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List of Emerging Technologies (wikipedia.org)
162 points by aleyan on April 16, 2021 | hide | past | favorite | 44 comments

From Bezos' last shareholder letter[0]: "Draw the box big around all of society, and you’ll find that invention is the root of all real value creation."

I'm really hopeful that invention, like the ideas represented on this list, will get more attention and excitement from our youngest and smartest minds. In fact, I believe that having a successful society is dependent on this.

[0]: https://www.aboutamazon.com/news/company-news/2020-letter-to...

Invention is great, but I would think that statement has an implied "... that we can make money on" at the end - at least, it seems to me like there's lots of value created by people doing non-inventive things, whether that's a chef making a great meal or a teacher helping a child or... most of the things most people are doing most of the time?

I think the business use of the word "value" already implies the ability to make money from it.

But consider what it means to make money. Suppose you invent technology whereby those people doing their things most of the time can become twice as productive. They would be eager to pay for this benefit, and society has gained far more "value" by your definition as well.

I think you're both right. The benefits of successful invention (most inventions being unsuccessful) redound 1000-fold on surrounding society (rather than on the inventor, who nevertheless may profit).

Yet it's good people who assure the conditions under which invention is even possible.

The statement is either flatly false (if "value creation" is the same thing as "valuable") or tautologically true (if it means "novelty"). The sneaky insertion of real into "all real value creation" outs it as a No True Scotsman statement.

Consider taking the statement in the context of the argument made in the letter.

While interesting, I'm surprised this hasn't become entangled in WP:NOR:


Still waiting for graphene to be commercially available in something. It has been hyped as the ultimate super material for decades and yet, it's being used in absolutely nothing.

Graphene will first be in golf clubs, tennis rackets, or porn is nature's way.

There is a recall here in Canada for non-medical masks that have graphene contamination in them, it may cause lung damage. So there's that.

No one can find a way to (mass) manufacture it with controlled properties...

Isn't it used as a separator in lithium polymer batteries already?

I am glad to see they have "head transplant" but how dare they forget time travel!

In 2012, Xiaoping Ren published work in which he grafted the head of a mouse onto another mouse's body; again the focus was on how to avoid harm from the loss of blood supply; with his protocol the grafted heads survived up to six months.[1]

That's wild, but the more I think about it, the more I wonder if there's really all that much we don't know about how to transplant a head onto another body, if it's just to keep the donor alive (that is, what we don't know may not stop us from being successful putting a second head on to someone and connecting the blood supply so the brain survives).

1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Head_transplant

This is a list I could get lost in for hours...

So much for my weekend...

::rolls up sleeves::

“Memristors you say?”

::is never seen again::

Quantum computing is a prime example of a technology in phase 2, definitely not in "commercialization".

I see your point, but there are companies that are renting time slots on their rudimentary cloud quantum computers right now, among other commercial ventures. I’d say it’s not “definitely not” in “commercialization”.

We're definitely overdue for a major consumer tech introduction.

* Late 30s: Radio

* Late 40s: Vinyl Records (Edited: Atomic energy isn't a consumer product)

* Late 50s: TV

* Late 60s: Transistors / rockets

* Late 70s: Microcomputers.

* Late 80s: Desktop publishing

* Late 90s: Internet/Web

* Late 00s: Smartphones/tablets

* Late 10s: VR? Streaming media? Electric cars? Cryptocurrency?

It takes a while for a new technology to spread to widespread adoption. For example, the 2007 launch of the iPhone lead to a decade of mobile adoption a few years later. But it seems there's been no new tech paradigm shift lately that's equivalent to the massive influence of previous innovations. Or at least I'm not seeing it yet.

Just based on what people I know have in their homes, late 10s is probably Alexa, Google Home, etc. I don't have one, think they're stupid, and don't like the idea of having another internet connected microphone in my home, but other people seem to like them.

Streaming, which you mentioned is a big one too. I know it existed before, but it really took off then. Zoom might fit into that category as well.

