The Challenge Will Not Just Be The New Ideas But Leaving The Old Ones Behind

It’s nice to see some constructive criticism of the plethora of technology roadmaps which governments commission and then ignore. One of the latest comes from the Australian Enabling Technologies Roadmap – or at least the consultation stage for it. The roadmap is focused on new forms of nanotechnology and biotechnology (including synthetic biology).

Matthew Kearnes, of the University of New South Wales, describes the roadmap as a “reactive document”, a criticism than can be levelled at most similar exercises. Kearnes also notes that “the implicit assumption is that new technologies develop of their own accord and people just have to adapt to them.”

It’s probably worse than that, as governments also assume that technologies develop of their own accord, something Andrew Maynard and I have highlighted via the World Economic Forum. Kearnes suggests that ‘we should first ask what challenges we face as a nation and then ask what role different innovations can play in addressing these,” something that is sadly lacking in most policy thinking.

Andrew Hagan of the World Economic Form hits the nail on the head in a recent press release covering  Important technologies that will impact on the state of the world in the near future identified by the Global Agenda Council on Emerging Technologies, World Economic Forum.  “The challenge will not just be the new ideas but leaving the old ones behind.”

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