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Possible Future Worlds | Part 3

This is an online course for Carnegie Council Ethics Fellows for the Future on www.globalethicsnetwork.org. It is based on the e-book, Of All Possible Future Worlds: Global Trends, Values, and Ethics, available at www.possiblefutureworlds.com.
by

Thong Nguyen

on 28 September 2014

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Transcript of Possible Future Worlds | Part 3

Hierarchical
Polycentric

Of All
Possible Future

Worlds

GLOBAL TRENDS, VALUES, AND ETHICS
What will our world be like
in the next fifteen to twenty years?

National Intelligence Council (NIC), “Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds,”
Washington, DC: Office of the Director of National Intelligence, December 2012.
European Strategy and Policy Analysis System (ESPAS), “Global Trends 2030:
Citizens in an Interconnected and Polycentric World,” Paris: Institute for Security Studies, European Union, April 2012.
Alexander A. Dynkin, “Strategic Global Outlook 2030,” Moscow: Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences, 2011.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), “Multiple Futures Project: Navigating Towards 2030,” 2009.
Individuals, communities, businesses, academics and policymakers have convened with think tanks, states, and multilateral organizations to produce trends reports for the year 2030.
We'll start by looking at . . .
Let's look at the US predictions.
Next, we'll look at the EU's projections.
Let's see what a leading think tank in Russia foresees.
Finally, let's see what
NATO anticipates
Since the trends predicted by each organization are different both in kind and degree, they each predict different future worlds.
Let's look at a few.

The US focused on four megatrends.
They also considered several game-changers.
Focusing on three themes, the EU first told a narrative of individual empowerment.
And they completed their narrative with a polycentric world.
The EU continued
its narrative with qualified human development.
A think tank in Russia evaluated four themes, first focusing on international security.
They then looked at the global economy.
The final two themes the Russian policymakers looked at were sociology and ideology.
NATO looked at the future systematically, first identifying structural drivers.
They then focused on deterministic drivers.
Finally, NATO questioned how systems might be compromised by sources of threat.
An individual could design and print houses
An individual can design and print musical instruments
An individual can design and print rocket parts
Creepy
Fast
Resilient
can fly and coordinate
Notice the direct positive relationship between economic growth and urbanization
Each organization focused on different trends and predicted different future worlds.
We'll describe each in detail later. But first, let's ask a question.
Fusion
Nonstate
World

