Expert Forecasts for 2020

• The emergence of China and India as rising technological powers, with the scientifically proficient countries of Eastern Europe, as represented by Poland, not far behind Individual Health as a National Priority Generally Follows Public Health Improving individual health is by necessity a secondary goal for some nations. A country can usually only make this objective a matter of real national concern if its public health system is already functioning well and its population enjoys a high standard of living. For this reason, it is typically only a first-order goal in scientifically advanced countries. Technology applications that could help reduce infant mortality rates and increase the average life expectancy—both measures of good public health—are much more important for countries lower on the development ladder. Countries’ Capacity to Achieve Science and Technology Goals Because national concerns tend to differ in these ways between countries with various levels of S&T capacity, particular sets of technology applications will be much more important, and their impacts much more dramatic, for certain nations than for others. But if a country were to establish a certain goal as a top priority in 2020 and resolve to address it, how capable would it be of actually implementing the applications that would enable it to do so? We looked at the scientifically lagging, developing, proficient, and advanced nations in our sample and for each one answered that question for the objectives likely to be relevant to countries at its level of S&T capacity. Unless the barriers are addressed, the lack of financial resources; institutional, physical, and human capacity; open markets; and transparent and stable governments will make it very difficult for the countries that could most benefit from these applications to put them to use. Of 56 illustrative applications that we identified as possible by 2020, 16 appear to have the greatest combined likelihood of being widely available commercially, enjoying a significant market demand, and affecting multiple sectors (e.g., water, food, land, population, governance, social structure, energy, health, economic development, education, defense and conflict, and environment and pollution).