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David Tow

David TowThe 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 Web- Cyber Access

Cyberwarfare Intrudes on Peace

Knowledge, Learning, Work Reset

Migration without Borders

Politics, Capitalism and Economics

Governance, Democracy 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 Cyberagents 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 cyberagents 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.

The stakes are so high in fact that it should really be no contest, especially when early solar and wind megaprojects are already up and successfully running with proven baseline sustainable energy outputs.

What’s more important- limiting the power of an industry or a nation, even powerful ones such as big oil or the US or losing the planet and our children forever?

If the human race and its civilisation is to survive it has to make this choice and 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.

Cyberwarfare Takes Control

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.

Despite the current carnage in the Middle East and Africa there are signs of hope. Most initial attempts at democracy that follow rule by a dictator or military junta invariably go through a cycle of intense disruption before succeeding in building the fragile institutions and culture to underpin it permanently. Even the global cumulative death count from these mostly internal conflicts, pale into insignificance compared to the body counts of regional and world conflicts of last century. So progress is being made.

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.

Cyberwarfare has seemed to come out of nowhere, so quickly has it overturned the traditional rules of engagement. Now it’s more a battle for economic and cyberspace dominance rather than just territorial acquisition by human destruction.

The body language has also changed between adversaries. Now it’s 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.

But there is now a major back reaction against these killing machines that can so easily kill innocent civilians as collateral damage. In the future their role will be   disaster support or blackops backup- restricted to skirmishes against rogue groups.

So in the present era the Ulysses Odyssey legacy is alive and well. 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 the final goal of our civilisation’s survival.  

Today such diversions may extend to corporate ecoterrorism.

Just one more $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, polluting the last refuge of the Inuit and polar bear and helping melt 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 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 in developing countries destroying the health and futures of the next generation of children; 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.

And for what?? To keep the bloated cash flows of a few hundred shareholders and corporate executives flowing for a few more more years, not to mention blocking the alternate benefits of clean renewable energy.

It doesn’t make any sense- morally or economically, especially when the Great Barrier Reef or Amazon forest and its priceless life forms could support small scale ecotourism and research into new drugs to fight cancer for a payoff for all humanity.

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.    

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.

The Education Revolution is automatically linked to the Knowledge Revolution- the hyper-fast generation and distribution of information, via online access to course resources. The trendlines in this revolution are already evident and will become pervasive in the near future. 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.

Valuable courseware is a critical resource already offered by a number of prestigious tertiary institutions including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Yale and Stanford, in addition to free knowledge reference sites such as Wikipedia and Google, Amazon and Apple options in the future.

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.

And so by 2040, the flow of information followed by the continuous flow of educational courseware, if tied to improvements in standards of living, will have largely eliminated the inequalities of training that currently exist between developed and developing nations.

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.

The full power of the web will soon be deployed towards this new knowledge sharing paradigm, including powerful simulation training environments based on immersive virtual reality and video gaming.

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- online retailing, 3D printing, mobile phone photography, free online education, phone telephony, streaming music, film and video distribution, ebook and newspaper publishing, flexible vehicle taxi access, flexible spare room renting and airline reservation, brokerless financial 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.  

Migration Without Borders

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.

An idea of the coming wave of human migration can be glimpsed from a sample of recent natural disaster statistics, which do not include earthquake, volcanic or tsunami events-

Mexico was a source of 1 million environmental refugees a year during the 1990s with increased hurricanes and floods also the root cause of its economic crisis.

Large-scale government enforced relocation programs in Vietnam and Mozambique moved hundreds of thousands of people to cope with worsening floods and storms in 2000.

Six million environmental refugees in China have been created by the expanding Gobi desert. Migration in China and India has also been greatly amplified by development of projects such as China’s Three Gorges, which displaced 2 million people.

The 1998 monsoon floods in Bangladesh covered two thirds of the country and left 21 million homeless.

In 2008, floods following the Burma cyclone forced hundreds of thousands to flee, with little assistance from the Burmese junta.

In 2010, record monsoon rains in Pakistan caused the Indus River to burst its banks, causing millions to relocate.

Although most of these events create internal rather than external pressures on migration, it is unlikely that this will continue to be the case, with rising temperatures forecast to force tens of millions to move from tropical to more temperate regions, due to ongoing droughts over the next twenty years and beyond.

There are also increasing numbers of conflict refugees from despotic regimes and failed states. Tribalism and fear and suspicion of the ‘other’ is still strongly embedded in the DNA of human evolution, leading to scapegoating of migrant groups in tough economic times. Examples include Muslim harassment in Christian countries and the opposite, Neo-Nazism in Europe, Africans from Sudan, Somalia, Ivory Coast and the DRC at risk of massacre. And Iraqi, Afghan, Egyptian, Moroccan and Syrian populations fleeing the latest war zones in the Middle East, while persecution of ethnic minorities in China, Burma and Bhutan still persists.  

It is estimated that almost a million people are smuggled and trafficked across international borders each year, using increasingly sophisticated methods by criminal organisations linked to a range of other crimes- identity theft, corruption, money laundering and violence ranging from debt bondage to murder, with earnings of the order of $10 billion.

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.

There is still an inability by many national governments to recognise the futility and terrible waste of life and potential in trying to dominate and exploit an ethnic minority, driven by its own need for identity and self realisation; whether Basques, Kurds, Tibetans or Chechens. There are a variety of alternate models ranging from independence to home rule, autonomy within a Federation or cooperation within a Union, which can accommodate the aspirations of all cultures without resorting to force and destruction. This is now been demonstrated not only in the EU but in India - with 29 states each representing different ethnic groups, each largely autonomous with a unique culture but functioning within a larger federation.

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 and Economics

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 jeopodised 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 finally cede control of ICAAN - the not-for-profit Domain Name company, under increasing pressure particularly from countries on the receiving end of the unwanted data intrusion. Thus more democratic access to the Internet’s core operations managed by a full representation of UN membership is likely to eventuate 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 World Bank’s environmental economics department has carried out an assessment of the relative contributions of different types of capital that contribute to economic development- ‘Measuring Capital for the 21st Century’.

Produced or Built Capital is defined as the sum of machinery, equipment, infrastructure, housing stock and urban land, while Natural Capital is measured as the sum of non-renewable resources, such as fossil fuels, waterways, cropland, forests, etc.

But after these were added together, economists found that a much larger category of capital remained consisting of intangible factors, such as the quality of the judicial, educational and other social institutions, property rights, good governance and effective government, technical and social knowledge, which play a major role in boosting the skills and productivity of labour, resulting in higher total wealth for a country.

The World Bank economists quantified the intangible value of such social infrastructure and found that it contributed over 80% of the total wealth in virtually all countries.

In the 20th century enlightened governments saw the value of such assets and allocated revenue for their protection. Others saw economic growth not as a way to expand national power, but to relieve poverty and create social justice.

Now it’s also realised that growth is a double edged sword which has to be balanced with sustainability in a world with finite resources.

The political system to best achieve these multiple outcomes is still evolving.

Financial/Economic Reset

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 more flexible and cheaper apps. There’s even an app to support M&A, connecting dealmakers with potential buyers and sellers globally.

Stock exchanges, brokers and traders are also under siege from algorithmic and Internet-based trading networks, offering access to a global equities market. While the banks are fighting back with their own apps, the major Exchanges are  creating alliances linking national centres across Europe, US and Asia in global networks.

Meanwhile the new tech masters of the universe- Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple etc as well as Skype and Paypal, and many smaller players are also jockeying for a piece of the action in this new globalised world- the more agile, offering services in developing regions previously spurned by the big banks.

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.

Market intelligence is also becoming globalised and more transparent; instantly available via the Web to all investors, both institutional and individual, using publicly available search and  inference algorithms, effectively obsoleting the need for much clandestine corporate snooping. Other global reforms include the harmonising of International laws to eradicate corporate tax evasion and havens and accelerating labour market reform.  

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.

And the European Central Bank has announced negative interest rates as a means of keeping Europe solvent.

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.

NGOs now offer 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.

A New Economic Paradigm

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.

By the end of the 20th century traditional economics was dominated by the classical paradigm based on notions of rational consumers making rational choices in a simple supply/demand world of finite resources, with prices constrained by decreasing returns; all driving the economy to an optimal and stable equilibrium point.

Unfortunately such a 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.

Because of lack of regulation, members of the shadow system such as hedge funds and merchant banks borrowed scores of times their own worth in cash. 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.

But this crash is far more serious than previous bubbles- perhaps even more than the Great Depression, as it cannot be contained within borders as easily, or so simply solved by government lending and job creation programs. The biggest banks, manufacturers, miners, energy suppliers and whole national economies from the US to Iceland toppled like dominoes around the world, under trillions of dollars of debt.

In fact 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.

Modern evolutionary theorists believe that evolution is a universal phenomenon and that both economic and biological systems are subclasses of a more general and universal class of evolutionary systems. And if economics is truly an evolutionary system and general laws for evolutionary systems exist, then it follows there are also general laws of economics which must be applied. This contradicts much of the standard theory in economics..

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.

A New World Governance Model

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 ethnic 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.

By 2030 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.

By 2040 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 scale.

There remain a number of blockages in upgrading critical decision-making processes that should have been streamlined long ago in preparation for a new global model. A glaring example is UN voting rights, which remain biased towards the most powerful countries particularly in the G7 security council.