Gini
Out-of-the
Bottle

Interconnected
Polycentric

Darkside of
Exclusivity

Clash of
Modernities

New
Powers

Deceptive
Stability

Stalled
Engines

What were the most prominent trends in each world?
International
Anarchy
Weak States
and
Institutions
International
Civil Society
Network
Decentered
Federation
of
Nation-States
Global
Hegemonic
Empire
Unified
Global
State
How do you think our values will fare in each world?
How would you categorize each world?
Let's think about these worlds more systematically.
Take some time to think about the following questions.
Congrats! You have just systematically evaluated these worlds.
We'll go back the theories we discussed earlier to help us get our bearings.
Whom did they focus on?
Societies?
Individuals?
States?
What did they focus on?
How comprehensive were the trends in each world?
Would you have predicted the same worlds?
Was there more or less governance than today?
What was the role of international institutions?
Do individuals need states?
Was there one center or more in each world?
Were groups of states colluding?
Was one state directing all others?
Was there only one government?
Here is one way to categorize the worlds.
Fill in the blank with one of the worlds.
_________
had the least
_________
had the most
_________
had the most
_________
had the least
It is conceivable that there are other worlds.
Hopefully, they make more sense now. This is a big deal.
But do you sincerely think these are the only worlds that could happen?
This type of analysis will help you plan for the future.
Why would the US, or any actor really, focus on some worlds and not others?
A limited option set could preclude planning for a world that could happen.
The chief importance of such biases is that they compromise planners’ abilities to steward policies that will safeguard our values.
One reason could be . . .
Drawing upon Isaiah Berlin’s seminal essay “The Hedgehog and the Fox,” Tetlock frames two ways that forecasters can envision the world.
Foxes know many small things.
False positives
—committed more by hedgehogs—erroneously predict worlds that will not happen, e.g., the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
The great challenge for policy planners is how to properly conceptualize the way that we can predict—or whether we can predict—the future world.
Hedgehogs know one big thing.
In a twenty-year study, Tetlock tested whether both hedgehog-like and fox-like experts from a number of fields were able to accurately forecast.
Their explanations about the world follow clock-like regular patterns and are parsimonious: simple, highly explanatory, and deterministic.
Their explanations are more cloud-like and complex and less ambitious and predictable.
They have one grand theory about the world, which extends to all matters.
They are skeptical about grand theories and are more willing to change their thinking based on circumstances and actual events.
Would you simply rely on expert judgment?
Forecasters can make two types of mistakes:
False negatives
—committed more by foxes—fail to predict worlds that will happen, e.g., the start of the two world wars or the game-changing effects of the invention of nuclear weapons and the Internet.
While foxes performed better than hedgehogs, he found that on the whole, their predictions performed
only slightly better than chance
, but less well than computer algorithms. In short, experts are not very good at predicting the future.
How would you go about forecasting?
Meet Philip Tetlock. He is not an expert.
The goal of forecasting should be to better balance these two ways of thinking, finding the optimal forecasting frontier where the tradeoff between false positives and negatives can be no better, i.e., the denial of more false positives will not lead to more false negatives and the denial of more false negatives will not lead to more false positives.
In providing us with a spectrum of possible worlds rather than a dichotomy or single world, Walzer’s conceptualizations helps us understand the range of true and false positive and negative worlds.
Since this spectrum is neither nebulous nor unyieldingly deterministic, we can begin to arrive at this optimum frontier where the logics of the cloud and the clock converge, holding that the future is neither radically unpredictable nor completely predictable.
Black swans are difficult to predict, low probability events that may have cataclysmic effects on the fundamental dynamics of world history.
Black Swans
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a scholar in randomness and unpredictability, has popularized the notion of false negatives and their role in history under a different name (and animal).
Is the future deterministic or indeterministic?
Should we be optimistic or pessimistic about 2030?
If expert predictions more matters of
luck
than clairvoyance, a number of questions might be raised.
It appears difficult to say whether the future is either deterministic or indeterministic or whether we should be optimistic or pessimistic.
Although we may retrospectively, explain why these events happened, why couldn't past experts?
Imagine if we could better mitigate these unforeseen events.
So we might pursue a hedging strategy.
You may not have realized it, but much of our discussion on theory has built up to this need.
Selection Bias
This is the phenomenon of excluding all meaningful options from due consideration.
Limited knowledge that steers policymakers into predicting certain trajectories at a given time or making inferences about the future based on isolated incidences.
Let's focus on three kinds of biases:
traditional, methodological, and temporal.
Idiosyncratic preferences of culture, ideology, or individual inclinations may lead a researcher or organization to favor one input over another.
Selective surveying, i.e., some important groups may have been excluded from a study or some groups’ opinions may be weighted more than others.
Traditional Bias
Methodological Bias
Temporal Bias
Why do you think selection bias happens?
"You mean
stupidity
, right?"
"Limited time."
"Limited budgets."
"Incomplete information."
"Absentmindedness."
"Well, I was trying to be nice."
"Arrogance."
+
-
Hedgehogs and Foxes
Philip E. Tetlock,
Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know?
(Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005). For a video on similar themes see “How to Win at Forecasting: A Conversation with Philip Tetlock,” Edge, December 12, 2012, available at www.edge.org/conversation/how-to-win-at-forecasting.
Isaiah Berlin, “The Hedgehog and the Fox: An Essay on Tolstoy’s View of History,” Chicago, Ivan R. Dee, 1953.

Black Swans
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, 2nd ed. (New York: Random House, 2010). Listen to an audio presentation of the book, “The Future has Always Been Crazier Than W Thought,” The Long Now Foundation Seminar Series, February 4, 2008, available at https://soundcloud.com/longnow/the-future-has-always-been-crazier-than-we- thought.

