Wednesday 15 Aug 2018 | 11:24 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 15 Aug 2018 | 11:24 | SYDNEY

Top 10 emerging technologies for 2012


Sam Roggeveen


28 February 2012 16:12

The World Economic Forum asked some of the leading minds in its Council on Emerging Technologies Network to come up with a top-ten list of emerging technologies 'expected to have major social, economic and environmental impacts worldwide in 2012'. A full explanation of the list is here, but Larvatus Prodeo has a handy summary:

  1. Informatics for adding value to information.
  2. Synthetic biology and metabolic engineering.
  3. Green Revolution 2.0 – technologies for increased food and biomass.
  4. Nanoscale design of materials.
  5. Systems biology and computational modelling/simulation of chemical and biological systems.
  6. Utilization of carbon dioxide as a resource.
  7. Wireless power.
  8. High energy density power systems.
  9. Personalized medicine, nutrition and disease prevention.
  10. Enhanced education technology.

As with any set of predictions from subject-matter experts, the standard caveat applies; namely, that experts tend to be really bad at making predictions in their own area of expertise.

That said, what interests me is that there is no mention of renewable energy. I've noted previously on The Interpreter John Quiggin's optimistic assessment that photovoltaics are finally becoming commercially viable, but then I also recently read Bjorn Lomborg's op-ed on the complete failure of Germany's massive policy experiment with solar energy. I dunno what to think.

Also interesting: the various what you might call 'post-industrial' items on the list. By this I mean technologies which are (a) designed solely to manipulate data in various ways rather than leading to the production of physical objects (see numbers 1 and 5), and (b) designed on the scale of the individual rather than for mass production (I'm thinking particularly of 9 and 10).