The year is almost at an end so it is time to look back at some key developments from the world of tech. As an IT company first and foremost, this is where our interests reside. Here then is our selection of top breakthrough technologies 2021.
The Lithium-Metal Battery
Electric vehicles (EVs) are quite expensive and can only be driven a few hundred miles before they need to be recharged. This process takes far longer than stopping to refuel, all of which makes them a difficult sell. The primary reason behind these drawbacks? The limitations of lithium-ion batteries. As we step ever closer towards the future, however, this could be set to change.
A number of companies are currently developing lithium-metal batteries. One such company is QuantumScape, who have a deal in place with Volkswagen. VW are aiming to sell EVs with this new type of battery by 2025. QuantumScape propose that their solution brings 5 key benefits:- Their technology ‘significantly’ increases volumetric and gravimetric energy density
- It offers users the ability to charge their EVs quickly, reportedly taking just 15 minutes to reach 80%
- Their batteries have an increased lifespan
- Their tech eliminates ‘organic separator’, thus increasing safety
- Costs are reduced via the elimination of anode host material and lower manufacturing costs
Why does this make our list? More EVs on the roads will lead to lower emissions, which in turn will have a huge impact upon the environment.
A data trust is a legal entity that collects and manages your personal data for you. Some governments are now beginning to explore these despite the fact that they are still a work-in-progress. This is because they provide a possible solution to the long-standing issues of online privacy and security.
Too many tech companies have been the victims of data breaches and hacks in recent years. Data trusts offer an alternative model of privacy than we are used to – i.e. One where we as individuals are mainly responsible for managing our own privacy.
This article from Harvard Business Review on data trusts is a good read. It argues that they could help in the development of AI applications and provides an example of a pilot trust. NB: You may be asked to subscribe to HBR depending upon how many articles you read.
Why do data trusts appear on this Breakthrough technologies 2021 list? As part of theICEway ecosystem, ICE adopts a security by design approach to everything we do. Data protection and privacy are critical elements in this high-tech world. More specifically, we all have the right to safeguard our own personal data and must do so. Anyone or anything that can help with that is to be lauded.
Coronavirus has had a huge impact on all of us, shaping the way we live. When it first began to spread, digital contact tracing was implemented to track and log people who had tested positive for Covid. Via the wonders of Bluetooth technology, you could check various apps to assess your levels of exposure.
This article from Forbes reports that contact tracing helped to reduce Covid cases in the UK by up to 20%. Researchers measured its impact by looking at 1.7 million notifications that were sent between October 1st and December 31st, 2020. Whilst this ‘1-in-5’ figure is not exactly staggering, it does offer proof of how useful contact tracing has been during the pandemic.
Thus, it makes our list. The technology has been embraced by Apple and Google, both adding features such as exposure notifications to their smartphones. As we now begin to face other variants, contact tracing will continue to help many people. It will also carry over to other areas of healthcare, a vital industry for us all.
GPT-3 is the world’s largest natural-language computer model. It can learn to write and speak and has a good degree of literacy, thus representing another leap forwards for AI.
GPT-3 is trained on thousands of books and the majority of the internet. It can mimic human-written text with uncanny realism, although the results can often be nonsensical. This is due to the fact that it does not understand what it is writing. This also means that it tends to adopt similar biases to those found in certain texts. On top of all that it requires a huge amount of power, data and on-going investment in training.
Why then does it make our list? When all is said and done, it is the most impressive language model produced using machine learning. It also has many impressive capabilities, some of which are listed in this interesting article from Education.io.
TikTok’s “For You” Algorithms
Launched in 2016 in China, TikTok is one of the world’s fastest-growing social networks. Hundreds of millions of users have downloaded it billions of times. A key reason for this is the algorithms that power TikTok’s “For You” feed, which have changed the way people become famous online.
Other social media platforms tend to highlight content with mass appeal. TikTok’s algorithms on the other hand sway between featuring obscure creators and well-known stars. They are also good at feeding relevant content to niche user communities.
New creators can gain lots of views quickly and it is simple for users to discover an abundance of different content. These factors have contributed towards TikTok’s amazing growth and have also led to other platforms following in their creative footsteps.
Why does this feature on our Breakthrough technologies 2021 list? With over 2 billion downloads, TikTok has become a very powerful brand. The algorithms it uses are changing the lives of many ‘ordinary’ people and they are certainly innovative. Read about how TikTok recommends videos in their own words, then ponder why Mr. Zuckerberg and co. were beaten to the punch.
So there you have it: Breakthrough technologies 2021. What do you think of this selection? We took great inspiration from this MIT Technology Review article. If you disagree with them, or with our own thoughts, then let us know in the comments below.
Key 2021 Milestones For ICE & TheICEway Ecosystem
To round things off, we now list some milestones and achievements from 2021 for theICEway ecosystem of companies:- CRIBB Cyber Security turned 5 in November
- tzChromar, theICEway’s IT solution for cruise time zone changes, continued to roll-out
- Seatrade Cruise Global 2021 saw fit2go, another IT solution of ours, successfully deployed
- theICEway became a regional finalist at this year’s National Apprenticeship Awards
Next year ICE turns 15 and we are keen to hear from you, our loyal followers. Let us know if we can help you or if you would like to see different content from us in 2022. After all, our innovation hub is for you!