Sunday, July 13, 2014

THe Future of Globalisation

The Director of the Future Planet Research Centre- David Hunter Tow, predicts that Globalisation will be an unstoppable force in the 21st century.
By 2100 the process of globalisation will be largely complete and our civilisation will have been transformed into a tightly integrated networked community of all nations, creeds and cultures.

It is now clear that at the beginning of the 21st century humanity is poised on the brink of a titanic shift towards creation of a truly global community. This is an inevitable process, a consequence of an evolutionary process based on increasingly powerful information flows criss crossing the planet. As these networks of relationships and transactions between human life intensify, the rate of knowledge accrual will increase and manifest in the emergence of an increasingly dense global civilisation.   

The Future Planet Research Centre has defined a number of key drivers and future scenarios of this unstoppable force, in the form of complex physical and social developments and interactions. In each future scenario there are compelling reasons for sovereign states to increasingly cooperate, combining their physical and intellectual resources to ensure their own population’s and the planet’s survival.

Scenarios include-
Global Warming and Climate Change- Impact
Harnessing the Power of the Web
Knowledge, Learning and Work- Reset
Leveraging the Future Enterprise- Cloudland
Politics, Capitalism, Economics and Ethics-New World Order

To survive, the pieces of this jigsaw now need to be joined into a coherent whole. This is too critical a matter to delay- waiting for politicians, business leaders and bureaucrats to reach consensus. The inertia in the social system has to be cut through, just like the Gordian knot, by a groundswell of grassroots action, already starting with a coalition of committed activist groups and driven by direct community action.
A new framework will be required to unleash the benefits of globalisation in the form of a world community united by both the rights of individuals and the common bonds of a civil society, unfettered by the inequities and inertia of historical baggage.

The Climate Impact

The first and primary driver- climate change, now requires the synchronized efforts of all nations to manage- the biggest catastrophe likely to befall the inhabitants of any homeland planet; a runaway extreme juggernaut threatening to destroy ecosystems, habitats and the social networks of most life-forms.
But the upside is its ability to drive greater social cohesion between nations- forcing them to act in synchronous harmony.

Of course our earth has been through many natural catastrophic cycles in the past, from freezing to sauna weather conditions. The last ice age ended 20,000 years ago, having caused serious dislocation to life on the planet, including our own species, which came precariously close to annihilation. But soon after, our modern civilization got off to a flying start with the gift of an unimaginably rich natural environment waiting to be exploited. And exploit it we did.
In addition there have been at least five previous major life extinctions over the past 540 million years- the last causing the demise of dinosaurs 65 million years ago, triggered by mega volcanic, meteorite, plate tectonic and extreme weather events. But each time life effectively regrouped after its near-demise and powered on, resulting in the evolution of modern humans 200,000 years years ago.

The difference of course between those previous extinction events and our current pending apocalypse was that they all occurred when there were no humans around to feel the effects. But this time it’s different, with a population of 7 billion and rising. Now the sixth mega-annihilation event is on us, with the likelihood that if not averted in time, billions of humans and hundreds of thousands of plant and animal species will disappear. Only cooperation on a grand scale, acting to reduce high levels of carbon emissions can avert this scenario.

Finally the world is waking up, with all but the most die-hard climate skeptics having second thoughts as the waves of unseasonal heat waves, droughts, floods and blizzards demolish our complacent lifestyle. And due to human resourcefulness the technical solutions are also readily available - renewable solar, wind and wave energy, genetic modification of food plants to cope with drought and salination and smarter ways to build our infrastructure, power our utilities, manufacture our products, process our data and build our cities.
All that’s needed is a global will. But the inertia of civilisation 1.0 is huge and the human mindset slow to adapt, conditioned by millennia of slow-roll evolution.
A tipping point is rapidly approaching when all the drivers of global warming will converge and rapidly escalate uncontrollably- the release of deadly methane from the warming tundra; the melting of the polar ice sheets causing coastal inundation; loss of key animal and plant species triggering the collapse of fragile ecosystems and eventually the collapse of the web of life itself.

There are still many uncertainties in the complex modelling of hundreds of climate related variables, but the critical benchmarks and limits are now agreed by all countries and a massive mind shift is finally occurring across the planet. A more intelligent, cooperative and creative process is evolving- and just in time!

Adaptation is the critical word. But while the Governments of developed countries are bickering, individuals and communities, cities and regions, governments and enterprises are independently acting. They are establishing renewable energy projects on a massive scale- using solar, wind and biofuels to power homes, factories and the Grid; harvesting runoff water in urban catchment areas; switching to crops better suited to hotter, drier and saltier conditions; adopting strategies to adapt to coastal inundation; changing to public and alternate transport; building more energy-efficient buildings and infrastructure etc.

But adaptation depends on applying the best forecasting techniques and analytical algorithms, applying the full computational resources and intelligence of both humanity and the web to coordinate and manage major programs relating to the survival of the planet and human civilization.

Over the past 50 years the world’s population has almost doubled to 7 billion, global consumption of food and fresh water has more than tripled, fossil fuel use has quadrupled and vertebrates have declined by over twenty percent. And now we are running at 150% of the planet’s sustainable resource capacity.