These include the now antiquated protocols put in place after WW2 to kickstart world economies- the UN, World Trade Organisation, International Monetary Fund- well suited to the times, but then gradually allowed to run down, out of synch with the titanic shift in current world geopolitics and social norms.  

Also outmoded are the national and international regulatory procedures governing the rights of refugees and prisoners of war, responsibility for environmental destruction and access to the Internet versus citizen privacy rights in the face of invasive cyberspying.  Finally massive conflicts of interest still exist in political parties, leading to fraud and corruption, distorting the democratic process.

These have to be eliminated fast, if decision making in the global enterprise is to keep pace with the shift in technological and social advances.

One partial solution to the impasse at the global level has been the creation of an intermediate level decision-making group- the G20- offering a balance between the the 198 member UN General Assembly and the G7 security council.- this grouping of the 20 largest nations in terms of GNP including the US, Germany, France, Japan, the UK, China, India and Brazil,  account for 85% of world trade.

The The G20 proved its value following the recent catastrophe that almost triggered global anarchy- the collapse of the world’s financial and economic systems in 2008-9, followed by the potential for a global recession threatened by a Eurozone collapse, which is ongoing. Following the initial crisis, there were frantic attempts by individual countries to avoid the worst of the financial tsunami engulfing them by pumping trillions of dollars into crippled financial institutions and their economies, shoring up jobs through massive infrastructure and subsidy programs and zero or negative interest rates.

Finally it dawned on the largest players, that the only chance for redemption was global cooperative action. Solving the effects of such a lethal firestorm on a national or regional basis, by building currency and trade firewalls, was never going to work.

The G20- the group of twenty major developed nations, became the de facto decision hub for the GFC. Out of the blue, since 2008 it has now become the de facto centre for decision-making guiding the planet’s future; at its best setting the agendas and implementing solutions for financial governance, global warming, security, nuclear disarmament and human rights issues.

The future of the US as human civilisation’s sole superpower is rapidly slipping away in the new world order stakes. Saddled with multi-trillion dollar debts,  military and diplomatic failures and loss of hard and soft power options, the American dream is struggling to maintain its status as the alpha force in the international arena for the foreseeable future. The current Obama administration has virtually conceded this, recognising at last the limits of false exceptionalism.

There is a great regional process of financial and political rebalancing occurring, with Asian nations creating the most powerful axis led by China, with India,  Japan, Indonesia, the Philippines and the South East Asian group of states equally determined to realise their unleashed potential. This regional grouping will substitute for the role of the US as the world’s prime mover and shaker. Then there’s the EU- the third major bloc, led by Germany, France and the UK- still a powerhouse despite its current financial woes.

In addition a number of second tier regional hubs will be close behind, including the African regions, South and Central American and the Eurasian region led by Russia.

And then the third tier regions- Asia Pacific, Scandinavia, Baltic states, Central Asia and the Arab Middle East.

All will eventually emerge as powerful regional players in their own right to create a truly multipolar globalised world.

The G20 slots nicely into this new global order. It is a more representative and diverse entity than the G7 and more agile in its decision-making than the UN, with the ability to reach quick and competent conclusions relating to the world’s major crises. Already world leaders have decided to make the G20 the prime global body for solving the two most critical issues of our times- re-building a sustainable and productive economic system and containing global warming.

Not to be sidelined, developing nations are also seeking more influence through the formation of their own club- the group of G24; a forum to represent developing nations from Africa, Asia, and Latin America. They also want representation within the G20, similar to the additional EU’s special seat.

In the meantime China is flexing its new found major power status- needling the smaller Asian players such as Vietnam and the Philippines over historical territorial rights, playing a new version of the Art of War game with the US, a shadow game while obliquely exposing the superpower’s impotence in the new world order.

It is also engaged in a blitz of bilateral trade energy and security agreements- such as a huge gas pipeline which will link it with Russia providing nough gas to see it through to the mid-century while allowing Russia to sidestep future EU and US sanctions. Also a proposal for a new continental security system to include Russia and Iran in play, again excluding the US at the recent Asian Cooperation Conference.

China is also busy forging alliances with the West’s rejects- mineral and land rich African nation states, India’s newly elected muslim Governent, Iran and Sri Lanka still mired in human rights problems, while the US pivot to Asia is largely sidelined.

The ancient Asian game of Go where the winner is decided by gaining an overall strategic advantage, based on multiple encirclements has modern day resonances with China’s latest Art of War manifesto and appears to be an ideal template in the modern era.

The significance of the role of the G20 as it continues to evolve is therefore enormous. It signals not only a substantial shift in international power arrangements and a new multi-polar world, but also the next stage in the evolution of globalization and democracy.

It represents the decision hub for new world order; responsible for combining the wisdom of all nations and its peoples, complemented by the emerging Knowledge Web. It is therefore charged with the establishing a framework for managing  the world’s resources and intellectual assets- environmental, knowledge, health, financial, security and human rights- on a global basis.

This will be a Herculean task.

Monitoring the Planet

With global warming now perceived as the dominant threat to human life, global management of the earth’s resources both natural and human engineered has become critical The natural public assets bequeathed to modern humans following the last ice age, have been largely taken for granted until very recently but are now severely degraded and depleted.

They are essential for our survival and must provide the capacity to deliver- clean air, water, adequate and safe energy, sufficient nutritious food, genetic variety and a healthy lifestyle. They therefore must be nurtured and conserved- not degraded or exploited by a select few multinational resource and mining companies.

Human built environments such as urban infrastructure- roads, railways, ports,  buildings, electricity and water grids etc are also under stress, particularly if not designed to adapt to a fast changing climate or population useage as in the current global warming scenario.

Intelligent sensors and controllers linked by wireless to the Internet or the latest generation  of mini-satellites- such as Cubesats, the size of a shoebox, will enable bridges or roads to be monitored for damage or signs of structural stress in the same way as ecosystem health and wildlife habitats are monitored for stress. A farmer in a developing country can monitor the health and yield of his crops remotely or an NGO the safety of refugees as they flee across borders. In addition, tens of thousands of citizen scientists across the world can monitor traffic flows, underground pipe damage, the extent of flooding, or the spread of disease or bushfires, via phone apps.

In the global village of the future, cross linking and sharing of information between support agencies and research groups in different countries will be invaluable- allowing for fast global response to disasters or preventative maintenance. Although vital information is currently shared between many countries, in a globalised world severely impacted by climate change the level of response required will be of an order of magnitude higher.

Since the Indian Ocean tsunami, which killed over 300,000 people with no warning provided by the world geophysical community, together with the recent disastrous earthquakes in Pakistan, China, Iran and Indonesia, it has been recognised that major disasters can only be managed and mitigated through cooperation and the sharing of resources and information on an international scale. Such catastrophes have been the catalyst for cooperative assistance and long-term economic development in poorer countries. They have also served to raise humanitarian awareness beyond racial, social, religious and sectarian constraints in developed nations.

Democracy and Ethics

A key part of  ensuring the future survival of a humanity, will be the creation of a more robust form of democracy.

Our notion of Democracy is too feeble and flawed for a modern global world. It contains within it the seeds of its own collapse in the form of a massive conflict of interest by politicians and bureaucrats resulting in corruption.

In most societies, whether the bankrupt states of the EU, the vote buying oligarchy of the US, the inner circles of one party or dictator states such as Russia, Syria or China, or the fledgling chaotic quasi democracies of Africa and the Middle East, the ethical basis of Democracy Mark 1 is in tatters.

But there is now a powerful back reaction to make ethics front and centre of  21st century democracy.     

There is an urgent need in a globalised world to incorporate mandatory anti-corruption and ethical protocols in the form of more rigorous Governance methods such as financial and legal transparency, particularly relating to issues of resource allocation, security and global warming.

Democracy is still a work in progress and the disappointment with its current flawed performance is probably unrealistic- considering its relatively short history and alternative forms of brutal military or dynastic governance.

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.

Originally the Game theory focused on analysing economic and business negotiating processes, including the bargaining tactics of firms, markets, and consumers in the allocation of public goods and assets. But it soon expanded to encompass political, sociological, and psychological patterns of behaviour.

In each area researchers have developed game theoretic models in which the players seek to maximise their gains in negotiations by applying a more rational and mathematically rigorous approach.

Typical applications of the theory attempt to find an equilibrium solution or optimum zero-sum outcome in these contests, based on the competing strategies of all participants. The parties involved seek to optimise their strategies so as to achieve the most desirable outcomes for themselves.

These strategies are therefore based on norms of rationality and self-interest, but at the same time expose major weaknesses in the method. As has been demonstrated recently with the collapse of standard economic theory, humans are rarely rational, and the concept of reaching a stable equilibrium point does not exist in our complicated society, with billions of interacting variables and cyber actors. In addition cooperation between parties often achieves better outcomes than bland, self-interested competition.

But classical Game Theory has another big flaw. It is based on participants receiving clear and reliable information of others’ strategic intentions. This also rarely happens in real life, in which cheating or duplicitous tactics in negotiations are often the norm, allowing loopholes for recalcitrant parties or ‘free riders’. These are players who for whatever reason, are not willing to pull their weight or stand by their commitment to make the sacrifices required for the greater good; but nevertheless will still attempt to share in the overall benefits. This is the elephant in the game room that Quantum Game theory can address.

Benefits for example are often about rights to ‘public goods’ or globally shared rights and resources such as clean air, adequate food and water, carbon emission rights, human rights, basic health care and education- just the sorts of issues that will matter most in a  globalised society on fast forward.

