Thirty years ago, the threats addressed in this book did not yet exist. Even five years ago they had not fully developed. What has happened that has so changed everything since the 1980s? In a phrase: the continued explosion of High-Tech. The seeds of chaos that have now grown into many of the Major Concerns of the modern world have all germinated as a result of this sustained explosion. But then so has almost everything that we are proud of as well. Human progress over the last thirty years has become dominated by the intertwined growth of a handful of deeply-established trends that if you cluster them together you can loosely think of as ‘High-Tech’ (including not just IT-based products and services but all of the science and technology and medicine and consumer devices and commercial systems that now derive from them).
The reason these trends have become so extremely important is that over several decades they have continued to grow exponentially – that is, the better their performance, the faster it has become even better. That sort of sustained explosion is why these High-Tech trends have now outstripped everything else to become the dominant drivers of world progress. And there is a very important implication to that: The transformations between now and 2040 will not be equivalent to the changes felt since Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher came to power; they will likely be equivalent to the progress made since Queen Victoria was in power.
THE REALITY OF OUR GLOBAL FUTURE
If you are interested in exploring in depth the combined impacts of the largely-obscured High-Tech drivers of the world economy (Digitization, Networking, Miniaturization and Simulation), they are fully examined in the short companion-volume to this book – THE REALITY OF OUR GLOBAL FUTURE: How five unstoppable High-Tech trends will dominate our lives and transform our world – which acts as a detailed Appendix for those readers who want to understand specifics of how technology is set to dictate the development of the international community over the next thirty years. The book also explains the role of the emerging fifth dominant-driver of the world economy: Boundaryless People-Power. It is this trend in particular that is set to trigger an escalation of increasingly powerful global backlashes. Its book reference is ISBN-13: 978-1470115487.
Such an exploding rate of progress is already throwing up turbulence and causing all kinds of frictions. But that instability has very recently started to get worse. In only the last couple of years a new exponential trend has spontaneously emerged from High-Tech that is set to trigger an escalation of increasingly powerful backlashes throughout the world economy. For want of a better term I think of this new trend as Boundaryless People-Power. In 2011 we began to see its embryonic capabilities in the backlashes we call the Arab Spring as well as the lesser backlashes triggered by disclosure of News of the World abuses – neither of which have yet even begun to have their full impacts.
The emergence of Boundaryless People-Power is game-changing. This trend has almost unlimited potential. But it is not automatically benign. And it certainly does not tip the world economy toward stability – at least not in the short-to-medium term. In contrast, this new form of amplified feedback throughout the global economic system risks blasting some of our future prospects into destabilized oblivion.