This is an unsustainable situation. Tomorrow it won’t be business as usual - instead humans are heading towards a yawning cliff just like lemmings- blind to the danger.

A global clearinghouse of climate information needs to be urgently established to keep communities informed on the local ramifications as well as global impacts to their environment, and the optimal basis to proceed. This is already happening with local weather, power, water and food forecasts and involves focussing the best science, intelligence and technologies on target problem areas.

The global science, technological and engineering databases are available to achieve this leap right now and are constantly being updated by state of the art  satellites and telemetry. They just need to be effectively coordinated across national boundaries. Not too hard one would have thought when the lives of 7 billion people and the welfare of the planet and life itself are at stake.

It is therefore clear that managing the planet’s capacity to provide life with a future is the paramount goal that must focus all humanity’s skills, creativity and knowledge on a global basis, from now into the far future. The current methodology of trying to reach a consensus on emission reduction strategies on a country by country basis, boosted by yearly conferences, is far too slow. With a timeframe of 100 years it might have been doable, but time has now run out and the looming cost of failure is incalculable.

But global warming’s physical impact is not the only major challenge to humanity. Its social impact is equally problematic with the potential to adversely affect every aspect of society, culture and lifestyle. By the middle of this century the budgets of all countries, particularly those of the major and middle powers will be focussed on mitigating the disastrous outcomes including- increased frequency and severity of catastrophic events, massive damage to both the natural and built environment, acidification of oceans, scarcity of food, water and energy, disease pandemics and unprecedented refugee flows.

Therefore it is vital to better understand the global geopolitical and geoeconomic interrelationships of the planet on which we live and the effect that these have on society as a whole.
This will include deploying sophisticated predictive models of unprecedented scope and complexity as originally defined by the European FuturICT project. Labelled- 'Reality Mining'. The plan was to gather information about every aspect of the living planet including its life-forms and use it to simulate the behaviour and evolution of entire ecosystems and economies, helping predict and prevent future Black Swan events such as the GFC.

Similar projects will provide a blueprint for world planning, achieved through harnessing the immense power  of the Web, coupled with advanced artificial intelligence, mathematical, computational, information feedback, control and modelling techniques.

Harnessing the Web

But salvation will require much more than predictive algorithms. It will require the synchronisation of the enormous global mind power of the human species via information networks managed on the Web, working in parallel to help complete the big picture; in essence coordinating and focusing the entire knowledge base and mind-power of our civilisation as a global hive, with each component of the planet’s intellectual mosaic- citizens, research groups, corporations and governments, contributing and mining their knowledge, each according to their creative capacity and expertise.

Such a radical vision is too fundamentally vital and complex to be funneled through private organisations, politicians or states. It must instead be created by the community as a whole, as a self-organising supra-national entity evolving as a largely autonomous system- a Superorganism; applying principles of social organisation to amplify individual intelligence- but on a massive scale.

There’s also another catalyst required to achieve true globalisation, driving society to a new level of sustainability and global governance- and that is evolutionary convergence.
Evolutionary convergence occurs when many critical feedback loops allow key knowledge-based processes such as computation and problem solving, to be optimised through cooperation to reach resolution very quickly- almost instantaneously from local to global and back to local again. At the same time new knowledge is generated from such as process, which continuously triggers change, feedback reinforcement and resolution on a continuously accelerated cycle. This has the capacity to create social advancement and complexity on a grand scale.

On the business and scientific front, global collaboration and convergence is now the norm, encompassing international networks of researchers, project alliances and business consortiums, beyond individual countries and cultures.
Even the US has been forced to take this route in relation to new space travel,  particle physics, astronomy and cosmology projects, sharing the cost and expertise, driven largely by recent budgetary constraints.

Pluralist political, economic, trade, educational, cultural and environmental societal systems are also converging on a global basis,  with major institutions such as the UN, WHO, UNESCO, EU, WTO, NATO and G20, coordinating thousands of cross cultural cooperative initiatives.

Spurred on by increasing connection between individuals and groups mediated by social networks on the Web, explosive growth in such systems is likely to continue through the 21st century, largely eliminating the destructive obstructionism of bureaucratic elites.

Indeed new entities are already coalescing to eventually compete with the nation state, such as quasi techno-states based on the social architectures of Google, Twitter, and Facebook, with memberships exceeding the populations of most nations and far more cohesive. Such powerful multinational quasi-states will be fluid, constantly morphing into new forms as they adapt to evolving social memes, gradually rendering the political structures of geographical entities irrelevant.  

This enmeshment process is therefore leading to a new phase in life's development, the realisation of a global entity or intelligence which will eventually encompass all forms of human existence, not only biological, but artificial and virtual extensions as well.

Such intelligent Cyber agents and virtual human avatars will create the prototypes of new virtual societies, with the potential to evolve to a level of complexity similar to and symbiotic with our own. The evolution of society and civilisation, from the emergence of homo sapiens 200,000 years ago, to the sophisticated global society that we experience today will continue to be driven by this accelerating process, leading inevitably to the emergence of a universal form of super-intelligence.
New technologies such as the Oculus VR headset and Holodeck immersion glasses now on the verge of mass production, will support such communities, allowing individuals to cross over and become part of virtual worlds as in Tron 2.0, merging seamlessly with the cyber forms.

