Inventing the Future

Already, massive socio-economic new directions have appeared due to emerging technologies. Examples include the Internet's impact on business, genomics' impact on healthcare, and the wireless impact on personal communications. Some convergence is happening organically, as the evolution of interdisciplinary science, a systems-approach, and the necessity of sharing tools and knowledge is bringing separate disciplines together. The tyranny of reductionism, too long the unwritten law of modern science, is changing, incorporating a more holistic convergent model. We need to take this effort to a new level of fast innovation, inter-science coordination, and action.

The enhancement of human performance via the deployment of convergent technologies requires new work to focus on the synergy of interdependent arenas of science. The benefits to the nation and its citizens may be great in offering lifestyle choices for individuals and incentives for business that do not exist today. New lifestyles, workstyles, and economic business models may be born of this work. The benefits, the payoff we envision, should be the betterment of people and the sustainability of our economy.

It may be possible to influence the process of how convergent technologies will change economics and society, on a national scale, by providing leadership and support for a nationwide, collaborative development effort. A national initiative to enhance human performance will be needed. This effort should have many stakeholders in education, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, social science, the military, the economy, and the business sector to name a few. No less then a comprehensive national effort will be required to meet the challenges of a future shaped by convergent technologies.

The daunting challenge of managing rapid and complex technological-driven change is increasingly a disruptive force on today's markets, business, economics, and society. Disruptions will cut deeper as innovations fostered by convergent technologies emerge faster. At the same time, opportunities will be present that offer unprecedented market leadership for those prepared to exploit them.

Many things will require change: educational curricula, workforce skills, business models, supply chains, and the post-industrial infrastructure, to name a few. New thinking will be required that is savvy about the real potential of convergent technology, not just on an individual scale but also relative to the nation's competitive advantages in a global marketplace.

A comprehensive and interdisciplinary strategy needs to be developed that will open up new national policy directions, that can leverage convergent technologies and support the enhancement of human performance and the quality of human life. The future wealth of nations, certainly that of the United States, may well be based on the national readiness we set in motion today to facilitate the adaptation of our society to the challenges and opportunities of convergent technologies.

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