What technologies should Government assist?

A UK Government scientific organisation is calling for comments on what areas of research and technology should be promoted in order to help shape the future of society and the economy.

The new consultation is part of the Foresight programme, a government-run scheme that aims to identify potential opportunities for the UK from new science and technologies and to assist in achieving them. A number of areas of potential interest have already been identified by a panel of scientists led by the Government’s Chief Scientific Advisor, Professor David King (see related story). These include waste reduction, future energy sources and sustainable land use.

The Foresight scheme operates by bringing together scientists, technologists, businesses and consumers to identify future opportunities and the strategies that are needed to achieve them.

“We face a number of exciting and challenging opportunities in science and technology in the UK,” said Science Minister Lord Sainsbury, launching the consultation at the British Association’s Science Festival in Leicester. “I want to encourage as many people as possible to give their views in this consultation. It is an opportunity for everyone to have an input into Foresight at an early stage, and as a consequence, to help the UK be prepared for the future.”

The key issues that have already been identified by the Foresight panel include:

  • protecting privacy and managing legitimate access to the cyber world, as well as the creation of intelligent search engines that maximise the value of large databases;
  • the reduction or even elimination of waste in manufacturing processes and the development of 100% recyclable products (see related story);
  • the use of new technologies to develop a holistic approach to agricultural and social land use that allows for environmental and economic sustainability;
  • future energy sources other than fossil fuels;
  • new science and technologies to deal with the threat of drug resistant diseases and the risk of bio-terrorism, as well as healthcare delivery and the prevention and treatment of addition;
  • the development of sustainable technologies for housing and transport, to bring about improvements in construction practice and increased demand for sustainable transport and housing products;
  • ensuring that the intellectual property system allows maximum exploitation of innovation; and
  • the ability to capitalise on opportunities in the creative leisure industries, such as books, games, media and music.

Comments on the consultation should be received by 4 December.

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