Seen through the lens of popular culture, the future often seems like a time disconnected from the present. The view tends toward strange and dystopic—think 1984 and 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner, and The Matrix. But when AAAS convened nearly three dozen top thinkers in science and technology policy to contemplate the year 2033, the perspective was strikingly different. The future, as they saw it, is familiar; many of the perils likely to confront humanity then are already evident today. While there are ominous portents in climate change, mutating viruses and emerging technologies for body and brain enhancement, they agreed that scientists, engineers and policy-makers can limit or prevent future problems—if they begin acting now.
One of the overarching themes of Vision 2033 is that technology will become more subtle and more powerful, reaching deeper into daily life.