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5, 10, 25 Year Horizons
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1Quantum Revolution& Advanced AI2HumanAugmentation3Eco-Regeneration& Geo-Engineering4Science& Diplomacy1.11.21.31.42.12.22.32.43.13.23.33.43.54.14.24.34.44.5HIGHEST ANTICIPATIONPOTENTIALAdvancedArtificial IntelligenceQuantumTechnologiesBrain-inspiredComputingBiologicalComputingCognitiveEnhancementHuman Applications of Genetic EngineeringRadical HealthExtensionConsciousnessAugmentation DecarbonisationWorldSimulationFuture FoodSystemsSpaceResourcesOceanStewardshipComplex Systems forSocial EnhancementScience-basedDiplomacyInnovationsin EducationSustainableEconomicsCollaborativeScience Diplomacy
1Quantum Revolution& Advanced AI2HumanAugmentation3Eco-Regeneration& Geo-Engineering4Science& Diplomacy1.11.21.31.42.12.22.32.43.13.23.33.43.54.14.24.34.44.5HIGHEST ANTICIPATIONPOTENTIALAdvancedArtificial IntelligenceQuantumTechnologiesBrain-inspiredComputingBiologicalComputingCognitiveEnhancementHuman Applications of Genetic EngineeringRadical HealthExtensionConsciousnessAugmentation DecarbonisationWorldSimulationFuture FoodSystemsSpaceResourcesOceanStewardshipComplex Systems forSocial EnhancementScience-basedDiplomacyInnovationsin EducationSustainableEconomicsCollaborativeScience Diplomacy

Trends:

5, 10, 25 Year Horizons

The Science Breakthrough Radar presents 216 breakthrough predictions at 5, 10 and 25 years’ time horizons. They represent the views of the consulted expert community on what may happen in the short-, mid-, and longer-term for 18 emerging topics over four broad science areas.
Each of the 18 emerging topic is divided into four sub-fields for which the breakthrough predictions are described. The data to describe the breakthroughs was collected through workshops, interviews and surveys. Under the authority of a lead scientist, each emerging topic is curated ensuring a carefully vetted description of significant trends and impactful future advances.
1.1Advanced Artificial Intelligence

1.1.1Deeper Machine Learning

Artificial intelligence algorithms have become ubiquitous in modern life thanks to successes in machine learning research. more

5-year horizon

Machine learning expands its sphere of operations

Further exponential growth in computing power and access to data enables an increase in performance. The current trend of digitalisation, including the deployment of sensors and connected objects, provides increasing scope and scale of data sets to be used by machine learning algorithms. Research begins to establish ethical and regulatory frameworks.

10-year horizon

Algorithms begin to generalise

The ability to incorporate basic knowledge and deductive reasoning helps algorithms to interpret their surroundings and make generalisations. This boosts the fields of unsupervised learning (using little or no training data) and reinforcement learning, expanding the scope and relevance of ML. Algorithms are increasingly able to learn from fewer examples.

25-year horizon

Machine learning becomes a tool for specialised enquiry

Deep machine learning continues to inform and instantiate progress in complex and abstract scientific fields of inquiry, although issues of explainability change the nature of what it means to “understand” scientific issues.

1.1.2Human-centred AI

The limitations of the machine learning approach to AI mean that powerful AI tends to be hidden in static systems... more

5-year horizon

AI established in dynamic machines

Trials of AI-enabled healthcare robots show potential to assist in dealing with ageing populations. Autonomous vehicles operate with reduced need for human intervention, moving in convoys through interaction with smart road environments. Industrial robots become increasingly safe for deployment in open environments alongside human workers.

10-year horizon

AI becomes significantly more flexible and useful

The ability to learn from few data points and to deal with open-ended questions vastly increases the relevance and applicability of AI. This in turns induces an exponential growth of AI knowledge and increases the opportunities for human-machine collaborations, including the augmentation of human capabilities through AI.

25-year horizon

AI augments human capabilities

Brain implants coupled to robust, verifiable AI systems accelerate the development of brain-machine interfaces. These are useful in therapeutic settings (e.g., for neuroprosthetics) but also open avenues towards augmenting human abilities. They enable discoveries in neuroscience which bring new insights into human consciousness.

1.1.3Next-level AI

Moving beyond the machine learning paradigm towards more flexible AI is likely to involve coupling the strengths of ML with... more

5-year horizon

AI systems display potential for “common sense”

Symbolic AI algorithms demonstrate basic knowledge transference across domains and begin to perform basic functions without extensive training.

10-year horizon

AI begins to display more human-like learning

Artificial curiosity expands the scope for learning in situations where tasks are not yet well defined. Algorithms can look up and integrate knowledge found in encyclopaedias. Continuous learning includes memory effects, working with dynamic data (e.g. cumulative rainfall) that can introduce changes to the algorithm’s operation. Research helps uncover algorithms’ vulnerabilities, understand their limits and devise possible strategies to protect them from malicious data.

25-year horizon

AI becomes more like human intelligence

AI may reach a number of milestones towards human abilities within this time frame. These include tasks such as understanding people’s motivations (testable by answering open-ended questions about the hypothetical scenarios shown in a video sequence), transferring knowledge between different tasks, emulating analogies, or guessing how an appliance works and using it in a real-world situation.17

1.1.4Interdisciplinary AI

As AI shifts away from huge datasets and brute-force computing approaches, this will create incentives and opportunities for combining with... more

5-year horizon

The era of quantum machine learning begins

Research identifies clear quantum advantage in machine learning applications, proving that quantum computers can assist classical machine learning algorithms to perform tasks more efficiently than either would achieve alone.

10-year horizon

Neuroscience accelerates AI development

Explorations of small-scale circuits in the human brain provide new interconnection models that inspire interesting new AI implementations in the lab. AI researchers and neuroscientists spin-out new startups aimed at exploiting these ideas.

25-year horizon

Quantum-based AI makes scientific breakthroughs

Quantum machine learning running on quantum computers proves useful for problems with small data sets and dealing with quantum objects, such as simulating chemical reactions or new materials.
1.2Quantum Technologies

1.2.1Quantum Communication

The unique properties of quantum systems such as individual photons of light allow them to be used in provably secure... more

5-year horizon

Commercial quantum cryptographic channels are established

An increasing number of companies commercialise systems providing secure quantum cryptographic channels over hundreds of kilometres. The first demonstration of quantum repeaters increases the distances for quantum communications. Quantum random number generators are more broadly deployed in personal technology, radically improving security for financial transactions and secure communications. 

10-year horizon

Satellite links and repeaters allow >500km secure communications

Terrestrial and satellite links are available for quantum cryptographic secure channels over more than 500 km, which compose networks containing dozens of nodes and quantum repeaters. So-called device-independent protocols realise the theoretical promise of unconditional security. Certification techniques based on general tests allow people to trust an encryption system without knowing all the details of its inner workings.8

25-year horizon

A secure intercontinental quantum internet is established

A “quantum internet” is in place with provably secure quantum communication channels running between many nodes, combining terrestrial optic fibres and satellite links to connect several countries, in particular in and between Europe, the US and China. This will be of particular interest for sensitive data concerning e.g. health, finance, legal, whistleblowing, but also possibly for autonomous vehicles. The quantum internet will augment the “conventional internet” for the most privacy- and security-critical applications.

1.2.2Quantum Computing

Two decades of academic research into quantum computing have resulted in significant recent investments in the field from major technology... more

5-year horizon

New, useful quantum algorithms accelerate hardware development

More companies commercialize quantum computers. These operate in the “Noisy Intermediate-Scale Quantum” (NISQ) regime, solving only demonstration problems that are of no practical use. Cloud-based access to early quantum computer prototypes draws in talented scientists and software engineers, stimulating the development of new quantum algorithms beyond the 60-odd examples that existed in 2020.

10-year horizon

Quantum processors find real-world applications

Quantum machines incorporate error correction and simulate quantum systems with a precision unattainable with classical computers, albeit using simplified models rather than accurate microscopic models of materials. New quantum algorithms continue to offer a significant speed-up (exponential or polynomial) over classical methods. 

25-year horizon

Million-qubit computers solve useful, classically intractable problems

Universal quantum computers with millions of qubits run accurate and predictive simulations in chemistry and materials science, accelerating discoveries such as, perhaps, materials that superconduct at room-temperature, catalysts for nitrogen fixation and new pharmaceutical products.

1.2.3Quantum Sensing and Imaging

Quantum-enabled measuring and calibration devices are already in advanced stages of development. There are sensors, for example, that use quantum... more

5-year horizon

Quantum imaging improves medical diagnostics

A new generation of quantum-enhanced imaging delivers more precise images in materials science and biology, in particular in neuroscience. Quantum inertial sensors complement GPS systems and quantum gravity detectors are deployed for geological surveys and very precise seismological monitoring (including earthquake prediction and nuclear test detection). Quantum clocks are used for improved GPS systems and for time-stamping algorithmic trading transactions. Quantum sensors distinguish between atmospheric isotopes in efforts to monitor climate change.

10-year horizon

Quantum detectors monitor earthquakes and nuclear tests

Connected via quantum channels, ultra-precise networks of quantum sensors are deployed for a variety of applications: for example, spectrometers for the analysis of gases in atmospheric science and climate change modelling, seismic monitoring and increasing the precision of international unit standards. 

25-year horizon

Handheld quantum sensors detect and diagnose consciousness

Quantum sensors and non-invasive imaging systems are routinely employed in medical diagnostics and healthcare. They are miniaturised and integrated into portable handheld devices and wearable technology. Satellite-borne quantum gradiometers may replace GPS with ultra-precise magnetic field measurements.

