Published: February 14th, 2017

LAS VEGAS – MIT Technology Review’s editor in chief Jason Pontin was at the IBM PartnerWorld Leadership Conference in Las Vegas today to preview the release of the magazines annual 10 breakthrough technologies issue.

With the focus IBM has put on it’s cognitive technology, and the relevance of that technology in this years list, the collaboration only seemed fitting. Read on for a sneak peak of three of this year’s breakthrough technologies.

Reinforcement learning

It’s clear that artificial intelligence is here, and it’s not going anywhere.

“I’ve never seen progress as dazzling as that of AI since 2010 despite that for 40 years it languished in an AI winter. Intelligence systems have finally begun performing tasks that computers can’t do,” said Pontin.

Pontin calls reinforcement learning the “holy grail” of deep learning, as it can teach AI to learn, and will be an important factor in the rise of AI moving forward.

As an example, Pontin pointed to IBM Watson’s ability to correctly caption images when shown photographs.

Self-driving trucks

That’s right, we’re beyond self-driving cars now. When you think about self-driving vehicles, naturally you think about how it will effect your every day car, but there may be a more important vehicle – self-driving trucks.

Pontin pointed to a company called Otto as a prime example of what the future holds for this industry. The automated transportation company recently completed its first self-driving shipment with Budweiser, and that is just the beginning.

In the short-term, self-driving trucks will effect our society before self-driving cars. The possibility of 24-hour shipping without having to pay someone to drive is too appetizing of an opportunity to pass up.

The quest is: what happens to that portion of the population that will be disrupted by this technology?

Practical quantum computers

The powerful computers we’ve always wanted to make are beginning to arrive.

Quantum computers that for decades were only ideas will could quite literally change the game by providing programmers and developers more power than ever before. With a significant amount more power, what could technology accomplish?

For one, Pontin points to security. “Everything CIOs and CISOs think they know about security would be exploded by quantum computing. This power could make a whole new security generation that is uncrackable,” he suggested.

For more on these topics, as well as for the remaining  seven breakthrough technologies, check out the March issue of the MIT Technology Review hitting stands on Feb. 25.