In the BBC documentary, “Tomorrow’s World” (BBC, 2013, n.p.), presenter Liz Bonnin explored the way in which science and engineering are likely to develop in the coming years, transforming life as we know it today. What is particularly interesting about this film is that is focuses not only on scientific innovations, but also on innovations in areas such as the business of science and engineering, and the funding of scientific innovations. The documentary explored four main categories of scientific innovation: space, biotechnology, materials, and energy. These four areas were described as embodying the future of science and technology, and the documentary provided a number of examples in each area of how science and technology are changing and developing to meet the predicted needs of the future.
A key area of change identified by the documentary is the movement in funding of large scientific projects from the public to the private domain. Peter Diamandis, from the X-Prize Foundation, is used as an example: his foundation supports the drive for more advanced space exploration technology by offering a prize to private-sector individuals and organizations; the incentive of the prize is described as providing motivation in terms of competition and deadline pressure which would potentially be more effective than the standard government-funded space programmes, which lack both the resources of the private sector and the competition driving it.
Another key area the documentary identifies in which science and technology is likely to change in the future is in the way research is shared and developed. Cesar Harada is used as an example of the way in which developments in social media technology will enable scientists to develop free idea-exchange and not-for-profit projects to the benefit of society as a whole; Harada’s project, which helped to clean up a serious oil spill in the USA, serves as an example of the way in which such projects would use social media technology to invite private, small donations and global collaboration, providing solutions which seek not to gain a profit but to benefit humanity.
The overall idea of this documentary, therefore, is that not only is the science itself changing and developing; the means by which it is developed, distributed, and used is also changing for the better.
- BBC (2013). “BBC Horizon Special: Tomorrow’s World.” Retrieved from: http://documentaries.blogspot.com/2013/05/tomorrows-world.bbc.horizon.html.