7 Hot Projects: How do “spinal-cord trauma treatment” and “blocking spam” end up in the same list?
Technology Review went hunting for projects at a crucial point on that continuum: well-funded work with specific commercial goals that will, if successful, provide a dramatic improvement over the products and services now available.
My money is on the automatic speech translator to be the breakthrough technology of the next decade. Even perfectly accurate text translation would be a huge boost to the Internet, if not society as a whole.
To really appreciate the impact this would have, read Wired’s article “Talking to Strangers” from 2000. It’s long, but it really impresses on you the staggering changes that would come with the removal of language barriers.