Digi-Talks have selected 3 technological breakthroughs that MIT Technology Review believes to be revolutionizing.

3D Metal Printing

What is it: As the name suggests, 3D printing is the process of printing three-dimensional objects. The word “printer” is not to be understood in the old fashion. It can be large machines printing an entire house based on what is called a computer-aided design model. In Amsterdam they 3D printed the first bridge in the world.

Depending on the 3D printer, you would be able to print metal objects, such as nuts, bolts and all sorts of mechanical parts, e.g. for vehicles. The incredible thing is that 3D printing is able to print something unique in its measurements, because you’re able to create the exact dimensions on a computer. In contrast, mass productions create all items in the same size and strength.

What does it affect: In general, 3D printing is allowing each individual to basically have their own production at home. In terms of 3D metal printing, it could revolutionize the conventional mass fabrication of metal parts. Instead of having a large inventory as a mechanic, you would print the desired parts yourself.

When is it here: 3D printing is already here and the development is incredibly fast. It is still too expensive to be something that everyone owns. However, a repair shop would probably be able to afford a metal printer, which can be bought for under $100.000.

Sensing cities  

What is it: An upcoming project by Sidewalk Labs is to create a small community in Toronto called Quayside. The idea is to basically build a small autonomous city that runs and develops through data from endless infrastructural sources such as self-driving cars and busses, waste bins, houses and sewages.

What does it affect: It could revolutionize city planning. Creating smart cities that self-regulates and pinpoints infrastructural problems could make interventions cheaper and more accurate. It could smooth out traffic. Regulate energy usage more efficiently. It could keep the streets cleaner by telling when a waste bin is close to overflowing.

When is it here: Quayside may already start to be built in late 2018. If the project goes well it might become the future of urban living.

Imaginative AI

What is it: It has been a serious challenge creating imagination in AI, but an approach called generative adversarial network, or GAN, might be the way to solve it. It pits two machine learning based neural networks (simplified mathematical models of the human brain) against each other.

Typically, it would consist of a generator and a discriminator. An example could be that the generator has to trick the discriminator by adding variations to pictures of humans already seen. The discriminator has to guess which ones are fake. Over time the generator learns and becomes so good at creating variations that the discriminator can’t tell the fake ones from the real ones. In other words, the generator “imagines” variations of humans that look so real that we can’t tell if it’s real or fake.

What does it affect: Yann LeCun, Facebook’s chief AI scientist, has called GANs “the coolest idea in deep learning in the last 20 years”

GAN could revolutionize a lot of areas. In physics it could be used to make accurate predictions of how a particular particle will behave, which requires an insane amount of computer power. In medical research it could help discover why a drug didn’t work by creating fake patient records that are close to reality.

When is it here: GAN is very promising and is constantly being developed. Its imagination is still limited. It can make variations of say animals, but it can’t create an entirely new one. Also the discriminator must be extremely hard to fool if it is to produce useful results, which is a lot of work.

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Sources: The GANfather: The man who’s given machines the gift of imagination10 BREAKTHROUGH TECHNOLOGIES 2018 A Smarter Smart City