The quantum version of game theory helps avoid this dilemma. Players are linked by the uniquely quantum phenomenon of particle entanglement. Participants can then verify the authenticity of others’ negotiating positions, substituting tokens and readout indicators for entangled particle interactions.

All players in a game will then be linked in an unbreakable network. A change in the state of any one token will instantly indicate an undisclosed anomaly in strategy or commitment to all others, who can then immediately adjust their own negotiating positions in response.

This reduces the opportunity for free loading or fraudulent behaviour by any of the negotiating parties, thereby guaranteeing a fairer outcome. In the high stakes global negotiations rapidly escalating in this century, in which the future of the planet is literally at stake, it is vital that such fail-safe methods are applied.

Emergence of an Ethical Global Culture

Culture consists of a historical web of interwoven social strands - language, customs, arts and crafts, climate, technology etc. Each strand of the cultural social fabric increases in diversity and complexity over time, forming cohesive social relationships- an integration of language, customs and beliefs which bind individuals into an ethnic grouping analogous to the forces binding matter.

Every individual and group needs to express its full potential within the constraints of these relationships, adjusting through the evolutionary mechanism to its larger environmental matrix of other groups, communities and nations. The process can be mediated but not forced, as each cultural group seeks to develop, encourage and preserve its identity.

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 overriding outcome of evolutionary culture ensures the continuing realisation of individual and social potential through the accumulation of knowledge and complexity. Enhancing the potential at the individual level expands the potential of the group, which in turn enhances the potential of society at large. Benefits at the societal and group level in turn feedback to each individual, so that knowledge gained at all levels is constantly recycled through a diffusion process. And so the cycle repeats endlessly, allowing life to continuously leverage its opportunities and extend its horizons.

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. Corporates don’t want to be party to wrecking the planet when they know their corrupt actions will be recorded for common access by future generations- as stains in the world’s digital archives for thousands of years.

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

So now the stage is set for the emergence of a global culture in the 21 st century and beyond. 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

Director of the Future Planet Research Centre- David Hunter TowMarch 7, 2014. The Director of the Future Planet Research Centre- David Hunter Tow, forecasts that by 2050 advances in Gaming technology will accelerate the emergence of a new form of Virtual Reality- Reality 2.0 integrated with society’s cultural, work and technological practices. It will also assist society in coping with the impact of Global Warming and other potential threats to life's survival on our future planet.

Gaming has now become a mainstream activity for all demographics- playable anywhere anytime, often for free. Simple games such as Angry Birds and Candy Crush are now freely available via the Internet on mobile platforms, downloaded  on a PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone.  With the rapid penetration of the Internet, gaming is now a part of our everyday lives.

Now the art and science of Gaming encompasses dozens of new categories in the form of multiple overlapping genres, powerful games engines and mobile platforms, as well as AI enhanced virtual and augmented reality effects. And within each of those categories countless crossover combinations and formats are evolving.

In the following analysis we will explore the major trends likely to have the biggest impact on the shaping of gaming and in the process the moulding of our future social environment.

Infinite reams have been written in gaming blogs about the pros and cons of the various specialised consoles and game-playing platforms - consoles such as PS4, Xbox One, NintendoWii U and the new Chinese entrants etc. Gaming has been building as a global form of entertainment for many years- advancing in popularity, sophistication and financial reach; from the earliest forms of arcade video games in the 60s to the 70s black-and-white 2D games like Pong, to the first primitive shooting games in early eighties, to the more complex life-like 3D war games such as Battlefield 3 in the nineties and more recently to games of fantasy, role playing, graphic realism, story telling and mind blowing virtual reality including Avatar, Second Life and the sequel High Fidelity in the present era.

And also about the rise of the new generation of multiplayer games and powerful PCs and laptops with multicore chipsets and GPUs, based increasingly on Linux variants such as SteamOS. Now the increasing popularity of the nextgen super mobile Phones and Pads such as the Tegra K1 android tablet with advanced  features set to match the full power of consoles has arrived. But the choice is still expanding exponentially, with games  increasingly cross-platform, with a common content base streamed from the Internet.

Today’s massive multiplayer Internet platforms exploit limitless Cloud capacity in the sky, capable of streaming to tens of thousands of players and onlookers simultaneously - such as at the recent Twitch event Pokemon gameplay- similar to a world chess event- the beginning of a new form of crowd gaming.

In the future games will also connect to home video screens and full 3D/HD surround cockpits, providing similar effects in real life to the Minority Report or Star Wars Holodeck scenarios.

Of course there has also been a back reaction to this complexity - recapturing the simple joys of adolescence with countless indie mobile games on inexpensive phones, such as the previous Flappy Bird online and its latest spinoff Flapmmo.com, but which still allows extra features-  increasing levels of difficulty, reward points and play statistics etc.

So the world of gaming is now on a trajectory that requires it to offer ever more powerful graphics and special effects when the storyline requires it and yet more realism.
The trendline seems set for more complexity and real life emulation.

If only the future of gaming was that simple.

Enter physics.

Models based on the pervasive laws of physics can replicate the properties of the natural world using engines capable of generating rich 3D environments-  algorithms that mimic real world phenomena like subtle lighting and shadow effects, the dynamics of wind and rain, sky and cloud textures, the deformation of materials, collision of particles, fire and heat implosions and the movements of flocks of birds, forests and rivers.
Beyond that is the physics of human and animal movement, skin texture and facial expressions, including seamless actions and reactions mirroring complex cognitive behavioural and psychological responses in realtime. Also utilising biofeedback- pulse rates, respiration, body temperature etc, allowing the delivery of personal, immersive and customisable experience back to the player. The layers of feedback and cumulative effects can eventually threaten to disrupt the timeline momentum of a game, so their introduction has to be carefully controlled.

As the quality and complexity of online games improves more  people spend more time playing them, until the game becomes  an intrinsic part of their lives. Interactive role playing has also become key- where the player is part of the storyline and chooses the action pathway; evolving from the early games of Battlefield Galactica, Dungeons and Dragons and SteamPunk.

Now game playing has become a mega industry, with the classic Grand Theft Auto V generating $1billion in sales within three days of release. And a new set of game experiences in - Zelda, 300: Rise of an Empire, Civilisation V, Assassin's Creed, Brave New World, UE4, Ashphalt 8, San Andrea and Anomaly 2 playing out in true HD virtual reality, using ultra VR surround helmets, as well as the lure of realistic graphics interfaces including direct Brain to Computer and Brain to Brain cognitive Interfaces, linked to full holographic sensory surround.

So ultimately we find ourselves in the another space altogether- the realm of augmented and virtual reality. And how do we know that these realities will mark the next phase of Gaming? Because they already do.

Virtual reality in entertainment has been around a long time - in sci-fi films such as The Matrix, Tron and Avatar. But from a gaming perspective also in early prototypes such as cockpit arcade games, flight simulators and popular 3D games such as Second Life and World of Warcraft.

But now VR technology has taken a gigantic leap in the form of the Oculus Rift headset and other similar technologies that allow games to be visualised in 3D in synch with head and  body movements linked to a kinetic controller. Although currently still restricted to developers, VR helmets and glasses will become a commodity item for game players eventually selling for less than $100.

At the same time Augmented reality- allowing multiple layers of information and images and visual effects to overlay real world images  has become almost commonplace with Google Glass now leading the charge, assisting doctors, engineers and machine operators to work in dangerous or restricted environments and advertisers and marketers to target potential customers on the move with ubiquitous product messages.  

In the near future therefore it will become increasingly difficult to separate the ‘virtual’ from the 'real' - integrating game role playing with actions in real life.

As early as 2030 most of our lives will be immersed in this shared reality- linking game playing with art, entertainment, technology, science, work and daily life routines such as shopping, entertainment, social exchange and travel. Meanwhile the new world of startups is providing more creative and efficient ways of implementing everyday processes in ecommerce, the media, services and entertainment via mobile platforms and will increasingly be implemented via a games interface.

This will be accelerated by the Internet of Things or intelligent objects. The internet of objects will allow the built environment of human civilisation to be simulated and controlled via sensors and actuators allowing for cross or X-reality- the fusion of virtual and real processes, to become the norm.

Alternate realities will then surround us not only visually, but at all sensory levels- tactile, oral, taste and smell. They will also be populated by virtual life forms living within virtual societies, creating virtual communities endowed with their own sets of goals and behaviour patterns. These new realities will be multi- dimensional, operating in realtime surround simulations; increasingly inseparable from the real reality.

Artificial life or A-Life is also being created in the computer science laboratories and translated to gaming practice, based on the spontaneous computer generation of emergent behaviour of role playing avatars that mimic the dynamics of social and biological evolution. Virtual life avatars also simulate reality equipped with artificial intelligence, generating their own unique problem solving capability and supporting human needs.

By 2040 the Web will offer an all-immersive 3D environment combining elements of social networks, virtual worlds and geolocation, linked to a dense Google Earth Matrix; allowing closer interaction with friends and contacts in their daily lives and workplaces as well as workers in a remote wilderness or critical disaster area. These physical representations or models of our earth and its social environment represent mirror worlds and mirror communities.

Such communities already exist in the form of non-violent games such as Farmlife 2, The Sims 4 and Jurassic Park, limited only by the imagination of their creators and players; meshing with the real world of sensory information as its users navigate through their daily lives.