Lucky Rabbits
Peter Thiel, “You Are Not a Lottery Ticket,” South by Southwest Interactive 2013 conference, October 14, 2013, video available at www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZM_JmZdqCw.
For more on selection bias, read or watch:
Simply take all of the preceding as an introduction to selection bias.

We'll appreciate the concept in more detail as we explore different worlds.
Activate your interdimensional devices.
On to another alternative world!
Hope you have your bearings back.
Even if you don't, it doesn't matter—there's no time!
Businesses
Megacities
Wealthy Individuals
Individuals
Nongovernmental Organizations
States
This world resembles the US-envisioned Nonstate world with diffuse centers of power
as well as the Fusion world led by
Technologies will continue to connect us, and create new networks among actors
,
however, on a scale more intricate than today.
The political character of the world will also be more distinctive.
will become citizens identifying with more centers than today.
Citizens of local groups,
cities, states, and of a borderless Internet will join a “post-Huntingtonian” global human community that internalize values such as human development, human security, human rights, democracy, women’s equality, non-conflicting identities, and the Earth.
will continue to play a prominent role in the future, but among other relevant actors.
And the global order will not be described as multipolar with them as the only centers.
Businesses
Megacities
Wealthy Individuals
Individuals
Nongovernmental Organizations
States
Businesses
Megacities
Wealthy Individuals
Individuals
Nongovernmental Organizations
States
Businesses
Megacities
Wealthy Individuals
Individuals
Nongovernmental Organizations
States
Businesses
Megacities
Wealthy Individuals
Individuals
Nongovernmental Organizations
States
Businesses
Megacities
Wealthy Individuals
Individuals
Nongovernmental Organizations
States
Businesses
Megacities
Wealthy Individuals
Individuals
Nongovernmental Organizations
States
Businesses
Megacities
Wealthy Individuals
Individuals
Nongovernmental Organizations
States
Businesses
Megacities
Wealthy Individuals
Individuals
Nongovernmental Organizations
States
Businesses
Megacities
Wealthy Individuals
Individuals
Nongovernmental Organizations
States
There will be many centers.
All connected.
“The realization that there is ultimately one global community will come about primarily because of the collective realization that people share similar aspirations and difficulties.”
you
Ask rself
"Which is better:
a multipolar or polycentric world?"
"Where does this world fall on Walzer's spectrum?"
"How do our values fare here?"
"What biases led to the prediction of this world rather than others?"
But snap out of it!
Activate your inter-dimensional devices.
Meanwhile, a parallel world awaits . . .
Alright, we're done with this world.
What a nice place. It's hard not to lull off warm and fuzzy . . .
Other
Other
Other
Other
Other
Other
"Which is better:
a multipolar or polycentric world?"
"Does it matter whether our values are achieved by states or individuals?"
"How do our values fare here?"
"What biases led to
me
being missing from this world?"
Russia
China
European
Union
States
South Korea
South Africa
Turkey
India
Brazil
Japan
United
Although Russian policymakers also foresaw a world of many centers, they focused on more traditional actors.
One will continue to be the global military, innovative, financial, and economic leader.
While other states . . .
will continue to institutionalize a common political and economic identity to form a “collective actor”
as others will continue their own rapid economic growth and assume new global leadership roles.
Meanwhile in
Traditional sources of power, including natural resources and nuclear and military power, will keep the country a major fixture in world affairs.
The past century's middle powers
will be joined by emerging ones
in varying degree.
Finally, countries with limited resources, power, and influence on regional and global political and economic processes will occupy the lowest rung of the hierarchy.
It will be a more stable order with more
coordination and regional integration,
economic growth and global governance,
and democracy and inequality.
The report concludes that Russia should adapt its domestic and foreign strategy to major global trends in order to avoid marginalization, cope with future risks, and exploit new opportunities from globalization.
The development of the values depends on the reform of domestic political, social, legal and educational institutions to align with the principles of globalization and “non-destabilizing inequality.”