Software cyber agents are already being deployed within the cyberspace of the Web to facilitate communication, and knowledge-based operations in service industries. Their current service capability includes locating, categorising and analysing data- particularly large datasets- seeking correlations and causes. In the longer term they will have the capacity to learn, adapt, mutate and replicate; to evolve in a primitive way and also relate to humans in robotic form in the real world as well as cyberspace.

Managing the planet this century therefore will involve the massive task of coordinating thousands of such entities as well as the internet ecosystem of intelligent objects, to gain the maximum cognitive leverage possible within the timescale available to implement tomorrow’s world of complex globalised decision-making.

The difficulty in gaining limited consensus even for the essential task of implementing a global carbon trading system has been well documented. But now we must go much further and coordinate all human intellectual capacity.

So is this a feasible proposition? Yes, but only by applying adaptive, autonomic system technology, capable of responding dynamically to changes in both the physical and social environment. Such a system will need to include the ability to self-organise and self-optimise its own planning and operations using a bottom-up approach – to discover, innovate, simulate, create, predict, apply, learn and continuously gain intelligence and knowledge similar to IBM’s Watson prototype. But even Watson’s level of intelligence will be seen as rudimentary within a few years as advances in AI and evolutionary algorithms based on human brain models emerge to take control of the next stage of evolutionary development.  

The computational and engineering technologies are available and feasible today, but the willpower and capacity to subvert nationalistic rivalries are in short supply. But the stark truth is that without such determination, humanity is doomed. The world’s resources are now running on empty, mainly because we continue to use fossil fuels instead of renewables.
We are slow learners, tied to an obsolete economic model of never ending growth and greed.
Most ancient civilisations collapsed because of prolonged droughts followed by chaos and conflict, despite inventing ingenious catchment and irrigation systems. The limitations and collapse of those first civilisations was understandable but the excuse of lack of knowledge is no longer valid in the 21st century.

It appears that the inertia and resistance from existing fossil fuel industries is a serious blockage. Big oil, coal and gas enterprises and their acolytes including corrupt governments, criminal networks and avaricious executives, are a greater impediment to change than technological barriers and are sufficiently embedded to stymie such initiatives, even when society is on life support.
If the human race and its civilisation is to survive it has to switch to a zero growth and a fossil free future immediately, without further hedging. It will mean putting aside a number of cherished but now irrelevant and in the present crisis, dangerous myths- primarily that growth is essential and any one group or nation is more important than another, The arrogant selfie notion of exceptionalism is still alive and well at the national level.

In tomorrow’s collaborative multipolar world the US and every major state will have to give up the idea that their goals or citizen’s aspirations are more important than those of Denmark’s or Latvia or Botswana or New Zealand.

Big War will have to go too. But in its place a new and equally dangerous model is emerging from cyberspace. Just as major conflicts have been gradually winding down as democracy has increased its coverage over the last 100 years, a wildcard has been thrown into the mix- Cyberwarfare.

Once global warming accelerates, there will be no more budgets for traditional wars or conflicts, except by local militias, starving refugees or desperate ethnic minorities. As the real carnage of global warming kicks in, historical and cold war enemies such as China, Japan, Russia and the US will have to become allies even if on a pseudo basis- allocating most of their wealth to maintaining and upgrading critical infrastructure, as well as food, water and civil security, for the wellbeing of their populations. In such a world, cooperation and negotiation on a world scale will be far more effective than fragmented competition.

But now the insidious prospect of cyberwar has raised its head. Building a civilisation is not a linear process. At every twist and turn there are complications that impede a smooth transition to a more peaceful society, including unforeseen disruptions triggered by new technologies and ideological black holes.  
In the current era these include cyber-hacking, remote killing by drones and sudden pandemics, plus a never ending stream of glittering consumer options, lulling us into a distorted sense of reality.

Now it’s more a battle for economic and cyberspace dominance than just territorial acquisition - a shadow play in which diplomatic doublespeak has become the norm and even more opaque. While signing mutually advantageous trade agreements, the protagonists are simultaneously undermining the competitive advantage of their pseudo allies, by hacking their intellectual property. This is a totally new asymmetric game, where control of a power grid or critical supply chain is infinitely more strategic than occupying a piece of real estate.

A remaining proportion of ‘old school’ battlefield operations will be automated, with drones and robots operating remotely and eventually autonomously, using satellite and sensor surveillance and the latest Web based intelligence streamed from a Conflict Cloud for decision support.

