10 technologies that won't exist in 5 years

Table of 10 future technologies

Some technologies are more important than others – indeed, some are life or death. Technological progress is not a mystical force that delivers the most important ones first. Some problems are hard to solve, and won't make you much money even if you succeed, and don't get talked about on the news.

What people choose to work on determines what new technologies are made. The 10 technologies above are worth working on.

What do I mean that most are “achievable”? I mean that a group of well organised, sufficiently funded, driven scientists would have a shot worth taking. That could be in a company or a non-profit or a university with a close commercial partner, so long as they were focused on getting a product to the finish line. Not all the Yeses are achievable in 5 years, but there are no clear biological or technical reasons we can’t get there.

Why won’t we have more of these tools in 5 years? I’ve worked in science funding for the last 5 years. I now have a sense of where the money goes, and how long things take on a default development path even when they do get funded. We are not on track.

Health systems are complicated, and tools are not magic. But good tools help. Half of these problems rarely affect rich people, so there is not much money supporting product development. With an extra $10 billion over 10 years I’m pretty sure we’d get to 5 or 6 of the 10 on the list, and millions of unnecessary deaths would be prevented. In a sane world, those 5 or 6 would already exist, and we would all be better off. That is not the world we live in today.

More details on the ten

Thanks to Sangeeta Bhatia and Mireille Kamariza for comments