1.2.4Quantum Foundations

Quantum theory is still a rapidly evolving field, and academic researchers are investigating a number of speculative ideas that could... more

5-year horizon

Quantum biology becomes established

Fundamental research continues to investigate quantum effects in biology, which becomes an established field of study.16 New possible violations of traditional causality continue to invite speculation about application in information processing.

10-year horizon

Possible medical applications emerge

Investigations of quantum properties of atoms and isotopes might uncover mechanisms of interaction with biological processes, such as in anaesthesia17 and medication.18 There will be new ideas for new breakthroughs in sciences that open the path for new applications.

25-year horizon

Quantum foundations research delivers commercial technologies

Quantum sensor technology might be re-purposed to deliver activation of components of cellular biology for micro-level medical interventions. Investigations in quantum information theory and quantum thermodynamics lead to innovations in nanomachines and biological applications. There will be surprising new, as-yet unknown applications of quantum technology at that scale.
1.3Brain-inspired Computing

1.3.1Neural Network Architectures

Efforts to build brain-like processors take a number of different forms. All of them, however, take inspiration from what neuroscientists... more

5-year horizon

Brain structures and sub-structures are mapped and simulated

We have practically useful neuronal architectures for navigation and map formation based on rodents (rat, bat) and insects (bee) brains, plus hippocampus and entorhinal cortex, navigation complex for insects. These circuits help us understand, model, and program practically usable building blocks, or algorithms. They are deployed in small autonomous domestic robots. Emerging neuromorphic technologies include olfaction-inspired chemical sensors; retina- and eye-inspired vision sensors (with fovea, targeted microsaccades, adaptive thresholds and active sensing); active spinal-cord inspired controllers and central pattern generators for flexible snake- or salamander-like robots.

10-year horizon

Neuromorphic computing provides useful technology

Based on understanding of human and animal reaching and grasping, soft robots can direct actions at objects in our everyday environments: a robot arm that can grasp and manipulate things, helping with maintenance work at home and in factory floors, support elderly and sick, supporting construction workers etc. Simultaneous localisation and mapping (SLAM) provides robots with mobility in complex indoor and outdoor environments, allowing them to perform inspection tasks in complex and hard-to-reach environments. 3D vision enables artificial systems to perform movement around and seamless interaction — including gesture and gaze-based interaction — with physical objects including humans. Brain-machine interfaces allow processing of biological systems on a low-power chip for control of prosthetic devices, monitoring of heart and brain activity, seizure prediction, and for fast control of computer games with, for example, EEG.

25-year horizon

Brain maps begin to show useful, granular detail

We finally understand the processes and causal relationships between different levels of the brain, going from molecular to cellular to circuit to population to cortical micro-area to larger cortical areas and subcortical structures. We know the connectivity and structure as well as the genetic programs and rules of plasticity by which the structure is formed. We know how to cure different malfunctions, and have mathematical models of brain processes on different levels that can be used to implement similar functions to solve technical problems.

1.3.2Neuromorphic Systems

Biologically plausible artificial networks of neurons take a number of different forms in current research. A researcher's choice of approach... more

5-year horizon

Engineers finesse elements that host learning and memory

We understand how to use biologically-inspired local learning rules to learn useful tasks or form short-term memories

10-year horizon

Animal-like learning becomes possible

We create networks of artificial neurons and synapses that permit autonomous learning via a combination of reinforcement and self-supervised learning based on predictive models. This is supported by neuronal networks on chip, and displays adaptation, fine-tuning, and calibration, all of which co-occur through closed-loop behaviour. Autonomous systems form their own representations, make decisions and plan actions or movements based on these representations.

25-year horizon

Artificial mammal-like brains begin to emerge

Various experimental realisations of neuromorphic computing demonstrate memory and logic that, while still primitive compared to the naturally evolved brain, work in recognisably mammalian ways. Research replicates different capabilities of animals in technical systems, ranging from all kinds of sensors to situation awareness systems, simultaneous location and mapping, environment-independent navigation, decision-making under uncertainty, continual learning, and safe and reliable movement control.

1.3.3Neural Network Algorithms

The architecture of the brain is inextricably intertwined with the algorithms that it performs; in many ways, the architecture is... more

5-year horizon

Multi-sense processing is consolidated

Engineers develop stretchable, smart, large-scale electronic skin; low-power and low-latency 3D vision, motion detectors; olfactory sensors and chemical sensors; sensors for electric fields and air currents. These are augmented with smart signal processing that enables efficient extraction of task-relevant information and its integration in multimodal concepts.

10-year horizon

Neuromorphic computing takes the AI crown in niche applications

Neuromorphic computing becomes the dominant computing framework for embodied AI — AI that works with sensory signals and motion control — as well as for human-machine interaction and computing on the interface to the physical world, including large-scale simulations. Conventional computers will only be used for storing and processing “vintage” digital data, with computing distributed between ultra-edge (the smart device), edge (computer in the room) and cloud (server), supported by ultra-fast and high-throughput wireless connectivity.

25-year horizon

The rules of thinking emerge

We have neuro-physics on the level of today’s physics, with models and explanations across different levels — from molecules to societies.

1.3.4Neuromorphic Benchmarking

Neuromorphic chips should be well-suited to situations where information and demands are fluid, energy consumption has to be low and... more

5-year horizon

Standardised benchmarking tools emerge

Researchers agree a set of simulators or standard robotic platforms for benchmarking progress and accelerating promising candidate architectures. Aware of the pitfalls encountered in machine vision and deep learning, they resist the pressure to optimise their systems for achieving benchmarks over useful real-world tasks.

10-year horizon

Real-world testing accelerates progress

Hand-held devices that embody insect-level intelligence and learning become ubiquitous, and real-world benchmarking brings commercial pressures that accelerate progress. Energy-efficient, low-latency neuromorphic systems can be tested against, and begin to outperform, data centre-connected deep learning algorithms for tasks such as speech recognition.

25-year horizon

Human-machine interfaces allow subjective testing and user review

Bio-compatible neuromorphic machine interfaces, integrated with the nervous system, become widely available. This creates a product marketplace based on user experience, further accelerating progress.
1.4Biological Computing

1.4.1Bio-architectures

Most biocomputing research to date has sought to replicate silicon-type computation involving logic gate-based architectures, with significant success. For example,... more

5-year horizon

Commercial potential begins to emerge

Standardisation of biological parts and processes is established, opening the door to commercialisation. Biological computing becomes the focus of an increasing number of venture capital-supported companies exploring the commercial potential of the field using proprietary biological hardware solutions.

10-year horizon

Metabolic biocomputing comes of age

Researchers establish ways to harness a cell’s metabolism to perform computations.

25-year horizon

Biocomputing hardware has moved beyond genetic circuits

Biocomputers based on nerve cells begin to show promise, and processing based on cell metabolism performs complex and useful routines.

1.4.2Bio-computational Logic and Strategies

The limitations of conventional computing are taken for granted and seldom contemplated. Cellular computing is so qualitatively different, however, that... more

5-year horizon

Distributed biocomputing comes of age

Small-scale biocomputing networks of biological cells work together in the lab to provide potential solutions for real-world problems.

10-year horizon

Engineers build circuits inspired by lab-based evolution

Monitoring the mechanisms of bacterial evolution provides inspiration for the design of new biocomputing pathways.

25-year horizon

New computing toolkits emerge

Research has catalogued an array of natural biocomputing pathways and created a new, post-Boolean set of logic operations and design tools for information processing.

1.4.3Programmable Bio-synthesis

Generally, the study of how environmental signals affect and direct intracellular processes has been confined to a fairly narrow range... more

5-year horizon

Engineered cells assist medical diagnosis

Human cells are programmed, synthesised and engineered to detect and respond to illness such as tumours.

10-year horizon

Biocomputers begin to solve human issues

Bacterial metabolic computing is routinely used to find remediation solutions to pollution, diagnosis pathways for disease and provide atmospheric sensing tools.

25-year horizon

New bioremediation and hybrid hardware solutions emerge

Networks of bacteria are employed to clean up environmental pollution. High density arrays of cells (bacteria, for example) on chips, with clear, translatable signal input and output mechanisms, will be performing “intelligent” inference functions such as diagnosing disease from breath.

1.4.4Novel Bio-computing Paradigms

Impressive as today’s supercomputers are, they remain “Turing machines”: processors that perform the kinds of mathematical operations that humans can... more

5-year horizon

Metabolic computation begins to show promise

Research unpicks mechanisms behind whole-cell interactions that create pathways towards useful analogue metabolic computing.

10-year horizon

Biological computations reflect neural processing

Investigations of programmable analog cellular processing in noisy environments give insights into mind-like states.

25-year horizon

The era of biological quantum computation begins

Biological computation combines with quantum biology research to create interesting and potentially fruitful new approaches to information processing.
2.1Cognitive Enhancement

2.1.1Brain Monitoring

To successfully manipulate cognitive processes, the first step is to read and interpret the brain's signals. Only when we understand... more

5-year horizon

First commercial non-invasive neuromodulation devices validated

Non-invasive brain recording devices improves enough to be wearable and provide a signal-to-noise ratio comparable to MEG and fMRI, which currently require large and costly infrastructure. Consequently, the availability and use of such devices for non-medical purposes will likely increase.

10-year horizon

Open brain data stimulates research

Increased data sharing and storage accelerates basic research that is currently hindered by national ethical and privacy laws, allowing for faster selection from the cognitive enhancement methods that are being evaluated.

25-year horizon

Miniaturisation makes invasive devices less invasive but more intrusive

Optogenetics and gene therapy advance to the point where advanced electrical recording and stimulation devices, and optogenetic technologies, can be implanted into the brain and operated wirelessly from outside the skull to monitor brain activity at high resolution. Cheap, portable non-invasive imaging technologies are used in a greater variety of real-world situations, allowing for example the legal system to distinguish between real memories, false memories, and lies in the courtroom in real-time.