Homer’s epic poem in which Ulysses attempts to reach his home after ten years fighting the Trojan war to at last reclaim his rightful queen and kingdom still resonates today, in a world in which a stream of random diversions and deadly conflicts seems likely to derail our attempts to reach the final goal of our civilisation’s survival.  
Today such diversions are many and varied even extending to corporate ecoterrorism.
Another $100 billion payoff from fracking the world’s pristine groundwater and destroying another food bowl that might have kept the next generation alive. 
Just another trillion dollars from drilling the arctic for oil, risking the pollution of the last refuge of the Inuit and polar bear and melting the northern Tundra; exposing the vast reserves of methane gas- the final nail in the coffin of unstoppable warming. 
Or ripping up the Amazon for more oil, timber and palm oil plantations and cattle ranches; destroying the lungs of the earth and its pristine waterways which support the livelihoods of indigenous tribes and the primates that reflect our origins; 
or pumping out fumes from chemical factories, destroying the health and futures of the next generation of children in developing countries. 

Or why not dredge a deep water port next to the Great Barrier Reef off the Australian coast and dump the 100 millions tons of tailings into it, annihilating one of the natural wonders of the world in one fell stroke of Kafkaesque madness.

But governments and corporates still fall over themselves to take the quick buck. These are crimes against humanity on a grand scale. Far worse in the long term than any weapons of mass destruction' And they are crimes which will stain the digital archives of history relating to those responsible forever.    

Knowledge, Learning and Work

So now society is already immersed in the cyber-revolution and with it a revolution in Knowledge and Service delivery, largely via smartphone and tablet apps.  These will provide access to the world’s knowledge base for all peoples-not just the privileged, because even in the poorest villages of Africa smart phones are available at dirt cheap prices. And that means instant access to the world’s knowledge base.
The cyber revolution also promises to deliver civilisation’s social, scientific and commercial services such as medical care, airline reservations, legal assistance and financial payments in a more efficient and personal way, with its reach and decision power on tap for a host of smart apps.

And global knowledge access via the Internet using mobile devices is now driving the human learning process in a never ending feedback loop. The increasing rate of change in the skills required to support civilisation’s future services requires ever increasing access to the new knowledge, which in turn drives new levels of innovation, which in turn drives the next generation of social and cultural change.

Education and knowledge is now flowing seamlessly to every corner of the planet, reaching even the poorest communities in developing countries via wireless networks and an increasing variety of mobile platforms.

Half the population of the developing world in Asia and Africa now have access to the Web. Local farmers and small businesses increasingly use it to transfer money, track commodity prices and supplier deliveries and keep in touch with relatives and their communities. But most importantly this is also the ideal medium for transferring knowledge as the basis for the nextgen learning process- a global flow of educational material.

They include free online access, open content, and real-time wireless web delivery; making it much cheaper and easier to reach previously illiterate communities, even as a generational shift takes place.

At the same time the human learning process is being driven by the need to adapt to a fast changing work and social environment; an increasing rate of change in the knowledge and skills base such as computer programming and system engineering, required to provide ongoing support for society’s needs in the cyber-age.

Work practices will therefore become increasingly fluid, with individuals moving freely between projects, career paths and virtual organisations on a contract or part-time basis; adding value to each enterprise and in turn acquiring new skills, linked to ongoing advanced learning programs.

Already there is a large transfer of skills between countries like India, with a vast pool of engineering and computer science graduates and the West with its insatiable need for such skills. The transfer may be in the form of virtual or physical labour outsourcing on short term contracts. The same process currently operates between EU countries to fill capacity shortages on a regular and seamless basis.

Work and education patterns including the new ubiquitous Startup model, are also obsoleting the ‘old school’ business dinosaurs, in which archaic enterprises like giant Galapagos tortoises are easy pickings, candidates for rapid extinction. 
Just ponder the number of whole industries turned upside down or about to be radically changed in the last twenty years mainly by innovative startups using mobile apps offering- online retailing, 3D manufacturing printing, phone photography, free online education, music, film and video streaming distribution, ebook and online news publishing, flexible spare seat vehicle access, room renting and airline reservation capacity, brokerless trading, bankless payment systems etc, etc.

Those and most other industries and professions will be forced to cede their current market monopolies to the new cyber reality- no apologies or prisoners taken; allowing the developing world to finally achieve its true potential. 

Leveraging the Future of the  Enterprise- Cloud World

It is clear that each enterprise will have a key role to play in meeting these objectives- gathering data about its operations, not only for its own performance goals, but to feed into the global matrix of controls to monitor and model comparative sustainability outcomes in relation to industry and regional benchmarks.  This will involve measuring its carbon footprint and impact on the ecosystems of the planet in realtime. Some statistics will involve mandatory reporting as in carbon trading systems, while key performance and service level indicators will keep its global customers, suppliers and  shareholders informed. 

This information will be accessible directly on demand via shared public and private cloud services.In other words it will have to be embedded in the communities it serves- as well as the the planet’s global ecosystem.Flexible and agile Cloud services are already becoming a key enabler in this process, allowing enterprises to achieve such embedding while at the same time achieving major reductions in the processing, distribution and application of knowledge resources. These will be implemented as resource services- Resources as a Service- Raas- now set to link Iaas and Saas, making this a feasible managment tool..In addition to switching to Cloud services to improve the efficiency and quality of sustainability and performance, enterprises will achieve major savings and revenue gains through global marketing, production and distribution, using local outsourcing, open public data and code as well as innovative social media promotional strategies.Continuous and sustainable innovation through internal startups and acquisition is now a buzzword in all senior management circles- an essential component for maintaining a competitive edge and fending off disruptive interlopers. 

