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Expert Forecasts for 2020

The overall capacity of countries to implement the technology applications they can acquire provides a good general indication of the variation in how technology might change the world through 2020. It offers a comparative perspective on which countries are likely to be able to actually put technological opportunities into practice, which will be the technological powerhouses, which will be the emerging powers, and which will still be saddled with too many obstacles to benefit from the innovations of the next 15 years. It also suggests how much progress, in general, some countries need to make to exploit the technology revolution. Yet in countries whose economies are stronger and whose citizens can better afford (literally) to be concerned about the environment, public demand for cleaner, healthier surroundings and responsible stewardship of natural resources can drive the use of these applications. For countries in the proficient group that lack clean water, electricity, and good sanitation in certain areas, improving public health is still a first-order concern. Countries at this level can suffer from the same public health issues as countries lower on the development ladder. Rural wireless communications, rapid bioassays, filters and catalysts, cheap autonomous housing, ubiquitous RFID tagging, and quantum cryptography would help these proficient nations strengthen their military and warfighters. Military command, control, and commu- The technology applications we identified vary significantly in assessed technical feasibility and implementation feasibility by 2020. Table 1 shows the range of this variation on a matrix of 2020 technical feasibility versus 2020 implementation feasibility for all 56 technology applications. Technical feasibility is defined as the likelihood that the application will be possible on a commercial basis by 2020. Implementation feasibility is the net of all nontechnical barriers and enablers, such as market demand, cost, infrastructure, policies, and regulations.