The year in Tech

Best inventions and discoveries of 2023: From robot skin to mind-reading caps

AI might have been headline news for much of the year but 2023 also witnessed a whole host of more practical – and game-changing – tech breakthroughs, writes Anthony Cuthbertson

Thursday 28 December 2023 06:30 GMT
A type of electronic skin that can help ‘soft’ robots better understand their own movements
A type of electronic skin that can help ‘soft’ robots better understand their own movements (Yunjie Yang/PA)

If you ask Google’s AI assistant Bard what the best invention of 2023 was, it will tell you that it was Nasa’s Moxie Device: a technology that could “revolutionise” humanity by allowing us to produce oxygen on the Red Planet, thus making us what may be the universe’s first multi-planetary species. (In a characteristic mistake, Moxie wasn’t actually invented this year.)

If you ask for a top five of the best inventions, the chatbot will include an updated water filtration system, progress with nuclear fusion energy, new medical diagnosis tools and something called “single-cell metabolomics”, which could help with our understanding of disease development. It may be false modesty on the part of Bard, but there is no mention of artificial intelligence.

AI, or more specifically generative AI, has dominated the tech space over the past year, with tools such as Bard and ChatGPT provoking headlines that AI will be either our saviour or our downfall. But beyond their sudden popularity, there has been nothing that surprising or revelatory about generative AI – a technology that was first invented back in the 1960s.

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