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World Economic Forum lists top 10 emerging technologies for 2012

World Economic Forum lists top...
The World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Emerging Technologies has drawn up a list of the top 10 emerging technologies for 2012 (Image: Shutterstock)
The World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Emerging Technologies has drawn up a list of the top 10 emerging technologies for 2012 (Image: Shutterstock)
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The World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Emerging Technologies has drawn up a list of the top 10 emerging technologies for 2012 (Image: Shutterstock)
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The World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Emerging Technologies has drawn up a list of the top 10 emerging technologies for 2012 (Image: Shutterstock)

Our goal here at Gizmag is to cover innovation and emerging technologies in all fields of human endeavor, and while almost all of the ideas that grace our pages have the potential to enhance some of our lives in one way or another, at the core are those technologies that will have profound implications for everyone on the planet. For those looking to shape political, business, and academic agendas, predicting how and when these types of technologies will effect us all is critical. Recognizing this, the World Economic Forum's (WEF's) Global Agenda Council on Emerging Technologies has compiled a list of the top 10 emerging technologies it believes will have the greatest impact on the state of the world in 2012.

Betting on the right technologies can allow schools to produce graduates better qualified to deal with a rapidly changing world, governments to more efficiently meet the needs of the populace, business to generate profits, and scientists to better allocate resources.

The list draws on some of the brainpower residing within the entire GAC Network, covering the top ten technological trends that the Global Agenda Council on Emerging Technologies believes will have the biggest social, economic and environmental impacts this year.

Here's the list as presented on the World Economic Forum Blog in order from lowest to highest in terms of the potential to provide solutions to global challenges.

  • 1. Informatics for adding value to information
  • The quantity of information now available to individuals and organizations is unprecedented in human history, and the rate of information generation continues to grow exponentially. Yet, the sheer volume of information is in danger of creating more noise than value, and as a result limiting its effective use. Innovations in how information is organized, mined and processed hold the key to filtering out the noise and using the growing wealth of global information to address emerging challenges.

  • 2. Synthetic biology and metabolic engineering
  • The natural world is a testament to the vast potential inherent in the genetic code at the core of all living organisms. Rapid advances in synthetic biology and metabolic engineering are allowing biologists and engineers to tap into this potential in unprecedented ways, enabling the development of new biological processes and organisms that are designed to serve specific purposes - whether converting biomass to chemicals, fuels and materials, producing new therapeutic drugs or protecting the body against harm.
  • 3. Green Revolution 2.0 - technologies for increased food and biomass
  • Artificial fertilizers are one of the main achievements of modern chemistry, enabling unprecedented increases in crop production yield. Yet, the growing global demand for healthy and nutritious food is threatening to outstrip energy, water and land resources. By integrating advances across the biological and physical sciences, the new green revolution holds the promise of further increasing crop production yields, minimizing environmental impact, reducing energy and water dependence, and decreasing the carbon footprint.
  • 4. Nanoscale design of materials
  • The increasing demand on natural resources requires unprecedented gains in efficiency. Nanostructured materials with tailored properties, designed and engineered at the molecular scale, are already showing novel and unique features that will usher in the next clean energy revolution, reduce our dependence on depleting natural resources, and increase atom-efficiency manufacturing and processing.
  • 5. Systems biology and computational modelling/simulation of chemical and biological systems
  • For improved healthcare and bio-based manufacturing, it is essential to understand how biology and chemistry work together. Systems biology and computational modeling and simulation are playing increasingly important roles in designing therapeutics, materials and processes that are highly efficient in achieving their design goals, while minimally impacting on human health and the environment.
  • 6. Utilization of carbon dioxide as a resource
  • Carbon is at the heart of all life on earth. Yet, managing carbon dioxide releases is one of the greatest social, political and economic challenges of our time. An emerging innovative approach to carbon dioxide management involves transforming it from a liability to a resource. Novel catalysts, based on nanostructured materials, can potentially transform carbon dioxide to high value hydrocarbons and other carbon-containing molecules, which could be used as new building blocks for the chemical industry as cleaner and more sustainable alternatives to petrochemicals.
  • 7. Wireless power
  • Society is deeply reliant on electrically powered devices. Yet, a significant limitation in their continued development and utility is the need to be attached to the electricity grid by wire - either permanently or through frequent battery recharging. Emerging approaches to wireless power transmission will free electrical devices from having to be physically plugged in, and are poised to have as significant an impact on personal electronics as Wi-Fi had on Internet use.
  • 8. High energy density power systems
  • Better batteries are essential if the next generation of clean energy technologies are to be realized. A number of emerging technologies are coming together to lay the foundation for advanced electrical energy storage and use, including the development of nanostructured electrodes, solid electrolysis and rapid-power delivery from novel supercapacitors based on carbon-based nanomaterials. These technologies will provide the energy density and power needed to supercharge the next generation of clean energy technologies.
  • 9. Personalized medicine, nutrition and disease prevention
  • As the global population exceeds 7 billion people - all hoping for a long and healthy life - conventional approaches to ensuring good health are becoming less and less tenable, spurred on by growing demands, dwindling resources and increasing costs. Advances in areas such as genomics, proteomics and metabolomics are now opening up the possibility of tailoring medicine, nutrition and disease prevention to the individual. Together with emerging technologies like synthetic biology and nanotechnology, they are laying the foundation for a revolution in healthcare and well-being that will be less resource intensive and more targeted to individual needs.
  • 10. Enhanced education technology
  • New approaches are needed to meet the challenge of educating a growing young population and providing the skills that are essential to the knowledge economy. This is especially the case in today's rapidly evolving and hyperconnected globalized society. Personalized IT-based approaches to education are emerging that allow learner-centerd education, critical thinking development and creativity. Rapid developments in social media, open courseware and ubiquitous access to the Internet are facilitating outside classroom and continuous education.

