National Intelligence Council's 2020 project

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Two things here. First, Mapping the Global Future, a report on a project geared toward looking at the world in 2020. The full document is available free as web pages or a PDF and is lengthy, solid and pretty detailed. It includes four possible scenarios, which it emphasises aren't exhaustive or mutually exclusive:

  • Davos World provides an illustration of how robust economic growth, led by China and India, over the next 15 years could reshape the globalization process -- giving it a more non-Western face and transforming the political playing field as well.
  • Pax Americana takes a look at how US predominance may survive the radical changes to the global political landscape and serve to fashion a new and inclusive global order.
  • A New Caliphate provides an example of how a global movement fueled by radical religious identity politics could constitute a challenge to Western norms and values as the foundation of the global system.
  • Cycle of Fear provides an example of how concerns about proliferation might increase to the point that large-scale intrusive security measures are taken to prevent outbreaks of deadly attacks, possibly introducing an Orwellian world.

Those summaries are taken from the executive summary, which begins with a mapping of some certainties to related uncertainties, which I rather liked.

The second thing is the computer model the report used, which is available online as The International Futures Model. It seems to be some kind of database of statistics that lets you create alternative scenarios for different countries. I say "seems to be", as I've had some problems getting it to work (never mind understanding it, which is another challenge entirely).

On a Mac, I couldn't open the dropdown menus in Firefox and the site kept generating errors in Safari. Internet Explorer was a little more successful, apart from the erratic positioning of some submit buttons although I did get stuck in impenetrable lists of files and folders and now just get errors all the time.

So, if you happen to have any luck with it, and can tell us whether it's any good or not, please do post a comment below...

(via Haddock)

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here's another way of looking at it:

My group developed a scenario analysis framework (the type made famous by my colleague Eric Best), with the degree of America centricity on one axis and the reaction to it -- either more cooperation among countries or less cooperation -- on the other axis. The four possibilities generated very different worlds...