Top 11 ‘Top 10’ Science & Tech Lists + Predictions from 2008 by Erik Larson


My picks for 2008: Top 11 People and lists reporting on and/or predicting breakthroughs in Science and Technology. You’ll notice I cheated a lot; but, I still left a LOT of stuff out: 

1) Jan-Dec 2008 Popular Mechanics

Jan 2008 10 Tech Concepts You Need to Know for 2008

Nov 2008 Awards Top 10 New World-Changing Innovations of the Year (With Videos!)

Dec 2008 10 Tech Concepts You Need to Know for 2009

Apr 16 2008 Glenn Derene How Social Networking Could Kill Web Search as We Know It 


Mumbai Terror: Twitter, Flickr & YouTube = Cutting-Edge News Media 

2) Jan 9 2008 IDC U.S. Life Science 2008 Top 10 Predictions 

3) Mar 2008 MIT Special Reports 10 Emerging Technologies 2008: “Technology Review presents 10 technologies that we think are most likely to change the way we live.” 

Also in Technology Review in 2008:         

Dec 16 2008 Semantic Sense for the Desktop “A project brings Semantic Web technology to personal documents.”

Dec 11 2008 What’s Next for Computer Interfaces? “Touch tricks for small and large displays could be the next big thing.”

Dec 2, 2008 First Light-Driven Nanomachine: “A silicon nanobeam uses optical force to do mechanical work in an integrated circuit.”

Nov 14 2008 The Coming [White Space] Wireless Revolution: “Gadgets that operate over television frequencies promise to transform the wireless landscape.”

 Sep 17 2008 Detecting Pollution with Living Biosensors: “Color-coded bacteria light the way to oil spills at sea.” 

4) Aug 7 2008  James Pethokoukis US News & World Report 10 Wild Predictions for 2009

“My pal John “the Brain” Tamny over at RealClearMarkets writes a fascinating post on an investment firm that does a “wisdom of crowds” thing with its clients in order to make market forecasts. Here are some of their 2009 predictions, as paraphrased a bit by me.” 

5) Oct 14 2008 Gartner Identifies the Top 10 Strategic Technologies for 2009

“Gartner, Inc. analysts today highlighted the top 10 technologies and trends that will be strategic for most organizations. The analysts presented their findings during [the Orlando 2008] Gartner Symposium/ITxpo”

6) Oct 15, 2008 Eric Drexler The Data Explosion and the Scientific Method

“Tradition demands that science always be hypothesis-driven: First, try to guess the truth, and only afterward collect experimental data to test whether the guess predicts the results. Indeed, this has been termed “The Scientific Method”. The new data-driven approach suggests that we collect data first, then see what it tells us. This becomes practical when experimental methods can amass enormous amounts of data, enough data to test more hypotheses than any mortal scientist could conceivably imagine.” 


Ray Kurzweil March 7 2001 The Law of Accelerating Returns

Ray Kurzweil 2005 The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology 

7) Nov 25 2008 IBM IBM Reveals Five Innovations That Will Change Our Lives in the Next Five Years

Ubiquitous solar, omniscient health, “talking web”, digital shopping assistants and permanent records of everything you do. 


NY Times: You’re Leaving a Digital Trail. What About Privacy? and Google Is Taking Questions (Spoken, via iPhone) 

Wired: Future Phones to Read Your Voice, Gestures and Brainy Robots To Lead To Longer Unemployment Lines? 

Pew Research: Mobile phones to be primary Internet device by 2020, experts predict
“The Web will not increase social tolerance, despite increased exposure to different cultures”

CNN: Scientist: Holographic television to become reality 

8) Nov 28 2008 Zack Lynch, NIO founder NIO Unveils Top 10 Neuroscience Trends for 2009

“Here are ten emerging areas of neuroscience that will impact the future of treatments for brain and nervous system which were published as a result of the cutting edge research being presented at the Society for Neuroscience Conference held in Washington DC last week.” 

