Knowledge Foundations
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Knowledge Foundations
Use the future to build the present
Knowledge Foundations
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5.5SyntheticBiology5.4Science ofthe Originsof Life5.3FutureEconomics5.2Future ofEducation5.1ComplexSystemsScience4.4Democracy-affirming Technologies4.1Science-basedDiplomacy4.2Advances inScience Diplomacy4.3Digital Technologiesand Conflict3.7InfectiousDiseases3.6Solar RadiationModification3.5OceanStewardship3.4SpaceResources3.3Future FoodSystems3.2WorldSimulation3.1Decarbonisation2.6FutureTherapeutics2.5Organoids2.4ConsciousnessAugmentation2.3RadicalHealthExtension2.2HumanApplicationsof GeneticEngineering2.1CognitiveEnhancement1.6CollectiveIntelligence1.5AugmentedReality1.4BiologicalComputing1.3Brain-inspiredComputing1.2QuantumTechnologies1.1AdvancedAIHIGHEST ANTICIPATIONPOTENTIAL
5.5SyntheticBiology5.4Science ofthe Originsof Life5.3FutureEconomics5.2Future ofEducation5.1ComplexSystemsScience4.4Democracy-affirming Technologies4.1Science-basedDiplomacy4.2Advances inScience Diplomacy4.3Digital Technologiesand Conflict3.7InfectiousDiseases3.6Solar RadiationModification3.5OceanStewardship3.4SpaceResources3.3Future FoodSystems3.2WorldSimulation3.1Decarbonisation2.6FutureTherapeutics2.5Organoids2.4ConsciousnessAugmentation2.3RadicalHealthExtension2.2HumanApplicationsof GeneticEngineering2.1CognitiveEnhancement1.6CollectiveIntelligence1.5AugmentedReality1.4BiologicalComputing1.3Brain-inspiredComputing1.2QuantumTechnologies1.1AdvancedAIHIGHEST ANTICIPATIONPOTENTIAL

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5Knowledge Foundations

This year we have introduced a new platform: Knowledge Foundations. This will cover areas of foundational knowledge, which are transversal to the four other frontier issues and which have important consequences for us as individuals, society and in relation to the planet. It covers topics from basic sciences, engineering sciences, social sciences and the humanities, which do not fall easily into one of our existing four platforms because they draw on research from multiple disciplines and have effects that span numerous human, social and environmental spheres.
5.5SyntheticBiology5.4Science ofthe Originsof Life5.3FutureEconomics5.2Future ofEducation5.1ComplexSystemsScience4.4Democracy-affirming Technologies4.1Science-basedDiplomacy4.2Advances inScience Diplomacy4.3Digital Technologiesand Conflict3.7InfectiousDiseases3.6Solar RadiationModification3.5OceanStewardship3.4SpaceResources3.3Future FoodSystems3.2WorldSimulation3.1Decarbonisation2.6FutureTherapeutics2.5Organoids2.4ConsciousnessAugmentation2.3RadicalHealthExtension2.2HumanApplicationsof GeneticEngineering2.1CognitiveEnhancement1.6CollectiveIntelligence1.5AugmentedReality1.4BiologicalComputing1.3Brain-inspiredComputing1.2QuantumTechnologies1.1AdvancedAIHIGHEST ANTICIPATIONPOTENTIAL

Associated Emerging Topics:

5.1Complex Systems Science

Society consists of a wide variety of densely connected, interdependent systems. These networks of networks enable the flow of information, ideas, goods, services and money. In turn, this leads to huge benefits in the form of free media, open democracy, global trade and international finance. However, this connectedness also makes our world vulnerable to extreme events in ways that are hard to imagine and even more difficult to avoid. Examples of the negative consequences of networked society include the 2008 global financial crisis, the ongoing climate crisis and the current Covid crisis. In each case, the disaster unfolded over a range of interconnected networks with powerful but difficult-to-predict feedback patterns.

5.2Future of Education
The importance of education is hard to overstate. The UN’s fourth Sustainable Development Goal is to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. Education is a vital part of creating a sustainable world populated by healthy, collaborative, creative people who are able to solve problems, contribute to economic success and enjoy a high quality of life.
5.3Future Economics, Trade and Globalisation
It is apparent from the challenges facing humanity in the 21st century that externalities need to be better incorporated into the economic decisions of firms, households, and governments. All actors should be more alert to the negative consequences that their decisions have for the wellbeing of others — near or far — as well as for future generations, and for the planet. The market cannot be relied upon to drive positive change towards sustainability, inclusiveness, and resilience. Therefore, more government intervention is needed. Societies need to agree on the negative externalities created (for example by too much automation, by excessive emissions and pollution) quantify them, and shape economic choices through direct subsidies and incentives.
5.5Synthetic Biology
Synthetic biology is a set of technologies which enable the modification and creation of living cells and organisms, and of their building blocks. These include genome editing,1 artificially evolving biomolecules, tissue engineering and potentially even the creation of synthetic organisms. Collectively, these could lead to major breakthroughs in fundamental biology, as well as a multitude of possible applications in fields ranging from nutrition to pharmaceuticals and engineering.2

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