Technologies never move in straight lines. They wander. They cross-pollinate. And they create opportunities you'd never expect.
If history is any guide, then, some of the most significant tech trends of the future are likely to begin at the intersection of disciplines that are just now beginning to flourish. The map on the facing page, which represents the current thinking at the Institute for the Future, suggests where some of these interactions might occur.
Of course, this map of the future -- and the timelines inside the gatefold that follows -- will certainly err in some ways. But being wrong didn't hurt Watson and Gates, who went on to dominate industries built atop trends they overlooked in their early forecasts. The important thing is to have the agility to embrace change as it occurs. The advances of the next 20 years will present opportunities no one can imagine today. But the imagining has to start somewhere -- and the pages that follow are as good a place as any to begin.
Saffo's technology road map includes: Biofuels, Biointeractive Materials, Bionics, Cognitronics, Combinatorial science, Genotyping, Molecular manufacturing, and Quantum nucleonics.
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