10 Cutting-edge technologies 2021 | MIT Technology Review


We all use GPS every day; it has transformed our lives and many of our businesses. But while the current GPS is accurate between 5 and 10 meters, new hyper-precise positioning technologies have accuracies of a few centimeters or millimeters. This opens up new possibilities, from landslide warnings to delivery robots and self-driving cars that can safely navigate the streets.

From China BeiDou The Global Navigation System (Big Dipper) was completed in June 2020 and is part of what makes it all possible. It provides positioning accuracy of 1.5 to two meters to anyone in the world. By using the ground augmentation, it can achieve millimeter precision. Meanwhile, the GPS, which has been around since the early 1990s, is undergoing an upgrade: four new satellites for GPS III launched in November and more are expected in orbit by 2023. Ling Xin explains how the considerably increased precision of these systems is already proving useful.

conceptual photography of remote work

The covid pandemic has forced the world to move away. Achieving this change has been particularly critical in Health care and education. There are places around the world that have done a particularly good job of making remote services in these two areas work well for people.

Snapask, an online tutoring company, has more than 3.5 million users in nine Asian countries, and Byju’s, a learning app based in India, has seen its user count soar to nearly 70 million. Unfortunately, students from many other countries are still floundering with their online courses.

Meanwhile, telehealth efforts in Uganda and several other African countries have extended healthcare to millions of people during the pandemic. In a part of the world where the shortage of doctors is chronic, remote health care has been a lifesaver. Sandy Ong reports on the remarkable success of online learning in Asia and the dissemination 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. They lack the human ability, found even in young children, to learn how the world works and to apply this general knowledge to new situations.

One promising approach to improving AI skills is to develop one’s senses; currently AI with computer vision or audio recognition can sense things but cannot “speak” about what he sees and hears using natural language algorithms. But what if you combined these capabilities into a single AI system? Could these systems start to win human intelligence? Could a robot that can see, smell, hear and communicate be a more productive human assistant? Karen Hao explains how AI with multiple senses will gain a better understanding of the world around them, achieving a much more flexible intelligence.

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