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Metavers, clean technology, militarized space: Five technological developments to follow during 2022

f 2021 was the year when the world went through the shock caused by COVID-19, 2022 will be the year when the world will walk on the foundations of the “new normal” created by the pandemic.

Two years of coronavirus have changed the way people around the world live, from working remotely, to the changing nature of international travel, and growing dependence on digital communications.

Within weeks, COVID-19 pushed the world into a very different future, as global consulting firm McKinsey said that during the first three months of the pandemic, the world “made five years ahead in terms of technology acquisition by consumers and businesses. ”.

In many ways, 2022 is expected to become a more advanced version of the rapid changes caused by the pandemic, as even greater strides in technology are predicted.

According to entrepreneur and futurist Peter Diamandis, we will experience greater progress in the next decade than in the past 100 years together, as technology is reshaping the sciences of health and materials, energy, transportation, and a host of industries and fields. others.

“In the next ten years, we’re going to change every industry,” Diamandis told The Guardian in an interview in 2020. ” “therefore we are able to solve even more problems.”

The implications of these changes can be far-reaching, and can affect corporations, governments, and peoples around the world.

During 2022, the world is projected to become more and more virtual, and consequently change everything, from fashion to finance.

Advances in clean energy technology and bioengineering are also on the horizon, and can go a long way in combating climate change and treating disease.

Space, which is already being accustomed to a range of private players, is also becoming a new arena for military competition between countries, particularly between the United States and China. Political tensions between Beijing and Moscow have also caused a global shortage of semiconductors, which empower a wide range of products, and could also affect global supply chains.

These are the five major technological developments to follow during 2022:

The foundations of “metavers”

After Mark Zuckerberg announced in October that Facebook was changing its name as a corporation to Meta, and that the organization would focus its attention on building the so-called metavers, the concept gained prominence, despite the idea having existed for decades.

Basically, metavers is a hypothetical imitation of the Internet, which supports online three-dimensional virtual environments, via traditional computing, as well as simulated or augmented reality devices such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).

But the elements of metavers and an increasingly virtual way of life are already a reality.

NFTs, or irreplaceable tokens, have already been introduced as currency for the metavers that are being created. This trajectory looks set to accelerate during 2022 and beyond.

In less than a year, over $ 400 million has been poured into NFTs, and the pace is accelerating. According to Forbes, about $ 40 million a month is estimated to be invested in land, and profit records are continuing to be set each month.

Convergence between physical and virtual person is also expanding, and is being used more and more for financial gain by large companies.

In October, Nike submitted trademark applications as part of its preparations to sell sneakers and virtual clothing, and the company recently acquired a small company to accelerate its “digital transformation.”

Other big fashion brands are also focusing on metavers, as a digital bag recently sold for $ 4,115 and a virtual tiara for $ 341,000.

Elsewhere, digital real estate prices have set new records in recent weeks, while digital architecture firms are being paid up to $ 300,000 for virtual designs.

“[Metavers] is here already. “It’s an important concept that people need to know when considering the long-term development prospects for many technology companies,” said Mark Shmulik, a senior analyst at US brokerage firm Alliance Berstein. “Although great development may not yet have taken place to push for mass acquisition, we may be closer to the moment of unlocking than people think.”

Clean technology, ready to develop

In a report published earlier in 2021, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that continued dependence on fossil fuels is warming the world at an unprecedented rate in the last 2,000 years – and that the effects of this are evident as record droughts, wildfires and floods are devastating communities around the world.

According to the report, things are expected to worsen if greenhouse gas emissions continue, while energy decisions in the coming years will be an important factor in determining the extent of their impact on the planet.

One reason for measured optimism is that renewable energy, environmentally friendly transportation, energy-saving buildings, and prudent water consumption are at the core of clean technology trends, which are expected to pick up in 2022.

According to McKinsey’s year-end report, 75 percent of global energy will be produced from environmentally friendly materials by 2050, and as the costs associated with clean technology continue to fall, its use across a range of industries is expected to increase.

But as the clean energy revolution progresses, many analysts warn of some of the unintended side effects that change can bring.

Congo, for example, which produces more than two-thirds of the world’s cobalt, is playing an important role as major vehicle manufacturers pledge to fight climate change by switching from fuel-intensive vehicles to such that they are powered by batteries, which need the ore to be produced.