Compare the Hierarchical Polycentric world with the EU's Interconnected Polycentric world on two fronts.
First, what is the impetus for normative change?
Second, what actor is missing?
you
Ask rself
Activate your inter-dimensional devices.
Foot on the thrusters—
there's more multiverse to explore!
Alright, we're done with this world.
What did you think of this order?
States will be the basic building block.
However, a host of factors will compromise sovereignty, particularly state capacity and governance.
No international governance structures will prevent inequality for the poorest
Today’s developed world will best be able to adapt and stay atop of these challenges
Detrimental climate change
Poor resource allocation between and within states
Failed economic integration into the global economy
While weak and failed states not integrated into the global economy, starved of resources, and maladaptive to climate change will suffer the most.
the fight for group identity and dominance in these developing countries will be fierce.
Liberty, pluralism, peace, and justice will be variegated.
poorer nations will have the least prospects for peace.
Individuals living in rich countries will enjoy more freedom to pursue their preferences . . .
whereas individuals in poor countries will see no such opportunities.
While the specter of war may not affect developed countries . . .
While cultural pluralism will be settled for those living in stable states . . .
[khaah
"Welcome."
khaah]
. . .
"Under what circumstances would the West intervene in developing countries?"
"What would justice be like in this kind of world?"
"Would intervention be motivated by some universal urge?"
"What biases might lead to intervention in other worlds we visited?"
you
Ask rself
I'm going to make the jump to light speed.
Off to an alternative planet!
Alright, we're done with this world.
We're losing a deflector shield.
Go strap yourselves in.
In this world, all appears fine . . .
stability is maintained, particularly within today's developed states and tomorrow's rising powers like China and India . . .
but there are many reasons why states could topple over.
High asymmetry among states, demographic shifts in population and migration, poor resource allocation, and conflicting ideologies and worldviews will preoccupy resource-rich developed states with domestic concerns.
This self-centeredness may be due to trends of aging populations, urbanization, and governance gaps.
Resource-poor states, on the other hand, will face a world of transnational criminal activities, spill-over conflicts, and uncontrolled migration of their youth.
Liberal democracies will be too distracted with their own domestic concerns to intervene, and their ability to anticipate and shape their external security environments will be more limited.
Inequality, variegated liberty, poor prospects for peace, and fights for cultural dominance in the developing countries are also persistent though relatively less severe features of this world than in other worlds.
"Can states be anything other than introspective and self-interested?"
"How different is this world from ours today?"
"Is the fate of developing states as dependent on the rest of the world as this model suggests?"
"Does domestic political gridlock lead to global gridlock?"
you
Ask rself
Time to bend space and time once more!
Alright, we're done with this world.
Just a few more worlds left.
Activate your inter-dimensional devices.
Businesses
Megacities
Individuals
Nongovernmental Organizations
States
States
Criminal
Networks
Terrorist
Networks
Super-empowered
Individuals
States
States
States
States
States
States
States
States
States
Super-empowered
Individuals
Super-empowered
Individuals
Businesses
Cities
Nongovernmental Organizations
States
Powerful
Individuals
Individuals
One future modernity we have seen is more cooperative and interconnected than today.
Those were worlds of one network.
But in this world there are other networks.
Other modernities not tied together with technology.
Disconnected from the rest of the world.
Rivaling regional modernities may form.
More bilateral bonds may bifurcate sets of states from multilateral orders.
may form intranets . . .
isolating them from other
States
States
Technology may embolden new actors, disconnected from and threatening states, such as . . .
Differing levels of state control will lead to a more fractured collection of political, social, and economic networks characterized with differing levels of freedom.
Let's look at a few clashing modernities.
The character of values in this world principally depends on global networks.

