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Technology as a driver of future change in the forest sector: projected roles for disruptive and emergent technologies

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Kubik, George H.

Year Published

2020

Publication

In: Dockry, Michael J.; Bengston, David N.; Westphal, Lynne M., comps. Drivers of change in U.S. forests and forestry over the next 20 years. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-P-197.

Abstract

This paper examines emergent and disruptive technologies as potential drivers of change in forest sector futures. Two questions are addressed: (1) Which emergent and disruptive technologies can be projected to substantively impact forestry futures? (2) What are the possible implications of emergent and disruptive technologies for decision makers, policymakers, and other stakeholders involved in forest sector futures? A 20-year timeframe is used for this explorative paper. A cross-disciplinary review of futures literature was implemented to identify and investigate leading emergent and disruptive technologies. A list of candidate technologies was developed from the literature review and eight technologies were selected: artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, electronic performance enhancement systems, genomics and synthetic biology, the Internet of Things, materials science, nanotechnology, and robotics. Each of the eight technologies was then defined and three representative forecasts were projected for each technology. The goal is to provide decision makers, policymakers, and other stakeholders in the forest sector with an awareness of emergent and potentially disruptive technologies and how they might disrupt forest sector futures. The purpose of this paper is not to predict the future in detail, but to (1) promote awareness and informed thinking about the relationship between potentially disruptive technologies and forest sector futures and (2) stimulate a research agenda based on the study of these projected futures.

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Citation

Kubik, George H. 2020. Technology as a driver of future change in the forest sector: projected roles for disruptive and emergent technologies. In: Dockry, Michael J.; Bengston, David N.; Westphal, Lynne M., comps. Drivers of change in U.S. forests and forestry over the next 20 years. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-P-197. Madison, WI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station: 50–58. https://doi.org/10.2737/NRS-GTR-P-197-paper5.

Last updated on: November 18, 2020