9) Dec 2008 TIME reports on Time Magazine’s picks: “Top 10 scientific discoveries: TIME magazine has reviewed the year with a comprehensive collection of lists – titled the “Top 10 Everything of 2008” – which range from the serious to the not-so-serious”. #1 Hadron “Big Bang” Supercollider. 

10) Dec 5 2008 Your amazing brain: Top 10 articles from 2008

Also in New Scientist:

Dec 12 2008 ‘Mind-reading’ software could record your dreams

Nov 25 2008 Cyborg leaf makes working solar power plant

Nov 21 2008 Light opens up a world of sound for the deaf

Oct 27 2008 Virtual touchpad lets you scroll in thin air

Oct 22 2008 Packs of robots will hunt down uncooperative humans 

“These go to Eleven” Spinal Tap Bonus: 

11) 2008 Ray Kurzweil

Solar Power to Rule in 20 Years, Futurists Say – February 2008 Ray Kurzweil made predictions while presenting as part of the National Association of Engineers panel addressing “Grand Challenges for Engineering in the 21st Century”. As reported by Robin Lloyd, Sr. Editor

Irrespective of any particular solar technology, members of the panel are “confident that we are not that far away from a tipping point where energy from solar will be [economically] competitive with fossil fuels,” Kurzweil said, adding that it could happen within five years. 

The reason why solar energy technologies will advance exponentially, Kurzweil said, is because it is an “information technology” (one for which we can measure the information content), and thereby subject to the Law of Accelerating Returns. 

“We also see an exponential progression in the use of solar energy,” he said. “It is doubling now every two years. Doubling every two years means multiplying by 1,000 in 20 years. At that rate we’ll meet 100 percent of our energy needs in 20 years.” 

NOTE: Search solar, wind, wave, tidal, geothermal- renewable, clean or green energy; amazing breakthroughs are happening in all these fields. 

In addition to the predictions about solar energy, the New York Times reports in the articleThe Future Is Now? Pretty Soon, at Least, based on what Kurzweil said:

Within 15 years, “your life expectancy will keep rising every year faster than you’re aging”

Within 10 years “there will be a drug that lets you eat whatever you want without gaining weight.”

“By the 2020s we’ll be adding computers to our brains and building machines as smart as ourselves.”

“By 2029, Dr. Kurzweil wagers, a computer will pass the Turing Test by carrying on a conversation that is indistinguishable from a human’s.” 

NOTE: the “Turing Test” was almost passed this year; 3 out 10 judges were fooled into not being able to tell a program from a human being. 

A quarter of planet to be online by 2012, and able to understand each’s other’s language – July 21, 2008 Ray Kurzweil publishes this prediction on his website, based on a report fromJupiter research that “by 2012, one quarter of the worldwide population will access the Internet on a regular basis” and citing “current developments in the speed and accuracy of statistical translation systems, which have improved exponentially in the past 10 years” 

Related and Not: 

Access, Openness, Choice, Innovation: 

Harris Poll Nov 17, 2008: Four Out of Five Adults Now Use the Internet “184 Million adults are online from their homes, offices, schools or other locations” 

Pew Poll Oct 31 2008 Internet Use Triples since 2004 for Campaign News: Pew Research Study 

Gary Small Oct 2008 Is surfing the Internet altering your brain? 

Andrew Lahde Oct 17 2008 Multi-Millionaire Hedge Fund Manager Retires- Slams Capitalism, Advocates Hemp 

Associated Press Oct 17 2008 Future planes, cars may be made of `buckypaper’ 

Slate Sep 17 2008 Nowhere To Hide: Killer drones that can see through walls 

MSNBC Oct 2 2008- Mayors’ report sees 4.2 million new ‘green’ jobs 

Guardian Sep 3 2008- Environment: Solar plant yields water and crops from the desert:

  · Green energy glasshouses may transform arid areas

  · Fresh water will end need to dig wells, say architects

Scientific American Sep 16 2008- Turning Bacteria into Plastic Factories: “A new company has found a way to produce polymers from genetically engineered microbes that feed on sugars, replacing fossil-fuel based processes”



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