The topic videos introduce each of the 18 emerging scientific topics in the Science Breakthrough Radar.
Truly intelligent machines are coming
The quantum revolution and advanced AI will touch all aspects of our lives. AI is rapidly progressing and has made smart machines excel in certain areas. Autonomous cars have driven millions of miles on public roads. Computers powered by AI can beat us at complex games like chess and virtual assistants are on-hand to answer our questions and carry out our commands.
Are we ready for the quantum future?
The quantum revolution and advanced AI will touch all aspects of our lives. Quantum technologies could make many impossible things possible. Thanks to the physical laws that rule the subatomic realm Quantum computers could revolutionise chemistry and materials science cracking calculations that would take thousands of years on a supercomputer.
Can we recreate the way the brain works in silicon?
The quantum revolution and advanced AI will touch all aspects of our lives. Brain-inspired computing could power smart robots and accelerate neuroscience. The human brain is the most powerful “computer” in existence, but it works very differently from electronics. Hardware and software that mimic the brain are helping us learn how it functions. Understanding the brain more deeply could let us emulate its remarkable speed, flexibility and efficiency.
Could we harness the computing power of a biological cell?
The quantum revolution and advanced AI will touch all aspects of our lives. Biological computers could open up entirely new ways of processing information. Cellular processes have been optimised by evolution to efficiently transform inputs into outputs. These processes could be repurposed to carry out computational tasks. Such biological processors could solve problems out of the reach for today’s computers.
Boosting brain performance will transform humanity’s potential...
Human augmentation could soon give us unprecedented control over our biological destiny. Our ability to monitor and manipulate the workings of our brains is accelerating rapidly. Brain monitoring and stimulation can already help to treat diseases like Parkinson’s and epilepsy. But soon they could also be used to enhance brain function in healthy individuals.
Are we ready for genetic enhancement?
Human augmentation could soon give us unprecedented control over our biological destiny. Genetic engineering techniques could soon give us unprecedented control over our biological destiny. Human genetic engineering. Genetic engineering could disrupt medicine. Gene editing may soon be a common treatment.
Will we stop the ageing process?
Human augmentation could soon give us unprecedented control over our biological destiny. Scientists are starting to unravel the underlying biology of ageing. Opening the door to interventions that may slow, stop or even reverse the ageing process. Managing biological ageing could delay or prevent diseases associated with old age as well as physical and mental decline.
How can humanity slash its carbon footprint?
Understanding and protecting the environment is an existential challenge for humanity. Decarbonizing our societies is the only way to prevent catastrophic climate change. If CO2 emissions continue at current rates, within a decade the planet will warm 1.5°C since pre-industrial levels. Preventing that will require co-ordinated action to reduce and reverse carbon emissions.
Simulating our world could help us make it better...
A digital twin of Earth could help policymakers make better decisions. We exist in a system where social and ecological factors collide. A global network of sensors and increasingly powerful computers could simulate it. Ecological models could shine light on our planet’s poorly understood yet interconnected ecosystems. These models can identify feedback loops between climate, biodiversity, environment, and human activity.
How can we feed the world?
Understanding and protecting the environment is an existential challenge for humanity. Resilient and sustainable food systems are needed to support a growing population. By 2050 there will be more than 10 billion people on the planet. Feeding them as climate change disrupts agriculture is a major challenge.
Are we ready to cross a new frontier and live in space?
We are consuming more than what the Earth can produce each year. Many are keen to exploit the abundant resources beyond our atmosphere. The Moon and Mars have stores of water that could support outposts. Some entrepreneurs also see asteroids as potentially lucrative sources of minerals. New resource extraction technologies will be key to exploiting these riches.
We need to save the oceans for the future of humanity...
Understanding and protecting the environment is an existential challenge for humanity. Ocean stewardship will save vital ecosystems and protect the livelihoods of millions. The oceans support all life on Earth by producing half of the planet's oxygen. But human activity is putting them under increasing strain.
How can we design a better future?
The science of complex systems can help us understand and manage our highly interconnected societies. Our world is governed by interdependent networks of information, ideas, goods, services and money. This enables global communication, innovation and trade, but also social turmoil, financial crises and pandemics. Complexity science can help us understand this network of networks. Complexity science offer ways to empower people in an increasingly complex world through Digital Democracy.
Can mathematics, AI and data help global stability?
Computational approaches to diplomacy could boost global stability. The complexity of international relations can be revealed by mapping networks of influence. Data mining text from historical negotiations can help us analyse the language of diplomacy. This could help to depoliticise negotiations and resolve complex situations faster. Science-Based Diplomacy is powered by big data, AI and machine learning. These approaches are starting to let us model real-world diplomacy which could allow us to simulate outcomes of different approaches and negotiation tactics. But this will require experts well-versed in both diplomacy and computer science.
How can we ensure quality education for all?
Building bridges between science and diplomacy will help us design a better future. Advances in educational science could provide high-quality and life-long learning globally. The UN’s fourth Sustainable Development Goal is to ensure quality education for all. This is vital for a sustainable world populated by creative people.
Is sustainable growth possible?
Our economic system faces challenges including sustainability, automation and inequality. Today’s ‘take, make, waste’ economy places no cost on pollution or over-exploitation of resources. We need to shift to a circular economy that includes the full life-cycle cost of goods. This will encourage reuse and repair and also incentivise renewable power. The growth of automation will also fundamentally change the economy. AI advances could lead to massive efficiency and productivity gains in many fields, but they’re also stoking fears that machines could replace workers. Radical economic innovations could redistribute wealth generated by machines
How can we bridge the gap between science and diplomacy?
Building bridges between science and diplomacy will help us design a better future. Science and diplomacy must work hand-in-hand to tackle global challenges. COVID-19 and climate change illustrate how science plays a crucial role in international negotiations.