BOX 1-1

Statement of Task

The committee shall conduct a workshop to provide expert insight in designing a persistent forecasting system.* The committee will invite expert forecasters and users of forecasting systems, including:

  • Experts from a variety of industries (i.e., technology, energy, finance)

  • Regional experts with knowledge of Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas

  • Representatives of the United States Government and foreign governments

The workshop will focus on the development of one or more conceptual high-level diagrams of a process that could be used to produce persistent forecasts of disruptive technologies. The final report will include transcripts of the workshop and copies of visualizations created during the workshop. The committee will comment on the insights gained from past committee meetings and the workshop and recommend options for future courses of action in the development of a persistent technology forecasting system.


* “Technology forecasting system” was defined in report 1 (NRC, 2010, p. xvi) as follows: “Technologies, people, and processes assembled to minimize surprise triggered by emerging or disruptive technologies, in order to support decision making.”

like, and (3) to define actionable steps toward the development of such a system. Specifically, the committee’s objectives for the workshop were the following:

  • Develop one or more high-level designs of potential approaches to a 1.0 version of the system.

  • Gain insights on how to approach the development of the system.

  • Estimate a gross level of effort for launching such a system.

  • Document the key insights from the sessions and workshop that could provide guidance for the development of the system.


The present report uses multiple methodologies to approach the development of a version 1.0 system of a forecasting system model that specifically addresses the needs of the defense intelligence community. The sections below in this chapter introduce the context and bridge from the committee’s work in its first report (NRC, 2010) on traditional forecasting processes to forecasting systems as conceived by the committee. Chapter 2 describes the results of experiments undertaken by three subgroups of the workshop to actually design forecasting systems that would meet the design criteria explored by the committee; the chapter also outlines a fourth system—a storytelling model suggested by an individual workshop participant. Chapter 3 evaluates and synthesizes the results of the experiments, describes the characteristics of a system that integrates the best attributes of the four design options, and recommends the next steps toward the development of the system. Appendix A contains biographical sketches of the members of the committee. Appendix B lists the presentations delivered to the committee throughout this project. Appendix C lists the experts who participated in the November 5 workshop. Appendixes D and E (on the CD enclosed with this report) provide the unedited transcripts of the workshop, and Appendix F presents graphics created as visualizations of the main ideas produced in the workshop. Because of the volume of the material they contain, Appendixes D and E do not appear in print form.

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