Following up on my recent discussion of wild cards — i.e., low-probability but high-impact developments in the future — here are five wild cards discussed in brief reports by Social Technologies LLC:
Recorded Lives: Lifelogging, the use of information technology to comprehensively record and archive a person’s experiences, could become a mainstream practice, due to declining hardware costs and rising consumer interest. Life recording would build on the trends witnessed in current blog, online photo album, and video journal Web sites. (Brief GL-2007-50) Additional research here and here.
Bye-Bye Bees: Colony collapse disorder (CCD) — the disappearance of honeybees from commercial hives — is alarming but probably temporary, most experts say. But what if CCD isn’t temporary? The long-term loss of honeybees could be calamitous for agriculture and the downstream businesses that depend on it. (Brief GL-2007-43)
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An article in the latest The Futurist magazine (January-February 2008) summarizes an essay by Peter Schwartz & Doug Randall about wild cards in world affairs. (For futurists, a wild card is something that was thought to be a low-probability, but high-impact, event. Example: the collapse of the Soviet Union.) Some of the “strategic surprises” they see on the horizon that world leaders need to contemplate:
“The warning signs are there if one’s eyes are open to them,” Schwartz & Randall write. “The world’s business and government leaders will be immeasurably better off if they carefully consider how these scenarios could come to pass and act today to create maneuvering room for the radically different world that these game-changing events could create.”
The Futurist summarized “Ahead of the Curve: Anticipating Strategic Surprise,” by Peter Schwartz & Doug Randall, an essay in Blindside: How to Anticipate Forcing Events and Wild Cards in Global Politics, edited by Francis Fukuyama (Brookings Institution, 2007).
Continue reading “Anticipating wild cards in world affairs”