We know there's nothing like a list of predictions to provoke some healthy debate, so let us know what you think of the GAC on Emerging Technologies' effort in the comments. Is there anything you think they've overlooked, or maybe something they've included that shouldn't be there?
Source: World Economic Forum Blog

24 comments
Riaanh
An obvious entry which has not been listed are alternative energy sources. I guess we haven\'t got any low cost, high effeciency solar panels or nuclear fussion to look forward to this year. ;-(
Bruce Miller
Look to China where Thorium fissioning reactors will prove safer, cheaper to build, cheaper to fuel, and capable of fissioning waste from older Uranium fissioning reactors as well. Canada's CANDU rectors have had these capabilities since the 1950's but were "bullied" out of the picture by the American Arrogance. Fact is: two CANDU's run on thorium today in China! Expect cheaper Thorium fuelled reactors to provide electricity for electric bullet trains, now being daisy - chained across the vast Pan Eurasian Alliances to resolve the high cost of oil, and to provide domestic powered, cheap, fast (320 kph), reliable, comfortable, transportation to that huge continental reality. Look for small light cheap rechargeable battery cars for the very much shorter hops that require rubber wheeled transportation, and a rebirth of fully train trolley, subway, serviced housing schemes for city dwellers, U.S.S.R. styled communal apartment blocks complete with restaurants, shopping Malls, stores, amalgamated negating the need for the daily commute and runs to the shopping plazas. Expect rockets to space to be reduced to practical communications and defence efforts, NASA's pictures to enter the scholastic fields the only place they have real value, and the nonsensical notions of manned bases in the heavens to be forsaken as the funds are diverted to real problems right here on earth. Expect: Smaller privately purchased reactors, Wind Turbines, Solar installations, Small Hydro systems, On-shore Tidal and Wave powered air compressors with electric generator schemes, Smaller scale Geothermal efforts, even anaerobic digestion schemes for methane gas, All supporting communal efforts at survival of the masses of 'unemployables" created in the U.S. by the transfer of Capital and manufacturing to Asia. Expect much "Off Grid" technology, barter systems aquaponic systems, basic gardening, super insulation, Straw Bale R 60 homes, Passive Solar home heating schemes, Gray water re-use, frugal lifestyles opposite the Great Corporate American Propaganda Whore's mesmerizations, incantations, exhortations and cunning deceptions for what constitutes a "Happy Life" , and even a re-birth of religions as prior to the whore's influences upon the people. Expect much more to be done by telecommuting, Expect businesses to be influenced greatly by the Asian models, and much of the American approach to drop away. Expect new Asian bosses installed in boughten American Corporate interests and managed as "Branch Plants" from Asia, and in Asian style, by Asian standards, and for the benefit of Asian Capitalists following some of communism's influences from China. Expect the Chinese Yuan to replace the U.s. Dollar as "international currency for exchange" shortly after the bills come in for the Iran situation and the wars there. Expect the "Feds" the deceitfully named, private, not elected, not appointed, organisation of international criminals, to proceed with Q 3, 4, 5, 6 "Easings" - money printing sessions with out any real backing - paper money printing sessions designed to devalue everything the American peon may have accumulated or hopes to attain, to balance their own books, tho churn money to gain criminal increases in dividend checks - the "skim" on American armpits, American properties. Expect a "population Bomb" from China! They are buying soy beans from America in huge quantities, Oil from Canada, Minerals from Africa, in preparation