2.1.2Neuromodulation Delivery Systems

Experimental research is already using neurotechnologies and other delivery systems to modulate memory and other cognitive functions. As with brain... more

5-year horizon

Brain stimulation devices become more widely available for medical use

Within 2-3 years, 1000-channel electrode arrays like NeuroPixel are available for humans, allowing for simultaneous recording and stimulation in multiple regions across the brain.

Used in large clinical trials, these gather better data and accelerate the pace of discovery. High profile influencers – like gamers – start wearing noninvasive stimulating brain-machine interfaces to boost cognitive skills like reaction speed.

10-year horizon

Miniaturisation drives wider adoption of cognitive modulation

Closed loop devices stimulate and treat an increasing variety of diseases including depression and will also include, besides brain signals, a variety of other physiological, motor, perceptual, and cognitive signals acquired by wearables. The devices become wireless, driving early adoption by healthy people.

25-year horizon

The era of high-precision optogenetics arrives

Optogenetic manipulation and related new technologies target specific networks and types of human memory with high resolution and precision. This will create new, more granular molecular control mechanisms to manipulate neural activity at the level of single neurons, circuits, and larger networks, enabling more specific tailoring than today’s comparatively crude methods. The results could be implantation and control of patterns of memory and emotions.

2.1.3Hybrid Cognition

Among the most important drivers of cognitive enhancement will be advances in artificial intelligence. This will happen in two separate... more

5-year horizon

AI stimulates discovery

Machine learning helps to find memory patterns in brain data coming out of clinical trials. This will stimulate discovery around early disease progression, or more controversially, decode in ever finer detail the content of our thoughts. It may even offer new insights around neuroscience and consciousness.

10-year horizon

Machine learning closes the loop

Closed-loop devices use machine learning algorithms to decode mental states and baseline brain activity and stimulate “on demand” without needing the intervention of a clinician. Machine learning also identifies brainwave patterns associated with useful stages of the sleep cycle. Closed-loop devices then amplify these oscillations to improve memory consolidation. Such devices are used to combat age-related cognitive decline, reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia.

25-year horizon

AI integrated into memory and cognition

Closed-loop AI implants are widely adopted, and onboard AI seamlessly translates brain function and transforms cognition into commands, augmenting memory and cognition for increasing numbers of healthy people.

2.1.4Memory Modification

Boosting memory has already been accomplished in experimental laboratory work by stimulation of the medial temporal lobe, performed with depth... more

5-year horizon

The basic science of memory becomes better understood

Fornix data in deep brain stimulation, currently in Phase 3 clinical trials for Alzheimer’s, yields results and advances understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and memory. Specific brain functions are elucidated. It becomes possible to target specifics of memory to enhance cognition. Invasive and non-invasive brain stimulation are used to target and suppress the brain network activated in response to traumatic memories.

10-year horizon

Memory modulation becomes a reality

Drug-induced modification of memory engrams and specific, long-lasting learning enhancement begin to be applied in education. The ability to modify the expression of memory-associated genes is combined with exposure therapies to efficiently extinguish traumas and phobias.

25-year horizon

Implants aid memory in healthy people

Memory aids are used pervasively to facilitate learning, transforming the learning process and the way we use our “native” cognitive functions. Optogenetic manipulation suppresses fear memories experienced in phobias, or the intrusive memories of PTSD. Induced false memories help to change self-harming behaviour, for example by transposing memories of calm and happy situations onto dangerous states of mind.
2.2Human Applications of Genetic Engineering

2.2.1Gene-based Diagnostics and Prevention

Reading and interpreting the genome — whole genome sequencing — has helped to diagnose disease and genetic predispositions to disease.... more

5-year horizon

Faster, cheaper, better diagnostics become available

Enhanced DNA sequencing and reading technologies are lower cost, enable wider access, and monitor and increase the safety of genome editors. New generation of diagnostics include CRISPR-based methods are used to detect a variety of targets, including cancer, inherited conditions, viruses and other pathogens.

10-year horizon

Reading finds biosecurity applications

Faster sequencing, and better interpretation, are helped by algorithms help trace pieces of DNA to their lab of origin.

25-year horizon

Gene reading goes mainstream

Rapid diagnostics enable to-go or home-based devices for detection of complex diseases. Genome sequencing begins to dictate the choices of partners based on genetic compatibility.

2.2.2Gene Therapies and Enhancement

CRISPR-Cas9, though not even a decade old, is now the most widely used gene editing technology in the world. It... more

5-year horizon

Ex vivo and in vivo therapies advance

Several large-scale stage III clinical trials for ex vivo therapies take place. Some ex vivo therapies are commercially available for some cancers and blood diseases. Early-stage clinical trials use in vivo editing techniques, targeting easily accessible tissues such as the cervix, the eye, or the liver. CRISPR corrects for mitochondrial genetic disease with in vitro fertilisation. Next-generation, novel genome editors appear on the stage.

10-year horizon

Safer germline editing further blurs boundaries between therapy and prevention

Somatic cell engineering (i.e. no germline) allows in-human treatment of conditions caused by the malfunction of several genes, such as cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases, and other conditions related to ageing. Germline editing (transmissible to the next generation) is made possible thanks to increased safety levels. Human germline editing is also used to prevent monogenic diseases, i.e. genetic diseases caused by a mutation on a single gene, such as cystic fibrosis, Duchenne type muscular dystrophy, and Huntington’s disease. We begin to see scattered preventative applications for preventive purposes.

25-year horizon

The boundaries between therapy and enhancement are eroded

Human germline editing is mainstream, and we learn to engineer new sensory capacities for humans. Genome-editing conveys a higher resistance to radiation and becomes key for space travel. We use gene technologies to correct, slow down or even reverse processes linked to ageing.

2.2.3Novel Bioengineering Approaches

Advances in nanotechnology will be necessary to help deliver editing cargo beyond easy-to-access tissue (such as blood cells) and to... more

5-year horizon

Better predictions

AI augments our ability to predict the outcomes of our edits. Genome writing allows us to build large genetic circuits composed of many repeated guide RNA sequences that enable us to simultaneously target multiple genes.

10-year horizon

Machine-gene interfaces in clinical trials

Machine-gene interfaces tackle neurodegenerative diseases. These are much smaller electrical stimulation devices than today’s existing ones, capable of interfacing with single cells and directly modulating gene expression there. As a result, receptors in our cells are engineered to sense electrical signals and translate them into genetic changes modulating memory or emotions. The first clinical trials are for diseases with no other treatment, possibly Alzheimer’s disease.

25-year horizon

Gene editing changes humans

Machine-gene interfaces enable new senses. Brain-machine interfaces translate electronic signals to “at will” genetic changes, and the first cyborgs, half-machine half-biological entities, are created.

2.2.4Synthetic Organisms

Synthetic organisms will help advance genome editing for human applications in two crucial ways: by creating novel vehicles to deliver... more

5-year horizon

Synthetic biology circuits go in vivo

Synthetic biology circuits, now in mammalian cell cultures, find applications in vivo and for enhanced control of genome editors for gene therapies.

10-year horizon

Chimeras, synthetic viruses and other models become mainstream

Chimeras generated by injecting human stem-cells into animal embryos grow organs for xenotransplantation or grow human-like brain structures to study gene edits. Scientists learn to make better synthetic viruses and develop genome editors that knock out genes in animal organs to supply the increasing need for organ donation without the risk of rejection.

25-year horizon

Boundaries between synthetic and natural tissues blur

Engineered cells and tissues serve as novel delivery systems. Genetically modified viruses, synthetic viruses, and large genetic circuits are widely deployed for “gene surgery” on otherwise healthy people, directly linking genetic circuits to genome editors. We see the first demonstration in humans of universal cells carrying gene circuitry.
2.3Radical Health Extension

2.3.1Age-related Diagnostics and Prevention

Traditionally a person’s age has been measured by the number of years alive. However, this measure has recently come into... more

5-year horizon

Age-measurement validation and standardisation begins

Companies’ methods converge on standardised, validated diagnostics of real age. Multidisciplinary approaches use AI to generalise to yield new insights about relationships between the different factors in ageing. Proper validation begins of molecular theories of ageing and the prospects for altering them: telomere shortening, epigenome dysregulation, senescence-associated secreted proteins.

10-year horizon

Epigenetic approaches find some success

Regulated public health measures advocate particular supplements, diets (e.g. ketogenic) and exercise, pushing natural human healthspan towards around 90 years and compressing the period of morbidity (reducing the gap between healthspan and lifespan).

25-year horizon

Personalised “ageotype” and prevention

Age profiling diagnostics - both for individuals and for their different specific bodily tissues - and epidemiology combine to help people understand where they are on the spectrum of healthspan and how they can move along it. Strategies to further extend healthspan and to extend maximum lifespan become realistic.

2.3.2Fundamental Geroscience

The emerging research consensus is that ageing is driven by several different interacting processes.11,12 These interlinked pathways influence the diseases... more

5-year horizon

Better models of ageing emerge

Research begins to elucidate the dynamics of the interplay between the processes of ageing, and the knowledge gained is used to develop multiscale network models that incorporate the relevant physiological changes.

10-year horizon

Ageing is integrated into healthcare as a treatable disease process

Insights into the epigenetic changes that happen after taking certain drugs, such as metformin, enable us to hone our therapeutic approaches. Health plans begin to prescribe them. Trials to identify certain hallmarks of age — frailty, for example — yield useful results.

25-year horizon

Genetic insights begin to shed light on ageing

Machine learning algorithms help to identify the genes involved in healthy or less healthy ageing.

