Skip to Content

MIT Technology Review Presents 10 Breakthrough Technologies of 2021

Now in its 20th year, the list features innovations we think will change the world.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Feb. 24, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, MIT Technology Review announced its 10 Breakthrough Technologies list for 2021, featuring 10 advances predicted to have a big impact on our lives.

On the list’s 20th anniversary, three things are true. It is eclectic; some of the innovations are clearly making an impact now but some have yet to do so; and many of them have the potential to do harm as well as good. Taken together, these advances provide a glimpse into our collective future.

MIT Technology Review announces the 10 Breakthrough Technologies of 2021.

Gideon Lichfield, editor in chief of MIT Technology Review, said: “The 10 Breakthrough Technologies list is an annual symbol of technological progress. But on this, the list’s 20th anniversary, we’re also taking a hard look at the question of what ‘progress’ really means, and whether our society is valuing the right things when it measures progress.”

This year's 10 Breakthrough Technologies range from AI language models to batteries to digital contact tracing. They are:

  1. Messenger RNA vaccines: A technology never before used in vaccine therapeutics could transform medicine far beyond covid-19.
  • GPT-3: The latest computer models are a big step toward AI that can understand and interact with the human world.
  • Data trusts: Companies and governments have mishandled personal data time and again. New technology could help people reclaim their agency over it.
  • Lithium-metal batteries: A new battery that could finally make electric cars as convenient and cheap as fossil-fuel-powered vehicles.
  • Digital contact tracing: Spurred by a wave of development and cooperation, new tools promise to help slow the coronavirus’s spread.
  • Hyper-accurate positioning: GPS with centimeter- or millimeter-level accuracy  could open up entire new industries.
  • Remote everything: Covid-19 transformed the way we live, work, and play. Which of those changes will last?
  • Multi-skilled AI: AI that can sense and speak will be much better at navigating new challenges and working alongside people.
  • TikTok recommendation algorithms: This app’s algorithms, which flipped the script on who can get famous online, were the secret ingredient that put it ahead of rivals.
  1. Green hydrogen: If made using renewable power, hydrogen could provide a clean and carbon-neutral source of energy and replace the natural gas, diesel, and gasoline used in ships, trucks, buses, and cars.

For more information on this year's 10 Breakthrough Technologies, visit MIT Technology Review's website. The March/April issue of MIT Technology Review, which includes the list, is online now.

About MIT Technology Review

Founded at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1899, MIT Technology Review is a world-renowned, independent media company whose insight, analysis, and interviews explain the newest technologies and their commercial, social, and political impacts. MIT Technology Review derives its authority from its relationship to the world's foremost technology institution and from its editors' deep technical knowledge, capacity to see technologies in their broadest context, and unequaled access to leading innovators and researchers. MIT Technology Review's mission is to bring about better-informed and more conscious decisions about technology through authoritative, influential, and trustworthy journalism. Subscribe. Listen. Attend. Follow: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram.

Media Contact:
MIT Technology Review