Innovators Under 352020
In chaotic times it can be reassuring to see so many people working toward a better world. That’s true for medical professionals fighting a pandemic and for ordinary citizens fighting for social justice. And it’s true for those among us striving to employ technology to address those problems and many others.
The 35 young innovators in these pages aren’t all working to fight a pandemic, though some are: see Omar Abudayyeh and Andreas Puschnik. And they’re not all looking to remedy social injustices though some are: see Inioluwa Deborah Raji and Mohamed Dhaouafi. But even those who aren’t tackling those specific problems are seeking ways to use technology to help people. They’re trying to solve our climate crisis, find a cure for Parkinson’s, or make drinking water available to those who are desperate for it.
We've been presenting our list of innovators under 35 for the past 20 years. We do it to highlight the things young innovators are working on, to show at least some of the possible directions that technology will take in the coming decade. This contest generates more than 500 nominations each year. The editors then face the task of picking 100 semifinalists to put in front of our 25 judges, who have expertise in artificial intelligence, biotechnology, software, energy, materials, and so on. With the invaluable help of these rankings, the editors pick the final list of 35.
He’s working to use CRISPR as a covid-19 test that you could take at home.
She modifies enzymes to enable production of new compounds for industry.
Manuel Le Gallo
He uses novel computer designs to make AI less power hungry.
She builds novel modular machines that can do just about anything you can imagine.
She developed an AI-based system that can identify more small molecules in a patient’s body, faster than ever before.
Randall Jeffrey Platt
His recording tool provides a video of genes turning on or off.
She found a way to make solar panels cheaper and more efficient.
His work on a new type of battery could make EVs much cheaper.
Her platform uses remote sensing and other techniques to monitor crop health—helping farmers focus their efforts where they’re most needed.
His stretchable microchips promise to make all sorts of new devices possible.
In the last few months, Google and Facebook have both released new chatbots. Jiwei Li’s techniques are at the heart of both.
She’s using technology to correct the cosmetics industry’s bias toward light skin.
His company revamps an old device to allow you to generate electricity in your own home.
Her program sifts through data faster so scientists can focus more on science.
She was a key player behind the idea of a Facebook cryptocurrency.
Medical implants are often thwarted as the body grows tissue to defend itself. She may have found a drug-free fix for the problem.
Her sensor-laden wristwatch would monitor your brain states.
By devising new ways to fool AI, she is making it safer.
His discovery could reduce errors in quantum computing.
He is reducing the chemical industry’s carbon footprint by using AI to optimize reactions with electricity instead of heat.
Inioluwa Deborah Raji
Her research on racial bias in data used to train facial recognition systems is forcing companies to change their ways.
Her tools let anyone design products without having to understand materials science or engineering.
He is designing computer chips to seamlessly connect human brains and machines.
His company’s artificial limbs are not only high-functioning but cheap enough for people in low-income countries.
Alex Le Roux
A massive 3D-printing project in Mexico could point the way to the future of affordable housing.
A loved one’s diagnosis led her to employ machine learning in the search for a Parkinson’s cure.
His system could alleviate the drawbacks of existing desalination plants.
Heavy dependence on infrastructure like oil rigs, nuclear reactors, and desalination plants can be catastrophic in a crisis. Her data-driven framework could help nations prepare.
Avinash Manjula Basavanna
His biodegradable plastic protects against extreme chemicals, but heals itself using water.
She created energy-efficient textiles to break our air-conditioning habit.
He invented a way to make radiation therapy for cancer safer and more effective.
If quantum computers work, what can we use them for? She’s working to figure that out.
He’s employing neural networks to allow automated cars to “see.”
A tiny, powerful sensor for making disease diagnosis cheaper, faster, and easier.
Seeking a universal treatment for viral diseases, he might leave us much better prepared for the next pandemic.