While moving away from fossil fuels may help with the problem of rising temperatures, a recent investigation by The New York Times has found that many clean technology solutions have brought with them ethical issues, as well as still industry-dependent ones. of extractive mines, which follow “a well-known cycle of exploitation, greed, and deceit”, things of which a developing country, such as Congo, is particularly vulnerable.

A biotechnology revolution?

The rapid development in the development of a vaccine that works against COVID-19, and the ability to quickly identify and decompose rankings of new virus variants, are the result of great advances in biotechnology, which can be further developed. in 2022.

A scientist examining COVID-19-infected cells with a microscope while researching a coronavirus vaccine in a laboratory in St. Petersburg, Russia, on May 20, 2020. The
cost of human gene ranking has been reduced 45-fold. in the last ten years, according to consulting firm Deloitte, and this rapid analysis of genetic material opens up new possibilities in a range of areas, from the development of new vaccines, to personalized medications and gene therapy.

Deloitte predicts that advances in biological science could have “a significant impact on the economy and our lives, and will affect industries, from health and agriculture, to consumer goods, energy and materials” over the next year.

Lack of semiconductors

Ever since the US-China trade and technology confrontation unfolded in 2017, much of the focus has been on the trade dispute and the US campaign against Huawei, the Chinese flagship in building the 5G network at the same time. China’s most important global technology company.

But steps taken by the United States to sanction and block access to key semiconductor components pose a more fundamental problem for China – and for global supply chains.

Efforts to cut off Chinese firms’ supply of state-of-the-art semiconductors, and to encourage the construction of advanced chip factories on American soil, have not only involved the semiconductor industry in geopolitical rivalry, but have also led to blockages. of supplies, as demand is growing.

Semiconductors are at the bottom of a growing number of products – from cars and electric bicycles, to washers and toothbrushes. But there are shortages of many of these microchips as Chinese companies are stockpiling much-needed chips in an effort to manage the situation.

“The problem we’re facing is that things made with chips do not use just one chip,” said Alan Priestley, an analyst at research firm Gartner. “New smartphones have many, many chips for power control, and there are shortages of the same chips now.”

The immediate result may be inflation and the temporary market shortages of some products, but the long-term consequences can be seen in supply chains in many countries, which may have to depend entirely on themselves.

The vast majority of the world’s chips are made in China, while the United States is the second largest producer. But both countries depend on each other’s components, and other markets, to produce semiconductors.

China is investing billions to build its domestic supply network, while the United States is also trying to make the industry more country-based.

The European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, has also said it wants to increase its chip-making capacity in Europe as part of an effort to make the bloc more self-reliant on what it considers critical technology.

“It’s a big move, that will be felt a lot, and beyond 2022,” Priestley said.

Militarized space

Just weeks after Russia shot down an obsolete communications satellite without warning, endangering US astronauts, the United States tested its satellites on December 13 in the face of threats from China and Russia hundreds of miles above Earth. as part of space war games.

While U.S. actions were computer-aided simulations, they include the possible downing of U.S. satellites tracking missiles, blocking satellite waves, and other electronic warfare tactics that are possible in space.

The pace of space conflict is intensifying, General David Thompson, deputy chief of space operations at the U.S. Space Force, told The Washington Post in November, adding that China could overtake the United States to ‘became the greatest spatial power by the end of the decade.

Tactics for battle, very high above the Earth, are very different from those seen in science fiction movies, but can nevertheless be considered acts of war.

The Chinese military is reportedly deploying ground-based systems for space warfare, such as lasers that could damage satellites in the US intelligence community – and is also believed to be developing a satellite that could tear down another satellite, or capture it. another satellite via a robotic arm or a hook.

What is most worrying, according to Daniel Porras, a space security official at the UN Institute for Disarmament Research in Geneva, is that there are few treaties, doctrines, or norms, addressing conflict in space.

“There are no rules of action,” Porras said. “There is no obstacle for one to start interfering in the other’s space system.”

And, while the space arms race is intensifying, no diplomatic option currently appears on the horizon.

“The idea of ​​a space arms race is approaching reality as technology advances, in the absence of binding commitments to control weapons in space,” Porras said.

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