|The National Intelligence Council released a report documenting projected major geopolitical trends and technological developments for the next 20 years. The NIC foresees the end of U.S. global dominance, the rising power of individuals against states, a growing middle class that will increasingly challenge governments, and ongoing issues with water, food and energy.|
Council (NIC) presents the fifth installment in a series aimed at providing a framework for thinking about the future. The report mentions how implants, prosthetics and powered exoskeletons will become regular fixtures of our lives and could result in augmented improvements to our abilities.
The NIC was founded in 1979 as an intelligence body focused on the long term strategic thinking for American intelligence agencies. The council reports to the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper.
We are at a critical juncture in human history, which could lead to widely contrasting futures. It is our contention that the future is not set in stone, but is malleable, the result of an interplay among megatrends, game-changers and, above all, human agency. Our effort is to encourage decisionmakers—whether in government or outside—to think and plan for the long term so that negative futures do not occur and positive ones have a better chance of unfolding.Of the many choices, the report focuses on four main megatrends: individual empowerment, diffusion of power, demographics and resource issues.
Individual empowerment will accelerate substantially during the next 15-20 years owing to poverty reduction and a huge growth of the global middle class, greater educational attainment, better health care, and widespread exploitation of new communications and manufacturing technologies. Enabled by communications technologies, power will shift toward multifaceted and amorphous networks that will form to influence state and global actions.
Diffusion of power among countries will have a dramatic impact by 2030. Asia will have surpassed North America and Europe combined in terms of global power, based upon GDP, population size, military spending, and technological investment. China alone will probably have the largest economy, surpassing that of the United States a few years before 2030.
Demographic Patterns: in the world of 2030—a world in which a growing global population will have reached somewhere close to 8.3 billion people (up from 7.1 billion in 2012)—four key trends will be aging—a shrinking number of youthful societies and states; migration, which will increasingly be a cross-border issue; and growing urbanization, which will spur economic growth but could put new strains on food and water resources.
Growing Food, Water, and Energy Nexus: Demand for food, water, and energy will grow by approximately 35, 40, and 50 percent respectively owing to an increase in the global population and the consumption patterns of an expanding middle class. Climate change will worsen the outlook for the availability of these critical resources.
The materials covered in the report on the key technologies of robotics, artificial intelligence and 3D printing are quite light and will probably be reviewed in twenty years as a major oversight. Nevertheless, the report does cite these as important factors arising by 2030.