Before we flip our calendars to 2019, let’s take a look back at all the iconic tech happenings from this year. There were some big tech jumps in 2018 that portend exciting times ahead.
In no particular order, here’s what happened this year:
Materials’ Quantum Leap
IBM was able to simulate the electronic structure of a small molecule using just a seven-qubit quantum computer. This breakthrough will continue to mature over the next quarter of a century, allowing for changes in pharmaceutical, chemical, and energy applications.
Genetic Fortune Telling
Though relatively new, Home DNA Kits have become part of the norm. Because there are so many people that want their DNA tested, the amount of genetic data that is piling up is incredulous. With Genetic Fortune Telling, parents will soon be delivered a “Disease Report Card” upon the birth of their child, which will provide a road map of a child’s health for their entire life.
Perfecting Online Privacy
Zero-knowledge proof was established to maintain anonymity and avoid the risk of a privacy breach or identity theft. It allows individuals to prove things such as their age or their bank account balance without revealing information that can be stolen and used against them. Using blockchains in payment systems is something that more mainstream banks can take part in in the future.
Zero-carbon Natural Gas
The burning of natural gas produces approximately 31% of the electricity in the US, and 22% worldwide. If zero-carbon natural gas becomes the norm, it can reduce the United States’ carbon emissions by over one-third and produce carbon-free energy at a reasonable cost.
The source of this brilliant idea comes from the Sci-Fi classic The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, where one can insert an earbud into their ear and have languages translated immediately. Google created their own version of this, known as the Pixel Buds, that help to translate in real time. Though the design of the buds hasn’t yet been perfected, the technology advancement is promising for future similar products.
Dueling Neural Networks
Dueling Neural Networks produce photorealistic imagery and realistic-sounding speech. It is essentially an artificial sense of imagination, as these generators can create images or sounds out of the blue that are hard to distinguish as authentic or crafted. This is one of the most important breakthroughs in AI in years.
Cloud-based AI services
Companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and IBM are working to increase their access to artificial neural network technology. By having these AI tools widely available in the cloud, advanced machine learning will be accessible to many businesses, altering everything from manufacturing to logistics and lowering the cost of AI.
Alphabet, Google’s parent company, has implemented sensors and analytics to rethink how cities are run, lived in, and built. The plans require all vehicles within the city be autonomous and shared, with quirks such as robots delivering mail entirely underground. The city will be able to measure analytics like noise pollution and air quality. The overall goal of this project is to make cities more affordable, livable, and environmentally sustainable.
Research has evolved and has allowed for embryos to form from only stem cells. Though this opens up the possibility of creating life sans egg or sperm, researchers aren’t hoping to take the technology in that particular route. Instead, they are hoping to get a look into the early formative stages of human embryos.
3D Metal Printing
In the last few years, 3D Printing has brought ease to prototypes and design. The advancement of this technology has allowed for instant metal fabrication, which has become cheaper and easier to produce. This will allow companies to manufacture products on the spot instead of having to place orders and wait for deliveries.