Ideologies and worldviews, demographics, and technology will shape multiple advanced-network societies that can connect with one another and grow mega-cities of wealth and culture.
In terms of pluralism, networks will define two broad cultural groups: those that belong to modern networks . . .
and those that do not.
However, there may also be a danger that individual liberty may run wild from the perspective of some of these states. In this view, member states may elect to monitor their own technologically empowered citizens as much as foreign individuals and groups.
Other modernities will be the sources of the most conflict for the developed world since peace and economic fairness cannot be maximized in these countries’ pre-modern networks.
And intervention by NATO countries for persecuted individuals may be limited only for people in certain networks.
"What does a clash mean—war, conflict, or disagreement?"
"What networks today might approximate each of these modernities?"
"How universal will values be in connected versus disconnected ones?"
"How will the prioritization of values in some networks be different from other networks?"
you
Ask rself
Let's look at our final world.
Alright, we're done with this world.
What a complicated place.
Activate your inter-dimensional devices.
US
China
Brazil
Russia
Japan
India
Turkey
South
Korea
South
Africa
As in the Stalled Engines and Interconnected Polycentric worlds, the United States and European Union will continue to influence the world, but as old powers.
And as in the Russian Hierarchical Polycentric world, states will be the primary actors and older middle powers such as Russia and Japan will continue to play significant roles.
However, in this decentered world, the rise of new powers will be one of the greatest transformations in global affairs over the next two decades.
This is a future of multipolar power politics where absolute wealth may grow, but regional powers compete for influence and resources.
EU
However, states will not be the only new powers. In the future, we will also see the rise of new regional powers.
In this world, more power equality among a greater number of states will lead to more competition and conflict.
Conflicts over Resource Allocation
Competing Ideologies and Worldviews
Lack of Economic Integration
Reasons for this include:
"Is peace better served through regionalism? If so, should connectivity be our priority—or should tolerance?"
"Will the lack of connection among regions lead to the same uncertainties of anarchy?"
"Which form of decentralization is best: Fusion, Stalled Engines, Interconnected Polycentric, or New Powers? Which is most realistic?"
"What do you think conflict will be like among states? Among regions?"
you
Ask rself
Well, that was the last world of 2030.
Congratulations on making it this far.
Let's take a minute to see where we have been and look at all of the worlds.
Again.
Here is one way to categorize the worlds.
It is conceivable that there are other worlds.
Even now, do you think these are the only worlds that could happen?
Why would the US, EU, Russia, and NATO focus on some worlds and not others?
A limited option set could preclude planning for a world that could happen.
The chief importance of such biases is that they compromise planners’ abilities to steward policies that will safeguard our values.
The answer should be familiar by now . . .
Remember:
Can you identify
es
held by the US, EU, Russia, and NATO?
Can you identify
es
held by the US, EU, Russia, and NATO?
The illustrations and questions of each world alluded to the first two biases primarily.
Let's now focus on
es.
The US's National Intelligence Council has published previous reports for the years 2015, 2020, and 2025.
Each of these reports focused on many trends leading to 2030 (e.g., emerging powers, climate change, and technological innovation).
But some emphasized trends were different (e.g., globalization and terrorism).
We won't go over each of these worlds in depth since most are similar to the worlds we've already seen.
As a result, the US predicted other
past future worlds.
Anyway by now, you know how to arrange and evaluate worlds yourself.
NIC, “Global Trends 2015: A Dialogue About the Future with Nongovernment Experts,” Washington, DC: Office of the Director of National Intelligence, December 2000, available at www.dni.gov/files/documents/Globa%20Trends_2015%20Report.pdf.

NIC, “Mapping the Global Future: Report of the National Intelligence Council’s 2020 Project,” Washington, DC: Office of the Director of National Intelligence, December 2004, available at www.dni.gov/files/documents/Global%20Trends_Mapping%20the%20Global%20Future%202020%20Project.pdf.

NIC,“Global Trends 2015: A Transformed World,” Washington, DC: Office of the Director of National Intelligence, November 2008, available at www.dni.gov/files/documents/Newsroom/Reports%20and%20Pubs/2025_Global_Trends_Final_Report.pdf.
If you want, you can read the reports :
"Why do people in the present predict the futures that they do now?"
"Why did people in the past predict the futures that they did?"
"Are temporal biases unavoidable?"
"Do you think what we value most now (e.g., liberty) will lead to the future improvement of other values?"
you
Ask rself
But you might ask yourself some questions.
Full transcript