2.3.3Slowing Biological Ageing

The new vision for geroscience goes far beyond treating old people. Recent research suggests that many of what are traditionally... more

5-year horizon

Age-slowing drugs filter into the mainstream

Off-label prescriptions of drugs like metformin yield data, and we begin to implement findings gathered from inadvertent studies, where drugs for diseases have increased the active group’s healthspan. While new drugs are waiting to be approved, supplements that show some efficacy are validated. An early example, given that inflammation seems to be a pathway to ageing, is anti-inflammatory medicines.

10-year horizon

Drugs to prevent ageing become available

Carefully-gathered understanding of which combinations of lifestyle interventions and drugs have synergistic effects on hallmarks of ageing and specific diseases enables us to use them on prescription. Drugs are found to alleviate early-stage indicators of ageing such as frailty and Alzheimer’s disease. More trials are launched to investigate the efficacy of drugs such as metformin and rapamycin on a wider range of age-related disorders.

25-year horizon

A unitary hypothesis of fundamental ageing processes

Instead of a single “silver bullet” that slows the ageing process, we know how to combine different anti-ageing strategies for personalised “ageomes” for additive and synergistic effects.

It becomes possible to figure out the perfect age to start different drugs or interventions. Perhaps start metformin at 50, while gene therapy is carried out in the womb to prevent other processes of ageing.

2.3.4Reversing Ageing

Age reversal is a radical and controversial idea, but there are reasons to believe that some progress is possible here.... more

5-year horizon

Organ rejuvenation is proved possible

Research succeeds in removing the age-associated chemicals in animal organs. The first trials of cell and gene therapy for ageing in humans begin.

10-year horizon

Age therapies become affordable

Improvements in the tools and techniques of cell and gene therapy reduce the cost and widen the availability of treatments that slow ageing.

25-year horizon

Limited age reset becomes possible

Stem cell delivery methods mature, allowing the targeting and rejuvenation of a range of tissue types. Organ derivation and replacement becomes a possibility.
2.4Consciousness Augmentation

2.4.1Cognitive Capacity Enhancement

The 20th century saw a measurable and significant increase in the average human intellect.4 While systemic efforts like education played... more

5-year horizon

Learning environments are enriched

Immersive systems have vastly greater capabilities than just sound, vision and limited haptics, creating enriched virtual environments for learning with greater empathy and salience.

10-year horizon

The re-engineering of education begins

We share our cognitive load with systems that enhance general consciousness, attention and recall. Neuromodulation technologies, for instance, enhance cognitive functions like learning, memory, attention and decision making. A newer understanding of how the brain learns helps people learn differently, faster, and more effectively.

25-year horizon

Hybrid consciousness enhances cognition

Bio-inspired AI systems that help design curricula are imbued with algorithms that operate on an improved understanding of how humans learn, creating a virtuous loop.

2.4.2Consciousness Assessment

It is broadly agreed that consciousness is an emergent property of complex nervous systems. But there is no granular understanding... more

5-year horizon

We become more adept at diagnosing consciousness

Improved brain state diagnostics emerge, using bedside electrophysiological tools to distinguish minimally conscious from vegetative. Some people with specific disorders of consciousness receive brain stimulation to enhance their conscious state. The neural circuit implicated in the mirror test — a key aspect of how we define consciousness — is found in macaques.

10-year horizon

The tools to restore consciousness are developed

We have an agreed set of international guidelines (perhaps a standard scale) to diagnose the presence or absence of consciousness. We use non-invasive closed loop neurostimulation like tDCS or focused ultrasound to alter people’s conscious state. Invasive stimulations detect consciousness in locked-in patients and give them ways to communicate using brain machine interfaces. Work to find best practices leads to recovery.

25-year horizon

Theories and therapeutics of consciousness become established

Scientifically validated assessment of presence and quality of consciousness in humans, animals and machines begins. An agreed theory of consciousness takes shape. Brain-machine interfaces open up communications with apparently unconscious people, even restoring natural consciousness in some cases.

2.4.3Brain-Machine Interfaces

Brain-machine interfaces can help to augment human consciousness in three different ways.16 more

5-year horizon

Embodied machines go mainstream

Immersive virtual reality systems have vastly greater capabilities than today’s confinement to sound, vision and limited haptics. There is greater adoption of robotic embodiment in factories and for special purpose applications.

10-year horizon

The first human-machine interfaces begin to see roll-out

The wider availability of more general-purpose daily use robotic devices means that some models begin to explore the advantages of invasive interfaces.

25-year horizon

Neural interface for consciousness sharing

The market grows for an implantable BMI that is useful in everyday life. Brain implants coupled to AI systems accelerate the development of new human-machine interfaces useful in therapeutic settings (e.g. for neuroprosthetics) but also for those wanting to augment evolved human abilities.

2.4.4Sense-expanding Technologies

In principle, neuroengineering and virtual reality can combine to give an experience of consciousness that is no longer bound by... more

5-year horizon

Humans begin to adopt augmentations

Targeted gene therapy allows augmentation of sensory scope — “seeing” in the infrared part of the spectrum, for example. Mouse models elucidate the neural model of drug efficacy, pointing to the design of more precisely-targeted therapeutic interventions. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) offer visual overlays representing other people’s heart rate and blood pressure, letting us “see” their inner emotional state.

10-year horizon

Engineered body enhancements become commercially available

Some people choose to augment their natural senses with new engineered senses, or to adopt robotic limbs. VR allows us to visit the future and the past by making immersive, realistic “dress rehearsals” for future events, and by putting us into our own memories.

25-year horizon

The era of meta-humans arrives

For a sector of society, permanent connections with machines create blurred boundaries between different realities and between natural and artificial body parts — some of which display non-human characteristics. It becomes possible to better incorporate within our experiences the perspectives of other people and other species.
3.1Decarbonisation

3.1.1Negative Emission Technologies

At the current CO2 emission rate and its projected growth, which will stem from continued population growth and the industrialisation... more

5-year horizon

The development of a CO2 market

With the anticipated reduction of the price of carbon capture for selected NETs to below $100 per tonne of CO2,10 the global CO2 market will start becoming attractive for private actors. From a technology standpoint, experts do not expect game-changing developments at 5 years but rather incremental improvements to make those technologies more efficient and better integrated into the so-called circular economy. With continued reduction in the cost of captured CO2, we can begin to move towards its utilisation in the production of a variety of value-added products. Nevertheless, investments into start-ups and scale-up activities will be increasing quickly, on the prospects of a commercially competitive market. All of these developments are expected to accelerate if there is a global consensus on a carbon price that is sufficiently high that investments in CO2 emission reductions become profitable.

10-year horizon

Mining CO2 from the air is commercially viable

By combining solar energy and various CO2 extraction methods, including newly developed approaches to DAC, the production of synthetic fuels from carbon is becoming commercially viable. DAC is boosted via economic and policy incentivisation.

25-year horizon

Large-scale CO2 capture and utilisation begins

Breakthroughs in DAC and conversion technologies now allow large industrial scale applications where CO2 is captured from air and converted into synthetic fuels and other value-added chemicals.

3.1.2Energy Transition

Due to factors such as a growing global population, the demand for power is expected to rise by 50 per... more

5-year horizon

Embracing the sun and wind

Record efficiencies are achieved in commercial solar photovoltaic modules, and combined with reductions in device cost, make utility-scale solar PV cheaper than building new coal or gas-fired power plants in most of the world, boosting the adoption of solar technologies. In addition, a new class of giant offshore wind turbines, with rotors over 220m in diameter and individual output up to 15 MW, are installed across the globe.13

10-year horizon

Managing the energy transition

Intense planning allows existing fossil-fuel infrastructure, such as refineries and pipelines, to be phased out or repurposed.14 The energy sector becomes somewhat decentralised, with advancing technology allowing smaller-scale production facilities (e.g. local solar and wind farms) to become viable options for communities.15

25-year horizon

Renewable energy comes of age

Over 80 per cent of global energy comes from renewable sources. This reduces emissions fast enough to approach IPCC targets on climate change by 2050. The planet finally nears “net zero” CO2 emissions.

3.1.3Advanced Materials

The elimination of global CO2 emissions will require significant advances in the discovery and design of advanced materials that serve... more

5-year horizon

Solar shines brighter

Continued development in perovskite solar technology continues to push the efficiency of solar cells, making them increasingly commercially attractive.

10-year horizon

Towards a “Genome Project” for advanced materials

Breakthroughs in machine learning and high-powered computing accelerate the discovery of new advanced materials and hence their deployment in real-world applications. This in turn accelerates and unleashes innovations in technologies required for DAC and the conversation of CO2 into synthetic fuels as well as many other decarbonisation technologies.18

25-year horizon

Accelerating Decarbonisation efforts accelerate

New advanced materials dramatically reduce the energy required for DAC allowing gigatons of carbon to be removed from the atmosphere every year. Breakthroughs in other classes of materials also spur massive improvements in battery performance that can help reduce their cost and promote an even greater penetration of renewables into the grid. Science is pushing towards the development of machine-run laboratories that are responsible for designing, making, assessing, scaling, and manufacturing the materials (also their corresponding devices and processes) that are required for decarbonisation technologies.

3.1.4Energy Storage

With the development of renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, energy storage technologies must also grow in parallel. more

5-year horizon

Money into power

Investments in utility-scale battery capacity sees record growth. There is increasing accessibility of the technology and more supportive governmental policies that help batteries seal their key role in the global transition to low-carbon economies.

10-year horizon

Aggressive cuts to CO2 lead to leap in installed renewable capacity

The European Union doubles its current installed capacity of renewables. This push, and similar initiatives around the world, resuilts in installed utility-scale battery capacity has increasing around four-fold from the 2020 level.

