Many of current technologies have been described as revolutionary: the “autonomous car revolution”, the “revolution of the internet of things”, the “blockchain revolution”, the “big data revolution”: Every such revolution is described with magnificent adjectives, as though taken from science fiction movies – cars that drive themselves and follow voice commands, robot service providers that can understand and speak exactly like humans, only much smarter and better at making the right decision quickly, a world without banks, without any big institutions that control information, a world in which you can charge your smartphone from zero to a hundred percent in three minutes… what can’t be done?

And when the excitement is palpable, the first question to arise is “when?” – When will all this happen? In our generation? In a decade? In just a few years?

The Greatest Technological Challenges of Mankind | Photo: Shutterstock

The second question which follows immediately on the heels of the first is “why?” – why is this futuristic world not already happening now? Why is the future not happening in the present? In other words, what exactly is missing for all of this to be realized – what are the challenges facing the scientists, the engineers, the entrepreneurs and governments, that delay the realization of all these promises – the coming of the revolutions?

In this special project, we closely examined six promising areas at the forefront of the human technological effort: blockchain, artificial intelligence, energy storage, the autonomous car, immunotherapy and gene therapy. Breakthroughs in each one of these fields could drastically change our lives and start a chain reaction that will create new industries, bring new scientific discoveries and nurture new technologies. And challenges will have to be overcome on the way there.

Translation by Zoe Jordan