Incremental change and quality control is not enough to ensure survival in the 21st century and salvation for the future enterprise will require much more than big data and predictive algorithms. It will require synchronising with global mind power via information networks managed on the Web; in essence coordinating and harnessing the entire knowledge base of our civilisation, with each component of the planet’s intellectual mosaic- communities, research and innovation groups, corporations and government contributing according to their creative capacity and potential.

There is also a revolution in Open Intellectual PropĂ©rty brewing which will be accelerated by globalisation. Open source data in public databases, will be a vital resource for all enterprises, tracking natural and engineered assets via satellites and sensors, monitoring ecosystems, infrastructure, dynamics of cities and populations, health and lifestyle, genetics, economic, production and census statistics, commodity and financial markets and weather forecasts etc. These  are already available funded largely by the public purse and should be seen as part of the global commons for the benefit of all.There is also a major shift in the open publication of research data in universities and Government departments, powering our national innovation and technology strategies. 

This creates an obligation on business to reciprocate value in terms of the welfare of the community in return for access to such opportunity benefits. This is not only a case of altruism and ethics but of economic necessity for those companies that want to survive in the new world order. Sustainability and survival will involve developing a ‘shared’ cooperative economy beyond the current competitive-only mindset, that leverages the logic of distributing spare capacity to all stakeholders on an equitable basis.

Open source code, algorithms and software platforms such as Ushahidi for democratising information  and Apache Mesos for distributed data centre processing as well as Docker for managing distributed apps. These are available in the public domain, made accessible by developer organisations including Github, Google and Red Hat. Google’s Android op system and Go language are other examples of open source, while Apple’s IOS and apps are  not- instead perpetuating a twentieth century closed ecosystem regime. And because the skills of  many innovators can outstrip just a few talents, Google is now oustripping Apple in the race for the business market.Tesla’s Elon Musk has also applied this counterintuitive principle and is market leader in electric vehicles against the global auto giants.

There’s a lesson in this for all enterprises. Just as every individual can share in the world’s knowledge via a $5 recycled smartphone- so every enterprise no matter how small can share the benefits of globalisation via cloud economics, cheap apps, global marketing and an outsourced workforce linked more closely to customers and supply networks. 

The radical vision of  truly collaborative globalisation is too fundamentally vital to be funneled through large organisations, politicians or nation states. It must instead be created by the community as a whole from the ground up, linked via networks and self-organising hubs into a supra-national entity evolving as a largely autonomous system, applying principles of social organisation to amplify individual and group intelligence on a massive scale. 

This is already happening through the efforts of tens of thousands of small businesses including- Startups, and Not for Profits; generating value to compete with the 20th century oligopolies to ensure a sustainable growth, ethical and sharing economy.  But before this can happen Big War and regional conflict will have to be neutered. The cost in lives and lost human potential is immeasurable in an era when the complete infrastructure of civilisation will have to be re-architectured to cope with the massive challenges ahead.The EU has shown the way in the 20th century, providing the template for eliminating wars- demonstrating how 28 countries that fought for thousands of years finally achieved peace. When citizens from diverse nations work and play together, extremism and ignorance is stymied and the incalculable benefits of peace take precedence. And this happened over a short 60 year period.  

Every individual, rich and poor, then should have the opportunity to participate in the great game of life- via the global information revolution; sharing access to the Web, and its repository of the world’s knowledge, without fear or discrimination.And the future enterprise will be a critical part of this organic global renaissance. Work will be outsourced flexibly and rapidly as already occurring. Each enterprise will also need to cultivate its own brand of startup-style research and innovation in order to avoid the risk of lethal disruption. In return each enterprise should respect the values of the communities that nourish them; preserving, not trashing natural commons resources such as clean water and air, providing decent working conditions and a living wage to workers; without leaving a legacy of a polluted and corrupt landscape.   

Migration flows will then follow the new education and work flows across borders with geography becoming even less relevant as Web empowerment spreads. Already countries offer bounties to foreign knowledge mercenaries with the right skills, not just to fill low level jobs but highly prized computer science, mathematics, medical, biotech and engineering skills.
The US has recently been forced  to reopen its borders to graduates skilled in these disciplines, realising after choking off foreign worker visas that their own home-grown education system was failing to fill the gap.   

The stresses on all societies will be enormous, but only through global cooperation will anarchy and conflict will be avoided. This will be particularly true if food production in poorer countries is unable to keep pace with the impact of severe droughts, arable land acquisition by the rich and powerful and overfishing in an acidifying ocean.
By 2030 according to the latest analysis, planet earth will have reached a catastrophic tipping point, where it is realised that humans have probably left their run too late to limit global temperature rise to the maximum safe level of 2 degrees centigrade and atmospheric carbon levels to less than 450 ppm.

The evidence is starting to become apparent from a number of sources. The melting of the polar ice sheets causing atmospheric disruption as far south as Florida and depletion of mountain snows feeding the major river systems in Asia and Africa. The disintegration of the northern tundra threatening the release of vast amounts of methane, the catastrophic loss of biodiversity, disruption of most ecosystems including the coral reefs and tropical forests, ocean warming threatening the phytoplankton base of the food chain and increases in extreme climate related events- droughts, floods, rising ocean surges in coastal areas, tornados etc. These are all accelerating, threatening to overwhelm even the wealthier nations’ capacity to rebuild damaged and obsolete infrastructure.

