In his quest to solve, or have a hand in solving, some of the world’s more pressing problems, Bill Gates has no doubt been presented with a range of evolving technologies which promise to do one trick or another.
In a new list prepared for the MIT Technology Review, the Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist chooses 10 breakthrough technologies for 2019. Gates served as the first guest editor in the publication’s 18 years of issuing such a roundup.
“Bill’s list reflects his belief that we’re approaching a tipping point in humanity’s technological development — from technologies that mostly make life longer to those that mostly make it better,” Gideon Lichfield, editor-in-chief of MIT Technology Review, said in a news release. “His choices highlight some of what he considers the most important challenges and opportunities of our time.”
The items on the list won’t come as any big shock to those who have followed Gates’s interests and investments. Advances in health care figure heavily alongside his belief that better performing robots and artificial intelligence assistants are coming our way. Gates also makes another call for adoption of new nuclear power technology, and he reiterates his case for high-tech toilets and sanitation systems in the developing world.
And in a year when everyone seems to now know that he loves a cheeseburger, Gates pitches plant-based and lab-grown alternatives to meat as something that could aid in the fight against climate change. Gates is a backer of Impossible Foods, makers of a vegan burger made to taste and “bleed” like animal meat.
Check out the full list, as shared by MIT Technology Review:
- Robot dexterity: robot hands that can learn to manipulate unfamiliar objects on their own
- New-wave nuclear power: both fission and fusion reactor designs that could help bring down carbon emissions
- Predicting preemies: a simple blood test to warn of a preterm birth, potentially saving many children’s lives
- Gut probe in a pill: a swallowable device that can image the digestive tract and even perform biopsies
- Custom cancer vaccines: a treatment that uses the body’s own immune system to target only tumor cells
- The cow-free burger: both plant-based and lab-grown meat alternatives that could drastically cut emissions from the food industry
- Carbon dioxide catcher: techniques for absorbing CO2 from the air and locking it away that may finally become economic
- An ECG on your wrist: the ability for people with heart conditions to continuously monitor their health and get early warnings of problems
- Sanitation without sewers: a self-contained toilet that could tackle disease and unpleasant living conditions in much of the developing world
- Smooth-talking AI assistants: new advances in natural language processing that make digital assistants capable of greater autonomy
MIT Technology Review was founded at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1899. The independent media company offers insight, analysis, reviews, interviews and live events to help explain the commercial, social and political impact of new technologies.
Watch Gates and Lichfield discuss the list in a video here. On lab-grown meat in particular, Gates said, “Part of the reason I picked it is because clean energy does not solve climate change. Only about a quarter of the emissions come from electricity generation. So here you have a gigantic piece that is from beef production, and this can be a substitute.”
The March/April issue of the publication is online today and on newsstands next week.