Emerging Technologies and Opportunities for International Science and Technology Foresight

Working Paper
  • Published 01/10/09
  • ISBN: 978 1 85864 789 4

This background paper focuses on the potential role that international science and technology ‘foresight-type’ activities might play in informing decision-making processes about innovation, development and emerging technologies. Two, predominantly national-level, foresight type activities are discussed, ‘technology foresight’ and ‘technology assessment’. Experiences with these approaches are quite diverse but over time there has been a discernible shift in many countries away from reductive and expert-based exercises to more plural processes in which wider sets of assumptions have been articulated about problems, desired futures and the social purposes of technology.

Foresight-type activities have only occasionally been conducted at the international level but this paper argues that there may be scope for conceiving of international foresight activities as a mechanism for articulating and framing development ‘needs’, and for bringing these to bear on innovation actors. This would, however require considerable attention to how foresight-type activities are designed and conducted, and the complexities of dealing with a very large array of global actors and perspectives.