World View :: Global Future | Ian Goldin

The future, as we know it, is very unpredictable. 

The best minds in the best institutions generally get it wrong.

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The best minds get it wrong and we've seen that the past years in many areas.
This is in technology.
This is in the area of politics, where pundits, the CIA, MI6 always get it wrong.
And it's clearly in the area of finance.
With institutions established to think about the future, the IMF, the BIS, the Financial Stability Forum, couldn't see what was coming. Over 20,000 economists whose job it is, competitive entry to get there, couldn't see what was happening.

Globalization is getting more complex.

And this change is getting more rapid.

The future will be more unpredictable.
Urbanization, integration, coming together, leads to a new renaissance. It did this a thousand years ago.

The last 40 years have been extraordinary times.
Life expectancy has gone up by about 25 years.
It took from the Stone Age to achieve that.
Income has gone up for a majority of the world's population, despite the population going up by about two billion people over this period.
And illiteracy has gone down, from a half to about a quarter of the people on Earth. A huge opportunity, unleashing of new potential for innovation, for development.

But there is an underbelly.

There are two Achilles' heels of globalization.

  • There is the Achilles' heel of growing inequality -- those that are left out, those that feel angry, those that are not participating.
  • The second Achilles' heel is complexity -- a growing fragility, a growing brittleness. 

What happens in one place very quickly affects everything else. This is a systemic risk, systemic shock. We've seen it in the financial crisis. We've seen it in the pandemic flu. It will become virulent and it's something we have to build resilience against.

So the big question for us is, "How do we manage this technological change?"
How do we ensure that it creates a more inclusive technology, a technology which means that not only as we grow older, that we can also grow wiser, and that we're able to support the populations of the future?

An individual, for the first time in the history of humanity, will have the capacity, by 2030, to destroy the planet, to wreck everything, through the creation, for example, of a biopathogen.
How do we begin to weave these tapestries together?
How do we think about complex systems in new ways?
The rest of our lives will be in the future.
We need to prepare for it now.
We need to understand that the governance structure in the world is fossilized.
It cannot begin to cope with the challenges that this will bring.
We have to develop a new way of managing the planet, collectively, through collective wisdom.

We know, and I know from my own experience, that amazing things can happen, when individuals and societies come together to change their future.