Re: UNU report 2003 identified human-machine intelligence as key issue

From: Philip Sutton (
Date: Sun Feb 29 2004 - 07:23:55 MST

In case people are too busy to go to the source of the Millenium Project
2003 State of the Future report, I've included it as plain text below.

People might especially like to look at the summary of the four
scenarios for the global handling of challenging future Science &
Technology issues.

Warning: This posting is long.

Cheers, Philip


2003 State of the Future


After seven years of cumulative global futures research by the
Millennium Project, it has become increasingly clear that humanity has
the resources to address its global challenges; what is less clear is how
much wisdom, good will, and intelligence will be focused on these

Dramatic increases in collective human-machine intelligence are
possible within 25 years. It is also possible that within the next 25 years
single individuals acting alone might use advances in science and
technology (S&T) to create and use weapons of mass destruction

The increasing number of women with formal education or participation
in the cash economy has substantially improved the nutrition condition
of the world, reduced infant mortality and birth rates, and improved
general welfare. Yet violence against women who are between 15 and
44 years old causes more death and disability than cancer, malaria,
traffic accidents, and even war.

Previous moral campaigns by one religion or ideology tend to give rise
to “we-they” splits, making it difficult to solve world problems.
Collaboration across national and institutional boundaries, as well as
religious and ideological ones, seems necessary to address the global
challenges described in this book. Globalization and advanced
technology allow fewer people to do more damage, in less time, than
ever before; hence, the welfare of anyone should be the concern of
everyone. Such platitudes are not new, but the consequences of their
failure will be quite different in the future than in the past. As the
collective intelligence of humanity increases by responding to feedback
from the “global electronic nervous system,” far more serious efforts
are needed to make sure that global ethics are also improved in
parallel with advances in mental capacity.

Most people do not appreciate how fast science and technology will
change over the next 25 years. The synergies and confluence of
nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology, and cognitive
science (NBIC) are a particularly important new merger of science and
engineering supported by both government and venture capitalists.
NBIC tools will dramatically increase individual and group performance
and the support systems of civilization. NBIC products will range from
biometrics to counterterrorism systems, from restoring brain functioning
and eyesight to increased longevity.

The unprecedented speed of change makes people unsure about the
future. Globalization is challenging philosophical and religious certainty.
People are unsure of the basis on which to make decisions. As
decisionmaking to address global challenges becomes too complex, it
will appear chaotic until new decisionmaking systems emerge. New
kinds of global institutions might appear to be massively complex
games capable of matching solutions and problems. With the merger of
Internet capabilities and mobile phones, swarms of people can quickly
form, share information, coordinate actions, and disband. E-
government systems are growing rapidly to help automate administrivia
and to facilitate public participation, but they also create new
vulnerabilities to manipulation by organized crime and to cyber-

The leadership necessary for sustainable development has not yet
emerged. Even with spectacular growth in alternative renewable energy
sources, total fossil fuel use over the next 50 years is expected to triple
the amount used over the last 50. Unless carbon sequestration or other
methods to prevent or recycle greenhouse gas emissions are
developed, the environmental movement may try to close down the
fossil fuel industries, just as they stopped the growth of nuclear power
30 years ago.

International responses to SARS, the September 11th attacks, and the
Space Shuttle Columbia explosion have increased global long-term
thinking, but their impacts seem short-lived.

Nevertheless, long-range goals like landing on the moon or eradicating
smallpox that were considered impossible did excite many people who
went beyond selfish, short-term interests to great achievements. The
eight UN Millennium Development Goals could be the basis for eight
international coalitions—each composed of the governments,
corporations, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), universities, and
international organizations that are really willing to commit the
resources and talent to address the goal.

Meanwhile, water tables are continuing to fall on every continent. About
40% of humanity lives in the 260 major international water basins
shared by more than two countries. Nearly half the world lives in cities,
on just 2% of the world’s land. People are living longer, the world is
increasingly urban, and population is growing fastest where people can
least afford the necessities of life. By 2050 there may be more people
over 60 than under 15 years old. Within the next two decades,
hundreds of millions of people could be added to the 1.3 billion people
who are living on $1 per day.

The digital divide between the industrial and developing worlds is
closing rapidly. It fell from 40 to 1 users of the Internet in 1995 to 17 to
1 in 2001, and by mid-2003 it had fallen to about 4 to 1.

