Video: MetaScan 3 - Emerging Technologies

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(The Policy Horizons Canada’s nexus appears. The nexus fades out and a green ball appears in the centre of the screen.)

You are here. But what will the world around you be like in 15 years? You'll find yourself in the midst of a rapidly changing landscape.

(The green ball moves to the left side of the screen, and then rolls left to right past the calendar years 2014 – 2030. The years from 2014-2018 and from 2027-2030 are displayed on the screen. The ball keeps rolling while the edge curves up and down into a loop.)

Emerging Digital, Bio-, Nano- and Neurotechnologies will have a major impact on almost all aspects of our lives.

(The ball stops to form one of the connecting dots of an abstract textured matrix. The words: “Digital,” “Bio,” “Nano”, and “Neuro” appear around the four corners of the matrix. When each word is said it transitions from green to black.)

Artificial intelligence and data analytics could enable businesses and government to provide faster and more personalized services. As robots get smarter and more capable, they will be able to accomplish tasks like stocking shelves, driving cars, and even performing surgery.

(The camera zooms into “Digital,” and then to various images: a computer with a digital hand coming out of the screen, an abstract digital image of a human head, a digital screen with various icons on it, a futuristic robotic man, and finally to a robotic mechanical arm.)

Bioinformatics will allow us to store, analyze and share large amounts of biological data. This could fundamentally change the way we think of health care systems.

(Zoom out of the mechanical arm image to the abstract textured matrix. The green ball falls from the word “Digital” to “Bio”. The camera zooms in as a graphic of a human body appears, an animated line appears beside the body and animates into a green circle with a white check mark on it. The check mark and green circle disappear, a faint periodic table appears in the background, and to the right of the body icons of pills, glasses, a knee brace and pacemaker appear. Various lines then appear connecting each icon to a particular part of the body.)

Synthetic biology could open the door to manufacturing a range of materials at a low cost, such as fuel, food and natural resources.

(The graphic of the body and various icons fade out. A graphic of a small factory with a leaf in a cloud above appears in the centre of the screen. This graphic swipes off screen to the right. An image of a fuel pump with the word “BIO” appears in the centre of the screen and then moves to the left. A graphic of a strawberry appears in the centre, and moves to the right side of frame as a graphic of a tree appears in the centre.)

Nanotechnology may pave the way for stronger and smarter materials that can detect stimuli. This could mean a concrete building may be able to alert us before it begins to crack.

(The camera zooms out back to the abstract textured matrix, the green ball moves from “Bio” to “Nano”. The camera zooms in and a 3D geometric bridge appears, this bridge turns black and decreases in size and reanimates into a graphic of two concrete buildings. One of the concrete buildings flashes red.)

Neurostimulation and smart wearable devices have the potential to enhance language, learning, memory, and problem-solving skills, leading to surprising new efficiencies.

(The camera zooms back out to the abstract textured matrix. The green ball falls from the right corner, “Nano” to the right bottom corner, “Neuro.” An image zooms into the frame of a smart watch on a male hand with one unread message; it is swiped off screen to the left. An image of a woman wearing futuristic smart glasses fills the frame. In the centre of the screen animated icons appear of a “é”, an open book, a brain, and magnifying glass. The icons move to the bottom of the frame and animate into vertical bars.)

What does all of this mean for Canadians?

(Graphics of red human stick figures fill the centre of the frame.)

These technologies may lead to increased productivity with fewer workers.

(The camera zooms out as a blue line appears under the red stick figures, then zooms out again to have a red, navy blue, yellow, and purple line appear under the blue line. The various lines swap places.)

The structure of our job market could change for both skilled and unskilled workers. It might mean fewer permanent jobs, and more contract work. Having the right skills will be key to future growth in a competitive market.

(The navy blue and purple lines animate into vertical bars, representing “Permanent” and “Contract.” The vertical bars disappear to the left, and 5 multi-coloured stick figures appear in the centre of the screen and then combine to animate into 1 green stick figure.)

New technologies could drive significant change in infrastructure for health, transportation, security, and energy systems. Our challenge will be deciding whether to maintain what we have, or leapfrog to newer, more efficient systems.

(The stick figure disappears, and a graphic of a computer appears into the centre of the frame. Under the computer graphic blue icons appear of a red-cross emblem for health, a bus for transportation, a lock for security, and a turbine for energy systems. These icons move up, pushing the computer off screen. A line slides around the icons forming a box, and then are swiped down off-screen and replaced by green-coloured icons: a red-cross emblem for health, a truck with a green-leaf on it, a security lock and turbine.)

In areas like health care, great benefits can be gained when personal data is merged in large databases. Creating and sharing these reams of data may challenge our traditional notions of privacy.

(The camera zooms into the icons, and a series of images swipe in from the left. There are various images that include: doctors and researchers working, a digital lock, a digital illustration of data, and a digital illustration of DNA.)

We are entering a period of transition. Significant impacts are expected on the nature of work, the shape of institutions and firms, the structure of the economy, and even, the sense of self.

(The images disappear as a green arrow moves from the left, and splits into two lines that disappear at the top and bottom of the frame. The line disappears as an icon of a globe enters from the left, followed by icons of a group of people with an arrow circling them, and a graph with a magnifying glass.)

Ignoring or underestimating the rate of change could undermine our competitiveness, preparedness and resilience.

(The icons are swiped off screen to the right as an image of a woman wearing a futuristic digital headset appears. This image is swiped off screen to the right and replaced by a graphic of a laptop. On the laptop screen is animated spiking graph lines.)

The policy choices we make today could affect us tomorrow. Foresight helps us understand our options and the future implications of our choices.

(The laptop graphic is swiped off screen to the left. Icons of the numbers 1, 2, and 3 appear in the centre of the screen. Grid lines appear from the 1 icon moving upwards. The camera follows the lines where the word: “Foresight” appears in the left side of the frame. In the right side of the frame an image of a contemplative man in front of multiple doors, as well as an image of woman on a hill looking through a telescope appears.)

This is an exciting time. While there are many challenges ahead, these technologies present many opportunities to build a more prosperous and sustainable society.

(A Canadian map appears as multiple dotted lines appear across the map. The map swipes to the left off-screen. A line appears on the left, and loops from left to right around a multiple green circles. The line then forms the outline of a city skyline.)

For the full MetaScan 3 report on emerging technologies, please visit the Policy Horizons Canada's web site at

(Report cover and the URL appear for Policy Horizons Canada. The video ends with the Government of Canada word mark.)