Expert Forecasts for 2020

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. Pervasive sensors could help manage logistics, determine market demand, and safeguard electronic transactions. Expertise in sensor development and data management would expand a company’s commercial opportunities. The technical or medical expertise to engineer tissue, the capability to manufacture it, or any related intellectual property rights would have the same effect. Wearable computers would open exciting new doors for economic sectors based on computation. To improve individual health, the scientifically advanced nations could acquire cheap solar energy, rural wireless communications, GM crops, rapid bioassays, filters and catalysts, targeted drug delivery, cheap autonomous housing, green manufacturing, tissue engineering, and improved diagnostic and surgical methods. In addition, ubiquitous information access would make health information available anywhere and anytime and facilitate information sharing between patients and providers. Tissue engineering would minimize medical com-plications and recurrences by providing new ways of treating wounds, disease, and injuries. 4 We analyzed country capacity to implement technology applications by taking into account three factors: (1) capacity to acquire, defined as the fraction of the top 16 technology applications listed for that country in Figure 1; (2) the fraction of the ten drivers for implementation applicable to that country; and (3) the fraction of the ten barriers to implementation applicable to that country. Figure 4 shows the position of each of the 29 representative countries on a plot for which the y-axis is the product of factors (1) and (2)—i.e., capacity to acquire scaled by the fraction of drivers—and the x-axis is factor (3). (Multiplying capacity to acquire by the fraction of drivers is consistent with the view that the absence of drivers reduces the probability that the technology applications a country can acquire will be implemented.) Both axes are shown as percentages: The y-axis starts at 0 percent (i.e., no capacity to acquire technology applications or drivers) and ends at 100 percent (i.e., capacity to acquire all 16 technology applications, with all 10 drivers applicable). The x-axis starts at 100 percent (i.e., all 10 barriers are applicable) and ends at 0 percent (i.e., no barriers are applicable). This figure provides a first-order assessment of the capacity to implement technology applications, in that we applied equal weighting to all technology applications, drivers, and barriers. We recognize that specific technology applications, drivers, and barriers might be more or less significant in particular countries. • Pervasive sensors: Presence of sensors in most public areas and networks of sensor data to accomplish real-time surveillance.