In 2002, there were more Internet users in Asia and the Pacific than in
the United States and Canada (187 million to 183 million). By the end
of 2003, China could have 120 million users.

The majority of the world may be connected to the Internet within 15
years, making cyberspace an unprecedented medium for civilization.
This new distribution of the means of production in the knowledge
economy is cutting through old hierarchical controls in politics,
economics, and finance. It is becoming a self-organizing mechanism
that could lead to dramatic increases in humanity’s ability to invent its

Democratization is a global long-term trend, even though the pace of
democratization has not progressed for the past two years. Since
democracies tend not to fight each other, the trend toward democracy
should lead to a more peaceful future. Yet humanitarian crises within
authoritarian regimes from North Korea to the Congo need far better
international anticipation and response.

The world economy has grown from $5 trillion to $35 trillion during the
last 50 years. Although significant growth has occurred for many in the
developing world (especially in India and China), income per capita has
been dropping steadily over the past 30 years in poorer countries.

Yet the number of Asians earning more than $7,000 annually exceeds
the total population of the United States, Canada, and Europe—laying
the foundation for unprecedented middle-class growth and

Transnational organized crime has grown to the point where it is
increasingly interfering with the ability of governments to act. Nation-
states can be understood as a series of decision points.

People in these decision points are vulnerable to influence from the
vast amounts of money available to crime groups; hence, a new line of
business for organized crime could be buying and selling government
controls, decisions, and departments, just as they buy and sell heroin.

Since hospitals, food storage, water supply, and other support systems
of civilization increasingly depend on the Internet, cyber weapons can
now be considered weapons of mass destruction. Because cyber and
other WMDs may be available to single individuals over the next
generation, we should begin to explore how to connect education and
security systems in a healthy way to prevent their use.

New biological and technological sensory technologies will make
detection and enforcement of tougher environmental regulations
possible. Many environmental impacts that were tolerated 10 years ago
will not be allowed 10 years from now. The cost of military operations to
comply with environmental regulations may become so high that the
nature of conflict and military operations could change.

The rapid and unprecedented international cooperation to control SARS
is a step in the evolution of global systems necessary to reduce the
threat of new and reemerging diseases and immune microorganisms.
In the meantime, AIDS still looms as a global catastrophe: by 2012 the
number of people dying early of AIDS could double or triple. Today,
nurses and teachers in Africa are dying faster of AIDS than they can be

State of the Future Index (SOFI) software can be created to help
countries, industries, and sectors assess their future on a more
objective basis.

State of the Future Index

The State of the Future Index was created by the Millennium Project to
quantify progress related to 15 Global Challenges as a whole and to
assess whether the future is improving or getting worse. The future
cannot be reduced to a number, but the process of developing this
index forces people to consider what they mean when the say the
future is getting better or worse.

According to the studies of the SOFI discussed in Chapter 2, the
outlook for the future is getting better due to the past 20 years of
improvements in:
Ø the infant mortality rate,
Ø food availability in low-income countries,
Ø the gross domestic product per capita,
Ø the share of households with access to safe water,
Ø the adult literacy rate,
Ø life expectancy,
Ø the percent of world population living in countries that are free,
Ø secondary school enrollment, and
Ø the share of the population with access to local health care in the 15
most populated countries.

At the same time, the forces that impede improvement include:
Ø carbon emissions,
Ø the share of the population unemployed,
Ø loss of forestlands,
Ø the ratio of global average income of the top 5% to the bottom 5%,
Ø annual AIDS deaths, and
Ø developing-country debt.

This year’s analysis found that the SOFI was sensitive to several key
uncertainties, including the possibility of extending the lives of people
infected with HIV, large-scale increases in the number of deaths due to
terrorism resulting from the advent of a single individual using a WMD,
and the continuing possibility of nuclear proliferation. These factors
lead to a plausible and significant drop in the future SOFI and suggest
an agenda for global attention.

The results are summarized in Chapter 2 of the print version, and full
details and the methodology are in the accompanying CD in Chapter 2.

One graphic representation of the 2003 SOFI is shown in Figure 1.

For diagram go to:

An exciting next step is the development of the Internet-based
interactive SOFI software as a futures research and policy analysis tool
supported over an open knowledge system. This initiative is already
under way, spearheaded by the Millennium Project’s Silicon Valley

The panel of leaders and senior members from the Silicon Valley
software industry proposed an organic open-knowledge system
architecture. Pending funding to complete the software development, it
could be used to develop national SOFIs for country comparisons.
Initial discussions have been held about creating a EuroSOFI.

