Emerging technologies of the 21st century are poised to fundamentally transform modern society. Artificial intelligence, advanced robotics, and other emerging technologies are upending everything from transportation to manufacturing to health care, and as these and related technologies mature, they will have far-reaching impacts over our work, our lives, our security, and our politics. From gene-editing to quantum computing, each of these technologies represent substantial challenges and novel solutions to myriad problems, and are just a glimpse of what the future holds. And if society is to fully embrace the full range of social and political changes that these technologies will introduce, then we need to be thinking now about how best to maximize the benefits of these technologies while minimizing the risks to humanity along the way.
The research community has a critical role to play in informing policymakers of the coming challenges associated with emerging technologies, and here, Brookings intends to be a leader. As a part of a new effort, an impressive assembly of the Institution’s scholars have stepped forward to address the complex challenges associated with emerging technologies within the context of their relevant areas of expertise. Each of the papers in this series grapples with the impact of an emerging technology on an important policy issue, pointing out both the new challenges and potential policy solutions introduced by these technologies. This compendium showcases in no uncertain terms the enormity of the changes to come, as well as many of the key policy imperatives as we move forward in the 21st century.