Prototypes of virtual worlds will then not be limited to the relatively static domains of 20th century IMax cinemas, Museums and Planetariums- innovative as they may be. They will represent an emerging Metaverse of potential and realised realities- past, present and future. It’s then just a small step to create proto-reality spaces like the Star Treck Holodeck, not just for entertainment gaming but for real life enhancement and problem-solving.

By 2050 therefore gaming models will have begun the transformation into an integral part of a new human reality- Future Reality 2.0  

In hindsight it can be seen that virtual, augmented and X- realities are early phases in an ongoing evolutionary transition towards the acceptance of virtual forms as part of everyday human co-existence. In the process we have crossed the threshold into a new dimension, extending human perception and interaction; linking with ubiquitous object sensory and actuator networks based on low cost wireless and optical technologies to create mixed realities.

Such a dense networked web will help integrate physical reality with virtual computing platforms generating the ability to react to real-world events in effective autonomous fashion. This creates a revolutionary relationship between human society and the Web, with the urgent need to understand the way our behaviour and future processes will become inevitably shaped by its cyberspace evolution.

In other words the world is evolving its own electronic nervous system via a dense mesh of neural-node type networks, eventually connecting and encompassing vast numbers of objects- living and non-living on the planet and in space. It is already beginning to host an immersive 3D sensory environment that combines elements of social and virtual worlds with increasingly complex geolocation mapping applications that allow the planning and monitoring of natural and urban ecosystems; providing a powerful tool to cope with climate and political change.

The approaching climate Armageddon will be a critical accelerator in the emergence of serious problem-solving gaming technology.

Rich two-way cross-reality experiences will be the norm, capable of streaming virtual and remote phenomena into the user’s physical space, via video feeds and images uploaded from object sensors and human brain machine interfaces. But this process can also extend into the past and future, allowing real-time access to historical and future trendline data streams, vital for analysis in business and the sciences as well as education and entertainment.

The implications and potential of these virtual advances are enormous, pointing the way towards the next momentous shift in the evolution of human life and our world- a fusion of real and virtual, past present and future- Welcome to the new game of Reality 2.0.

But gaming technology is already becoming mainstream in the world of business, education, science, sports and war planning. This is so-called serious gaming. applied to activities such as event and conflict strategy, business decision-making, education and workplace operations- skills including flight simulator training, remote exploration- using robots and drones, heavy equipment maintenance, rescue missions and disaster management- all operated remotely like an arcade or console game.

The following examples provide some insight into the application of gaming principles in these fields-

Conflict and Disaster Gaming

Conflict and disaster management involves the application of strategic planning methods by defence and service strategists to evaluate and improve methods and performance in response to case study scenario options; testing the way a plan might play out or be affected by complex and unpredictable interactions; then mitigate any exposed risks. 

Advanced gaming technologies such as the Oculus Rift helmet and intelligent agents, assist in simulating the requisite immersive virtual reality to improve the flexibility, efficiency and quality of the decision-making involved.

Sports and Event Gaming

Gaming in the context of live sporting or entertainment events has recently received a boost using a system to provide every fan at a sporting event with a  personalised phone wifi and location app- Mobbra, allowing them to receive background content such as player interviews, game statistics and interaction with other spectators. This turns such major events into a truly interactive gaming experience.

Crossover between virtual gaming and real life skills is also being extended to select gamers as competitive racing drivers at Nissan’s GT academy of Gran Turismo, on the basis of their virtual driving skills.

Science and Educational Gaming

Research in how people learn and interact in online gaming environments can assist in designing enhanced ways for science learning- integrating gaming technologies into classrooms and research facilities.
Digital games are an example of how technology can engage thousands of participants in solving problems - including scientific discoveries.

This symbiosis has been taken to a new level through the latest use of Crowdsourcing- using gaming to exploit the support and creativity of non-experts in a variety of scientific disciplines, to help solve complex problems, through the power of many minds working in tandem with computers and the Web.

For example Phylo is a game that allows users to contribute to the science of genetics by aligning sequences of DNA, RNA and proteins to find functional similarities and learn how they have evolved over time. Humans are better at solving such visual puzzles than computers and Phylo represents molecular groups by the alignment of vertical coloured pieces on a screen. There are currently 16,000 registered users working to solve such puzzles.

Foldit is another example; a protein folding game capable of solving puzzles such as the optimum folding patterns of chains of amino acid that make up the building blocks of enzymes and proteins and cracking the code of how an enzyme of an AIDS-like virus is created. It took the gamers only three weeks to create an accurate model of the solution using virtual amino acid strings on a video screen which had defied professionals for years.

Now the next level of gaming has been reached by connecting video game players directly to a real robot controlled biochemistry lab for synthesising and testing the RNA/Amino acid sequences.

In addition a number of phone app games have been developed by physicists to help non-experts understand what goes on in a particle collider including- LHSee, designed for players to search for the elusive Higgs particle discovered  last year at the CERN Large Hadron Particle Collider.

Another particle app- a retro-style arcade game,  guides a character Ms. Particle-Man in a quest to find the Higgs particle while navigating mazes, dodging hazards and colliding with other elementary particle.

What began as a simple pinball-like game morphed into a much richer world inhabited by characters that took the form of various subatomic particles- photons, leptons, gluons, quarks and even dark matter play starring roles.

More than 300 hours were spent working on the design and programming for the game, and now a more complex sequel- Mr Particle Man  will include about 100 levels of play.

Video games are also having an enormous impact on children at school, particularly mobile gaming- providing a sense of empowerment. But that impact is often seen as disruptive to thr learning process. So the aim is now to change that perception and harness the creative potential of gaming to enhance the child’s educational experience.

By the next decade it is likely the power of the Web will be fully deployed towards this new learning paradigm based on an immersive gaming virtual reality. This will be applied for all age groups including training for adults, supporting the full range of training needs from trade apprenticeships to strategic management skills. It will become a standard function of school and university teaching and research in the near future.

Game Theory Applications

As gaming becomes more scientific in its quest for greater realism and performance in the practical application to real world problem-solving, there will be an inevitable convergence with the theory of gaming.

Game Theory is about making better decisions to maximise value in games that simulate negotiation of power or asset status between individuals or groups. The gaming is based on an understanding of the mathematical rules governing the dynamics of the process- the probabilities of potential success or failure of an action or strategy, to determine the level of risk involved in achieving an outcome.

But there are many options governing the rules of a game- cooperative or non-cooperative negotiation, the sharing or hiding of knowledge,  uncertain or incomplete information, multiple parties with different objectives, non financial goals, gaining a long or short term advantage and uncertain starting conditions and constraints etc.

Originally it was the domain of economists, used to model simple zero sum outcomes relating to economic or trade advantage, with the interaction between two parties.

But the scope of the theory has widened in recent times to include complex risk assessment in many domains-  diplomacy between nation states in international relations, climate change, food and water security impacts on populations and competition between corporations in the technology, finance, energy and resource sectors.

Gaming is therefore likely to have a major impact on helping to solve humanity’s problems in the future- as a tool for finding more ethical and sustainable solutions to its needs.

End Game

The vision of a transition to a second reality through gaming is slowly coming together, but is just the beginning of solving a series of massive interlocking technological and engineering problems.

Nothing close to this level of VR realism had ever been attempted in gaming before.

The Oculus Rift can convert computer graphic images to full VR in simplified games environments such as Doom 3 and Gears of War, linked to Kinect devices simulating movement and motion gestures in 3D; but to capture full sensory information in realtime, seamlessly integrating it with the laws of physics and biology at the same time is another matter entirely

Both the computing and bandwidth capacity needed to drive the process would have to scale up an orders of magnitude at least, leveraging the latest supercomputers and prototype quantum processors. Bandwidth capacity could be achieved by utilising the latest breakthroughs in optical fibre technology at terabit speeds allowing multiple strands of an optical data streams.

But above all, the Web would have to be much cleverer, based on breakthroughs in AI,  virtual SDN- Software Defined Neural Networks, Data Linked Architectures and Decision Engineering technologies to connect and route linked information packets to the appropriate decision nodes autonomously. This would utilise a more intelligent and sentient structure more like the human brain and a strategy optimised to gaming priorities. It would also have to incorporate a heterogeneous architecture allowing combinations of different processors such as GPUs with specialised capabilities to work seamlessly in harmony.

Such architectural advances are already on the drawing board including projects by DARPA and Google, incorporating the massive power of the next generation of superclouds and data centres, based on synchronising tens of millions of distributed decision processing nodes.

But Gaming as a paradigm is just starting to evolve into a more sophisticated form - a science which can be applied to solve scientific, business, technological and global governance problems, merging with existing AI and simulation software. It is now becoming an integral part of human culture with all human activity and innovation seen as a form of Game.

This is a pivotal moment in human history- the transition towards acceptance of virtual abstract and symbiotic forms as part of everyday human existence, in the process crossing the Rubicon into a new existence.

By 2050 this new era of a vastly extended multidimensional reality, linked directly to the senses, but still dependent on the present physical world which has evolved over the past 4.5 billion years, will be ushered in.

It will be the beginning of an adjustment to an  immersive sensory environment- a Meta-World, that will combine elements of the social and physical, using increasingly sophisticated geospatial mapping and modelling; allowing virtualisation of complex processes, objects and environments, while at the same time enabling the autonomous management of the planet’s natural and urban ecosystems in the face of pervasive global warming.

