The 10th anniversary edition of the World Economic Forum’s Top 10 Emerging Technologies Report lists new technologies poised to impact the world in the next three to five years.
Experts convened by the World Economic Forum and Scientific American highlight technological advances that could revolutionize agriculture, health and space.
Self-fertilizing crops, on-demand drug manufacturing, breath-sensing diagnostics and 3D-printed houses are among the technologie…….
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- The 10th anniversary edition of the World Economic Forum’s Top 10 Emerging Technologies Report lists new technologies poised to impact the world in the next three to five years.
- Experts convened by the World Economic Forum and Scientific American highlight technological advances that could revolutionize agriculture, health and space.
- Self-fertilizing crops, on-demand drug manufacturing, breath-sensing diagnostics and 3D-printed houses are among the technologies on the list.
At COP26, countries committed to new, ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions this decade. Delivering on these promises will rely on the development and scale up of green technologies.
Two such technologies – the production of “green” ammonia and engineered crops that make their own fertilizer – both aiming to make agriculture more sustainable, made it onto this year’s list of emerging tech.
Top 10 Emerging Technologies
From breath sensors that can diagnose disease to wireless charging of low-powered devices, this year’s list of top emerging technologies is packed with inspiring advances related to the environment, health, infrastructure and connectivity. Experts whittled down scores of nominations to a select group of new developments with the potential to disrupt the status quo and spur real progress.
Here are 2021’s top 10 emerging technologies:
A century since scientists proposed that excess carbon dioxide in earth’s atmosphere would cause it to retain heat and cause planetary warming, a global effort is underway to drive decarbonization in all aspects of daily life. Governments and industries have made seminal commitments to reduce carbon emissions.
Meeting those commitments will, over the next three to five years, demand unprecedented innovation and scaling to industrial levels of nascent technologies such as: mass energy storage, low/no carbon chemical sources, revitalized rail transport, carbon sequestration, low carbon agriculture, zero emission vehicles and power sources, as well as agreed-upon compliance monitoring on a global scale.
Crops that make their own fertilizer
Today the world uses more than 110 million tons of nitrogen fertilizer to enhance crop production annually. What if crops could capture nitrogen on their own, “fixing” it to themselves in the form of ammonia as legumes such as soy and beans do? Being one of the top emerging technologies, researchers now aim to coax other crops such as corn and other cereals to also self-fertilize.
In one approach, researchers are working to emulate the symbiotic molecular communication between legumes and bacteria to create root nodules—legumes’ natural fertilizer factories. In another, soil bacteria that normally colonize cereal roots (but don’t normally create nodules) are taught to produce nitrogenase, a key component that converts atmospheric nitrogen to plant-compatible ammonia.