BOX S-1

Statement of Task

The NRC will establish an ad hoc committee that will provide technology analyses to assist in the development of timelines, methodologies, and strategies for the identification of global technology trends. The analyses performed by the NRC committee will not only identify future technologies of interest and their application but will also assess technology forecasting methodologies of use both in the government and in other venues in an effort to identify those most useful and productive. The duration of the project is twenty-four months; two reports will be provided.

Specifically, the committee will in its first report:

  • Compare and contrast attributes of technology forecasting methodologies developed to meet similar needs in other venues.

  • Identify the necessary attributes and metrics of a persistent worldwide technology forecasting platform.*

  • Identify data sets, sources, and collection techniques for forecasting technologies of potential value.

  • Comment on the technology forecasting approach set forth by the sponsor.

    • Comment on the Delta Scan data sets and/or other data sets provided by the sponsor.

  • Describe effective “dashboard” techniques for forecasting scenarios.

  • From real-time data provided by the sponsor:

    • Select and comment on emerging technology sectors.

    • Advise the sponsor on where and how emerging and persistent technologies trends might become disruptive.

    • Provide rationale for selections and indicate what key aspects will influence the rate of development in each.

The first report will be provided 16 months from contract award. The committee’s second report will be delivered during the second year, and will expand and refine report one in light of subsequent information provided by the more complete technology analyses anticipated. The statement of task of the final report will be developed in the course of meetings of the NRC staff and sponsor and will be brought back to the NRC for approval.

  

*After discussion, the committee chose to use the word “system” instead of “platform” throughout the report, due to the fact that the term platform has developed different connotations over time. This change to the Statement of Task was agreeable to the sponsor.

OVERVIEW OF FORECASTING TECHNIQUES

The field of technology forecasting is relatively new, dating back to work from the RAND Corporation during the years immediately following World War II (WWII). One of the earliest methods employed was the Delphi method, a structured process for eliciting collective expert opinions on technological trends and their impacts (Dalkey, 1967). Gaming and scenario planning also emerged as important technology forecasting methods in the 1950s and dramatically increased in popularity during the 1970s. All of these methods, as well as other more quantitative methods, are in use today.

In general, current forecasting methods can be broken into four categories: judgmental or intuitive methods; extrapolation and trend analysis; models; and scenarios and simulation. The advent of ever more powerful computation platforms and the growing availability of electronic data have led to a steady increase in the use of quantita-



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