According to the WEF, among the technologies that will have the greatest positive influence on the globe in the following three to five years are designer phages, flexible batteries, and sustainable aviation fuel.
According to the WEF, among the top 10 such emerging technologies include wearable plant sensors, metaverse for mental health, spatial omics, flexible neural electronics, sustainable computing, and AI-enabled healthcare.
The WEF’s “Top ten emerging technologies report 2023” was created in partnership with Frontiers, a publisher of peer-reviewed, open-access, scientific journals, and evaluated how each technology will affect people, the planet, prosperity, industry, and equity.
The technologies that were examined for the annual list were those that were anticipated to have reached a sizeable level within five years, were disruptive, attractive to investors and researchers, and promised to have a significant positive impact on society and economies.
Since its debut in 2011, the report has uncovered little-known innovations that went on to have an impact on the entire world. These include AI-led molecular design, which was included on the 2018 list two years before the first AI-discovered pharmaceuticals reached clinical trials, and genomic vaccines, which were both mentioned in the 2016 report and eventually developed into the technology used in the majority of COVID-19 vaccines.
The WEF stated that as thin, flexible batteries—made of lightweight materials that can be twisted, bent, and stretched—arrive on the market, conventional rigid batteries may soon be a thing of the past.
This next generation of battery technology, which is predicted to reach a market value of $240 million by 2027, has uses in flexible displays, smartwatches, biomedical sensors, and medical wearables.
On generative AI, it was stated that this new sort of AI, which was propelled into public discourse by the end of 2022 with the public release of ChatGPT, is AI capable of producing fresh and original material by learning from enormous datasets.
According to the WEF, generative AI is evolving quickly and is poised to upend a number of industries with its applications in research, education, and other fields.
According to the report, sustainable aviation fuel produced from biological (like biomass) and non-biological (like CO2) sources could be the solution to decarbonize the aviation industry in the short to medium term. Aviation is responsible for 2-3 percent of annual global CO2 emissions, and there are no signs of long-haul electric flights.
Regarding designer phages, the paper stated that ‘phages’ are viruses that specifically infect particular types of bacteria.
Scientists may now reprogramme phages to infect the bacteria of their choice thanks to more advanced genetic engineering methods. This enables them to focus on a single type of bacterium within a complex community of coexisting forms of bacteria, such as in plant, animal, and human microbiomes.
There are indications that these “designer” phages could someday be utilized to treat microbiome-related disorders or get rid of harmful bacteria in food supply chains, even if many of the near-term applications will be in research.
In addition, product developers are beginning to create collaborative virtual places to enhance mental health in response to the escalating mental health issue.
“Video games are already used to treat anxiety and depression, and VR-enabled meditation is becoming more popular. The future metaverse could be ripe for enhancing mental health, according to the WEF, when combined with next-generation wearables that allow the user to experience touch and/or respond to their emotional condition.
It went on to say that satellites and drones have revolutionized the way that large-scale farms are monitored. Previously, these farms relied on physical soil testing and visual inspections.
We now have a new generation of plant sensors, which are tiny, non-intrusive gadgets that may be ‘wear’ by specific plants to continuously check their nutrient, moisture, and temperature levels. Wearable plant sensors could enhance plant health and boost yields, assuming they can overcome scaling costs, the paper stated.
‘Spatial omics’, on the other hand, combines sophisticated imaging methods with the precision of DNA sequencing to enable researchers to “see” biological activities at the molecular level inside cells.
This potent new technology is poised to accelerate our comprehension of biology and aid researchers in creating novel treatments for complicated diseases by revealing biological structures and activities that were previously unobservable, according to the article.