Expert Forecasts for 2020

Countries at Various Levels of Development Prioritize Strengthening the Military These five, plus two others—rapid bioassays and green manufacturing—could help improve public health as well. The ability to use bioassays to quickly screen for diseases would enable governments to prevent epidemics. It would also increase the probability of correctly prescrib-ing medications, decreasing resistance to antibiotics and other drugs. Reducing the volume of toxic materials in the environment produced by conventional manufacturing processes would improve public health. Just as for countries with less S&T capacity that can acquire these applications, cheap solar energy, rural wireless communications, rapid bioassays, ubiquitous RFID tagging, and quantum cryptography could also help the scientifically advanced nations promote economic growth and international commerce. But these countries will be able to acquire more sophisticated applications as well—ubiquitous information access, pervasive sensors, tissue engineering, and wearable computers. Agile access to information could improve productivity, create new avenues for conducting business on the run, and expand global Internet commerce. Action Will Be Required to Maintain a High Level of S&T Capacity The accelerating pace of technology development and the growing capacity of emerging economies to acquire and implement technology applications will make economic security a moving target even for the most advanced nations. If countries are to stay ahead in their capacity to implement applications, they will need to make continuing efforts to ensure that laws, public opinion, investment in R&D, and education and literacy are drivers for, and not barriers to, technology implementation. In addition, they will have to build and maintain whatever infrastructure is needed to implement the applications that will give them a competitive advantage. • Population and demographics: Overall size, average age, and growth rate of the population and the relative size of different age groups within a population.