for a rapid increase in their population to balance their economic equations, as their work force grows older and retires - all this on the backs of the rest of the world - the new blood will man the factories, maintaining China's status as "Manufacturer to the World" and the old will eat, survive to a natural death in old age. Meanwhile in America job scarcity will sky-rocket as we return to ground, live even Off Grid for survival, and watch as greed destroys all our fore fathers left us. Expect, that in decades America will be reduced to Third World country - witness the rot already eating at the American soul. Look to the ruins in Detroit City, Remember the fantastic Oldsmobiles? Buick Electra 225's, Cadillacs? Packards? Lincolns? America only decades away from collapse now, as Honda's, Toyota's, Hyundai, rule the American roads. Look to an America awash in humanocidal nuclear wastes from Uranium fissioning. 80 % Americans live within 40 miles of a Uranium fissioning reactor, American reactors accumulating up to four times their design capacities for humanocidal waste as we speak. We are promised, "There will be no accidents here in the U.S. of A". 9/11 then? Expect a regional disaster - it is in the odds, statistically likely and there is no solution, remedy, cure, contingency, Special Forces, no amount of bravado, strutting with guns in hand, posturing, killer missiles, secret drones, no legalese, political statement, congressional order, not even an "Emergency" plan, no special battalion, there is no humanly known way to clean up a nuclear mess! Witness: sarcophagus at Chernobyl needs replacing - no one standing in to do it, to pay for it. Fuckoshima's poisons will inevitably be dissolved, washed to sea, fed to algae and take the long run up the food chain through bio-concentrations, to humans at the top of that chain - not a solution - a disaster happening as we speak of proportions only our children's children will describe and with derision, and possibly through genetically damaged mouths. We witness in our times: America, God's potential Eden on Earth, a biological anomaly, utterly desecrated by Vulture Capitalism in three hundred years.
ajl12no
We have new renewable energy (solar) third of cost three times plus more efficient...sit tight, should be consumer ready within 3 years.
Mel Zimmer
The Green Revolution 2.0!!???!! Really! Has Gizmag been getting money from Monsanto? Their GM BS and chemical approach to growing actually uses much more water than organic farming. As far as claims for more production, tell that to the farmers in India who have been committing suicide en masse, because of failed crops due to Monsanto\'s Green Revolution 2.0. Undermines your credibility.
Kradak
Why don\'t we just connect Bruce Miller to a generator and solve all of the world\'s energy needs?
electric38
It does seem that while the rest of the world is busy installing consumer owned solar rooftops on their houses, that a user friendly, easily installable unit was not on the top of the list. Guess our lawmakers and sciences will keep marching to the drumbeat of the oil money.
origo1
Regarding number 3-Green Revolution-I have developed on paper only an electro-mechanical system for accelerating photosynthesis. I cannot afford to build a proof of concept mechanism. I\'ve tried to get someone to publish the concept, but have received no replies, with the exception of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The problem is, their publication publishes only in-house news on their research. Any ideas?? Origo1
Jay Lloyd
Lol @ Kradak
floccipaucinihilipilification
i don\'t need to add a damned thing to the debate....BRUCE MILLER HAS SAID IT ALL!!!! except to add that successive governments will always put a spanner in the works!
jochair
personal flying must get mention. roads destroy valuable land, multi person, slow TOL and userfriendly navigation and steering will be required. people will want to park the device on balconies or roofs.