This is the time of the year when Technology Review publishes its forecasts about ten emerging technologies which will change our world some day. This year's batch includes Bayesian machine learning, RNA interference or microfluidic optical fibers. But last year's list included injectable tissue engineering or nanoimprint lithography, which didn't really change the world in 2003. So read this list with a grain of salt.
Let's start with the introduction.
With new technologies constantly being invented in universities and companies across the globe, guessing which ones will transform computing, medicine, communication, and our energy infrastructure is always a challenge. Nonetheless, Technology Review’s editors are willing to bet that the 10 emerging technologies highlighted in this special package will affect our lives and work in revolutionary ways -- whether next year or next decade. For each, we’ve identified a researcher whose ideas and efforts both epitomize and reinvent his or her field.
Here is the full list.
Universal Translation, with Yuqing Gao, from IBM
Synthetic Biology, with Ron Weiss, from Princeton University
Nanowires, with Peidong Yang of the University of California, Berkeley
Bayesian Machine Learning, with Daphne Koller, from Stanford University
T-Rays, with Don Arnone, from Toshiba’s research labs in Cambridge, England
Distributed Storage, with Hari Balakrishnan, from the MIT
RNA Interference, with Thomas Tuschl, formerly from the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Germany, and now at Rockefeller University in New York City
Power Grid Control, with Christian Rehtanz, from Switzerland-based engineering giant ABB
Microfluidic Optical Fibers, with John Rogers, from the University of Illinois
Personal Genomics, with David Cox, chief scientific officer of Perlegen Sciences in Mountain View, CA
Here is the last paragraph of the article about nanowires.
Difficult tasks remain, such as making electrical connections between the minuscule wires and the other components of any system. Still, Peidong Yang of the University of California, Berkeley, estimates there are now at least 100 research groups worldwide devoting significant time to overcoming such obstacles, and commercial development efforts have already begun. Last year, Intel, which is working with Lieber, revealed that nanowires are part of its long-term chip planning. Smaller firms such as Nanosys and QuMat Technologies, a startup now renting space at Lund University in Sweden, are betting that nanowires will be essential components of the products they hope to sell one day, from sensors for drug discovery and medical diagnosis to flat-panel displays and superefficient lighting.
And here is a short excerpt about Bayesian statistics.
Programs that employ Bayesian techniques are already hitting the market: Microsoft Outlook 2003, for instance, includes Bayesian office assistants. English firm Agena has created Bayesian software that recommends TV shows to satellite and cable subscribers based on their viewing habits; Agena hopes to deploy the technology internationally. "These things sound far out," says Microsoft researcher Eric Horvitz, who is a leading proponent of probabilistic methods. "But we are creating usable tools now that you’ll see in the next wave of software."
You also can read the print version which contains the ten articles (17 pages).
Source: Various authors, Technology Review, February 2004