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Top 10 emerging technologies of 2015

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Technology is perhaps the greatest agent of change in the modern world. While never without risk, technological breakthroughs promise innovative solutions to the most pressing global challenges of our time. From zero-emission cars fuelled by hydrogen to computer chips modelled on the human brain, this year’s 10 emerging technologies offer a vivid glimpse of the power of innovation to improve lives, transform industries and safeguard our planet.

To compile this list, the World Economic Forum’s Meta-Council on Emerging Technologies, a panel of 18 experts, draws on the collective expertise of the Forum’s communities to identify the most important recent technological trends. By doing so, the Meta-Council aims to raise awareness of their potential and contribute to closing the gaps in investment, regulation and public understanding that so often thwart progress.

The 2015 list is:

1. Fuel cell vehicles

2. Next-generation robotics

3. Recyclable thermoset plastics

4. Precise genetic engineering techniques

5. Additive manufacturing

6. Emergent artificial intelligence

7. Distributed manufacturing

8. ‘Sense and avoid’ drones

9. Neuromorphic technology

10. Digital genome

1. Fuel cell vehicles

Zero-emission cars that run on hydrogen

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“Fuel cell” vehicles have been long promised, as they potentially offer several major advantages over electric and hydrocarbon-powered vehicles. However, the technology has only now begun to reach the stage where automotive companies are planning to launch them for consumers. Initial prices are likely to be in the range of $70,000, but should come down significantly as volumes increase within the next couple of years.

Unlike batteries, which must be charged from an external source, fuel cells generate electricity directly, using fuels such as hydrogen or natural gas. In practice, fuel cells and batteries are combined, with the fuel cell generating electricity and the batteries storing this energy until demanded by the motors that drive the vehicle. Fuel cell vehicles are therefore hybrids, and will likely also deploy regenerative braking – a key capability for maximizing efficiency and range.

Unlike battery-powered electric vehicles, fuel cell vehicles behave as any conventionally fuelled vehicle. With a long cruising range – up to 650 km per tank (the fuel is usually compressed hydrogen gas) – a hydrogen fuel refill only takes about three minutes. Hydrogen is clean-burning, producing only water vapour as waste, so fuel cell vehicles burning hydrogen will be zero-emission, an important factor given the need to reduce air pollution.

There are a number of ways to produce hydrogen without generating carbon emissions. Most obviously, renewable sources of electricity from wind and solar sources can be used to electrolyse water – though the overall energy efficiency of this process is likely to be quite low. Hydrogen can also be split from water in high-temperature nuclear reactors or generated from fossil fuels such as coal or natural gas, with the resulting CO2 captured and sequestered rather than released into the atmosphere.

As well as the production of cheap hydrogen on a large scale, a significant challenge is the lack of a hydrogen distribution infrastructure that would be needed to parallel and eventually replace petrol and diesel filling stations. Long distance transport of hydrogen, even in a compressed state, is not considered economically feasible today. However, innovative hydrogen storage techniques, such as organic liquid carriers that do not require high-pressure storage, will soon lower the cost of long-distance transport and ease the risks associated with gas storage and inadvertent release.

Mass-market fuel cell vehicles are an attractive prospect, because they will offer the range and fuelling convenience of today’s diesel and petrol-powered vehicles while providing the benefits of sustainability in personal transportation. Achieving these benefits will, however, require the reliable and economical production of hydrogen from entirely low-carbon sources, and its distribution to a growing fleet of vehicles (expected to number in the many millions within a decade).

2. Next-generation robotics

Rolling away from the production line

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The popular imagination has long foreseen a world where robots take over all manner of everyday tasks.

This robotic future has stubbornly refused to materialize, however, with robots still limited to factory assembly lines and other controlled tasks. Although heavily used (in the automotive industry, for instance) these robots are large and dangerous to human co-workers; they have to be separated by safety cages.

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15 Vital Business Etiquette Rules

Unprofessional behavior could lose you business. Here are 15 basic etiquette rules you should be following.

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OCTOBER 03, 2012 As times change, so do social norms for personal and professional behavior, but that doesn’t mean basic etiquette doesn’t matter. Performance and quality are important, too, of course, but not exclusively. We sometimes forget that business is about people. There is no shortage of competent and reliable people in the business world and manners can make the difference. Wouldn’t you rather collaborate with, work for or buy from someone who has high standards of professional behavior?
Many, but not all, of us follow these 15 time-tested rules of better behavior. Do you?

1. When in doubt, introduce others. Always introduce people to others whenever the opportunity arises, unless you know that they’re already acquainted. It makes people feel valued, regardless of their status or position.

2. A handshake is still the professional standard. Not only does this simple gesture demonstrate that you’re polite, confident and approachable, it also sets the tone for any potential future professional relationship. In a very casual work atmosphere, you might be able to get away with a nod or a hello, but it’s worth it to make the extra effort to offer your hand.

3. Always say “Please” and “Thank you.” This should go without saying, but even in a very casual professional atmosphere, this basic form of courtesy is still imperative. Today, sending a thank you e-mail is perfectly acceptable, but a handwritten thank you note is always a nice touch.

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10 Quick Business Etiquette Tips for Getting Ahead

You probably landed your job with excellent skills, knowledge, and an impressive interview. Now you want to impress the higher-ups so you’ll be considered for bigger and better positions. Following proper business etiquette is essential if you want to get ahead with your company.

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Follow these tips to be noticed in the best possible way:

1. Dress for success. You’ve probably heard that in order to move up with a company, you need to dress for the position you seek rather than the one you currently hold. Believe it because it’s true.

2. Be on time. Arriving on time or even early shows your commitment and dedication to the company and your job. Walking in late shows a lack of interest and respect of your coworkers.

3. Respect everyone. You may think that you only need to be nice to your boss, but showing respect for your coworkers and those who work beneath you is a sign of respect that many managers expect.

4. Use proper cell phone etiquette. When you go into a meeting, put your phone on silent or turn it off. Avoid loud, personal conversations in the workplace. Your coworkers don’t need to know all the details of your personal life.

5. Be friendly. When you meet new business associates, smile, make eye contact, and maintain a pleasant tone of voice. Don’t forget to say, “Please,” when asking for something and, “Thank you,” afterward.

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