The definition of breakthrough innovation has always been very different. For example, some people use it as a synonym for disruptive innovation, while others see it as a specific major technological advancement that has a significant impact on the efficiency or cost of a specific product.
However, almost all of these definitions have one thing in common, that is, breakthrough innovation is seen as something that fundamentally changes a particular industry or market dynamics. In fact, it is a combination of many innovations aimed at solving specific problems or opportunities.
The reason for this is that it is usually impossible to solve a really important problem without combining many new ideas or methods. In other words, you still have to work hard to create other innovations to help you gain a competitive advantage.
The advantages based on specific innovations are huge. However, when combined with new business models and a series of technological innovations, greater and more sustainable competitive advantages can be achieved.
Top breakthrough technologies
We were very lucky. The two most effective coronavirus vaccines are based on messenger RNA, a technology that has been in the works for 20 years.
When the Covid-19 pandemic began last January, scientists from several biotech companies quickly switched to mRNA to create potential vaccines; In late December 2020, at a time when more than 1.5 million people had died of COVID-19 worldwide, the vaccines were approved in the United States, ushering in the end of the pandemic.
Based on a never-before-seen technology used in therapy, the new Covid vaccines could transform medicine and lead to vaccines against various infectious diseases, including malaria. And if this coronavirus continues to mutate, mRNA vaccines can be modified easily and quickly.
Messenger RNA also shows promise as the basis for cheap genetic fixes for sickle cell anemia and HIV. Also in progress: Using mRNA to help the body fight cancer. Antonio Regalado explains the history and medical potential of the exciting new science of messenger RNA.
Large natural language computer models learning to write and speak are a big step towards AI that can better understand and interact with the world. GPT-3 is by far the largest and best educated company.
From books and most of the Internet, OpenAI GPT-3 can mimic human-written text with amazing and sometimes strange realism, making it the most impressive language model machine learning has ever created.
But the GPT-3 language model doesn't understand what writing is, so the results are confusing and nonsensical at times. The training requires a tremendous amount of computing power, data, and money, creating a large carbon footprint and limiting the development of similar models to laboratories with exceptional resources.
When trained in Internet texts that are full of misinformation and prejudices, passages often arise with similar prejudices. Will Douglas Heaven gives an example of GPT-3's clever writing and explains why some are ambivalent about its performance.
(Most related: OpenAI GPT-2)
Since its launch in China in 2016, TikTok has grown into one of the fastest growing social networks in the world. It has been downloaded billions of times and has attracted hundreds of millions of users.
Why? Because the algorithms that support TikTok's "For You" feed have changed. While other platforms are more geared towards highlighting content with mass appeal, TikTok's algorithms seem to pull a new creator out of the dark just as they are supposed to present a well-known star. Feed relevant content to niche communities of users who share a specific interest or identity.
The ability for new developers to get high views very quickly and the ease with which users can discover so many types of content added to the shock. Other social media companies are now struggling to replicate these features in their own apps.
Electric vehicles have a tough sales pitch. They are relatively expensive and can only be driven a few hundred kilometers before charging. This takes a lot longer than stopping for gasoline.
All of these drawbacks have to do with the limitations of lithium-ion batteries. The Silicon Valley startup now says it has a battery that makes electric vehicles much more palatable to the mass consumer. It is called a lithium metal battery and is developed by QuantumScape.
According to initial test results, the battery could increase the range of an electric vehicle by 80% and can be recharged quickly. The startup has signed a contract with VW that says it will sell electric vehicles with the new type of battery by 2025. The battery is still just a prototype that is much smaller than what would be needed for a car.
If QuantumScape and others who work with lithium metal batteries succeed, it could make electric vehicles attractive to millions of consumers. James Temple describes how a lithium metal battery works and why scientists are so excited about the latest results.
As the coronavirus spread around the world, it initially seemed that digital contact tracing could help us. Smartphone applications can use GPS or Bluetooth to keep a record of people who have recently crossed paths.
A person could put the result in the app and alert other people who may have been exposed, but the digital contact tracing did not have much of an impact on the spread of the virus. Apple and Google were quick to roll out features like exposure notifications for many smartphones, but health officials struggled to convince residents to use them.
The lessons we are drawing from this pandemic could not only help us prepare for the next pandemic, but also in other areas of health care. Lindsay Muscato explores why digital contact tracing hasn't slowed COVID-19, and offers ways we can do better next time.