Are they really a technological leap like radio, transistors, automobiles, even smartphones? I wouldn't put them in the same category. I'd put them right there next to the walkman.

Cryptocurrency (or more specifically, cryptographically enforced consensus networks) are way more of a technological leap than voice interfaces connected to the internet. If there's a top invention of the 2010s, it's bitcoin.

No, I don't think they're a technological leap either. But we haven't had a real technological leap on the scale of those early inventions in a while. (I don't think smartphones or the internet count... they are commercializations of existing technologies).

Cryptocurrency is actually a technological leap without much precedent (it's sort of similar to bittorrent and some of the ideas were in the air, but no one synthesized them into something useful prior to Satoshi). I think it's still an open question to what extent it matters long-term. It's mainly used for speculation and facilitating illegal transactions currently.

All of these leaps though were commercializations of existing technologies, or they were novel applications of existing technologies. The automobile was a novel use of combustion, radio was being played with and used in military applications.

I agree that they took a while to commercialize, but they were new technologies. Smartphones, streaming, etc. are not new technologies. They are extensions of old ones, or in the case of smartphones, a systems integration problem.

I think we're talking past each other a bit. I think there are technological leaps and sociological leaps. Most new tech is a sociological leap: it changes society but it does not make use of anything radically new.

I think the only real technological leaps in the past twenty years have been maybe crypto, and some things happening in biology. Notably absent is renewable energy, which was largely developed many decades ago but is now being commercialized due to process improvements.

The late 10s should probably have IoT (e.g. Nest thermostats, security systems, etc) and "smart" home assistants like the Amazon Echo Dot, Google Home, etc.

Remember: The S in IoT stands for security.

Radio > IoT

It seems really hard to label exact starting points here. I could see in 2030, we look back and late 10s is clear but we can't find out for late 20s.

Where do we put really good batteries? Lyft? Amazing phone cameras? Quadrotors? Fitness trackers? In ten years it will be clear where to place those.

I think the big one that's shaping up to be a top game changer is space accessibility. None of these technologies listed just pipped up out of nowhere, they matured in each decade, and space is maturing this decade.

"Past performance is no guarantee of future results."

good point, all the above are 'communications'. the question is, what is the next stage of communications.

Virtual Reality made a brief appearance in the 1990s VFX, Nintendo Virtual Boy, and a few others.

Considering atomic energy as somehow a “consumer tech” looks fishy

Oh, huh. Yeah. I actually went back and added the word "consumer" after I made the list to be more specific, then forgot about that.

Vinyl records! That's what should have been there. The LP was introduced in 1948 and the 45 in 1949.

People buy electricity from nuclear power plants.

By that metric then every tech is consumer tech.

Late 10s: Social media. Not all revolutions are good.

Yeah... you might be right. About both points.

social media was prior decade.

SpaceX may be the biggest thing in late 10s?

Well, if you look at all these technologies, they didn't revolutionize when they were created, they took a long time and revolutionized when they matured. Radio exists prior to the 30s but it was experimental and niche, same with networking and computers. I think that the space decade is going to be this one. The last one, the revolutionary things that took hold were social media and cryptocurrency. Social media is shaping up to be a big disappointment, at least in it's current iteration.

Classifying Neural-sensing headset under Aerospace (only because an application is pilot assist tools) seems a bit strange.

Is there a list of aborted technologies and technologies that died in childbirth?

Like, say, electric cars in 1900-1915?

For entertainment, I’d add laser short throw projectors since I just spent a long time researching them on YouTube.

I don't think the intention of this page is for people to post what they just learned about on YouTube...

It reminds me of how useless reference texts have become.

Wikipedia is decent for a quick overview of a certain topic; but "boy oh boy," is it useless for anything of substance and depth.

All of these technologies, merely glossed over. Many, perhaps, even complete bunk with no realistic applications or time-frames for usable prototypes, all mixed in together!

Junk food for the mind.

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