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Top 10 ‘breakthrough’ technologies for 2017 by Brooke Crothers – Fox News Tech

Innovation

Top 10 ‘breakthrough’ technologies for 2017

File photo: A visitor speaks to Baidu's robot Xiaodu at the 2015 Baidu World Conference in Beijing, China, September 8, 2015. Xiaodu, an artificial intelligent robot developed by Baidu, has access to the company's search engine database and can respond to voice commands, Baidu says. (REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon)

File photo: A visitor speaks to Baidu’s robot Xiaodu at the 2015 Baidu World Conference in Beijing, China, September 8, 2015. Xiaodu, an artificial intelligent robot developed by Baidu, has access to the company’s search engine database and can respond to voice commands, Baidu says. (REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon)

The technologies making waves in 2017 include brain implants and quantum computers.

Here is a list of the top 10 technologies that are expected to be prevalent this year, according to MIT.

AI that learns like humans

At the top of the list is behavior-reinforced artificial intelligence.

Whether that’s mastering the complex game of Go and beating a champion or learning to merge a self-driving car into traffic.

The technology is based on reinforcement learning, documented more than a 100 years ago by psychologist Edward Thorndike. He showed that cats eventually learned how to escape from a box with a latched door by trial-and-error. That behavior was reinforced with reward (food) and eventually became an established behavior.

Availability: 1 to 2 years

360-degree cameras for everyone

People experience the world in 360 degrees — now consumer cameras can too.

Until recently, that wasn’t the case: it used to cost thousands of dollars to build a system that that replicated a 360 experience. Today, you can grab a good 360-degree camera for under $500.

The key is using the technology in a way that doesn’t bore your friends and family. Interesting applications include journalists using low-cost 360 cameras to document news, including this New York Times video that can be panned 360 degrees showing the devastation left by ISIS in Palmyra, Syria.

Availability: Now

Gene therapy for curing hereditary disorders

This is best illustrated in the case of a baby boy who had serious immune deficiency that forced his parents to wear surgical masks and boil toys in water.

They believed the only option was to get a bone marrow transplant but learned about therapy that replaced the gene that was destroying his immune system. It worked and the baby was cured.

Availability: 10 to 15 years

Solar Cells that are twice as efficient

So-called “hot” solar cells convert “heat to focused beams of light.”

The operative phrase here is that it could be “roughly twice as efficient as conventional photovoltaics” and lead to cheap solar power that keeps working at night.

Availability: 10 to 15 years

A map of every human cell type

This could reveal “a sophisticated new model of biology” that speeds the search for drugs. Research suggests that there are about 300 cell variations but the “true figure is undoubtedly larger.”

This will allow discovery of new cell types and accelerate testing of new drugs.

Availability: 5 years

Self-driving trucks 

We’ve heard lots about self-driving cars – but trucks? One idea is for these future trucks to drive autonomously on long highway stretches when drivers might not be alert.

Broader application is convoys that “platoon” together to cut down on wind drag and save on fuel costs.

Availability: 5 to 10 years

Pay by face

A flick of your Apple Watch to pay at Starbucks is already doable in the real world. The next step may be face recognition that is “finally accurate enough to be widely used in financial transactions and other everyday applications.”

Baidu, China’s most popular search engine, is working on a system that lets people buy rail tickets with a face scan.

Availability: Now

Quantum Computers

The first thing to understand about quantum computers is that they’re not easy to explain.

The upshot is that these computers, using quantum bits, can crunch certain very complex calculations much faster than traditional computers.

Availability 4 to 5 years

Curing Paralysis

In an experiment, a monkey regained movement in a paralyzed leg via man-made electronic interfaces. Essentially, these interfaces “bypass damage” to the nervous system.

The obvious application is people who suffer paralyzing injuries.

Availability: 10 to 15 years

Botnets of Things

This isn’t a good thing. It’s malware that “takes control of webcams, video recorders, and other consumer devices” to wreak chaos on the Internet.

“Botnets based on this software are disrupting larger and larger swaths of the Internet—and getting harder to stop.”

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