25-year horizon

Energy storage diversifies

The explosive growth in renewable sources has propelled wide-spread developments in energy storage. Optimal energy storage depends on national resources and local factors, and how the power is to be used — for homes, infrastructure or industry, for example. As a result, developments are occurring not only in batteries, but also in mechanically pumped-hydro and superconducting magnetic energy storage systems.19
3.2World Simulation

3.2.1Physical Models

Predicting the future state of the physical world under the influence of human activities includes sensing and modelling of weather... more

5-year horizon

High-resolution modelling enables urban weather simulations

Physical modelling is already an advanced science, utilising models at a planetary scale. But high-resolution refinements are on the horizon, initially for densely populated areas, including micro-climate weather simulations in urban areas. Global ocean flows are routinely modelled as part of climate models and can be coupled to increasingly accurate models of local scales and near-shore circulation patterns, including physical and chemical water properties, which are particularly complex, and important, for coastal ecosystems.

10-year horizon

Abundant contextualised data becomes available

High-resolution models for physical processes, initially demonstrated for select locations, become both more accurate and more widely available. This is driven by increased availability of computational resources, but more importantly, by increased availability of well-contextualized FAIR data. That is, data which meet principles of Findability, Accessibility, Interoperability, and Reusability. As these FAIR data become linked to downstream use and reuse, value is unleashed throughout the data lifecycle, accelerating the deployment of machine learning.6

25-year horizon

Accurate simulations extended to remote populations

The availability, spatial and temporal resolution of data continues to improve, with geostationary and stratospheric platforms for recording of high-frequency processes able to investigate even remote areas of the planet with high fidelity. Computing capabilities and modelling improves for even more accurate predictions at finer scales that will now be rolled out also to remote and less densely populated areas.

3.2.2Ecological Models

For understandable and entirely valid reasons, research has focussed on harvesting colossal amounts of observational physical data to feed into... more

5-year horizon

Developers create new sensing platforms

Technologies to measure additional key genetic, population, community and ecosystem attributes are developed or refined, and multi-scale sensing platforms begin to be deployed to produce a nascent, interconnected global network of biological observatories, expanding on the set of existing scientific field sites and sensor platforms — such as the International Long-term Ecological Research Network — that already are beginning to span from local to regional to ocean basin scales.9

10-year horizon

We begin to predict ecosystem feedbacks

Fueled by data streams from the maturing global observatory network, advanced dynamic ecological models emerge that adequately predict ecosystem feedbacks, enabling the forecast of rippling effects through ecosystems. Quantitative ‘risk management’ tools will be developed for predicting ecosystem vulnerabilities and identifying tipping points and state transitions to inform sustainability policy.

25-year horizon

Global observing systems come online

The integration of marine and terrestrial platforms into truly global observing systems is achieved. Ecological observations and models are fully incorporated into digital avatars ranging in complexity and spatial scale that can be used for scenario modelling that powerfully support policy- and decision-making.

3.2.3Socio-economic Models

By 2050, nearly 70 per cent of the world’s anticipated 10 billion people will live in urban areas.10 That is... more

5-year horizon

Large city models improve quality of life

Integrated models for places as large as Zurich, Singapore and Manhattan, begin to include simulation of city microclimates, including temperature, humidity and airflow. They allow the anticipation of the effect of architecture, urban design and planning on outdoor thermal comfort, promoting the design of more “liveable”, cooler cities with lower energy needs and reduced carbon impact.

10-year horizon

Digital twins of cities allow smart urban re-development

After successful deployment in select locations, digital twins are rolled out more broadly using agile data science and modelling platforms. They are used to plan new developments in rapidly growing cities and for the re-building of existing cities. Machine learning and data science optimise mixed-use city planning, traffic flows, local circular economies and renewable energy production for better quality of life. Smart cities, using digital twin technology, evolve into responsive cities, able to reconfigure their services and resources on the fly to account for the movement of people across the city, local weather conditions, or emergency scenarios.

25-year horizon

Simulations alter the way we live

Digital twins become ubiquitous tools for urban and economic planning, expanding from cities to regions, and heading towards modelling the entire built environment. Thanks to foresight enabled through simulations, cities and their hinterland evolve into new types of settlement in which mixed-use renewable energy and food production fulfil about 70 per cent of the local population’s needs. Transportation infrastructures are emission-free, but altered living-working environments and improved work-from-home technology mean that commuting is drastically reduced anyway.

3.2.4Integration and Coupling

If researchers are to create simulations that help inform decisions aiming to improve quality of life across the globe, they... more

5-year horizon

First social-ecological avatars emerge

Coupled social-ecological avatars are created for a few places that are especially tractable and subject to intense, ongoing scientific research, such as oceanic islands. The Island Digital Ecosystem Avatars (IDEA) Consortium, mentioned above, for example, has now extended to other islands in Polynesia through the 4Site: Pacific Transect Collaborative, as well as coastal and island communities in Europe.12

10-year horizon

Simulations anticipate effects of sea-level rise on coastal societies

Research efforts link observing systems and data archives across scientific disciplines and geographic regions, enabling social-ecological avatars to model the effects of climate change, such as sea-level rise, on island and coastal systems. Digital twins of urban areas are integrated into wider socio-ecological avatars, revealing how individual human behaviour scales up to system-level consequences and providing timely feedback on our socio-economic decisions.

25-year horizon

World-wide simulations guide global decision-making

Local digital twins and avatars that allow predictive management and decision-making at city and island scales, join up with regional and global avatars such as physical climate models that increasingly include biological and social feedbacks. They become interconnected at nested scales, creating a global “intelligent fabric” that can be utilised in politics and diplomacy to guide inclusive and equitable decision-making at levels of governance appropriate to the scales of the processes they seek to influence.
3.3Future Food Systems

3.3.1Ecosystem-level Genetic Modification

Ecosystem-level genetic modification is about using gene editing and manipulation technologies not only to enhance crops and plants but also... more

5-year horizon

Genetic modification remains controversial

Debates continue over what genetic modification (GM) methods and products are, or should be, acceptable in markets around the world. Technological capability grows steadily, with scientific advances continuing to outstrip the public debate.

10-year horizon

Crops begin to receive viral boosts

Agricultural crop performance is boosted by transient genetic reprogramming of plants, for example by using RNA sprays that virally alter crop traits without requiring the genetic modification of the plant’s genome.8 This makes them somewhat more palatable to wary consumers and regulators. Different genetic traits will be promoted, depending on the cultivation method: salt resistance and drought resistance will be important for outdoor cultivation, for instance; nutritional content and shortened growth cycle for indoor cultivation. Molecular sensors in plants become more widely used.

25-year horizon

The GM toolbox matures

A wide range of GM approaches become available, including novel, genetically active pesticides, gene-drive organisms and genetic engineering of crop plants accelerated by machine learning algorithms. Deployment of GM organisms and technology is differentially constrained around the world, depending on national and international regulations and agribusiness interests.

3.3.2Alternative Proteins

Although protein is almost never the sole source of nutrients in a diet, the impact of farming non-sustainable and ethically... more

5-year horizon

Alternative proteins become ubiquitous

Alternative proteins are grown more efficiently and become more enticing to consumers as taste profiles are refined. Concerns are increasingly raised about emerging monopolies in cultured meat. Nutritional value and sustainability impacts of alternative proteins are better understood. Hybrid products — a mix of cellular agriculture and plant-based produces — begin to bridge the price-point gap.

10-year horizon

Markets respond to price-point crossover

Alternative protein, which continues to improve rapidly in quality, falls below $5 per kilogram, becoming cheaper than meat. It now commands 5-10 per cent of the global meat market by volume, compared with less than 1 per cent in 2021. Some specific ingredients, such as milk proteins for dairy-based products, are produced through fermentation, which provides a more acceptable sustainability footprint.

25-year horizon

High meat consumption is considered antisocial

After decades, the message that tackling dangerous climate warming is virtually impossible without a large drop in meat consumption begins to make meat-eating a morally questionable practice in many richer societies. Novel food categories are well-established, replacing many of the traditional food items.

3.3.3Resilient Farming

If we are to boost crop yields in sustainable ways, alter the geography of our food growing and distribution networks... more

5-year horizon

Precision farming begins to change industry economics

Precision farming systems exploit information and communications technology to evaluate the key aspects of the farming environment and crop characteristics. With these in place, farmers use automated systems to maximise yields.

10-year horizon

New techniques are deployed in the urbanising world

Advances in agricultural sciences allow use of intensive, efficient vertical farming methods to grow staple crops in urban environments, with up to 30 per cent of the food required for an urban population being produced in the urban environment. The resulting minimal food miles significantly reduce spoilage, transportation and packaging.

25-year horizon

Soils become a critical issue

Despite warnings from agronomists across the globe, a significant proportion of Earth’s soils are critically degraded: far more than the 2021 figures of 33 per cent — when 50 per cent less food was required. Soil degradation may yet be reversed through the widespread embracing of the principles and practices of agroecology — sustainable farming that works in closer harmony with nature.14

3.3.4Personalised Nutrition

An individual’s genetic code affects how their body reacts to and metabolises specific food types. By aligning their nutritional intake... more

5-year horizon

AI provides insights into diet-related health

Nutrition for Precision Health, a $156 million, 5-year study by the US National Institutes of Health, concludes, providing powerful new insights into links between diet, genes and behaviour. The research also delivers AI algorithms to predict individual responses to foods and dietary patterns, and better understanding and management of diet-responsive noncommunicable diseases such as obesity and diabetes.

10-year horizon

Wearable technology assists food choices

Wearable and non-invasive electrochemical sensors, able to track the physiological changes that occur when the wearer consumes food or supplements, become mainstream.17 Links between these real-time data sources and cloud computing brings personalised nutrition into wider reach in the smartphone era. Prevention of noncommunicable diseases through control of food and nutrition accounts for extensive savings in healthcare spending in developed and developing countries.