It will take the form of a gigantic Game with every person a player- intimately involved in the global decision-making process. If the transition succeeds, the reward will be enormous- a new opportunity for humanity to reset civilisation within a more ethical and peaceful framework, coupled to an enormously creative scientific and philosophical awareness; capable of neutralising global warming and moving to the next level of human social evolution.

The Director of the Future Planet Research Centre, David Hunter TowSydney 14 October 2013. The Director of the Future Planet Research Centre, David Hunter Tow, predicts that the Startup culture will provide the key to a more productive, peaceful and sustainable planet by offering a new era of creative work and training with the potential to reduce poverty and conflict, while focusing on solutions to the looming crisis facing the planet from unstoppable climate change.

The Startup phenomenon can be likened to the first industrial revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries that radically transformed all aspects of world society by improving living standards and providing new ways to release the creative potential of new generations.

A whole new culture is emerging based on providing support for a new breed of Startup entrepreneur through business structures and processes that include-incubators, accelerators,  mentoring and training and equity partners. Startup enterprises now number in the tens of thousands and embrace virtually every significant social, business and industrial process. This nascent culture is rapidly evolving into a global force - gaining structure by coalescing around a number of Hubs, Networks, Ecosystems and Industry and Application Sectors.

Major Hubs are currently based in most of the world's larger cities including- London, Berlin, Istanbul, Helsinki, Tel Aviv, Stockholm, Auckland,  Singapore, Beijing, Bangalore, Sydney, Paris, Sao Paulo, Moscow , Reykjavik, Tallinn, Chicago, Manilla, Milan, New York and Barcelona, as well as the major iconic San Francisco/Silicon Valley nexus. At the same time a number of emergent hubs are gathering momentum in most urban regions of Africa,  Middle East, Asia and South and Central America.

No process or application, no matter how entrenched or fiercely guarded by its traditional custodians will be exempt from the impact of the Startup’s disruptive agenda, with every activity embedded in the operation of  modern civilisation likely to be transformed into a more streamlined and productive form- available primarily via inexpensive digital mobile platforms.

This re-engineering is occurring not just in the traditional online service sectors of retail, marketing, advertising, entertainment, travel and media, but increasingly in the professional service areas of knowledge management- education, healthcare, law, insurance, design and finance. Industrial sectors are also flexing up with smarter solutions, supporting engineering, mining, manufacturing, agriculture, construction, energy, transport, distribution, supply and communications, developing as well as developed countries.

But this shift to a smarter planet isn’t solely a big enterprise or big city initiative. In the near future every small town and regional community will also spawn its own Start up ecosystem. It will become a way of life offering a new form of work and play, with creativity the main currency.

It is gradually dawning on Government and the commercial and industrial establishment  that this is going to be the future way to create a new generation of viable businesses and economy. In the process it will likely disrupt and displace the existing 20th century paradigm for building a civilisation, taking no prisoners. And if today's enterprises want to survive they will very quickly need to adapt.to this new world order.

But for the larger enterprises in particular this will be an almost impossible task. Social and technology commentators, big business and Governments until now have largely underestimated the significance of this revolution , seeing it as an add-on phenomenon, complementary but not essential to the functions of the traditional economy.

Big mistake.

Misreading the significance of past economic disruptions such as the explosion of small desktop computers and the Internet has led to the demise of many seemingly invulnerable organisations. Just ask IBM about its near-death experiences in these areas. The economy and our social fabric is undergoing the next wave in a series of rapid and radical global changes that will dwarf the original industrial and digital revolutions.

The Startup phenomenon is just the latest in a rolling wave of technology driven changes reshaping our relationship with the planet and triggering a whole new way of survival. And most significantly it is achieving this by releasing the full global potential of human creativity.

And the reason for this burgeoning hyper-growth cycle at the start of the 21st century is because it is meshing simultaneously with a number of other revolutions including those of the sciences, arts, knowledge and artificial intelligence, education and work, as well as advanced digital technology and social development.

The primary mover and shaker- the heart and soul of all these revolutions is the Internet/Web, with its payload of exponentially increasing information, now available to all via commoditised mobile portals. This represents the next phase in the democratisation of the world’s storehouse of precious knowledge, driven by the imperative to fulfil the potential of the vast under-educated populations of Africa, Asia and the Middle East that have previously missed out on our planet’s bounty. It creates a level data playing field by allowing any citizen with a mobile phone or tablet regardless of location or income, to access a common knowledge universe.

Piggy backing on this pinnacle of this human intellectual achievement is the education sector which is now well on the way to providing the means of delivering this vast treasure trove in easy to absorb bite size chunks via virtually free MOOCs – Massive Online Open Courses, providing equal access to quality education and training at all levels within across the planet.

And right on its heels, leveraging the benefits of this educational bounty is the revolution in work practice- now catalysed by the Startup industry. 

The nature of work is now undergoing a dramatic transformation, flexing up to allow the transfer of skills from cheaper as well as high quality expat off shore sources of labour. But Startups have the potential to take this transfer to another level; to redress the global employment problem, eventually providing opportunities for skilled employment at the local community level.

A major Startup Hub- the Founder Institute , with chapters in 55 cities across 30 countries has just declared that over 1000 companies with a total portfolio value of $5billion have  graduated from its program in the last four years.  And the Institute and other countless incubators around the world are not just attracting the typical demographic of  twenty to thirty year olds with computer science and software engineering backgrounds, but entrepreneurs of all age groups - middle aged executives, trade and factory workers and housewives- even retirees still chasing their lifetime dreams; all with the vision and wisdom of hindsight that only serious life experience can provide- ready to grasp the opportunities that a younger generation cannot yet conceive of.

Following a hobby or passion has always been an intrinsic part of human nature.  It is no different in the digital age. The over fifties, sixties, seventies and even eighties now utilise the web as much or more than the under thirties and in a more active way than passively downloading music or videos. Surveys have shown they are also more astute at utilising social media for real benefit. The software skills required to transform that hobby or creative idea into a digital app is the simplest part of the equation- capable of being easily and inexpensively outsourced to an expert or automated app generator. After all, the technical skills required to design a blog or website used to be challenging for the average citizen. Not anymore. Now anyone can use a free template from Google and be up and running within ten minutes. The same is happening with app technology.

This is the new world where age is not a barrier but an advantage and where creative content and innovation is king.

The infrastructure required to support this new work/play revolution is also dirt cheap; an old warehouse with some discarded tables and chairs and cheap commodity smart phones and laptops or servers- sufficient even for graphics and game developers. For brain storming or practical sessions with an engineering or financial expert with forty years heavy duty industrial experience - a comfortable coffee bar or a friend’s garage is sufficient.

Cities or precincts that were once derelict and dying such as exist in Detroit, Denver, East Berlin or devastated New Orleans are finding a new lease of life by Startup communities; at the same time solving another endemic problem in society- unemployment and crime. Street kids, high school dropouts and jobless university graduates can be rapidly absorbed into this culture with some initial mentoring and training, offering creative opportunities and refuges no different from the arts and crafts sectors that have adopted similar supportive practices for decades. In fact there’s now a significant overlap and synergy between technology and arts communities, sharing creative spaces, ideas and marketing strategies.    

No wonder established enterprises of all hues- from the technology giants such as Google, Microsoft, Apple, Sony, Cisco, Verizon, Samsung, Yahoo, Amazon and IBM as well as Government agencies and big business in manufacturing, energy and banking- from NASA to Goldman Sachs, GE, Cisco, Shell, Phillips, Siemens, Panasonic, Ford and Toyota  are cashing in on this potential bonanza, supporting and mentoring Startup communities- not so much to make an immediate profit but just to gain a footing in this ultra-competitive new survival game. 

Most have either spun off their own internal Startup divisions like IBM or like Google are having a bet each way, aggressively offering to support other promising hubs such as the recently expanded Sydney Incubator tapping into the network of Australian University students.

For those enterprises that don’t or can’t adapt to this new universe, the gig will be up. Just as the empires of ancient times - the Romans, Greeks, Persians and Chinese dynasties or later British, Portuguese, Dutch, French and Spanish colonisers- all thought they were masters of the universe with their new technologies of guns and ships; but eventually overreached and lost the plot, misreading the pro-nationalist signals and  new awareness of a changing world.
Now the new technologies keep exploding relentlessly, with the Cloud, mobile technology, virtual reality, the Internet of intelligent objects, big data, artificial intelligence, robotics,  massive bandwidth, software defined networks, more flexible database structures and open source software, setting the pace.

But just over the horizon lurks the next generation of technology powered by – the intelligent Web with human like intelligence, quantum computing and teleportation, direct thought transfer via sensory headbands, the Precog society where prediction is the norm, insect sized drones and giant social observatories such as the original billion dollar EU FuturICT blueprint. Also the emergence of the global human superorganism- the response to increasing globalisation in the face of intractable global problems requiring urgent solutions such as climate change and conflict.

And each time the technology explodes it exposes more opportunities as well as existential risks to humanity. The current generation of dominant tech providers- Google, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and Facebook are already looking vulnerable; with Google overreaching just like the ancient empires; and Facebook’s invasion of user privacy- likely to go the same way as Myspace; and Apple- passed its innovative peak, likely to become another producer of commodity devices such as Nokia. Even Microsoft is on the ropes unable to make the paradigm shift needed to survive the new world order with Bill Gates’ job as chairman on the line.

