Innovation

10 Breakthrough Technologies 2018

Every year since 2001 we’ve picked what we call the 10 Breakthrough Technologies. People often ask, what exactly do you mean by “breakthrough”? It’s a reasonable question—some of our picks haven’t yet reached widespread use, while others may be on the cusp of becoming commercially…

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A smarter smart city

On Toronto’s waterfront, where the eastern part of the city meets Lake Ontario, is a patchwork of cement and dirt. It’s home to plumbing and electrical supply shops, parking lots, winter boat storage, and a hulking silo built in 1943 to store soybeans—a relic of…

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China is an innovation superpower. This is why

Last year President Xi Jinping outlined his vision to make China the global leader in political, economic, military and environmental issues over the next three decades. Now, comprehensive data from the National Science Foundation reveals that China is already well on its way to becoming…

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Quantum computing has a speed limit. We just don’t know what it is yet

Over the past five decades, standard computer processors have gotten increasingly faster. In recent years, however, the limits to that technology have become clear: Chip components can only get so small, and be packed only so closely together, before they overlap or short-circuit. If companies…

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Science says napping is actually really good for us. Here’s why

What do staff at NASA, Google and Samsung have in common? They can all go for a nap at work in a specially designed sleep pod. Engineers, programmers and astronauts can lie down in the pod for 20 minutes at a time. With the outside…

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Bitcoin is making banks nervous. Here’s why

Technology blogs and financial news networks are buzzing about blockchain, a cryptographic, distributed trust technology. The key innovation is how it reduces the need for central third-party institutions to serve as central authorities of trust — banks, courts, large corporations, stock markets and even governments,…

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New frontier for fake news? This AI can put words in Barack Obama’s mouth

In news that has made pranksters around the world pay attention, there is now a computer program that can create a realistic simulated video of someone speaking. Researchers at the University of Washington have proved their point by creating a lip-synced video of former US…

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A computer was asked to predict which start-ups would be successful. The results were astonishing

In 2009, Ira Sager of Businessweek magazine set a challenge for Quid AI’s CEO Bob Goodson: programme a computer to pick 50 unheard of companies that are set to rock the world. The domain of picking “start-up winners” was – and largely still is –…

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Opening up data can make a real difference to the Global South

The modern era is marked by growing faith in the power of data. “Big data”, “open data”, and “evidence-based decision-making” have become buzzwords, touted as solutions to the world’s most complex and persistent problems, from corruption and famine to the refugee crisis. While perhaps most…

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Researchers have created a battery-free phone that is powered by sunlight

Instead of batteries, a new cell phone harvests the few microwatts of power it needs from a different source: ambient radio signals or light. Researchers were also able to make Skype calls using the battery-free phone, demonstrating that the prototype—made of commercial, off-the-shelf components—can receive…

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