One of the most relevant aspects of the modern world is the breakneck pace of new and improving technologies. In 2017, the ceaseless technological innovations and improvements – including in medicine, education, entertainment and business – that most people have become accustomed to continue to make a huge and mostly positive impact on people’s lives.

Historically, many new technologies’ original uses have changed and morphed over time. The technology of tomorrow will almost undoubtedly continue this trend and combine with other streams of research and development, all at a fast pace. This will work to create entirely unforeseen products and services, as well as the attendant consequences, both good and bad.

The following is a small sampling of some new technology coming into focus in 2017 that has much promise, with one example given as a disturbing development. Some innovations could make an impact immediately, for example the medical advances in gene therapy known as gene therapy 2.0. Engineers are also hard at work designing tractor-trailers driven by intelligent machines on public highways. Such tech, and of course society’s full acceptance, are by many estimates many years off.

A potential cure for those with spinal cord problems

Researchers and scientists, particularly in Switzerland at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, are hard at work developing neurotechnologies. Such tech seeks to bridge the gap between the motor neurons firing in a patient’s brain and his or her hands, arms and legs. In preliminary tests on monkeys and a few volunteers, two tiny implanted devices wirelessly link thoughts to muscles, in effect achieving a “neural bypass”.

Experts predict this revolutionary treatment will be available within 10-15 years.

Quantum computing

Quantum computers could lead to an increase in computing power of almost infinite proportions. Many estimate that we are only four to five years away from these computers revolutionizing many fields, including scientific research, many industries and encryption practices. One of the most exciting yet controversial aspects of quantum computing is its potential to dramatically alter the ability of machines to learn and “think”, known as AI.

Beware of botnets

Hackers have been using botnets – legions of compromised internet-connected devices – for over ten years. The problem is getting more acute in 2017, though, as the “internet of things” connects more and more unsecure gadgets to the internet. Everyone from mob organizations to governments to disgruntled “lone wolfs” are increasingly using these networks to extort, block information and temporarily take down internet behemoths, as happened to Netflix last year.

Experts expect this problem to get worse as people continue to buy devices and gadgets that are connected to the internet and that have little to no security features.