Development Stage

Indicates the stage of development, from early speculation to research to on-market applications. Descriptions are based on the project “The Seven Horizons” carried out by CETMONS (the Consortium for Emerging Technologies, Military Operations and National Security), in association with Arizona State University's Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics, and the Prevail Project: Wise Governance for Challenging Futures[NICE-DB].

Ubiquitous

Products and application that have become common place and are fundamental parts of the production of various goods.

Available, but not ubiquitous

The First Horizon: This is the horizon that honors novelist William Gibson’s observation, "The future is already here; it’s just not evenly distributed." In this horizon, the technology is already on the market, but many people are still unaware of it. The Mattel Corporation’s mind-machine interface toys, for example, or modafinil, the prescription pharmaceutical that shuts off the human trigger to sleep while enhancing cognition[NICE-DB].

Commercial

The Second Horizon: This is the stage where the MBA’s usually live. The stuff has been demonstrated to work, the business model is thought to be in place, the crank up process to commercial delivery is in full swing. The stuff has cleared stage three clinical trials, for example. We’re just waiting for the factory and the advertising campaign and the company organization to be finished. It’s real and near. DNA Factory, for example. Typically 1-3 years to reaching the public, barring some implosion[NICE-DB].

Engineering

The Third Horizon: This is the stage where the venture capitalists usually live. The stuff seems to work, and they’re figuring out if they can ramp it up for major production in a fashion that makes economic sense. Lots of money changing hands. Vaccines against addiction, such as to cigarettes, for example. Aging-reversal drugs. Typically 2-6 years to reaching the public unless some deal-killer emerges[NICE-DB].

Scientific

The Fourth Horizon: This is the stage where researchers are demonstrating the innovation is possible. They have proof of concept. But it is not guaranteed yet that it can be safely and economically brought to market, or when. Organ and limb regeneration probably belongs in this category. Brain implant chips. Memory pills. Transforming skin cells into brain cells. Typically 4-10 years to reaching the public if everything goes right[NICE-DB].

Informed Speculation

The Fifth Horizon: This is where you will typically find organizations such as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). In this horizon, it is not clear whether the technology will work, but a lot of money is being thrown at it. Synthetic Telepathy helmets that allow mind to mind communication via a computerized helmet, for example[NICE-DB].

Blue Sky

The Sixth Horizon: Essentially, credible science fiction. This is the situation where, e.g., we know for a fact that plant genes can be spliced into mammals, and serious people are thinking about humans who can generate energy from the sun via photosynthesis, but who know what that means. Typical time to consumer, 10-20 years, if ever[NICE-DB].

Questionable

The Seventh Horizon: Stuff we really have our doubts about within our twenty-year time-line[NICE-DB].

Off-Market

Indicates the technology has either been pulled off the market or has been completely depreciated.