Assessment: This trend emerged from a wide variety of ill-conceived political decisions made over the last 30 years. It will take at least a generation to reverse.
Implications: If this trend is not reversed, it will begin to undermine the U.S. economy and shift both economic and political power to other lands. According to some estimates, about half of the improvement in the American standard of living is directly attributable to research and development carried out by scientists and engineers.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the number of job openings in science and engineering will grow by 47 percent in the five years ending 2010—three times as fast as nontechnical fields. The United States will not produce nearly enough home-grown technical specialists to fill them. Demand to import foreign scientists and engineers on H-1B visas also will continue to grow.
Publicity about the H1-B program, and about the offshoring of R&D to company divisions and consulting labs in Asia, in turn, will discourage American students from entering technical fields. This has already been blamed for shrinking student rolls in computer science.
In 2005, China for the first time exported more IT and communications goods ($180 million) than the United States ($145 million.) Its lead has grown each year since then.
Implications for hospitality and travel: In the short run, this suggests that a growing fraction of the new technologies adopted by hospitality and travel businesses will originate with companies outside the United States. In the longer term, this trend could begin to reduce the relative wealth of Americans compared to the rest of the world. This may eventually cause a decline in per-capita spending by Americans on hospitality and travel, particularly outside the U.S. Loss of science-based prestige also could reduce America’s appeal for some foreign travelers, discouraging tourism to the United States.
36. Transportation technology and practice are improving rapidly.
The newest generation of aircraft, such as the Boeing 787 and future Airbus A350 XWB, are using lightweight materials and more efficient engines to cut fuel costs, stretch ranges, and increase cargo capacity. In the United States, two companies have even announced plans to build supersonic business jets and have them in the air by 2013 or so. One has already taken deposits for several dozen aircraft. At the same time, rail travel is getting faster. The new TGV Est line, which runs 300 km (180 miles) from Paris to Frankfurt, operates at 320 kph (198.8 mph) inside France, compared with 300 kph on other parts of the TGV system. China has begun to install a network of highspeed trains to compensate for its shortage of regional air transportation.
Assessment: These advances will continue at least through mid-century.
Implications: One of the fastest-growing transport industries is trucking, thanks to the expanded use of just-in-time inventory management and Internet-based companies that rely on trucks to deliver their products. This field will grow more efficient as GPS-based truck tracking, RFID-based cargo management, more efficient engines, and other new technologies spread through the industry.
To reduce the number and severity of traffic accidents, trucks on the most heavily used highways will be exiled to carfree lanes, and the separation will be enforced.
New hybrid car models will begin to gain significant market share from traditional gas guzzlers between 2010 and 2015.
By 2010, smart-car technologies will begin to reduce deaths due to auto accidents in Europe and, a few years later, the United States.
Cities increasingly will struggle to reduce auto congestion by limiting the use of private automobiles, as in Munich, Vienna, and Mexico City; by taxing auto use in congested areas, as in London; or by encouraging the development and use of mass transit, as in Copenhagen and Curitiba, Brazil.
Technology may offer other alternatives. One proposal is “dual-mode transportation,” in which private cars would be used normally on short hauls but would run on automated guideways for long-distance travel.