MIT Lists the Technological Advances of 2018…So Far


MIT Lists the Technological Advances of 2018…So Far

by Amy Lignor


As we say goodbye to one of the (if not the) brightest humans to ever grace the planet, Stephen William Hawking, MIT unveils its “breakthrough technology list” for 2018.

“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance,” Hawking stated. “It is the illusion of knowledge.” Words could not be truer. This was a man who constantly opened his mind. He worked diligently to learn and to discover new things – constantly attaining new information.

MIT is a great deal like this ultimate student; they are constantly learning and wish to reward those who do the same. Therefore, MIT’s Technology Review offers up 10 awe-inspiring scientific and technological advances of 2018, chosen because of the widespread consequences they will bring.


We begin with 3D Metal Printing. With 3D plastic printing being utilized over the last few years, instant metal fabrication is a true advance in the industry. With this, the ability to create large, intricate metal structures on demand will most likely revolutionize manufacturing. It will give companies the ability to make a single metal part instead of wasting money on mass-production. Large inventories of parts will not be needed, because with 3D metal printing the company will be able to make a part upon request. Not to mention, it can produce complex shapes that are not possible with any other method, opening the door to lighter and/or higher performance parts.


Artificial Embryos is certainly a different area, but for the first time ever researchers have made embryo-like structures from stem cells alone, without using egg or sperm cells. This adds possibilities for understanding how life comes into existence. And, yes, it also raises ethical and even philosophical problems.


Yet another to make the list is, Sensing City. Google’s parent company, Alphabet, is implementing sensors and analytics to “rethink” how cities are built and run. The aim is to integrate urban design with technology in order to produce affordable, livable and environmentally sustainable smart cities. Cleaner, safer cities is an idea all people can jump on board with.


The big guns, meaning IBM, Microsoft, Google and Amazon are working on cloud-based AI services that would increase access to machine learning and artificial neural network technology. Having affordable artificial intelligence tools in the “cloud” will mean many different industries will be able to learn more, alter everything from manufacturing to logistics, and be able to pay for it.


Learning continues when it comes to creating Dueling Neural Networks. This breakthrough opens many doors by gifting artificial intelligence systems with actual imagination. Companies such as Google Brain and Deep Mind are focused on creating ultra-realistic, computer generated images/sounds, beyond what is currently possible.


Babel Fish earbuds also made the MIT list. A concept first introduced by Douglas Adams in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” are no longer just an idea. They are now a real product (still in the early stage, however) which were made to act as a form of instant online translation, effectively letting humans understand each other while communicating in different languages, in near real-time.


Zero-carbon Natural Gas is going to cause a big change in the world. New engineering methods make it possible to capture carbon released during the burning of natural gas, which completely avoids greenhouse emissions, and creates a brand new possibility for creating clean energy. This advance will, most definitely, have worldwide and long-term consequences.


The next advance focuses on privacy. Blockchain-based privacy systems will allow digital transactions to be recorded and validated while still protecting the privacy of the “deal” and identities, making privacy risk factors diminish, such as fraud and identity theft.


Next is the possibility to predict chances of diseases, like cancer, by analyzing genetic data. Companies including Helix, 23andMe, and more, are working together to create this new way to protect a person’s health. But it’s not just disease, this is also a way to predict IQ and even possible behavior traits.


Lastly, researchers at Harvard have created the most complete simulation of a simple molecule using a computer from IBM. This promises that scientists could one day use quantum computers to design new types of materials, such as more efficient solar cells, cleaner fuels, and proteins that will be more effective than drugs.


Even with all the negatives in this world today, MIT shows that there very bright lights still burning in the minds of many out there who will never stop learning in order to make all areas of life better. Mr. Hawking would be proud.



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