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Top Ten Tech Breakthroughs for 2020 that will Shape the World

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MIT Technology Review announced its 10 Breakthrough Technologies list for 2020 yesterday, featuring 10 recent advances predicted to have a big impact on our lives. For 19 years, this closely watched list has been an early identifier of key technological developments ranging from CRISPR to deep learning to the now internationally popular cow-free burger. This year, alongside the release of the list, MIT Technology Review debuted a new podcast titled Deep Tech. The first episode, out today, is one of four that will conduct a deep-dive into some of the technologies featured on the 2020 list.

Gideon Lichfield, Editor-in-Chief of MIT Technology Review, said: “The 10 Breakthrough Technologies list is one of the most popular things we do, and I’m delighted that people will now be able to listen instead of just read about these forces shaping our future.”

This year’s 10 Breakthrough Technologies range in subject matter from AI to quantum computing to medicine and health care. They are:

Satellite mega-constellations: We can now affordably build, launch, and operate tens of thousands of satellites in orbit at once.

AI-designed molecules: Scientists have used AI to discover drug-like compounds with desirable properties.

Tiny AI: We can now run powerful AI algorithms on our phones.

The quantum internet: Later this year, Dutch researchers will complete a super-secure quantum internet connection between Delft and the Hague.

Climate-change attribution: For the first time, researchers can confidently determine whether climate change is driving a specific extreme weather event such as a hurricane, as opposed to just making such events more frequent in general.

Hyper-personalized medicine: Novel treatments are now being designed to treat even genetic mutations unique to a single person.

Anti-aging drugs: The first drugs that treat ailments by targeting a natural aging process in the body have shown success in human tests.

Quantum supremacy: Google has provided the first clear proof of a quantum computer outperforming a classical one.

Digital money: The rise of digital money—not cryptocurrencies, but digital versions of national currencies like the Chinese renminbi—will threaten people’s ability to transact in private; it could challenge America’s dominance over the global financial system.

Differential privacy: This cutting-edge mathematical technique precisely measures how the privacy of a dataset changes when noise is injected. Already used by consumer tech companies, it will be used in the 2020 Census to protect the identities of 330 million Americans.