Big enterprises have a habit of believing their own rhetoric of infinite growth with a delusional mantra of taking over the world in their market niche. Unfortunately they never studied physics and the limits of computation, information and energy, as the power of entropy inevitably dissembles their structures. 

So the traditional notion of an individual's job and work-related role is already outdated. Work value in the future will be measured in terms of contributions to personal and organisational goals, together with social utility, whether for a two person startup or two thousand employee company.

By 2025 most tasks in heavy industry such as mining, construction, manufacturing and transport will be largely automated and robot-assisted. But such projects will also be increasingly managed and resourced on a real-time basis within the Web's global knowledge network- driven by innovative algorithms generated by next-gen apps.

By 2030 organisational boundaries and work practices will be fluid and porous, with individuals moving freely between projects, career paths and virtual organisational structures; adding value and in turn continuously acquiring new skills, linked to ongoing vocational programs.

And Startups will play the leading role in generating this new innovative world of work and play as a hothouse for generating new ideas and skills. Opportunities for Startups will therefore abound. Why? Because  every current major provider of products and services whether- big pharma, big banks, big media, big agriculture, big construction, big government or big cities etc  will be desperately in need of a makeover with their clunky and inefficient 20th century legacy systems not cutting it in the 21st roller coaster super competitive world.

Likewise professional services in marketing, healthcare, travel, law, media and finance will be dominated by apps and algorithms generated by small agile second and third generation Startup companies.

A revolution in social development is also changing the way populations are coping with massively expanding populations and dwindling resource options, by returning to smaller self- sufficient and cooperative urban communities linked by high bandwidth communication and transport networks which will facilitate work, food  and water security and learning opportunities in a Startup age.

Although big factories using automated robotic processes for producing industrial components - steel, concrete, glass, cars, turbines, trains and solar panels will still be essential using a mix of advanced technologies such as 3D printing, the streamlined and flexible information services needed to manage, market and optimise such products are more likely to be created by the host of future creative Startups- not the few software goliaths still lingering from of the 20th century.   

This future downsizing of the enterprise aligned with local community structures augers well for the nascent Startup industry with its naturally flatter decentralised architecture, allowing a more flexible capacity to adapt to market signals rather than through rigid centralised control communications. Startups also have the capacity to upscale more flexibly using cloud-based frameworks and by forming cooperative networks rather than expanding centralised silos.
And Startups are not only leveraging new information technologies but also the new sciences of materials, biology, chemistry, physics and energy including- graphene- the next electronics replacement for silicon; artificial photosynthesis- the future hope for solar energy; optical physics- for invisibility cloaking and super lasers, quantum computing and information teleportation ; synthetic biology- for growing organs and creating organisms to clean up pollution. Even gene sequencing machines, atomic microscopes and analytic laboratory processes are being downsized to desktop level, closing the comparative cost differential between rich and poor countries and large and small enterprises. And governments are loving it- because Startups are offering a silver bullet to generate prosperity- a low cost simple way to foster new industries and jobs without the burden of expensive infrastructure, offering the next generation entry to a better life.

The fight against big enterprise corruption, bribery, price gouging and market cartels by big enterprise also benefits in a down sized decentralised app society. There have been numerous recent exposures of the underlying level of corruption, bribery, conflict of interest and contempt for customers within the finance and banking industries, as well as major sectors of the mining and construction industries. But if government regulators have failed to prevent the misuse of shareholder and public funds then agile Startup competitors offering cheaper, safer and more convenient services, may do the job for them.

An example is the payments sector. Many smaller agile groups from technology and infrastructure poor African countries such as Kenya have taken the lead in these services of convenience and already provide perfectly viable mobile phone money transfer and business transaction services via text and a pin number, bypassing expensive western banking services.

Both banks and private equity funds are now scrambling to join the Startup race. But the banks are slow to shed their conservative no-risk attitude to lending and the large venture capital funds are being outflanked because of their elitist attitude, refusing to get involved until they are sure the Startup is well on its way to stardom. But in a future high risk roller coaster world there is no such thing as certainty and the professional funds are now at risk of  being outflanked by the more nimble networks of crowdfunders and syndicates of wealthy Angel investors, happy to take a gamble, offering both seed capital for visionary ideas and serious followup investment for likely winners; gaining the advantage of an inside rails run to grab the major payoff  prize.

But the Startup has a much more important role to play in today’s world.

The latest climate report predicts our climate will be irrevocably changed within thirty years if we don’t change direction – despite all the current advances in renewable energy technology and efficiency savings.

By focussing on innovations in sustainable energy and poverty reduction- rather than trying to emulate another superficial social media or marketing billionaire, today’s Startups can play an essential role in saving the planet and its human cargo, including themselves.

This is an indicator of the potential power of the maturing Startup industry, as a global phenomenon which also might just save the planet through the unleashing of an explosion of  innovation and idealism; designing more resilient and sustainable systems, reducing the pressure on the planet’s ecosystems and supporting more cohesive communities; at the same time generating new pathways to peace through cooperative globalisation- offering hope for future generations in a time of existential crisis.

Today's Startup is therefore not only a powerful force for change but also for survival. They are also beginning to gain the upper hand in the marketplace of ideas. A tipping point is already emerging. There is now more investment capital available than viable projects. No more the demeaning cap in hand pleas by desperate entrepreneurs for funding - prostrating themselves in ridiculous speed pitching marathons- often losing control over their IP in the process of a desperate race for assistance.

Now there are many more alternative funding options to tap such as crowdfunding and Angel syndicates- more financial supply than startup demand; Universities, such as Stanford, MIT and Sydney as well as tech companies and government agencies are also competing with established VC firms, with many lower-tier VC firms caught in the squeeze, at risk of going to the wall.

So now it’s the VC firms turn to do the pitching and make concessions for a limited supply of viable Startups. How things change.

For the entrepreneurs and founders it means more control, more funding choices, and shorter lead times.

The centre of gravity of the talented app developers and entrepreneurs is also shifting away from the US back to their country of origin. Until recently at all levels of science and technology the US has been living on borrowed overseas intellectual capacity. For the last fifty years it succeeded beyond its wildest expectations in seducing the most talented of the world's minds to assist achieve its scientific and technological dominance, with offers of scholarships, state of the art research facilities, career paths, permanent residency and financial packages an order higher than their own countries could offer. And during the last fifty years hardly a research paper of any significance was published without input from a researcher of European or Asian origin. And the American economy prospered beyond all expectations.

But now the game is over, with governments across the world able to offer their talented graduates and entrepreneurs the necessary home grown incentives and facilities to pursue their careers in their own countries; at the same time contributing to their own national development.

So the Startups of tomorrow will be much more evenly distributed with a more level playing field and the world can look forward to an explosion in creative and innovative potential across all nation states. In tomorrow’s world there will be no alpha nation. Each Startup ecosystem will develop its own expertise in its own way, which it will then share with the world.

By the mid-forties the earth’s climate will have irredeemably changed to something much more violent and unpredictable if we stay on our current trajectory, even accounting for the growing use of renewable energy sources and greater efficiencies The best we can now hope for is to slow Armageddon down, but we may not be able to reverse it.

Climate change triggered by global warming will dominate every business and social decision within the next decade. Every country, community and company has to make it front and centre in their planning processes- what to produce, how to produce it, where to produce, in order to minimise energy consumption and slow the release of carbon.

The Startup culture will play a pivotal role in this process- the key to the planet’s redemption. But only if its focus shifts to developing sustainable processes and products rather than infantile notions of  becoming the next billion dollar enterprise.

Let’s hope that the current and future generation of  founders don’t lose sight of the real priority facing planet Earth and have the wisdom to avoid being dazzled by ephemeral dollar signs.

Otherwise they too will be swept away by its inevitable apocalyptic endgame.

Contact David Tow. dhtow01 @ gmail.com

David Hunter Tow – Director of the Future Planet Research CentreSydney 26 August 2013. David Hunter Tow – Director of the Future Planet Research Centre, predicts that by 2030 current news will cease to become the dominant news format, as thousands of reporting services instead switch to a Future Reality. But with the Surveillance state looming as a major social disrupter it must re-examine its role as a primary protector of democracy.

By 2020- most major print media will have adopted a mobile multimedia model as traditional advertising streams dry up and the news is reduced to short headline summaries and specialist reporting of leisure activities, social events, conflict and crime, supported by algorithmic analysis.

Current and breaking news feeds, captured largely by citizen reporters and robot cameras in war zones and urban environments, will receive limited exposure only, before being consigned to the archives of Big News - exobytes of information automatically scanned for useful patterns from which future news scenarios can be extracted. These scenarios will offer an endless smorgasbord of projections and entertainment, to which society will become increasingly addicted, replacing current reality television.

Special editions and feature articles relating to past events will continue to be produced in reduced quantity, but online future short-burst information- text, video and audio streams, will be increasingly popular, generated by specialist forecasting channels and distributed directly to clients via new vogue fashion devices- digital jewellery, headbands, glasses and watches.

A small core of traditional broadcasters such as Public Television and Aljazeera will remain focussed on hard breaking reality news, but the main switch will be to web streaming channels covering every topic, mostly blandly personalised to individual taste; viewable anywhere, anytime, primarily on mobile media pod screens in 3D. These personalised channels will be ubiquitous, producing a mix of future scenarios and entertainment; with the line between past, present and future becoming increasingly blurred.

