The TechCast Project calls itself a virtual think tank tracking the Technology Revolution. Founded at George Washington University years ago, their website (www.TechCast.org) pools background data and the knowledge of 100 experts worldwide to forecast breakthroughs in all fields and to assess their economic and social impact. Results are subscribed to corporations, governments, and the public around the globe, and the forecasting system is considered one of the best in the world. Summary of recent results, color-coded by field:
The TechCast forecasting system was developed by Professor William E. Halal and his associates at George Washington University and George Mason University. An earlier version called “The GW Forecast” was conducted by mail, but the online version has been operating since 1998. TechCast researchers and editors scan the literature and media, interview authorities, and draw on various other sources to identify trends and background data on roughly 70 emerging technologies. This data is summarized to guide the estimates of 100 plus technology officers, research scientists and engineers, scholars, and other experts to estimate of the most likely year each breakthrough will occur, the potential economic demand, and experts’ confidence.
TechCast is somewhat unique in that it tries to carry forecasting to the more sophisticated level of a “global advisory service” that provides authoritative forecasts covering all fields and updated in real time. The forecasts are also validated annually by comparing them to actual arrivals over the past 20 years, showing that results are accurate within roughly +/- 3 years. The research method is quite general, so it can be used to forecast almost anything, and the process enhances understanding. The project has been recognized as possibly the best forecasting system in the world. The U.S. national Academies cited it as one of the top-three systems available, and a Google search ranks it two or three out of five million hits. It was awarded First Prize in an AOL competition for creative IT research, and has been featured in the Washington Post, Newsweek, The Futurist, and scientific publications. Its panel of experts has conducted customized studies for the U.S. Federal agencies, Corning, AMD, Asian Development Bank, Saudi Arabia, Korea, Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur.
Persistent Forecasting of Disruptive Technologies (Washington, DC: U.S. National Academies of Science and Engineering, 2009)
William E. Halal, Technology’s Promise: Expert Knowledge on the Transformation of Business and Society (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008)
Halal at al, “The GW Forecast of Emerging Technologies,” Technology Forecasting & Social Change (1998) Vol. 59, pp. 89-110