Shaping the future in order to realize economic and social goals is one of the fundamental challenges of human society. Technology has proved key in meeting this challenge, and its role appears set to remain at least as important in the future.
However, there are many uncertainties with regard to the transformation of technological potential into positive economic and social outcomes. Indeed, for many people displaced at work or bewildered by new, unfamiliar products, it seems as if technological progress is more of a curse than a blessing.
This first conference examined both the positive and the negative sides, the opportunities, and the risks, that may arise as technology develops over the next twenty-five years.
In so doing, it explored the two-way relationship between technology on the one hand and economy and society on the other. The conference was organized into three sessions.
The first assessed general trends in pervasive technologies, particularly information and biological technologies, with the aim of identifying areas of technically feasible future applications.
The second session explored how different economic, social, and political frameworks might lead to differences in the extent to which technological opportunities are realized and risks reduced.
In the concluding session, the focus was on the policy directions most likely to enhance the contribution of technology to the realization of sustainable economic, social and environmental goals.
This publication brings together the papers presented at the meeting as well as an introductory contribution and summary of the main points of the discussions prepared by the Secretariat. The book is published under the responsibility of the Secretary-General of the OECD.