by Matthew Bey
27 September 2016
Roughly 500 years ago, Nicolaus Copernicus theorized that the Earth revolved around the sun, a fact that Galileo Galilei confirmed a century later. The breakthrough helped usher in a new era of scientific discovery, sparking numerous technological revolutions in the following centuries.
The advent of the printing press and Galileo's challenges to the church represented inflection points in the advance of science and technology. From then on, technological growth was no longer incremental but exponential, as new ideas, technologies and theories emerged at an ever-increasing rate of speed.
Today, the pace of technological change continues to accelerate. Advances in areas such as nanotechnology andmaterials science, smart factories, additive manufacturing, autonomous cars, gene-editing techniques, and battery technology stand to alter life on Earth, not only for individuals but also for the nations they inhabit. The world's countries will experience the radical transformation that disruptive technologies bring at different times and to different extents, some more favorably than others. But technological development and diffusion do not happen at random; geopolitical factors play a determining role in the process. Recognizing which countries are best situated to take advantage of emerging technologies can help us understand what the geopolitical order will look like two decades from now.