2006 Ten-Year Forecast
A Decade of Shapeshifting
The decade we face is a shape shifter. It will certainly be a decade of unprecedented risks,serving up one surprise after another against a backdrop of turbulent uncertainty. But it may also be a time of overlooked promise. What makes it difficult to sort peril from hope is that the same trends could offer up either—or both. A new willingness to experiment with the very biology of cognition may endow people with skills and perception that stretch beyond anything we can imagine today. And yet that same experimental spirit may accelerate evolution along unconsidered, indeed life-threatening, paths.The rise of small science powers—developing nations that carve out a technological niche for themselves—will signal a new route to development but will also distribute the capacity to wreak havoc with dark-side uses of new tools.
The material and the digital worlds have traditionally struggled against each other, each working to overcome the constraints or mimic the affordances of the other. Now, pervasive technologies are bringing about a partnership between the material and digital, and the relationships among humans, machines, and environments are becoming more tightly interconnected and interdependent. Acybernomadic landscape is emerging, and with it emerges a critical question for society: Who are the indigenous people of this new landscape and how will they shape our social life and institutions?