The 2021 Excellent Tech Awards

In the tech business, 2021 was a calendar year of revenue and pivots.

Many thanks in component to the pandemic and the digitization of our life, all of the major tech companies acquired larger. Facebook changed its identify to Meta, Jeff Bezos went to area, Jack Dorsey still left Twitter and Silicon Valley fell more challenging for crypto.

Each and every December, partly to cheer myself up after a 12 months of covering tech’s scandals and shortfalls, I use this column to carry up a handful of tech jobs that enhanced the earth throughout the year. My standards are considerably free and arbitrary, but I appear for the types of deserving, altruistic initiatives that utilize technological innovation to major, societal issues, and that never get much consideration from the tech press, like start off-ups that are using artificial intelligence to combat wildfires, or food stuff-shipping and delivery programs for the needy.

Primarily at a time when many of tech’s leaders appear to be far more intrigued in making new, virtual worlds than strengthening the entire world we live in, it’s value praising the technologists who are stepping up to resolve some of our largest troubles.

So below, without having more ado, are this year’s Excellent Tech Awards.

Just one of the year’s most interesting A.I. breakthroughs arrived in July when DeepMind — a Google-owned synthetic intelligence enterprise — revealed info and open up-supply code from its groundbreaking AlphaFold job.

The project, which used A.I. to predict the buildings of proteins, solved a dilemma that experienced vexed experts for many years, and was hailed by experts as a single of the biggest scientific discoveries of all time. And by publishing its information freely, AlphaFold established off a frenzy amid researchers, some of whom are currently using it to develop new drugs and superior realize the proteins concerned in viruses like SARS-CoV-2.

Google’s in general A.I. initiatives have been fraught with controversy and missteps, but AlphaFold would seem like an unequivocally good use of the company’s huge abilities and resources.

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