The List of Most Important Breakthrough Technologies for 2022
MIT Technology Review has recently published a list of 10 Breakthrough Technologies for 2022. They ranged from, the topical, covid variant tracking technologies, through new forms of authentication (no more passwords), to the malaria vaccines, and more. Below, we go into more depth about, in our eyes, the most impressive innovations from the list. At the same time, there have been at least two technologies that the MIT article did not mention, but are of enormous significance: the Metaverse and lab-grown meat. We explain how the Web 3.0-powered Metaverse has the potential to transform the world as we know it into a new, digital reality.
The List of Most Important Breakthrough Technologies for 2022
1. No more passwords
For the past decades, passwords have been the cornerstone of interacting in the digital world. The problem with passwords is obvious; they are vulnerable to hacker and phishing attacks. The newest type of attack is called “browser in browser” attack, and, according to the tech journalist Paul Wagenseil, it is a perfect “pop-up” scam, and the way it works is as follows:
“The window isn't really a pop-up, but instead part of the underlying web page. However, you can actually grab the pop-up window and move it around by clicking the title bar with your mouse cursor.”
Not many people would be able to tell that the pop-up is a fake window, as it is pretty convincing. So what is the alternative, you may ask? No more passwords. The Fast Identity Online Alliance has worked for nearly a decade now on killing passwords. The new system will allow users to log into their online accounts. According to the Wall Street Journal:
“Rather than sending a password over a network susceptible to outside interference, users connect a public key, which sits on the account service provider’s server, to a private one, which cannot be removed from their device.”
2. The malaria vaccine
More than 130 years after naming the parasite behind the illness, the world finally has a malaria vaccine. It is about time, as it is estimated that malaria still kills more than 600,000 people a year, most of them children younger than five. The new vaccine has finally been approved by the World Health Organization, and although questions around its efficacy remain, it is still a sizeable step forward. According to Nature magazine:
“Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, helped to fund the pilot programmes, which have distributed 2.3 million vaccine doses across Ghana, Kenya and Malawi. It reports that in these studies, hospitalizations from severe malaria decreased by about 30%.”
If deaths and serious hospitalizations worldwide could be cut by 30%, that would mean that around 180,000 human lives could be saved each year. After the Covid-19 pandemic has taken its toll, it is uplifting to finally see some positive news on the disease research front.
3. Law-grown meat
Lab-grown meat, the best 100% clean and disease free substitute for meat, is coming. The benefits are an ever-growing list: lab-grown meat will be cruelty-free, will use less energy, land, and water. Animal cruelty can be a thing of the past if we wish. Another alternative is eating insects (by 2030 it will reach a market size of $8 billion), although that sounds like a less desirable or appealing option to many. Lab-grown meat has recently been given green light in Singapore, where a company Eat Just is leading the way. As Josh Tetrick, of Eat Just,said:
“I think the approval is one of the most significant milestones in the food industry in the last handful of decades. It’s an open door and it’s up to us and other companies to take that opportunity. My hope is this leads to a world in the next handful of years where the majority of meat doesn’t require killing a single animal or tearing down a single tree.”
4. Carbon removal
Although the quest for a healthier, more sustainable, greener planet is being joined by more and more people each day, preventive action may not be enough at this point. This is why we need air carbon removal technologies to step in.
“The number of things that would have to happen without direct air capture is so stretching and multiple it's highly unlikely we can meet the Paris Agreements without it,” Ajay Gambhir, senior researcher at the Imperial College Grantham Institute for Climate Change, said recently. Although the technology is still expensive and in its infancy (the estimates for the price range from $100 to $1,000 (£72 to £720) per tonne), it is the future.
5. The Metaverse, Web 3.0
Almost every industry can benefit from a broad implementation of a tailored Metaverse technology. The gaming industry was a pioneer in that regard, experiencing a huge frameshift over the past years and being worked upon by various major gaming companies around the globe to massively successful products like World of Warcraft or Pokemon. New players, like the Polygon ecosystem, use Blockchain to expand transparency for the community, deploy new reward systems, and offer possibilities to scale communities. Similarly, platforms like Fortnite bring advanced staple features of Metaverse. Blockchain pairs with the Metaverse to provide transparency to its functioning and expansion. NFTs as rewards and better engagements have become increasingly necessary for the virality and monetisation of digital content, creators, and other industry participants. As Dinis Guarda, the Founder of citiesabc and the author of “NFT Metaverse Uprising”, noted:
“As the Metaverse is evolving with time, it is increasing its scope of applications that are likely to affect the global economy in a more powerful way. According to a study by PwC, the Metaverse ecosystem will be worth over 1.5 trillion by the year 2030. The world is already witnessing its effects in many ways. In industries like the digital-twin technology, gaming, healthcare, the Metaverse iterations comprehend virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) or simply game-driven education communities using a screen.”
2022 is here. Almost every industry - food, tech, health, and more - will be affected by the innovations this year is supposed to bring. Although most of them are at an early stage of development, and we are yet to see something truly tangible, others, like the malaria vaccine, has already proven effective. As for the rest, we have to wait and see.