Products like smartphones and voice-command speakers used to be the stuff of Jetsons fantasies. Then they became reality and altered our world dramatically. So, what’s next?
Here’s a roundup of the emerging technologies.
Drones: These aren’t just for taking Instagram-worthy aerial shots. Drones offer plenty of yet-to-be-fully realized potential. They’re being explored as tools for farm crop assessment, law enforcement, and disaster relief.
Blockchain: This technology is much more than cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. By facilitating the distribution of digital information without copying, blockchain can power all kinds of activities, from providing financial solutions to un-banked people to auditing supply chains around the world.
Artificial intelligence: Computers with human smarts get a lot of flak for the scary side of their potential. But there’s plenty of good stuff too, like an A.I.-powered system that analyzes a baby’s cry to instantly diagnose birth asphyxia, a top cause of infant mortality.
Driverless vehicles: Autonomous vehicles are already here. When they become widely available, they could help those who are underserved by public transportation, reduce the space needed for parking, and improve road safety.
CRISPR: Named after CRISPR DNA sequences (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats), this DNA-altering technology can be used to precisely edit genetic information. While it received bad press after a Chinese scientist announced he had used it to create genetically edited babies, the tech has incredible potential for everything from healthcare to agriculture.