Out-of-control global warming will inevitably lead to major disruption of
the world’s food and fresh water supplies, seriously affecting at least half the world’s population. This will result in vast human migration movements as the rivers and food bowls of China, India and Africa dry up and deadly tropical diseases such as the malaria and dengue fever spread to temperate latitudes.
In turn these factors will result in increasing chaos and conflict unless managed effectively on a global basis.

Migration has always been a routine way of coping with floods and droughts going back to early civilisations, when there were few borders. But the numbers affected were trivial in comparison with today’s seven billion population and vast urban infrastructure.

The magnitude and frequency of environmental hazards is now beginning to place enormous pressure on many communities’ capacity to survive. The IPCC / Stern Review of the economics of climate change estimates that climate refugees will reach 200 million by 2050.

By mid-century mounting humanitarian crises are likely to make assistance to all climate and humanitarian refugees mandatory as it is realised that a piecemeal national approach will result in far worse disruptions to society in terms of spreading conflict..

Any country that avoids its international obligations and attempts to free ride the system will be ostracised and severely sanctioned.
Europe already contends with a disproportionate number of refugees from North Africa, which include- economic, climate, disaster and conflict diasporas. The same is true for smaller humanitarian havens in the Middle East such as Jordan and Lebanon, stretching their meager resources to the limit.

By 2050 a new climate of tolerance will have emerged, with a recognition that all communities are now stakeholders in the global village.
From the ashes of past conflicts and financial failures there must arise a new global democratic and economic architecture, incorporating greater humanitarian  regulation and transparency for all democratic states.
Eventually it is likely that the paradigm of controlled but flexible migration worldwide will cease to be controversial, instead endorsed and managed under
the auspices of the UN, as a globalised One Planet philosophy.
The road to reconciliation will involve a much greater awareness of the rights of individuals and the value of international cooperation in maintaining those rights and the realisation of human potential, with benefits for the world as a whole.

Politics, Capitalism, Economics and Ethics- New Frameworks

The end of the Cold War heralded a new international order- a crucial transformation from power politics and military might to power economics. But this has shifted again in the 21st century in a remarkably short time, to a focus on  the new power currency- knowledge.
However instead of the enormous potential benefits from access to this cornucopia by the whole world via the Internet, it has been subverted at the last moment by the spectre of an Orwellian cyberspy mentality.

Prior to this social catastrophe, each nation and supra-national bloc- Asia, Europe and the US, was busy evolving its own variation of a hybrid version of capitalism and socialism, depending on its historical roots and level of interaction between the public and private sectors.

In a globalised world it’s difficult to see a ‘one template fitting all’ scenario- more likely a constant mixing of variations with a goal that offers a balance between the individual and state, combined with the opportunity for both to fulfill their sides of an unwritten grand bargain.
But the new Utopian knowledge power conferred by the Web, promising an egalitarian level information playing field for the developing world, is now jeopardised by the intrusion of an obsessively paranoid international cyberspy  diaspora. This has thrown the previous fragile state/citizen compact into disarray.
Some good outcomes have happened along the way, including the US decision to cede more democratic access to the Internet’s core operations managed by a full representation of UN membership, reflecting a future multipolar world and decline in US power.

Because of the Edward Snowden’s ground-breaking revelations the endemic cyberspying, particularly by the US and China but also by most other developed countries, the gross privacy violations have finally been exposed. As has the use by the Darkside of the Internet ecosystem as a convenient back door for drug deals, cybertheft and government and corporate IP acquisition, with the result that a number of countries are now busy establishing their own secure national Internet clones, while retaining some links to the global parent.

If this trend continues it is likely that a dense networked Internet structure will evolve to replace the current hierarchical architecture, with the ability to adapt more flexibly to future permutations of national/global processing, security and communication regimes.

However it appears that any trust remaining between Governments and their constituencies has all but evaporated at least in the short term. and the simplistic political dichotomies that society has relied on over the past several hundred years will have to be re-assessed in a brave new world.  

The infrastructure and instruments supporting the world’s financial-capitalist systems are now in a state of rapid flux- equity, hedge and foreign exchange funds and markets, investment, banking and credit services and customer analytics.  

Every traditional financial service is under pressure from a host of opportunistic startups offering  payment, investment, loan, leasing, credit management,  mortgage, trading, insurance and customer service systems in the form of moew flexible and cheaper apps. There’s even an app to support M&A, connecting dealmakers with potential buyers and sellers globally.

Other players are prizing capitalism from the traditional banks in the entrepreneurial space, including a new model for raising funds for innovative startups- Crowdfunding- whether using venture capital or kickstarter donations. Overnight this funding model is igniting new businesses globally, offering an alternate pathway to traditional inflexible bank loan options; achieving a surge in creative innovations- upending traditional businesses and even whole industries.

