January 14, 2005 11:07 AM   Subscribe

Mapping the Global Future: Report of the National Intelligence Council's 2020 Project. Explore alternative futures, by creating own scenarios for global changes within the next 15 years.
posted by Gyan (9 comments total)
This morning on NPR as well.
posted by fluffycreature at 11:48 AM on January 14, 2005

Short version: "more of the same, unless not."
posted by fleacircus at 12:31 PM on January 14, 2005

Here's an interesting statement from the Executive Summary:

The transition will not be painless and will hit the middle classes of the developed world in particular, bringing more rapid job turnover and requiring professional retooling. Outsourcing on a large scale would strengthen the anti-globalization movement. Where these pressures lead will depend on how political leaders respond, how flexible labor markets become, and whether overall economic growth is sufficiently robust to absorb a growing number of displaced workers.

I don't know about you, but I'd like to spend my life enjoying my family, not constantly job swapping and retooling -- especially when retooling is both expensive and time-consuming (meaning you have to either be unemployed or without a family to do it).

When our own government tells us that the middle class is in trouble, I think we should all be worried.
posted by RalphSlate at 1:04 PM on January 14, 2005

I confess to being an obtuse newbie at times but I wish all these really interesting and important statistics could be loaded onto my screen in a more streamlined manner. Making an actual assumption seems almost impossible! Personally, I plan to be miles away from the nearest metropolitan area by that time...quite possibly recycling myself as fern fertilizer.
posted by Griffins_posse at 1:13 PM on January 14, 2005

May I also add that I have a wee bit of a problem with these types of projections in that they are inherently biased, based on the funding agency. I really don't think we're very good at taking a "global" view of anything because we tend to discount the ability of other members of our global community acting in ways we do not anticipate. Using this logic, we are wrong about as often as we are right. Unfortunately, the scale of our "wrong-ness" is not neatly counterbalanced by the scale of our "right-ness"...(homage to Herb Caen...what a goof!)
posted by Griffins_posse at 1:18 PM on January 14, 2005

from the intro letter:
As I used to say to my students at Princeton, linear analysis will get you a much-changed catarpillar [sic], but it won't get you a butterfly. For that you need a leap of imagination. We hope this project, and the dialogue it stimulates, will help us make that leap—not to predict the world of 2020, which is clearly beyond our capacity—but to better prepare for the kinds of challenges that may lie ahead.
i think it's clear they're not trying to play robert x cringley as much as trying to identify trends so that we're not blindsided by them as they happen.
posted by acid freaking on the kitty at 1:32 PM on January 14, 2005

The key element to all this supposition is this, which they list under "relative certainties:"

"Energy supplies “in the ground” sufficient to meet global demand."

If this is true, then much will proceed along the lines they project. If it is not... then everything will in no way whatsoever proceed as they project.

I hope they're right about it being a relative certainty, because if not we're in for a very, very rough ride, starting shortly.
posted by zoogleplex at 5:09 PM on January 14, 2005

zoolgeplex: Yes, this one caught my eyes too. How can this be a relative certainty? Methinks that since the report is essentially government-sponsored, there were certain guidelines and assumptions to be observed.

There's also this interesting bit of wishful thinking at the bottom of the report.
posted by sour cream at 5:30 PM on January 14, 2005

How can this be a relative certainty?

Remember, they're only going as far as 2020. I'm pretty sure it's generally accepted we've got at least that much oil.
posted by Infinite Jest at 6:02 PM on January 14, 2005

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