By 2030 future news will have become the new norm, with the media evolving as differentiated reality streams available from thousands of web hubs, streaming aggregation sites and social media news networks in three broad formats- headlines and short synopses of future events competing with traditional breaking news feeds and the remaining wire services; in-depth reviews and features relating to past and evolving narratives, merging with independent blogger storylines; and third- scenario analyses leveraging past and current trends, feeding back to create ongoing news hyper-loops.

By 2035 this process will be linked to the exploration of alternate virtual futures, combining with societal predictions to become the dominant entertainment as well as news format. News, entertainment and sport will then become truly interactive, overlapping with online gaming, available within 3D holographic environments such as full sensory Holodecks, for maximum immersive reality effect.

Generating future news scenarios will have become the new creative buzz and the largest media growth segment – catalysing new ideas and startup generators, as humans commit to virtual future-based realities in everyday life.

But already a wild card has been thrown into the futures mix- the rise of the Surveillance State. The Orwellian PRISM, XKeyscore and Tempora Internet search and intercept programs initiated by the NSA and GCHQ in concert with other spy organisations across the world are also about creating their own future news programs.

Following the end of the Cold War the prestige of the US and European spy communities was in serious decline. But with the advent of the September 11 attack, the failed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the subsequent global war on Jihadist terror, combined with the support of a draconian Patriot Act - they were back in business.

With the collaboration of the major global telecomm and social media companies and a subservient US judicial and political oversight process, George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four vision of a dystopian society- an omnipresent surveillance state enforcing mind control and persecuting all independent thinkers, had finally arrived.

But this time there is no going back. Most domestic and foreign phone and Internet communications are now monitored and archived for possible future analysis in the US, Middle East, Europe, Russia and China. And just like a fast food addict the NSA and other spy organisations are gorging themselves on more and more junk data, to ensure that no pattern, regardless how trivial, escapes its infinite obsession with ‘Persons of Interest’.

But true to form like the bumbling Keystone Cops, the NSA hired thousands of outside contractors with access to top secret information to guard its vaults and manage its data treasure trove. What were the odds that sooner or later at least one of those contractors would have the moral courage to become a potent Whistleblower? And even with the evidence stacked against them the national intelligence agencies continued to lie about the nature of the enterprise and the amount of data actually intercepted. ‘A postage stamp sized area compared with a basketball court’ was the analogy given by the NSA to Congress. And then to cap it off, when the alarm bells rang and the gig was up, the White House administration set up a review committee with- you guessed it – the very same Director of National Intelligence and some ex buddies in charge.

Surveillance technology is now evolving at warp speed creating unprecedented Future Shock to civilisation’s social fabric. Although there has been universal outrage against this unprecedented invasion of human rights under the pretext of pre-empting global terrorism, the Future News Machine is running hot and there is no end in sight.

So as history records it, this was the beginning of the largest spy operation in the West waged against its own populations in human history; invading the rights of citizens regardless of fundamental constitutional safeguards- enough to make George Orwell turn in his grave. This has created a future reality in which everyone is likely to end up a Person of Suspicion and sets the scene for the next phase of the future news narrative- the rise of the Precognition (Precog) state.

What better method of creating an Orwellian future than continually trumpeting the ability of the machine to predict the next big terrorist attack. We’ve already had one scare campaign, with the withdrawal of US embassy staff from the Middle East. And of course nothing happened. But according to the NSA it would have without their machine’s timely intervention; and you can bet there’ll soon be lots more proof of concept panic attacks in the future.

In this way the future news cycle becomes embedded in society’s psyche. No-one is interested in the past or present when knowing what’s about to happen tomorrow is far more exciting. It’s then just a small step for a Surveillance state to reach the next level of social control- the Precog state- with the capability of inferring the physical intentions of every citizen by using algorithms to measure their cognitive condition.

Cyber components and sensors such as pacemakers and brain signal headbands are already commonly embedded in humans and monitored by the latest phone apps; allowing doctors to track the wellbeing of their patients and save lives. So it’s just a small step to use such systems to translate the intent of an individual into signature patterns which may then be passed to a control system monitored by surveillance robots.

It’s not hard to imagine this as the ideal decision feedback for a Precog machine, capable of triggering a lethal reprisal to block such premeditated actions in real or future time. The problem is of course that the consequences of such pervasive intrusion are likely to be catastrophic for humanity- triggering social paranoia, decision gridlock and worse.

In the meantime, while the spies fiddle with their fetish for more data and power- the world burns.

By 2040 human survival in the face of global warming will have become the paramount issue facing humanity- far outstripping any terrorist threat. This will require a radical strategy of using predictive analytics as a means of pre-empting some of its worst impacts- similar to using back-burning to defeat a fire by getting ahead of it and setting up containment lines, turning it on itself. The fire and most of the damage it causes can be stopped in its tracks and ultimately defeated.

Giant Social Observatory models will provide the computational power to predict future outcomes using advanced algorithms to interpret signals and forecast viable interventions. Thousands of automated forecasting algorithms will work to get ahead of the looming Armageddon, covering critical trends in energy sufficiency, food and water availability, materials and resource logistics, infrastructure, economics, stock markets, crime and conflict; exposing and pre-empting the potential risks, threats and flaws, before major damage is done.

Future News Channels will provide windows to publicise and present the results of the modelling to the broader population on a continuous basis- giving those communities who might be worst affected by such extreme events prior warning, empowering them to take decisions vital to their own survival.

Researchers in business and academia already make predictions about a vast number of phenomena, at least over the short term- such as corporate earnings, the weather, impacts of droughts, fires and food shortages as well as economic and market movements, commodity prices, retail sales, employment statistics, real estate prices, disease pandemics, political analyses and more recently conflict and crime hotspots.

But most of these are relatively short-term scenarios, analyses and indicators which will be extended further into the future- most importantly in areas that could save lives, using for example more advanced collection methods- micro satellites, robotic swarms, crowdsourcing and networks of dedicated citizen volunteers, to provide excellent opportunities to supplement traditional reporting and data collection methods.

By 2050 a form of social Superorganism encompassing the majority of humans will begin to emerge as an outcome of the cooperative creativity and crowdsourcing already evident - with the fusing of artificial and human intelligence linked to the sentient Web 5.0. Most technological and social trends and fashions will be based on the memes and decision capability of such a Superorganism. But far more importantly it will allow survival actions to be taken much faster and in a more coordinated way.

The Web is rapidly becoming the heart and soul of humanity’s survival kit in which all knowledge and events whether generated by humans, other life forms or machines will be stored and processed. Once encapsulated, knowledge can be mixed and matched, processed and recycled ad infinitum just like waste matter, until finally emerging in a form that humanity’s superorganism will feed on for its survival in the future.

But the Web’s power could be lost if the surveillance state destroys the trust of its users. It has already started to fragment and is likely to balkanise in the near future as countries and companies withdraw their data to their own jurisdictions to protect intellectual property and trade secrets.

So the intrusive programs of spy organisations across the globe are likely to bring about their own undoing as the Web technologies based on trust such as the Cloud and Mobile Apps collapse- destroying the future- in its place creating chaos and anarchy.

By 2050 therefore, to counter this collapse of trust, Future News will need to restore its credibility by turning itself into something of critical significance – a more trustworthy and effective weapon in the fight for human survival and the defeat of the Precog/Surveillance State.

No more a craven apologist to power elites. It must position itself as the critical link between humanity and a democratic state as civilisation evolves. It must return to its roots- documenting and projecting the progress of all cultural, political, scientific and technological experience of life's existence, without fear- into the far future.

Sydney 14 July 2013. The Director of the Future Planet Research Centre- David Hunter Tow argues that the “Enterprise” brand has been severely damaged in recent times and can only be remediated in the future by meshing more closely with the entrepreneurial technologies of the Web and aligning its goals more symbiotically with the social norms of a sustainable and ethical community.

The Future Enterprise is now caught in a roiling sea of change, consistently failing to adapt to the social and technological changes of the 20th and 21st centuries.

The modern enterprise has emerged as a relatively recent force in social development; the child of earlier business, corporate and other organisational models, which in turn evolved from early marketplace and trading structures.   
Its general connotation is that of a more dynamic and entrepreneurial entity than previous structures, that allows individuals to cooperate more flexibly to achieve a range of common legal, financial and social goals.

It therefore is not just rooted in the capitalist system. Although it usually has a common basis and primary goal as for most businesses of generating a return on investment for its risk takers, whether private or public, its goals may also be social, non-profit or solely philanthropic.

Along the way it has acquired a variety of fellow travellers including- investors, shareholders, partners, regulators and lobbyists. But when operating as a risk taker, as for most businesses and corporations, it has been allocated special privileges such as limited liability, low or non-existent taxation rates and other special exemptions including the implicitly sanctioned dispensation to exploit the assets of the Commons- the natural endowments of the planet. These include- mineral rights, natural forests and farming land, fresh water sources, unpolluted air and often intellectual property, that by heritage belong to the people as a natural right for their health and general wellbeing.

Particularly since the industrial revolution, the planet’s resources have been systematically exploited and degraded by the earlier incarnations of the enterprise, with acrid poisonous soot blanketing cities from fossil fuel usage, causing endemic lung disease. Toxic mining and processing wastes still pollute waterways, killing the marine life and destroying the health and livelihoods of dependent communities. And this still continues in the water ways of many developing and developed countries such as Australia, Canada, China and the US where chemical refining companies continue to spew out lead and other heavy metals as well as fracking and tar sand residues, polluting the pristine groundwater for drinking and farming.