In a sign that globalisation at the financial level is accelerating, the head of the International Monetary Fund has called for a new world currency that would eventually challenge the dominance of the US dollar and help curb future financial instability, using Special Drawing Rights to price global trade and denominate financial assets. In the meantime China is pushing for greater acceptance of the internationalisation of its Renminbi currency, while
the rise of Bitcoin, now accepted by an increasing number of traders and even several major reserve banks, presages a revolution in alternate crypto-currencies.

All such developments are a good thing, with the potential to create more consistent standards and creative synergy if managed judiciously and will inevitably lead to a truly global enmeshment of financial services.

Also the rise of the NGO community as an ethical and socially oriented counterweight to national political decision-making- a significant trend towards pluralism of policy-making within the global community- bypassing the inertia of national governments and offering alternative forums for most major political events covering climate change, human rights and business conferences- including Davos.

It is clear that hybrid models of capitalism and socialism representing a dual perspective on life will continue to evolve through many mutations in the future, with each tuned to the specific needs of communities in an increasingly globalised, but pluralistic world.

By mid century all significant financial services and operations will have evolved to become intermeshed through dense operational networks on a global basis. It is also becoming clear at the beginning of the 21st century that such economic systems can be viewed as a complex networks and ecosystems and that the old ways of understanding and controlling market aberrations have reached their use by date.

The recent GFC crisis has clearly shown the risks of applying the ‘old school’ model in a densely connected world, by its continuing global failures. The recent GFC failure championed by classical economics has triggered a re-evaluation of the whole basis of current economic theory, the bedrock of capitalism for the last 100 years.

The utopian clockwork model has proved over the last four decades to be seriously out of synch with reality, as global markets have been roiled by a series of disastrous credit, market, liquidity and commodity crises. The predictions of the standard model have failed to match real world outcomes, generated in succession by the Savings and Loan, Asian, Mexican, Dotcom and now toxic mortgage bubble disasters.

In this ‘mother of all excess’ debacles, high risk mortgage loans were repackaged many times over into opaque risk financial instruments, such as Collateralised Debt Obligations or CDOs, which ended up through the largely unregulated financial system in the portfolios of nearly every banking institution around the world.
When the CDOs finally failed, the losses rippled through the world economy. The banks stopped lending, leading to further business failures and investors were then forced to sell previously sound stocks causing a stock market crash.

A number of theorists, as far back as the seventies, began to question the entire basis of the classical economic model, likening it to a gigantic game of roulette rather than a serious science. And it gradually began to dawn on these interdisciplinary thinkers that the key premises or axioms underpinning the model were seriously flawed.

First- the assumption that humans are rational players in the great game of market monopoly. They are not- as proven by behavioural scientists.    
Second- the assumption that an economic system always reaches an ideal point of equilibrium of its own accord. In other words, the market is capable of self-regulation. It is not as proven by systems theory.

The new emerging evolutionary paradigm postulates that economies and markets, as well as the internet, enterprises and the brain, are all forms of complex adaptive systems in which agents dynamically interact, process information and adapt their behaviour to a constantly changing environment- but never reach a final optimum equilibrium or goal.

In essence, economic and financial systems have been fundamentally misinterpreted. They are not perfect self-regulating systems. They are enormously complex adaptive networks, made up of individual agents which interact dynamically in response to changes in their environment- not merely through simple price setting mechanisms, tax or interest rate cuts, liquidity injections or job creation programs. They must be understood and managed at a far deeper level in terms of network topologies and relationships.

The economic ecosystem is now fed by trillions of transactions, interactions and non-linear feedback loops daily. It may in fact have become too complex and interdependent for economists and governments to control or even understand.

At the beginning of the 21st century a new model is therefore gaining traction- emerging in accordance with the above globalisation thesis. This recognises the sovereign rights and integrity of each nation state in conjunction with the mix of ethnic, religious and political groups comprising it. In addition it recognises the gains from cooperation and collaboration between states through trade and security; a new understanding of the universal conventions of human rights overarching sovereign national rights. As a result, a number of new super groupings and meta-institutions have emerged in society to foster cooperation and protect these rights. These include trade and economic groups but also the groundswell of thousands of activist NGOs.

These developments signal a transition beyond the nation state and its false virtue of power towards a truly global federation of humanity. The impact of this new cooperative globalisation model is replacing nationalism at the commercial, financial, legal and knowledge-sharing level, with a concomitant recognition of universal human rights. In addition, the spread of new technologies and knowledge-based industries is providing the opportunity for civilisation to gain a quantum leap in wealth and material well-being, providing the looming threat of global warming and future shocks such as cyber-warfare can be contained.

This will require the management of key resources- food, water and energy on a global scale, with national rivalries subsumed. At the same time there will need to be greater emphasis on a variety of peacekeeping and mediation initiatives, involving a range of alliances between Governments, NGOs and neutral Governments of goodwill such as Denmark and Sweden, all operating at the local level in cooperation with civilian populations. These strategies will increasingly be applied to support failing and dysfunctional states and establish democratic institutions.

