10 transformative technologies

European Parliament publishes report on potential impact of key technologies.

The European Parliament’s Scientific Foresight Services has published a new report on ten technology trends – and explored their potential impact for citizens and policy makers.  The top ten includes:

3D printing - computer driven manufacturing and design processes that enable objects to be built up from nothing.  Potential impacts:

  • Shift from traditional shopping methods to bespoke design and home manufacturing – acceleration of shift from high street to click
  • Growth of design-led 3D cottage industries as consumers shift purchasing to design and away from product
  • Gap between the digitally skilled and those without skills to produce their own objects
  • Legislators need to consider the intellectual property impacts of 3D printing

MOOCs – changing the accessibility and affordability of education.  Potential impacts:

  • Disruption of existing supply models on a par with torrenting's impact on film and music
  • Widening access to education – but may benefit some subject areas more
  • Legislators may need to consider intellectual property issues (i.e. who 'owns' the course); as well as how to monitor, measure and guarantee quality standards

The smart home – the internet of things increasing the connectivity between devices.  Potential impacts:

  • Resource, energy and time saving opportunities
  • Potential problems in multi-occupier buildings
  • Changing behaviour – longer working hours if homes can be 'managed' remotely?
  • Legislators need to consider data protection and privacy issues as well as contract law concerns – what are the contractual issues raised by a smart fridge placing a supermarket order? 

Wearable technologies – technical textiles and new technologies.  Potential impacts:

  • Medical monitoring  and remote deliver of care
  • Wearable renewable energy technologies
  • Legislators need to consider data protection and privacy issues raised by the collection of so much personal data; also what are the implications for medical negligence legislation?

The full top ten list:

  • 3D printing
  • Aquaponics
  • Autonomous vehicles
  • Drones
  • Electricity storage
  • Graphene
  • MOOCs
  • Smart homes
  • Virtual currencies
  • Wearable tech

The link to the full report can be found on this webpage.