Expert Forecasts for 2020

is taking a tremendous toll. Resources can present another major problem. In many nations at this level of S&T capacity, economic activities are further depleting already scarce natural resources and spoiling the environment. At the same time, energy prices are rising. For these reasons, it is imperative for many of them to use their resources more efficiently and improve the health of the environment. Nations with the highest level of S&T capacity sit atop the development ladder. Their leading concerns are usually quite different from those of countries with less capacity because they have already achieved the more basic development objectives prerequisite to focusing on those goals. When a national priority is the same, a scientifically advanced country often has very different motivations from those of a lagging or developing one. Promoting economic growth and international commerce is a case in point. The nations in this group are already world economic leaders; their problem is usually to maintain or capture even more of a competitive advantage in an aggressive global market. South Korea, for example, has to deal with a China rapidly gaining S&T capacity and emerging as a commanding economic force. It also needs to gain ground on Japan, the United States, and other economic superpowers. Other advanced countries are contending with skyrocketing health costs. With rapidly aging populations, they need to increase the productivity of their future workforce to finance cutting-edge medical treatment. • Use of resources and environmental health: Availability and accessibility of natural resources, concerns about pollution and its impact on humans, and social attitudes and politics about conservation and preserving land and wildlife. • Ubiquitous radio frequency identification (RFID) tagging of commercial products and individuals: Widespread use of RFID tags to track retail products from manufacture through sale and beyond, as well as individuals and their movements. • Hybrid vehicles: Automobiles available to the mass market with power systems that combine internal combustion and other power sources while recovering energy during braking.