Expert Forecasts for 2020

• Improve individual health. Generally, a country’s level of S&T capacity links up with indicators of economic and social development. By and large, countries with less S&T capacity also rank lower in the other two areas, while countries with more S&T capacity rank higher.5 Consequently, nations with different levels of S&T capacity often share similar problems and, as a result, tend to prioritize similar objectives. Promoting rural economic development, improving public health, and reducing the use of resources and improving environmental health—all basic development goals—are usually top concerns for countries on the lowest rungs of the development ladder. Strengthening a nation’s military and warfighters does not necessarily or clearly correspond to a particular position on the development ladder. Certain countries sorely lacking in the most basic living standards have been observed to funnel the majority of their national budget into military spending, given certain circumstances. The same is true for strengthening homeland security and public safety. But in general, nations lower on the development ladder are not in a position to prioritize these two concerns. Meeting the essential needs of their populations— Outside the capital, infrastructure is typically poor. Provincial areas commonly lack cheap and stable electricity, a clean and dependable water supply, basic health services, good roads, and schools. As a result, urban populations in many of these nations are growing rapidly as people flock to the cities in hope of better economic opportunities. Consequently, promoting rural economic development is usually a top concern, to reduce rural poverty, soothe discontent, and slow urban migration. Russia, in contrast, has no more capacity than the most capable of the scientifically developing nations. The scientifically proficient countries will be moderately capable of implementing the applications that would improve individual health. Implementation capacity will still be substantial but somewhat less for strengthening the military and warfighters and increasing homeland security and public safety. As much as these countries may need to achieve this goal, promoting economic growth and international commerce will be the most challenging of all.