4.2 Technology foresight
Many governments have introduced long range ‘technology foresight’ capacity, looking ahead perhaps 20 years.
In the past there had been some enthusiasm for ‘technological forecasting’, but this technique, which often relied on extrapolating trends into the future, was increasingly seen as too mechanistic and unreliable, given the ever more complex pattern of technological, economic and political developments. The technology foresight approach, by contrast, attempts to gather views from a wide range of experts and practitioners on likely patterns of technical and market developments and refine them, interactively, to produce a consensus on the prospects for specific new technologies or lines of scientific development. It has become more process oriented and less prescriptive. It is not just technical possibilities that are considered: patterns of social and economic change may also be considered, e.g. via long range scenarios, so that potential future market demands can be identified. We look at technology foresight as a research method in unit 4.