Within a decade the superpower states of US and China will have to reach agreement on zones of cooperation. Already they are beginning to synchronise their strategies to meet carbon limits. The US will be forced to abdicate its traditional 20th century role of alpha military dominance and mantra of exceptionalism as its resources become more and more thinly spread. Its diplomatic soft power is also diluted as it struggles to maintain quality of life for its population against unsustainable mounting levels of debt and pollution.

Similarly India, Japan and middle power nations will be forced to channel most of their resources to developing infrastructure, capacity and social services. Numerous flashpoints involving quelling local insurgencies and ethnic uprisings will remain. Increasingly the UN and representative intergovernmental bodies such as the present G20 will need to work together to minimise conflict globally. The EU will be seen as a template for global cooperation and peace-keeping rather than force will become the norm for conflict containment.

It will be realised by most nations that conflict and wars are increasingly unsupportable. Globalisation continues to accelerate, with the creation of more complex networks of alliances and treaties binding nations and regional groups on a realtime basis. At the same time there is pressure for more fluid cross border relaxation as in the EU. The mixing of races and nationalities eases pressure for conflict and offers greater accessibility to the benefits of global health standards, education, and knowledge sharing.

By 2050 all available global resources will be marshalled to overcome the immense problems associated with global warming. The end of physical conflict between nations is accepted and an era of cooperation is in sigh

The  trend towards globalisation is not a chance historical accident, but now understood as an inevitable outcome of the deeper evolutionary processes driving the relentless need for life to survive and maximise its potential through the absorption and processing of information. Above all else, life is an efficient knowledge generator.

This process of knowledge aggregation will involve the intermeshing of not just trade and governance policies, but decision-making on all critical issues- social practices, conflict resolution and environmental protocols, including the management of ecosystems,  energy, food, water and air.
It will also require the rapid creation and strengthening of common frameworks for managing commerce, education, science, technology, legal, financial, health, computing, communication and engineering processes on a worldwide scal
But now time has now run out for planet earth and its human cargo. A number of critical decision points have converged in our civilisation’s evolution, which demand a major upgrade in the difficult problem solving and issue resolution ahead.

Global issues such as managing rising sea levels in coastal areas, spread of dangerous diseases, the expansion of cyber-spying, terrorism, minority ethnic grievances, tax minimisation, endemic poverty, humanitarian refugee relocation, food and water security, access to the web and knowledge: all demand immediate international resolution on a fair and equitable basis.

Diplomacy or policy making alone will not provide the answers at the coal face of of resource, trade or territorial dispute resolution between feuding nations- such as control of the Internet, mineral rights in Antarctica or the South China Sea. 
In the 21st century, opaque negotiating methods, flawed International legal dispute resolution, leader summits and back channel diplomacy etc, have proved inadequate- not agile enough, uncertain in their resolution, lacking sufficient rigor, not able to cope with the rate of technological change; falling far short of the level of sophistication needed to manage the critical stresses and constraints facing the fragile future of our civilisation.

Every process and field of knowledge on which human quality of life depends is in the process of ratcheting up its decision tempo and complexity- manufacturing and engineering, computing and communications, economics and finance, health and education, science and technology.

So now with the tsunami of change upon us, the mechanisms for ensuring the quality and validity of global decision-making must also be held to account, including the governance process itself- open to unbiased and rigorous scrutiny.

A number of techniques hold out promise for salvation, including the application of algorithmic templates,  artificial intelligence, new network and holistic systems theory, bayesian statistics and innovative problem solving methods such as Game Theory- in particular its latest incarnation- Quantum Game theory.

Emergence of an Ethical Global Culture

A new culture is now emerging- a global or meta-culture, superimposed on but not obliterating the best of local tribal and national cultures. A culture with a common set of norms and ethical principles, based on common standards of democracy and justice- a truly humanitarian culture.

It is being shaped not only by the forces of globalisation but by the evolution of the new cyber knowledge environment in which most of the next generation of humans will live and work.

The principles sifted by this process may be termed ethical codes, morality, human rights or principles of social justice. They include the set of modern democratic principles that encode the rights and responsibilities of the individual in relation to the group, such as equality under the law and freedom of speech. These become the rules that set the social and behavioural boundaries of human evolution. They are not just mandated arbitrarily  by governments, but formulated through trial and error over eons.

The ethical process is gaining a foothold in the corporate world as well.
Companies are being held to account when chemical or oil spillages or abuse of indigenous populations damage the reputation of their customers. Fortunately there’s now a shift- a glimmer of sanity. Shareholders and investors in banks and retirement funds are reacting against investing in fossil fuel, tobacco or armaments enterprises.
You can call it ethics or a sense of survival but the end result is the same - organisations are becoming more responsive to the values of the communities

But the true essence of such a culture is still elusive. From the preceding analysis there appears to be many flavours of globalisation in the multiple dimensions examined- political, knowledge, economic, etc.
Many people already live in this space, continuously commuting between countries and cultures- subconsciously extracting the common elements.of human behaviour and gaining an awareness of the value of the shared physical and social environment.

And so it will go into the future, despite the wild cards thrown into the mix.
Only by gaining a greater understanding of the essence of being human- sharing one planet, will we survive and grow.

It’s a common heritage that transcends family, community and national ties

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