Scenarios for the Future
According to American National Intelligence Council, our future will be shaped by a few important megatrends together with uncertainties – called game-changers in the report – influencing their effectiveness and results. The authors describe four possible visions for the future produced by the interaction of these:
Individual empowerment: The reduction of poverty, the expansion of the global middle class, higher qualification levels, the widespread use of communication and production technologies and the advances in healthcare bolster the power of the individual.
Diffusion of power: There will not be any hegemons, and power will shift to the networks and coalitions of a multipolar world.
Demographic patterns: The demographic arc of instability, i.e. the territory of politically unstable countries with a substantial young population, will shrink, growth may decelerate in aging countries, 60% of the global population will live in urbanized areas and migration will intensify.
Food, water, energy nexus: Demand for these resources will grow, and managing the problems pertaining to one of them will be in interaction with the supply and demand of the others.
The authors claim that as a result of the interaction between the trends and the game-changers, one of the following four worlds will emerge:
1. Stalled engines: In the worst-case scenario, the risk of interstate conflicts rises, the US turns inward, and globalization and growth will be stymied.
2. Fusion: In the best-case scenario, the US and China will be able to engage in cooperation in a wide variety of areas, and the two countries will spearhead the broader global cooperation.
3. Gini-out-of-the-bottle: As certain countries become winners, while others become losers, inequalities increase dramatically, and inequalities within countries exacerbate social tensions. The US will not withdraw completely from the world, however, it will not act as the “global policeman” anymore.
4. Non-state world: Utilizing the new technologies, non-state actors will take the lead in managing global challenges.