Futurist Raymond Kurzweil believes that we are teetering on the edge of exponential change. The momentum will be impossible to stop to such an extent that we cannot even begin to comprehend what humanity will look like in 2030. Indeed, if scientific developments deliver, we could soon see sustainable crops, the end of cancer as a fatal disease, a cure for Parkinson's, alternative energy and clean water for the poor. However, there will also be immense and moral debates - a key issue will be defining the very essence of humanity ifself thought developments such as tailor-made babies, human-animal embryos and cloning.
Who will set the scientific agenda? The emerging world will certainly play a bigger role. Arguably in the UK, scientific literacy is falling as universities produce fewer science graduates. China produces 300,000 graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics yearly and the Middle East is re-emerging as a centre of research.
This is part of Outsights 21 Drivers for the 21st Century ™, a future-orientated scan of the 21 key forces shaping this century.