potential bias in AI algorithms, privacy concerns related to patient data, and the need for regulation and oversight to ensure patient safety and effective use of the technology.
However, with careful management and regulation, AI-facilitated healthcare stands as a promising frontier, offering the potential for improved patient outcomes, more efficient healthcare delivery, and significant advancements in medical research.