What technology will have the biggest impact on our lives in the near future, and why?

The New Scientist are hosting a competition to answer the question:

What technology will have the biggest impact on our lives in the near future, and why?

This is exactly the sort of questions (exactly the sort of Wicked Problems) that HighWire students are attempting to address, so I dived in and gave an answer. I believe the potential is there, although given the 100 word limit I’m seeing this more as a practice in abstract writing than anything else! I did a couple of entries, first, 3D printing:

The 3D printing revolution will be as significant for the world, as the web and mass internet access continues to be. 3D printing is post-modernity: the first significant step towards a sustainable world. 3D printing will disrupt the long established norms of modernity and finally allow a sustainable, but modern, world to emerge from concepts such as the quadruple bottom line. What has the power to make people care about where, and how sustainably, their goods are manufactured? What can facilitate practical modular design? What will make near-perfectly efficient use of global resources and disrupt dependency on shipping? 3D printing.

.. and second.. The semantic web:

How to use energy sustainably? The complexity of the question is baffling. How can we differentiate energy intensive practices from energy neutral ones? The problem is exacerbated when links of activity join up into supply chains: with so many links, how can we understand where the bottlenecks are? Lack of understanding breeds apathy. Linked data and the semantic web will exploit human effort to describe energy relationships in the world we inhabit, thus enabling number crunchers to understand the complexity of the relationships at hand. Armed with meaningful information, we can effect change. Linked data can power the energy revolution.