In the introduction of his 2016 book, The Fourth Industrial Revolution, Klaus Schwab advised that humanity should “take dramatic technological change as an invitation to reflect about who we are and how we see the world”. The Top 10 Emerging Technologies of 2023 report is an ongoing response to that invitation to improve the state of the world and the humans inhabiting it. The driving forces behind the innovations featured in this special report are the acceleration of global connectivity, the rise of AI, along with the convergence of the physical, digital and biological worlds.
Consistent with the Fourth Industrial Revolution, several of the technologies cited use data and computing to enhance public health. The list explores how AI is enabling improvements in healthcare delivery, especially to those who live in less well-resourced areas; how flexible batteries are powering wearable technologies and bendable displays that enable wearable medical devices and biomedical sensors; and next-generation neural electronics that can interact with millions of cells at once more safely. With mental health issues more pressing in the post-pandemic world, virtual shared spaces in the metaverse are facilitating global outreach to serve those in need.
In this report, you’ll learn about how spatial omics is creating a new generation of molecular-level “cell atlases” to help unlock life’s mysteries. In a new approach to treatment, researchers are engineering viruses, called phages, to augment human, animal and plant health.
Beyond the understanding and treatment of disease, the rapid public emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) shows a potential to vastly enhance access to and implementation of human knowledge. Generative AI, embodied in ChatGPT and Bard, has demonstrated the creation of original social and technical content in seconds. Those abilities developed from models trained on vast information content ingested from the web. It is, however, important to be cognizant of the societal issues created by these “super-human” capabilities.
Human well-being also ultimately requires a healthy planet. Addressing this need, the “top 10” includes wearable plant sensors, which enable increased food production by improving plant health. With the impact of climate change ever-more dire, two cited innovations offer progress: sustainable aviation fuel, made from biological or non-biological sources, and sustainable computing, which is paving the way towards net-zero carbon data centres. However, far more innovation is required to mitigate this existential threat to humanity.