Gene editing, combat drone proliferation, organ transplantation: MIT highlights breakthrough technologies of 2023

January 11, 2023  16:45

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) presented a list of ten breakthrough technologies for 2023. The list includes not just new discoveries, but developments capable of changing the world in the coming years. Eight of the ten technologies are available today.

CRISPR for the treatment of common diseases (will be available in 10-15 years)

CRISPR gene editing technologies were originally developed to treat rare diseases and genetic disorders. Recently, CRISPR has begun clinical trials to correct more common diseases and problems, such as high cholesterol. According to MIT analysts, such technologies will soon move from research laboratories to clinics, where they will be widely used in the fight against common diseases.

AI for imaging-making (available)

In 2022, social media users tested many tools that use artificial intelligence (AI) to create images based on a single word or a short description. Many companies have developed such tools, but the Stable Diffusion tool, unveiled in August by British company Stability AI, has taken the most significant step toward its mass adoption. It is an open-source technology that can be used on a PC. Users have created tens of millions of images using this technology, leading one to wonder how the advent of such tools will affect the creative industries.

The proliferation of open chip development architecture (available)

For years, only large companies could produce chips, and customers had to buy off-the-shelf versions from them or pay more to create chips that met their requirements. But that could all change with the proliferation of the RISC-V open chip architecture, thanks to which almost anyone can start making their own chips.

More than 3,000 companies and research institutes have joined the nonprofit RISC-V International, and Intel has created a $1 billion fund to fund companies building chips based on RISC-V. According to analysts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, such chips will be everywhere in the coming years.

Mass-market combat drones (available)

Until recently, combat drones were very expensive and only available to countries with large military budgets. Thanks to the development of many technologies and their reduction in cost, cheap drones, such as the Turkish Bayraktar TB2 or the Iranian Shahed, have appeared on the market. The emergence of combat drones is already changing the nature of their use in combat, and in the future these changes could be even more significant.

Telemedicine abortion pills (available)

This item is not so much a technological advance as it is a response to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision, which struck down federal guarantees of the right to abortion and, in some states, banned abortion altogether. However, several non-profit organizations, including Just The Pill and Aid Access, do telemedicine consultations with women who want to terminate a pregnancy and then send them the necessary pills.

Organs for transplantation (to be available in 10 to 15 years)

Last year, scientists at the University of Maryland Medical Center in the United States successfully transplanted, for the first time, a human heart from a pig whose genes had previously been modified to match those of a human. The patient died two months later, but this case can be considered a success in the field of obtaining organs for transplantation.

So far, such research (both on transplanting human organs from genetically modified animals and on creating organs using special 3D printers) is at an early stage. But analysts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology believe that within 10-15 years, research will progress significantly and such activities will become mainstream.

Electric car proliferation (available)

Cheaper batteries, stricter emissions limits in many countries, an expanding lineup from different manufacturers – thanks to all this, electric cars will not remain a commodity occupying a market segment, but will become more widespread.

The International Energy Agency estimates that the share of electric cars in all cars purchased will increase from 4% two years ago to 2022. From 13% by the end of the decade, it will reach about 30%.

James Webb Space Telescope (available)

The most powerful space telescope was launched in December 2021. According to the authors of the list, new discoveries are regularly made with its help and new images of different corners of the universe appear. Discoveries made by James Webb will continue in the future.

Ancient DNA analysis (available)

In 2022, Swedish scientist Svante Paabo received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Together with his colleagues at the German Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, he developed methods for sequencing ancient DNA. Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany, he developed methods for sequencing the DNA of ancient people. In recent years, such techniques have become more accurate and cheaper. As a result, the number of ancient people whose DNA data has been fully recovered has increased manifold: in 2010 there were only 5, now there are 5,500.

In recent years, two new species of ancient people have been discovered: Homo luzonensis and Denisovans. According to analysts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the technology for analyzing the DNA of ancient humans is likely to bring new discoveries in the future.

Battery recycling will become mainstream (available)

Recycling used batteries is becoming increasingly popular as part of the fight against planetary pollution and the recovery of rare metals. Advanced technology makes it possible to recover and use almost all of the cobalt and nickel used in old batteries, as well as more than 80% of the lithium.

This sector is most developed in China, and U.S. companies in this field are also expanding their operations and attracting billions of dollars in investments. According to analysts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the demand for batteries will grow exponentially in the coming decades, as will the demand for recycling.

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