Episode 27 – The Future Starts Today
This episode I talk about the MOD’s new Global Strategic Trends Report – 6th Ed. Its called: The Future Starts Today and is really interesting (the report not the podcast).
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The Future Starts Today
If you haven’t read From the Great Above to the Great Below you should. Tonight. Before bed, the full text is available at halexandria.org. There is an old book from 1906 called ‘myths every child should know’ . This wasn’t in it. But it should have been. Alternatively Inanna: Queen of Heaven and Earth: Her Stories and Hymns from Sumer is on archive dot org. Having spoken of old books, let’s talk about one that came out today.
The MOD just published its Global Strategic Trends – Sixth Edition entitled : The Future Starts Today.
It’s one of my favourite documents that I quote from a lot in professional life. I can’t summarise it all in the time we have available as it’s nearly 300 pages. But let’s try:
The document is mainly split in to two sections: Thematic and Geographic.
The themes in the document are:
- Environmental and Resources
- Human Development
- Industry and Information
- Governance and law
- Conflict and security
It’s also interesting to note: That in this edition climate change has been folded into every single section within the report instead of it being a trend by itself it’s a fuses all other trends within the document. Indeed Climate Change is mentioned 169 times.
Another new feature. Based on Feedback from the previous edition, found that a trends-based approach can give too linear a view of the future as it flags continuity rather than discontinuity. To address this, the report now includes: ‘future worlds’ at the end of each chapter.
These ‘future worlds’ offer plausible alternatives to the trends described in the chapter.
Watch points have also been included which tie in with a list possible factors that will change the path of a trend.
For example, in the Environment and Resources chapter some of these include:
- Societal attitudes on environmental issues
- Complexity of materials, their impacts on the environment, and effectiveness of waste treatment
- Breakthrough in energy technology (such as cold fusion)
- Unilateral adoption of geoengineering.
The report is seems shows the MOD has an extremely favourable view of migration. But also notes significant cultural and political challenges, and warns of the dangers of ghettoisation and also the possible exploitation of cultural differences between migrant and host populations that can become a source of tension.
The health chapter covers a number of interesting details. Such as: Global life expectancy for babies born in 2050 is expected to be about 82. It also notes the declining cost of DNA sequencing per genome. As a result, the report is also extremely bullish (as am I) on the prospect of gene therapy due to the falling costs of sequencing. With tools such as CRISPR and Cas9 to allow us to precisely, reliably and efficiently make changes to targeted DNA. But in the same breath the report also warns of the reduced cost of rogue actors to develop and maintain deadly biological weapons
It also glances at genetically modified humans with selected traits giving people extraordinary abilities.
Everybody loves a space marine.
There is also an interesting section on identity, including subsections on Gender equality, Gender Identity, National Identity, and Religious and Cultural Identities. And later gives cities acting more like states as a watch point to accommodate factors and people in the previous list.
Which sounds a little like patchwork.
The report also assumes that digital currencies will be inevitable, and echos many of the discussions happening in the cryptocurrency space vis a vie government control, regulation and taxation.
There’s also the drone thread which cuts across quite a few of chapters. From high altitude environment data capture to tiny swarms of autonomous murder machines.
The shift to a multi polar world over the next 30 years, is increasingly likely. The report recognises that the current ‘liberal’ international order and its institutions will come under increasing strain. Relative economic power is going to move and it is already. In keeping with the Corbynite Labour view, there is a large section on automation of the workforce and AI.
It also suggests that a key area of investment human-machine interaction.
So yeah, this document is certainly worth reading. But also worth remembering that this is also a British military document. So theres a lot of that in there as well.
The script above is the original script I wrote for the episode. It may differ from what ended up in audio due to time constraints.