Reuters Science Watch has released a set of predictions on the the landscape of science and technology in 2025 by examing global patent data and scientific literature.
This was done by data mining the Reuters Web of Science service.
This is an integrated database of curated content that includes cross disciplinary scientific data, books, journals, proceedings and patent information.
According to Reuters, several of the key forecasts include:
- Solar is Largest Source of Energy on the Planet: According to the most highly-cited scientific research papers of the last two years, improvements in photovoltaic technology, chemical bonding and the use of photocatalysts are making the process of harvesting and converting the sun’s energy much more than a novelty for the environmentally conscious; solar power will be used for the masses.
- Teleportation Testing Is Common: Thanks to the research that went into the Higgs Boson project, Scotty may soon be beaming things up. Scientific literature has exploded around the Higgs Boson, with over 400 citations of the 2012 study. And, recent patent applications related to Higgs Boson address “a body accelerating at the speed of light and growing into the square of the speed of light.”
- Everything Will Be Digital, Everywhere: From the smallest of personal items to the largest continents, everything, everywhere will be digitally connected as a result of improved semiconductors, graphene-carbon nanotube capacitors, cell-free networks and 5G technology.
While we're excited and fascinated by the use of data mining for pattern spotting and trend forecasting, we're not convinced about the forecasts.
Solar energy, for example, currently provides less than 1/2 of 1% of U.S. energy production. Add to that, according to Pew Research global investments in solar power have been declining over the past couple years.
While there is no question the solar energy production is rapidly expanding, 2025 is only a bit over 10 years away. Given the kind of energy infrastructure shifts required to make this big a switch to solar, it seems completely unrealistic it will be"the largest source of energy" by 2025.
I also kinda doubt teleporation will have advanced much by 2025. But to be fair to Reuters, they're only forecasting teleportation testing and experimentation in this time frame. Even Scotty would probably think this too optimistic.
But regardless of what your opinion of the forecasts, the list is very interesting as is the use of data mining to produce it.