Expert Forecasts for 2020

The populations of many of the countries in our sample lack access to clean water and basic sanitation. Extreme poverty in rural areas can spur massive urban migration and discontent. Scientifically developing countries will vary significantly in their capacity to put technology applications into practice through 2020. Brazil, Chile, Mexico, and Turkey will be most. RFID tagging would enable command centers to track the location and conditions of personnel engaged in operations. Quantum cryptography could safeguard tactical communications. • Social values, public opinion, and politics: Religious beliefs, cultural customs, and social mores that affect how a technology application is perceived within a society; compatibility of a new application with dominant public opinions; and the politics and economics underlying debates about an application. For these reasons, different countries will vary considerably in their ability to utilize technology applications to solve the problems they confront. To be sure, not all technology applications will require the same level of capacity to acquire and use. But even so, some countries will not be prepared in 15 years to exploit even the least demanding of these applications—even if they can acquire them—whereas other nations will be fully equipped to both obtain and implement the most demanding.