Corporations could create their own SOFIs to help clarify what is
important to measure about their future, and what success would look
like in more than just financial measures. The SOFI software system
comprises “server” software components that run on an Internet Server
and a “client” software that runs on users’ personal computers. The
application is designed to support multiple types of clients.

Future S&T Management Policy Issues—2025 Global Scenarios

Over the past three years the Millennium Project has conducted a study
of futures issues in science and technology management and policy.
The full results and methods are in the CD Chapter 3. This third year
produced four scenarios based on the previous research and a two-
round questionnaire on the scenarios’ construction.

In preparation to write the scenarios, an international panel of futurists,
scientists, research and development (R&D) managers, and S&T
policymakers were asked about potential future developments and
scenario content. Over half of the international panel believed it was
plausible that within the next 25 years:

Ø there will be dramatic increases in collective human-machine

Ø organizations designed to regulate the course of S&T will generally
    fail to keep pace with accelerated advances of S&T;

Ø weapons of mass destruction will be available to single individuals;

Ø international S&T treaties and regulations will have provisions for
    enforcement by police or military intervention;

Ø international systems (like the International Atomic Energy Agency)
    will be established to monitor and regulate biotechnology,
    nanotechnology, and other areas of scientific R&D with enforcement

Ø advances in cognitive science, information technology, and new
    educational systems and/or changes in older ones will be able to
    significantly improve tolerance for diversity;

Ø S&T regulators and commissions will not be free from corruption;

Ø an anti-science movement will not be as powerful or more powerful
    than the environmental movement;

Ø cost-benefit trade-offs cannot be logically made when extreme
    unintended consequences are involved;

Ø scientists will not unite into a global labor organization; and

Ø science disciplines will not be able to effectively self-regulate.

The alternative scenarios produced seven different S&T management
approaches, many of which can exist in combination with others:

Ø national regulation on a case-by-case basis;

Ø a global organization dedicated to the collection and dissemination
    of S&T information on risk and opportunities;

Ø a global organization that has power to enforce regulations that
    limit and direct S&T;

Ø a global commission to establish S&T guidelines;

Ø a global commission to assign priorities;

Ø self-regulation of each field by organizations with the disciplines
    themselves; and

Ø international treaties and sanctions.

The following are brief abstracts of the 2025 scenarios; the full text can
be found in Chapter 3:

Scenario 1: S&T Develops a Mind of Its Own

The rate of scientific discoveries and advanced technological
applications exploded. A global science/social feedback system was at
work: science made people smarter, and smarter people made better
and faster science. Better and faster science opened new doors to
discovery, and new doors led to synergies solving problems and
creating new opportunities that created new science that made people
smarter. S&T moved so fast government and international regulations
were left in the dust. Science and technology appeared to be taking on
a mind of its own.

Scenario 2: The World Wakes Up

The murder of 25 million people in 2021 by a self-proclaimed Agent of
God who created the genetically modified Congo virus finally woke the
world up to the realization that an individual acting alone could create
and use a weapon of mass destruction. This phenomenon became
known as SIMAD—Single Individual Massively Destructive. Regulatory
agencies and mechanisms were put into place to control the science-
and technology-related dangers that became apparent. Education was
a big part of the answer, but connecting the educational systems with
the security systems was disturbing to some people. Nevertheless,
further individual acts of mass destruction were prevented. International
and government regulations did manage the S&T enterprise for the
public good.

Scenario 3: Please Turn off the Spigot

Science was attacked as pompous and self-aggrandizing, as
encouraging excesses in consumption, raising false hopes
and—worse—unexpected consequences that could destroy us all.
Particularly worrisome was accidentally or intentionally released
genetically modified organisms and the potential for weapons of mass
destruction. The poor were ignored. A science guru arose to galvanize
the public. A global commission was established but failed because of
corruption. But a new commission with built-in safeguards seemed to
be working.

Scenario 4: Backlash

Control was low and science moved fast, but negative consequences
caused public alarm. The golden age of science was hyped by the
media, but it all proved to be a chimera. Some of the most valued
discoveries and new capabilities had a downside and surprises
abounded. Rogue nations took advantage of some of these
shortcomings. The level of concern rose. Mobs protested. Regulation
failed. Progress stalled. And corporate (or government) scientists
frequently felt pressure from within their organizations. Both corporate
and government organizations could not be counted on to self-regulate.