25-year horizon

The era of high-fidelity precision nutrition begins

People living in economically prosperous nations begin to use AI-enabled, high-fidelity precision nutrition, where implanted, wireless sensors inform consumers in real time what happens to their physiology when they eat particular foods, enabling a shift to more intelligent consumption decisions.
3.4Space Resources

3.4.1Earth Orbit

From low-Earth orbit, the space above an altitude of 160 km, out to geostationary orbit just less than 36,000 km... more

5-year horizon

Big data

A new generation of remote sensing satellites provide autonomous, real-time monitoring of Earth’s polar regions in unprecedented detail leading to significantly improved climate models.

Big data from remote sensing Copernicus Sentinel satellites begin to offer a fine-grained understanding of how our oceans, winds and biosphere are changing.18

Private communications constellations provide broadband capability across the world, allowing more widespread and capable observation across the planet.

The dramatic increase in low-Earth orbit satellite constellations provides momentum for international agreement on standards for managing orbital behaviour.

The growth of space tourism accelerates the formation of international forums in which clear legal frameworks for this activity are discussed.

10-year horizon

Space debris

Vast numbers of satellites launched in the 2020s are now defunct, while new fleets are launched continuously. Communication, navigation, surveillance, research and exploration, and indeed the entire global digital economy, is threatened by increasing prevalence of collisions in Earth orbit.

Efforts are made towards a collaborative and international approach to space, however self-interest and short-term, profit-driven decision making abounds. The need for international agreement on standards for managing orbital behaviour is urgent.

25-year horizon

Commercial versus environmental

Massive data streams from orbiting constellations provide real-time tracking of weather, traffic and emissions along with continuous observations of the amount of energy the Earth absorbs from the Sun versus how much it radiates. Real-time tracking makes many international activities transparent, providing important ground truth data for climate change negotiations, for carbon trading and for circular economics.

China begins building zero carbon, solar energy-harvesting stations in low-Earth orbit.19 These stations use microwaves to beam the sun’s energy to the ground, but the move creates international outrage because the microwave beams can also be used as weapons. The vagaries of intentional space law regarding weapons come under intense scrutiny.

However, all low-Earth orbit activities could be at risk. If today’s operational practises remain unchanged, with almost no space objects performing end-of-life manoeuvres and with explosions continuing to occur, this leads to a progressive, uncontrolled increase of object numbers, with collisions becoming the primary debris source within less than 50 years.20

The Kessler effect21 is a theoretical scenario in which the density of space debris in low-Earth orbit is high enough that collisions between objects cause collision cascades, rendering space activities and the use of satellites in specific orbits near impossible for generations to come.

3.4.2The Moon

Human presence in space is currently limited to low-Earth orbit, but plans are afoot to send crews back to the... more

5-year horizon

Humans return to the Moon

NASA may achieve its stated goal of landing the first woman and the first person of colour on the moon.26 These become iconic and inspirational role models for the diverse future of space travel.

Increasing numbers of public and private organisations announce plans for crewed and uncrewed missions to the Moon.

Private crewed Moon flyby missions accelerate the formation of international forums in which clear legal frameworks for lunar tourism are discussed.

The Chinese Chang’e-7 south pole lander finds water ice, a significant potential resource for the lunar base it plans with Russia.

10-year horizon

The Moon economy

By 2030, the increase in Earth's population to 8.6 billion and increasing rates of urbanisation will have implications for the demand for resources27.

Environmental, social and governance factors28, along with depletion in terms of diminishing economic returns29, results in shortages in metal and mineral supplies, disrupting technology supply chains on Earth. There is a surge in private companies heading to the Moon to extract resources for terrestrial use.

25-year horizon

Reconsidering Moon mining

Multiple landings and launches from the lunar surface over the years create clouds of rocket exhaust and lunar dust that only slowly disperse30, raising the possibility of irreversible alteration of the Moon’s environment and tighter restrictions for lunar missions.31,32

3.4.3Asteroid Belt

While asteroid resources including minerals, metals and water will be useful for off-world activities, whether for space manufacturing, to sustain... more

5-year horizon

Solar System sampling missions arrive home

Successful sample-return missions from the asteroid 101955 Bennu (NASA’s OSIRIS-Rex), from the Moon (China’s Chang’e 6) and from the Martian moon Phobos (Japan’s MMX) spark more ambitious studies of asteroids as potential sources of precious metals and in-orbit supplies.

10-year horizon

Asteroid prospectors

With continued reduction in costs of launch, as well as shortages in metal and mineral supplies that could emerge as early as ten years’ time43, there’s an increase in the number of organisations involved in local characterisation of asteroids, either by flyby or contact.44,45

25-year horizon

Planetary protection becomes important

Planetary Protection Policy46 reflects both the unknown nature of the space environment and the desire of the scientific community to preserve the pristine nature of celestial bodies for future investigations, particularly the search for life. Mass species extinction on Earth and irreversible disruption of the Moon environment are both attributed to rampant commercialisation. The Policy is extended to restrict commercial resource extraction on planets and moons.

Asteroid resources are utilisable within Policy guidelines. The abundance of metals, minerals and water in the asteroid belt means that the creation of technologies and communities anywhere in the Solar System is possible. The eradication of scarcity and poverty is conceivable when we are not confined to Earth’s limited resource base.

3.4.4Mars

Since the 1960s, humanity has launched dozens of missions to Mars to learn more about the planet next door. Mars... more

5-year horizon

Mars missions become routine

More organisations send technology missions to Mars, which feels ever closer with all the high definition footage of the surface that we are able to interact with online, and increasingly also in virtual reality.

10-year horizon

Mars mission plans raise ethical concerns

SpaceX sends the first crews to Mars on the Starship. Base infrastructure construction begins.

National and private missions are made to Mars with ambitious timelines race to overcome significant technical challenges, such as protecting the crew from radiation during the journey. While SpaceX’s Starship is a reusable vehicle for return trips, some organisations plan one-way missions to reduce cost and complexity, triggering widespread debate about the ethics of space exploration.

Chinese and NASA/ESA missions separately collect samples from Mars and return them to Earth.

25-year horizon

Human presence on Mars

Human population exceeds 9.5 billion and the destabilisation of Earth’s life-support system continues. The pursuit of continued economic growth results in further disruption of habitats, eradication of species and pollution of water, soil and air.

Plans to expand a range of permanent bases (including those of China, the US and also private infrastructure) for more people to live and work on the surface of Mars.

Unless major shifts in our current trajectory are made, humans headed to Mars on the 25 year horizon may be less motivated by exploration than by desperation, as with many intercontinental migrations on Earth in the past millennium.

3.5Ocean Stewardship

3.5.1Harnessing Ocean Biodiversity

Marine biodiversity is an enormous and largely untapped trove of biological riches. This is particularly true with respect to drug... more

5-year horizon

Genetic resources continue to show their worth

Increasing use of open-source tools and open-access data maximises the inclusivity, transparency and value of MGR research. Platforms such as the Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS) — the global open-access platform for science, conservation and sustainable development around marine biodiversity — offer a template for future progress.

10-year horizon

Ocean-derived commercial products flourish

Medical, industrial and other products derived from MGR become ubiquitous. Machine learning systems speed up MGR-related discoveries across multiple fields, including pharmaceuticals, synthetic biology and biotech more broadly.

25-year horizon

Deep-sea observatories gather ocean data

Developments in automation allow data gathering and sample processing to occur in situ, at autonomous deep-sea observatories, allowing scientific exploration of the ocean genome in regions in which physical sample return is not practical.

3.5.2Transition Ecosystems

One of the world’s key transition ecosystems is the interface between the cryosphere and the hydrosphere, where glaciers melt into... more

5-year horizon

Storage and study of cold-adapted organisms begins

Scientists around the world collect samples of the cold-adapted biodiversity that exists in these frontier ecosystems. The beginnings of an international repository to store and preserve such microorganisms, fashioned after Svalbard Global Seed Vault, is initiated, with genetic sequences of these microorganisms shared to an open-access database. Cold-adapted enzymes, discovered from bioprospected organisms in glacial zones, generate significant and low-waste bio-activity at low temperatures. These exquisitely tuned biological catalysts are now in widespread use, making industrial, medical and many other processes more efficient and environmentally friendlier.13

10-year horizon

Transition ecosystems inform Earth modelling

The integration of biodiversity models of these transition ecosystem into larger-scale Earth-system simulations helps to produce predictions of the effects of glacier loss.

25-year horizon

Glacial bioprospecting pays off

Metagenomic analysis of the world’s glacial transition ecosystems results in a comprehensive public repository of genetic information about these rapidly disappearing environments.

3.5.3Repairing the Ocean

With ocean ecosystems under increasing strain, a two-fold strategy of ensuring precautionary approaches and sustainable management and a simultaneous significant... more

5-year horizon

Data-gathering improves understanding

Increasing democratisation of the access to technology will increase global participation in data gathering, to help us answer questions such as how ocean ecosystems respond to human disturbance. Machine learning tools will start to improve the monitoring of some of the ocean’s most vulnerable ecosystems such as blue carbon ecosystems (coral reefs, seagrass beds and salt marshes), aiding in the development and implementation of improved management plans.19

10-year horizon

Large-scale coral interventions begin

Improved monitoring, use of genomic technologies and other innovations result in a step-change in scientific understanding of ocean habitats and basins and their connectivity, which helps to explain the relationship between human activity and what happens in our deepest waters, informing policy-making. Ecosystem-based management of the ocean becomes a norm around the world, leading to rapid progress in stemming the loss of biodiversity and meeting conservation targets. Iconic ecosystems of disproportionate importance for ocean health, like coral reefs and seagrass beds, are conserved and restored based on the successful implementation of tailored interventions developed in fully inclusive and participatory processes. These will rely on multidisciplinary collaboration and use of automation tools to deliver on the required scales.20

25-year horizon

Carbon pricing evolves to protect oceans

Traditional carbon-emissions pricing and “blue carbon” pricing, which puts a monetary value on coastal ecosystems such as tidal marshes and seagrass meadows that lock up large amounts of carbon, evolves into an all-encompassing “nature pricing” approach encompassing ocean stewardship.