An Internet based on quantum physics will soon enable intrinsically safe communication. A team led by Stephanie Wehner from the Technical University of Delft is building a network that fully connects four cities in the Netherlands with quantum technology, such as quantum computing.
In recent years, scientists have learned to transmit pairs of photons over fiber optic cables in such a way that the information encoded on them is completely protected. A team in China used some form of technology to build a 2,000-kilometer backbone network between Beijing and Shanghai.
However, this project relies in part on classic components that regularly break the quantum bond before establishing a new one that carries the risk of hacking.
End-to-end techniques- This technology is based on a quantum behavior of atomic particles known as entanglement. The entangled photons cannot be read openly without interrupting their content.
However, entangled particles are difficult to create and even more difficult to transfer over long distances. Wehner's team showed that it can send more than one .They are confident of being able to establish a quantum link between Delft and The Hague by the end of this year.
To ensure an uninterrupted connection over longer distances, quantum repeaters are required to expand the network. Currently under design in Delft and elsewhere. The first should be completed in the next five to six years, says Wehner, with a global quantum network by the end of the decade.
(Must check: Google’s Quantum Supremacy)
The first wave of a new class of antiaging drugs has been tested in humans. You can't live longer with these drugs (yet), but they aim to treat certain diseases by slowing or reversing a fundamental aging process. They work by killing certain cells that build up as you age.
Known as "senescent" cells, they can cause low-level inflammation that suppresses normal cell repair mechanisms and creates a toxic environment for neighboring cells. In June, San Francisco-based Unity Biotechnology reported initial results in patients with mild to severe knee osteoarthritis. The results of a larger clinical trial are expected in the second half of 2020.
The company is developing similar drugs to treat age-related eye and lung diseases. Senolytics are currently in human studies, along with a number of other promising approaches that target the biological processes at the root of aging and various diseases. Ahest injects components from young people's blood into patients and hopes to halt cognitive and functional decline in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease.
The company also has Parkinson's and dementia drugs in human studies.In December, researchers from Drexel University's medical faculty even tried to find out whether a cream containing the immunosuppressant rapamycin could slow down the aging of human skin.
The evidence reflects researchers' increasing efforts to find out if the many diseases associated with aging - like heart disease, arthritis, cancer, and dementia - can be hacked to delay their onset.
The covid pandemic forced the world to drift away. The right shift was especially important in healthcare and education. Some parts of the world have done a particularly good job of making remote services work well for people in these two areas.
Snapask, an online tutoring company, has more than 3.5 million users in nine Asian countries, and Byju, an India-based learning app, has grown its users to nearly 70 million. Meanwhile, telemedicine efforts in Uganda and several other African countries have expanded health care to millions during the pandemic. In a part of the world with a chronic medical shortage, remote health care has been a lifesaver. Sandy Ong reports on the remarkable success of online learning in Asia and the spread of telemedicine in Africa.
Despite the immense advances in artificial intelligence in recent years, artificial intelligence and robots are still dumb in many ways, especially when it comes to solving new problems or navigating unfamiliar environments. The world works and applies this common knowledge to new situations.
A promising approach to improving AI skills is to expand your senses. Currently, AI can use computer vision or audio recognition to capture things, but not "speak" about what it sees and hears using natural language and ML algorithms.
But what if you combined these skills into a single AI system? Intelligence? Could a robot that can see, feel, hear, and communicate be a more productive human assistant? Karen Hao explains how multi-sensory AIs gain a better understanding of the world around them and achieve a much more flexible intelligence.
Hydrogen has always been an interesting potential substitute for fossil fuels. It burns cleanly and does not emit carbon dioxide; It's got a lot of energy, so it's a great way to store energy from temporarily renewable sources. and liquid synthetic fuels can be produced to directly replace gasoline or diesel.
So far, most of the hydrogen has been produced from natural gas. The process is chaotic and energy intensive. The rapidly falling costs of solar and wind power mean that green hydrogen is now cheap enough to be practical.
Just remove the electricity from the water and voila, you have hydrogen. Europe leads the way and Peter Fairley argues that these projects are just a first step towards a global network of electrolysis plants powered by solar and wind power that produce clean hydrogen.
It would be fitting to say that one in a thousand, a single innovation comes and just completely blows our mind and forces our ideologies to bend just to mark a new beginning.
These technologies might not be the best version of them now but they do allow us to look at a new perspective and once it becomes feasible, it becomes of greater use to mankind.
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