Middle East Peace Scenarios Study

Although the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the most analyzed
issues today, there are no well researched, objective, plausible peace
scenarios for the Middle East - not frameworks, proposals, treaties, or
road maps, but scenarios - stories with causal links connecting the
future and present. At the request of its Cairo Node, the Millennium
Project has begun a study to “backcast” from peace to how it was

Seven preconditions were identified:
Ø secure borders for Israel,
Ø establishment of a viable and independent Palestinian state,
Ø resolution of the Jerusalem question,
Ø end violence by both sides and build confidence,
Ø social and economic development,
Ø education, and
Ø resolution of Palestinian refugee status.

A set of actions to help achieve each of the seven preconditions was
given, additional actions were requested, and all were rated by an
international panel as to their importance to achieving the precondition,
the likelihood that it could be done, and the backfire potential (the
ability to make things worse). The highest combined score (importance,
likelihood, and low backfire) from the two-round questionnaire was
successful regional water negotiations in the Middle East. Hence,
peace scenarios should have this as an essential element, and those
working on the peace process in the Middle East should initiate regional
water negotiations as soon as possible. The responses of the
international panel composed of more than 180 futurists, social
scientists, representatives of involved institutions, and decisionmakers
in the Middle East and elsewhere to the two-round questionnaire are
discussed in Chapter 4 and the complete results are in the CD Chapter

The study is now half completed. Draft scenarios will be constructed.
To improve their plausibility, they will be used as a basis for interviews
with opinion leaders in the Israeli- Palestinian situation. The rewritten
scenarios will be published and offered for discussion among the
interested parties.

Emerging Environmental Security Issues and International Treaties

Over the past year the Millennium Project’s scanning of the Internet
and other sources has identified over 80 items that show emerging
environmental security issues that may lead to changes in international
agreements. These items are discussed in Chapter 5 and the full text of
the items is in the enclosed CD in Chapter 9.1 on environmental
security. It is clear from these items that environmental issues are
moving higher on the agenda of governments, corporations,
international organizations, NGOs, universities, the media, private
institutions, and individuals around the world. Environmental
regulations are increasing in scope, depth, and enforcement.

New and much more sensitive chemical and biological detection
techniques will provide faster and more accurate monitoring of possible
environmental violations. Many actions acceptable 10 years ago will
not be tolerated 10 years from today. Because the international trade
requirements about the content and production of products is becoming
tougher, the countries and companies that cannot keep track of
chemicals in their products and production could lose business to those
who can.

Frameworks are needed for systematic exchange and analysis of
information among law enforcement agencies, customs services,
environmental regulatory agencies, trade agencies, and intelligence
organizations in order to prevent and repair military damage to the
environment as well as to prevent and respond to environmentally
caused conflicts. As a result, new agreements are needed for data
standards for better information sharing and integration to enforce
compliance to current and coming international agreements related to
environmental security issues. Environmental security and full national
sovereignty may be a contradiction.

Some Findings from Previous Years’ Research

There are many answers to many problems, but there is so much
extraneous information that it is difficult to identify and concentrate on
what is truly relevant. Since healthy democracies need relevant
information, and since democracy is becoming more global, the public
will need globally relevant information to sustain this trend.

The great paradox of our age is that while more and more people enjoy
the benefits of technological and economic growth, growing numbers of
people are poor, ignorant, and unhealthy. World leaders are
increasingly seeking a common platform among UN organizations, the
World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade
Organization, multinational corporations, and other key actors of
globalization to address this issue.

Creating global partnerships between the rich and poor to make the
world work for all, whichseemed like an idealistic slogan before
September 11th, may prove to be the most pragmatic direction as the
possibilities increase that individuals may one day have access to
weapons of mass destruction.

Scientists have slowed, stopped, and accelerated photons in low-
temperature gases and solid crystals. Construction of the International
Space Station continues, and human genome research is changing the
prospects for life. The factors that caused the acceleration of S&T
innovation are themselves accelerating; hence, the acceleration of
scientific and technological accomplishments over the past 25 years
will appear slow compared with the rate of change in the next 25. The
process of scientific R&D that uses peer-reviewed journals and
government support is being challenged by those using venture capital
to get products to the market more quickly. Since technology is growing
so rapidly along several fronts, the possibility of it growing beyond
human control must now be taken seriously.