3.5.4Improved Ocean Observation

Observing how ocean temperatures, currents, oxygenation, sea life, and ocean plastic are changing through the water column over time and... more

5-year horizon

Widespread monitoring becomes possible

The increasing availability of inexpensive sensors and related technology for use in the ocean will make widespread ocean monitoring more viable.

10-year horizon

Robots begin to gather ocean data

Deployment of autonomous research craft and robots closes the gap between the rapid changes occurring in the ocean and our limited gathering of fundamental marine data, becoming a key driver in the development of deep-sea science and modelling.22,23

25-year horizon

Global hydrosphere models inform policymaking

Advanced machine learning models, combined with huge amounts of incoming data, allow the entire planet’s hydrosphere to be dynamically modelled rather than its various aspects being dealt with in research silos. This enables enlightened policymaking through accurate predictions of future ocean scenarios.
4.1Complex Systems for Social Enhancement

4.1.1Computational Social Science

Social science explores the relationships among individuals within societies and the forces that influence them. For this reason, it has... more

5-year horizon

Data-collection protocols are agreed

The creation of an international forum for computational social science leads to broad agreement between academia, industry and government on the ethics of data collection and data use. This leads to greater collaboration. Grass roots data privacy organisations play a key role in these discussions.

10-year horizon

Modelling finds increasing success

Models of certain classes of techno-socio-economic-environmental phenomena become increasingly used by diverse stakeholders and civil society initiatives to explore potential outcomes of a large variety of applications.

25-year horizon

Outcome testing guides social interventions

Computational models of complex techno-socio-economic-environmental systems that simulate networks and interactions become progressively more capable. These models lead to a number of innovative approaches to manage complex dynamical systems that prove the power of the suggested approach, e.g. to improve sustainability and resilience, or to prevent or mitigate the spread and impact of diseases.

4.1.2Digital Democracy

One of the challenges for democracy is to engage the widest range of people in its practice and activity. Digital... more

5-year horizon

Digital tools become commonplace tools in local community projects

Small-scale institutions such as town councils and community associations increasingly rely on digital tools that gather data from and about communities to decide how to allocate resources, such as for maintaining roads, funding schools and reducing crime. Concerns about late-adopters of digital technologies are given proper consideration.

10-year horizon

Digital-aware politicians gain an advantage

Machine learning algorithms trained on the output of digitally-gathered data provide new insights into community priorities. Politicians engaging with these priorities grow in popularity, thereby reinforcing the importance of digital inputs and participatory frameworks.

25-year horizon

Algorithms become vital tools in the democratic process

Advances in the science of complex systems combine with digitally-gathered data and increased access to machine learning algorithms. The result is a mechanism that prompts politicians and policymakers towards solving real-world problems collaboratively and measuring the success of actions taken.

4.1.3Collective Intelligence

Technology that enhances collective behaviour clearly has an important role to play in bringing people together, in supporting their collective... more

5-year horizon

Modelling of complex systems seeds responsive urban infrastructure

Certain areas in global cities become “smart”: they monitor citizen behaviour in a privacy-respecting way and adapt accordingly, such as increasing phone and data capacity for large gatherings, adapting transport timetables and re-deploying resources for street-cleaning.

10-year horizon

Frameworks for ethical research into collective intelligence are agreed

An international forum allows researchers to reach an agreement on a comprehensive set of ethical rules that will govern future large-scale social and collective intelligence experiments.

25-year horizon

Computer models assist transnational collaboration

Online collaborative tools build trust in a way that allows small businesses to span the globe with individuals working towards common goals with others they have not met.

4.1.4Design for Values

The design-for-values movement is based on the idea that technology can promote certain values and discourage others.9,10 Desirable values include,... more

5-year horizon

International design-for-values efforts demonstrate first successes

International forums such as the IEEE see their agreed design-for-values standards increasingly adopted by developers of products and services.11 Discussions on the future of artificial intelligence begin to see progress towards designing for values in AI systems.

10-year horizon

Awareness campaigns amplify the interest in design for values

Grass roots organisations highlight negative issues associated with poorly-designed intelligent machines, such as the development of inappropriate relationships with nature and humans, and between them, including poor quality of information sharing. This drives greater interest in the design-for-values approach. Major institutions of higher education provide courses on design for values, complex dynamical systems and global systems.

25-year horizon

Policymakers require design for values as a mandatory part of technology development

Positive results from various high-profile demonstrations of successful technological design-for-values solutions lead to the formation of a global forum aiming to extend the approach to all intelligent machinery.
4.2Science-based Diplomacy

4.2.1Computational Diplomacy

The world of diplomacy is rich in data. The United Nations and other international forums have detailed records of debates,... more

5-year horizon

Higher education establishments broaden skill sets for scientists and diplomats

Efforts to build capacity for computational diplomacy bear fruit in the form of an increased range of courses and training programmes.

10-year horizon

Text mining shows its worth on the global stage

In helping to finalise the language in several major agreements and in helping to prevent “forum shopping” by several state actors, text mining shows its potential and is set to become a standard tool in international negotiations.

25-year horizon

Computational diplomacy reshapes international relations as a science

The successes with text mining and other data-driven applications allow experts to create a robust theory of diplomacy that makes testable predictions and creates useful frameworks for diplomatic interactions.

4.2.2Negotiation Engineering

As mentioned in the introduction, Negotiation Engineering uses quantitative methods in a heuristic way to find an adequate solution to... more

5-year horizon

Capacity-building accelerates Negotiation Engineering

The success of online courses in Negotiation Engineering during Covid stimulates the evolution of this discipline, significantly building capacity in this field.

10-year horizon

Mathematical thinking focuses international discussions

An increasingly wide variety of international actors apply mathematical methods to their negotiation problems to help focus discussions and to make potential outcomes more logically accurate.

25-year horizon

Negotiating standards increase thanks to mathematical approaches

Mathematical skills are common in positions of influence allowing Negotiation Engineering to become a standard tool in many negotiations.

4.2.3Predictive Peacekeeping

Predictive Peacekeeping uses technologies related to machine learning, big data and computational modelling to better understand conflict, to predict where... more

5-year horizon

Computer models map potential outcomes

Advanced models of areas of conflict allow stakeholders to map out and discuss potential futures before deciding on a course of action.

10-year horizon

Mass-data gathering creates peacekeeping tools but raises issues of privacy and exclusion

Researchers begin to use a wider range of data, such as anonymised mobile phone data, to study the potential for conflict. They lobby for accountability for social networking companies, who can now explicitly see when activity on their sites is fuelling unrest. The real-time nature of some data gathering exercises raises issues of privacy, and exclusion of those without a digital voice, that need to be addressed.

25-year horizon

Climate change and conflict increases use of peace modelling

As pressures from climate change increase and civil unrest becomes common in some parts of the world, the use of predictive peacekeeping models becomes a default response.

4.2.4Trust and Co-operation Modelling

Computer scientists have begun to create systems in which autonomous agents have to find ways to co-operate by distinguishing good... more

5-year horizon

Data veracity becomes a global research issue

The increased importance of data-gathering and analysis places a greater focus on data sources and their veracity. This leads to increased research in data verification research.

10-year horizon

Stakeholders battle over reputation and trust

Reputation-building and trust become key factors for stakeholders in a wide range of data gathering disciplines ranging from news organisations, to scientific institutions to national and multinational organisations. Managing trust and reputation are potential battle grounds for some actors.

25-year horizon

AI oversees data veracity

Machine vision and artificial intelligence become important arbitrators of trust in data, news and images. However, an insidious cat-and-mouse game continues between malicious actors and those attempting to shut them down.
4.3Innovations in Education

4.3.1Learning Analytics

In an age of big data, more use can and should be made of the digital information that is gathered... more

5-year horizon

Data-gathering becomes normalised

Educational institutions begin to see the results from data analysis and realise the benefits of increasing their data gathering and analysis. Analysis software becomes affordable and ubiquitous. Open data sharing and analysis platforms democratise the gains made through learning analytics. Digital platforms for teacher-to-teacher collaboration begin to emerge. The availability of data on which to test theories gives teachers the ability to perform “action research”, running their own experiments in their classrooms.

10-year horizon

Analytics help shape optimal careers

Students leave education with a digital portfolio of their learning journey, equipping them to make insightful next-step choices, and for employers to check aptitudes, skills and cognitive abilities without reliance on a few results from snapshot high-stakes tests.

25-year horizon

Smart tech optimises educational engagement

Machine learning algorithms with access to education datasets create and optimise personalised curricula and collaborative practices during progress through education to maximise engagement with and usefulness of educational opportunities.

4.3.2Educational Sensing

We can now observe and examine learning practices using digital technologies. By gathering and analysing anonymised data using computer-based vision... more

5-year horizon

Frameworks for sensing are established

Data-protection, privacy and ethics standards for sharing data are agreed. New metrics are developed to better understand how best to use information gathered in classrooms. Outcomes of classroom-based research begins to feed into teacher-training programs. Dashboards for students, parents/guardians and teachers lead to better understanding and deeper engagement.

