Published on March 1st, 2021 | by Emergent Enterprise0
10 Breakthrough Technologies 2021
The pandemic of 2020 brought many technologies to the forefront of everyday life as in the case of messenger RNA. Where would we be without the extraordinary vaccines that are the result of this tech? In the annual list of breakthrough technologies at the MIT Technology Review, it’s not surprising to see artificial intelligence prevalent throughout. As something of a “hidden” technology, AI is become an almost constant companions as it fuels everything around us, especially our smart devices. An AI such as GPT-3 shows there is no road map for where the technology will take us whether good or bad. It will be something of both. If anything, the list is a reminder that technology improves and enhances life in unprecedented ways that, of course, comes with risk.
Photo courtesy SIERRA & LENNY
This list marks 20 years since we began compiling an annual selection of the year’s most important technologies. Some, such as mRNA vaccines, are already changing our lives, while others are still a few years off. Below, you’ll find a brief description along with a link to a feature article that probes each technology in detail. We hope you’ll enjoy and explore—taken together, we believe this list represents a glimpse into our collective future.
We got very lucky. The two most effective vaccines against the coronavirus are based on messenger RNA, a technology that has been in the works for 20 years. When the covid-19 pandemic began last January, scientists at several biotech companies were quick to turn to mRNA as a way to create potential vaccines; in late December 2020, at a time when more than 1.5 million had died from covid-19 worldwide, the vaccines were approved in the US, marking the beginning of the end of the pandemic.
The new covid vaccines are based on a technology never before used in therapeutics, and it could transform medicine, leading to vaccines against various infectious diseases, including malaria. And if this coronavirus keeps mutating, mRNA vaccines can be easily and quickly modified. Messenger RNA also holds great promise as the basis for cheap gene fixes to sickle-cell disease and HIV. Also in the works: using mRNA to help the body fight off cancers. Antonio Regalado explains the history and medical potential of the exciting new science of messenger RNA.