National decision-makers have not been trained in the theory and
practice of decision-making, and few know how advanced decision
support software could help them. Formalized training for
decisionmakers could result in a significant improvement in the quality
of global decisions. In addition to policymakers needing training in how
to make decisions, processes to set priorities (local, national, and
international) need further development.

We know the world is increasingly complex and that the most serious
challenges are global in nature, yet we don’t seem to know how to
improve and deploy Internet-based management tools and concepts
fast enough to get on top of the situation.

The hundreds of actions that were suggested over the years by the
Millennium Project’s Global Lookout Panels could be organized into 12
meta-strategies, which can also be used as a checklist to help identify a
more complete set of specific strategies in other situations: Ø
establishing new alliances, agreements, and treaties; Ø engaging in
social marketing; Ø creating standards and permits; Ø enforcing or
modifying laws and regulations; Ø performing scientific R&D; Ø
engaging in meetings, dialogues, or workshops; Ø creating and
amending economic systems, sanctions, and incentives; Ø improving
planning, accounting, and forecasting; Ø creating and improving new
educational programs; Ø developing and sharing information; Ø
modifying institutions, infrastructure, and priorities; and Ø initiating new
institutions, projects, and programs.

The role of the state is more important where there is little private
sector; hence policies that make sense in western industrial countries
that include leadership from the private sector are less applicable in
poorer regions.

The extent of national sovereignty continues to be a key element in the
analysis of environmental security, terrorism, climate change, the
International Criminal Court, and management of future S&T risks.

Since education is one of the fundamental strategies to address most
global challenges, it is important to identify the most effective
educational materials, curricula, and distribution media for global
education as well as institutional arrangements to accelerate learning.

The lack of ethical behavior and moral underpinnings has given rise to
a new hunger for global ethics and the need to identify common ethical
norms. Coupled with this is the extraordinary growth of global standards
and those who seek to meet them through the International
Organization for Standardization.

Environmental security is the environmental viability for life support,
with three sub-elements: preventing or repairing military damage to the
environment, preventing or responding to environmentally caused
conflicts, and protecting the environment due to the moral value of the
environment itself. Environmental security is rising on the military
agenda of more nations due to new kinds of weapons and their ability
to be used in asymmetrical conflicts; increasing demands on natural
resources, with urbanization that is making more people dependent on
vulnerable public utilities; continued advances in environmental law,
with escalating environmental litigation; and globalization that is
increasing interdependence.

Some military conflicts and many environmental problems are due to
the lack of clean and abundant energy. Although the interdependence
of economic growth and technological innovation made it possible for
3–4 billion people to have relatively good health and living conditions
today, unless our financial, economic, environmental, and social
behaviors are improved along with our industrial technologies, the long-
term future could be more difficult.

The world is completing a convergence of information and
telecommunications technologies to create a self-organizing
mechanism to improve the collective intelligence of humanity. As
mobile phones and the Internet merge, China is set to become a unique
cyber phenomena: it has the largest number of mobile phone users in
the world and by 2005 it will also have the most Internet users.

There is a growing awareness that nothing less than a declaration of
information warfare against money laundering will be necessary to
bring down transnational organized crime and political corruption.

Although many people criticize globalization’s potential cultural
impacts, it is increasingly clear that cultural change is necessary to
address global challenges. The development of genuine democracy
requires cultural change, preventing AIDS requires cultural change,
sustainable development requires cultural change, ending violence
against women requires cultural change, and ending ethnic violence
requires cultural change. The tools of globalization, such as the Internet
and global trade, should be used to help cultures adapt in a way that
preserves their unique contributions to humanity and yet helps improve
the human condition.

The most important challenges are transnational in nature and
transinstitutional in solution. They cannot be addressed by any
government or institution acting alone. They require collaborative
action among governments, international organizations, corporations,
universities, and NGOs.

Trans-institutional mechanisms to focus these global actors are
missing. The 15 global challenges discussed in Chapter 1 provide a
framework to assess the global and local prospects for humanity
(sustainable development could be discussed as a global or a
neighborhood objective). The challenges are interdependent: an
improvement in one makes it easier to address others; deterioration in
one makes it more difficult to address others. There is greater
consensus about the global situation as expressed in these challenges
and the actions to address them than is evident in the news media.

Exec summary

Details of full report


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