The 10 Breakthrough Technologies of 2021

Monday 1 March 2021

For the past 20 year Technology Review have been publishing a list of the year’s most important technologies. This week they published their list for 2021. 

There’s no surprises for guessing which technology tops the list. In the context of COVID and the rapid turnaround of a vaccine, Messenger RNA vaccines sit atop the list. mRNA has been in the works for 20 years and in 2020 the technology lived up to the hype. Beyond COVID, mRNA may lead to effective vaccines against various infectious diseases, including Malaria and HIV. 

Some of the other technologies that made the list include: GPT-3 (natural-language computer models), TikTok’s recommendation algorithm, lithium-metal batteries, data trusts, green hydrogen, digital contact tracing, hyper-accurate positioning, multi-skilled AI and finally ‘remote everything’ (a bucket of technologies that have allowed the world to go remote). 

This list can be grouped into a few major themes: artificial intelligence (GPT-3, TikTok’s algorithm), COVID-related (digital contact tracing, remote anything, mRNA) and climate change (lithium-metal batteries, green hydrogen). It seems like these are some of the major themes that will define the 2020’s (although we’re sure there will be at least one surprise technology that comes along and take us all by surprise). 

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