10-year horizon

Sensing technology goes mainstream

Classrooms are routinely equipped with sensing technology to observe learning, while AI processes data in real time to offer suggestions for enhanced learning. Behavioural data from body and eye trackers will help fine tune teaching methods and help better understand learner characteristics such as executive function. New sensor technologies emerge that diversify from purely visual and audio input allow greater study of collaboration skills and how they can be learned.

25-year horizon

AI and wearables change the learning experience

Wearable technology enables teachers and students to receive real-time feedback, direction and assistance during learning. Machine learning algorithms process learning data and provide tailored learning journeys.

4.3.3Out-of-school Learning

Technological developments have opened new opportunities for lifelong learning, novel learning environments and self-directed education, but it is not yet... more

5-year horizon

Online education fills Covid gaps

Educational establishments, some in partnership with corporations, seek to up-skill and accelerate progress of future students, many of whom have suffered disrupted education due to Covid, by offering free online catch-up/accelerator courses.

10-year horizon

Educational technology becomes a business offering

The first trillion-dollar teaching technology platform, which includes resources for out-of-school learning, highlights the potential for investors and creates a better environment for EdTech investment generally. Digital twins of schools provide ways to experiment with education strategies.

25-year horizon

Informal learning provides a certified education in some regions

Passing AI-enabled online courses becomes a certified educational achievement. People around the world, especially from disrupted or low-infrastructure nations, begin to achieve degree-level education without formal schooling.

4.3.4Neuroscientific Aspects of Learning

Although investigations of neuroscience as applied to learning have yet to deliver significant tangible breakthroughs in educational philosophy or practice15,... more

5-year horizon

Progress in basic neuro-learning research

Neuroscientific research begins to tease out the physiological and environmental conditions necessary for optimal learning.

10-year horizon

Brain tech comes of age

Improved brain-sensing and stimulation technologies begin to have a positive impact on establishing focus for learning.

25-year horizon

Augmented reality accelerates education

Enhancement technologies such as brain stimulators, AR and VR headsets, and collaborative virtual environments combine with access to AI-enabled teaching software to accelerate the process of learning.
4.4Sustainable Economics

4.4.1Managing Climate Externalities

Our traditional economic models have already created substantial challenges. Atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide have been rising steadily since the... more

5-year horizon

An era of progress

Governments come up with a real plan to get to zero emissions by or before 2050. A growing awareness and experience of the negative consequences of climate change lead to implementation of a global CO2 tax. Circular economy strategies continue to be implemented on key issues such as plastics and waste, if only at a local level.

10-year horizon

Farming requires intervention

Some parts of Africa become too hot and too dry to support traditional crops, while efforts to commercialise heat-resistant crops have stalled over intellectual property rights and the limited potential for recouping costs. Nevertheless, the success of some genetically modified crops in extreme conditions provides momentum for a global research effort to develop other heat-resistant crops. After the success of Covid-19 vaccine development, this work is funded by governments rather than by commercial profit.

25-year horizon

Crisis is avoided through forward thinking

The global effort to develop heat-resistant crops largely prevents mass starvation and civil unrest in countries whose traditional crops have failed due to climate change. The retraining of workers in these economies, funded through global co-operation, means that most families can afford imported food. Despite the increased mortality due to high temperatures, fears of mass migration recede. We are heading towards living within sustainable limits and are on track towards zero carbon emissions in 2050, meeting the Paris Agreement.

4.4.2Automation and Work

The prospect of more intelligent and more capable machines has generated fears that machines might replace humans entirely while concentrating... more

5-year horizon

Machines perform low-skill work

Automation technologies become more widespread, and governments put policies in place to create incentives for employing human labour and innovating with labour-augmenting technologies, supported by a change of taxation in favour of human labour and against capital, which smooths the transition.

10-year horizon

Governments tax automation

There is significant displacement of jobs because of machines powered by artificial intelligence. Governments implement policies that ensure human capital is not wasted: education and retraining is common, preparing workers and rising generations for a changing workplace. A wide range of economies begin trialling universal basic income paid for by the taxation of capital and automation.

25-year horizon

Machines alter the human experience

The workplace has changed substantially, with new jobs and tasks in place. People are working significantly less, thanks to the productivity of machines. Universal basic income allows retraining or support of displaced workers, and allows governments to incentivise the development of technology that enhances human performance rather than replacing it where appropriate. Policy measures ensure that automation technology becomes available to a wide swathe of smaller-scale employers to avoid any growth of social and economic inequalities.

4.4.3Bootstrapping Circular Economies

A circular economy overcomes the “take, make, waste” of traditional linear economies by attaching costs to the creation of waste... more

5-year horizon

Circularity efforts gain momentum on local scales

City-level programmes to increase circularity gain powerful grass roots followings. The right-to-repair movement forces legislation that makes most products repairable, creating a new cottage industry focused in DIY repair.

10-year horizon

The first entirely closed-loop economic processes appear

International agreement on material pricing creates the financial incentives that make some small-scale circular economies viable. The first of these begin to emerge.

25-year horizon

Circular economies become more widespread

Truly circular economies appear in some industries on national and regional scales. However, pricing issues still incentivise many linear practices and significant global regulation is still needed to bootstrap more circularity. Implementations of artificial intelligence identify and react to eventualities that might cause crisis or unsustainable practices in the global supply chain.

4.4.4Sustainable Global Trade

Globalisation has dramatically changed the nature of trade in the last 25 years. Ensuring this trade is sustainable and resilient... more

5-year horizon

Post-covid recovery focuses on more resilient supply chains

In the aftermath of the covid-19 crisis, most high-income countries and global companies increase the resilience of their supply chains. Some governments attempt to re-shore their industries making supply chains shorter. These shorter chains are not always more sustainable, however. Blockchain and smart contracts allow global supply chains to become more resilient, despite the arresting effect of rising nationalism.

10-year horizon

Global agreement leads to supply chain stress tests

To ensure continuity of supply in emergencies, an international standard is agreed that measures the resilience of supply chains in a wide variety of simulated disasters. Fossil fuel use in the supply chain drops significantly, and in a sustainable manner that means it will not rise again.

25-year horizon

The technology of resilience makes supply chains more sustainable

The tracking technologies for monitoring resilience provide a powerful tool for measuring environmental impacts. This allows the sustainability of supply chains to be assessed reliably on a global scale. They are now powered by renewable energy for both manufacturing and transportation.
4.5Collaborative Science Diplomacy

4.5.1Multistakeholder Technology Diplomacy

Technology plays a fundamental role in 21st century society, enabling communication, finance, industrial development and much more. But this role... more

5-year horizon

Potential conflict galvanises action

Fragmentation of certain technology standards such as 6G triggers efforts to bring together the multistakeholder groups required to find solutions.

10-year horizon

Science diplomacy begins to shape technology platforms

The fruits of multistakeholder technology diplomacy begin to appear in the form of social media platforms that are designed to limit the prevalence of hate messages on topics of race, gender and so on. Ironically, these new technology models increase demand for services that allow anonymous hate messaging.

25-year horizon

Multi-stakeholder science diplomacy becomes the norm

Science diplomacy efforts involve actors from city, state and regional governance as well as multinational companies, global science organisations and civic groups.

4.5.2Integrating Non-State Actors

The key role that science and technology play in our lives and our futures makes a wide range of non-state... more

5-year horizon

Higher education institutions take the lead

Universities and institutes develop courses teaching the unique combinations of multidisciplinary skills for science and technology-related diplomacy. Innovative immersive pairing schemes between politicians, engineers and scientists foster the mutual transfer of skill sets in a broad range of countries.

10-year horizon

Non-state actors achieve diplomacy success

Non-state actors begin to play significant roles in preventing fragmentation of technology and the alignment of international technology trajectories.

25-year horizon

Trained experts in science diplomacy begin to steer policy

Science and diplomacy-savvy professionals begin to reach positions of influence in their respective careers, fields and countries.

4.5.3Diplomacy for Big Science

The infrastructure for many modern scientific experiments is multinational in scale. For example, CERN, the European particle physics laboratory, is... more

5-year horizon

Science diplomacy curricula include tools for large-scale efforts

Training courses for science diplomacy highlight the skills necessary to operate in this space and in particular focus on the technical multilingualism needed to converse with actors in the scientific and diplomatic fields. The collaborations forged during the Covid crisis provide a template for a new generation of research and development projects with global relevance.

10-year horizon

Trained science diplomats are spread through relevant organisations

Graduates from science diplomacy-focused training courses, skilled in the languages of science and diplomacy, become increasingly influential actors in state and non-state organisations.

25-year horizon

Blocked projects increase awareness of challenges

Severe delays to several big science projects are finally resolved. These projects involve many state and non-state actors and depend on complex, multi-layered negotiations. The deadlock is broken thanks to key groups of experts with skills spanning diplomacy and science.

4.5.4Managing the Global Commons

The oceans, the atmosphere, the polar regions and outer space are part of the global commons that humanity relies on... more

5-year horizon

National bodies call for action over resources held in common

Studies of large parts of oceans protected from exploitation — Marine Protection Areas — provide evidence that international action can bring about significant beneficial change to global commons. Cyber commons are increasingly exploited in ways that threaten the stability, freedom and utility of the online world. Academic efforts in science diplomacy begin to formulate solutions.

10-year horizon

Unilateral geoengineering creates science diplomacy challenges

Non-state actors begin pumping sulphur dioxide into the upper atmosphere to reduce the amount of energy reaching Earth from the Sun. The move tests the limits of environmental law and challenges conventional governance models and climate justice processes. Non-state actors begin to recruitstaff trained in science diplomacy.

25-year horizon

Science diplomacy limits damaging exploitation of commons

State and non-state actors working with science diplomacy experts, come together to formulate and update international agreement on some global commons exploitation, such as active cooling of the atmosphere.