The modern enterprise may therefore be more entrepreneurial and dynamic, but such travesties are still common and accepted because along the way the ethics of larger public enterprises got hijacked by their executives and regulators who lost sight of the fact that they had an obligation to act for the wellbeing of the community at large as well as maximise shareholders profits. Public servants in Government agencies also went along with this form of criminality and a revolving contractor door began creating massive conflicts of interest between regulators and managers, which continues unabated today.

And so began the era of the Big Enterprise-where corruption and the ‘winner takes all’ mantra became the behavioural norm within the business community, particularly including- the Pharmaceutical, Agricultural, Oil and Petrochemical, Armaments and Defence, Media, Retail, Banking and Finance and construction industries; because might was right and scale was power and influence and smaller enterprises often became collateral damage, unable compete effectively- technologically or for market share.

And because Big Enterprises became so profitable and powerful, Governments continued to provide carte blanche for their exploitation of the planet’s finite assets and pollution became routine, particularly by Big Miners such as Chevron, which still refuses to pay compensation for destroyed tribal land in the Amazon and big banks that stole the savings of small investors and pension funds during the GFC and Big Agri companies like Monsanto which established monopolies on the  back of patented plant genes and Big Pharma that tried it on with human genes and Big Manufacturers of consumer products that outsourced their production from substandard factories employing child labour in developing countries with no legal protection.

And the bigger they got, the more they assumed that the Commons was available for their benefit alone, until today much of the original resources of a pristine planet has been stripped bare and big enterprise continues to consume them at 150% of sustainable capacity.

To counter the bad vibes it encountered along the way, Big Enterprise also gathered an army of apologists and cheer leaders in the form of PR and lobbyist minions to sanitize their actions. They also recruited security companies to protect their stolen assets against pesky indigenous and activist groups who were outraged by their behaviour. Also police and spy agencies began collecting the names and personal records of those who interfered with lucrative enterprise arrangements such as price fixing and illegal waste disposal on the pretext of preventing terrorism.

At the same time the creative accountants and corrupt auditors found ways to minimise the tax paid by enterprises  including tech giants such as Google and Apple, through the use of global tax havens or by channelling profits through minimal taxation zones.

And really this litany of corruption and abuse has not been improving. If anything it has got worse in the  20th and 21st centuries. So despite the thousands of sustainable small and medium law abiding enterprises with a conscience –mainly family businesses, enterprises have been getting a reputation for exhibiting psychopathic anti-social behaviour. In other words if anything this cancerous growth in the corporate/enterprise sector has been metastasizing at an exponential rate.

Not a pretty picture. And eventually something had to give.

Finally in the late 20th and 21st century the tide began to turn. A new form of social enterprise  emerged- the Not for Profits and NGOs –such as Greenpeace, Human Rights Watch and Transparency International have gained traction- finding ways to fight back against the goliaths by exposing their excesses and successfully taking legal action. And smaller enterprises are becoming more innovative, creative and agile, offering a more personal and fairer option to the community. 

The other change and it’s a big change, is that the community has finally turned against Big Enterprise, becoming sceptical of its anti-social practices and the hype and lies in the form  of deceptive marketing and glossy advertising campaigns; increasingly caught out by the social media, activists and whistle blowers. Their greed and naked criminality is being exposed like never before and governments are slowly being forced to act on their constituent’s behalf.
Enterprises and their shareholders and executive employees cannot hide anymore in gated enclaves behind bland anonymous websites, immune from the consequences of their actions. Through pervasive sensors and eyes in the form of the smartphone cameras of citizens, every action of the Enterprise is being monitored and reported. With the imminent advent of the Internet of Things or sentient objects, the pervasiveness of watchful sensors will ramp up exponentially.

When Big Enterprises pollute or destroy habitats in Africa, Asia or South America, with their products sourced from death trap factories, or their supply chains harbouring illegal conflict minerals, the world will be watching. The outcomes of enterprise actions will be reported in the social media within milliseconds and that record will remain as a stain in the digital archives for perpetuity, accessible by prosecutors. There are now not just a handful of investigative reporters tracking the perfidy of big business, but the eyes and ears of citizens everywhere.

As well as the increasing crackdown on Enterprise corruption another revolution is underway. It is called Sustainability. To remain in synch with community aspirations in a globally warming world shareholders are being encouraged to punish enterprises that cause harm to the planet and its life forms, whether through use of fossil fuels or fraudulent practices, by withdrawing their investments.

Enterprises must not only produce profits for their shareholders - often Pension Funds representing the savings of everyday citizens, but must also prove the delivery of socially sustainable benefits for the communities such as local indigenous groups from which they draw their sustenance. And the pressures for this investor-driven change are now enormous.

No more banks marketing fraudulent derivatives or rigging borrowing rates or Walmart and Nike look alikes outsourcing garments made by women and children working for a pittance in the fire factories of Bangladesh.
All  too often enterprises have are adopted a head in the sand attitude when confronted with anything that impacts their short term balance sheet and bonuses – repeating the pathetic mantra of ‘It’s just business’ as a justification, similar to that of mafia murderers. As if business and society’s ethics can be separated. How can any reasonable planning forecasts for energy supplies, vehicle exports, wheat harvests, hospital bed or fashion garment demand be predicted without taking into account the massive geopolitical issues such as global warming and conflict affecting those markets.

There is a whiff of panic in the air from Big Enterprise. The fossil fuel extractors are beginning to realise that a large proportion of their oil, coal and gas reserves may now have to remain in the ground, where their assets will become liabilities. The major tourist hotel chain operators are also starting to sweat as they realise that the luxury resorts built in tropical hurricane zones such as North Australia and the Caribbean will have to be written off, as well as assets in the vast no go areas of the planet- those becoming lethally hot or potentially flood prone. Instead the scope for the smaller eco-friendly enterprises has expanded, for those that don’t leave a footprint on the planet.

So Global Warming and the concomitant need to mesh with the sustainability and ethical goals of the broader community are now emerging as two massive constraints and shapers of the Future Enterprise.
But a third factor has emerged that has caught most large businesses totally flatfooted.

This is the competition from the tens of thousands of next-gen innovators involved in entrepreneurial Startups funded by smaller investors, covering every application and industry that was once the exclusive domain of Big Enterprise.
An increasing proportion of the population is becoming technically savvy and better educated, particularly in the emerging populations of India, Africa, Asia and Latin America. Global conglomerates across the planet are being stripped of their mystique and gatekeeper roles. They are also being stripped bare by the new wave of innovation, with agile Startup groups disrupting every traditional industry process from 3D manufacturing to mobile payments, to personalised healthcare, online education, eco-tourism and social media; using clever algorithms powered by cheap smartphones and pads.

The services sector is now in turmoil with thousands of small agile enterprises based in cooperative  hubs in every major and many minor cities across the globe; cashing in on new opportunities to re-engineer traditional ways of doing business without the need for massive PR budgets or bribes.

Innovation and creativity are the new buzzwords and the citizen beneficiaries are loving it.

And this is just the beginning.

The future enterprise will from now on be dominated by technology- from the Internet / Web and every other technology that goes with it including- Virtual Clouds, Social Networks, Mobile technology and soon The Internet of Things - all available at a relatively low entry and maintenance cost. Technology will not just be an external enabler but will impact the very heart and soul of the enterprise, changing its structure and ability to compete in radical ways; allowing the smaller players to compete on a level playing field.

As the technological basis and norms of society shift, so the structure of the enterprise will also be forced to adapt.

And so we come to the fourth factor in the evolution of the Future Enterprise.

The Virtual Enterprise is much more opportunistic and is already here. It does not require its employees to be gathered under one roof in one country or even in an office environment.
In such a fast-moving logistical revolution, skills as well as materials have to be available on demand. Outsourcing of every process- from HR to manufacturing to IT, with the exception of strategic decision-making-maybe, will therefore become the new norm. 

The workforce and partners as well as customers will be global as well as local, with lightning paced decisions made to optimise production or marketing as opportunities arise and where resources and a workforce including skilled and unskilled contractors including robots, is ready to go. We see it today in the expat diasporas of every industry from the mining to construction  to finance.

Smaller enterprises will have a significant advantage in such a world- without carrying the enormous overheads and legacy of a large enterprise. The virtual enterprise will allow them to scale up or down as required.
To facilitate instant decision-making the enterprise of the future will also be based on a network structure rather than a hierarchical or fixed functional model. Without the artificial dichotomy of workers and management, a much more cooperative and complex model of social evolution can be introduced.

This is likely to lead in fact to the structure of the future enterprise eventually meshing with that of the Web,  at the same time connecting with community aspirations on a symbiotic local, regional, national or global basis. Such a pervasive networked architecture will apply equally for big and small, public and private enterprises, facilitating distributed and largely autonomous  decision-making, with the capacity to dynamically route information and intelligence- human or artificial, to key decision nodes as  algorithms dominate the management of complex processes.

Organisational boundaries will become increasingly fluid and porous with individuals moving freely between projects and career paths adding value at each step, in turn allowing them to acquire new skills linked to ongoing advanced learning programs..


So the Enterprise of the future will likely be largely unrecognisable by 2030 - smaller, networked, far more flexible, agile and opportunistic as well as cooperatively tuned to the needs of the community as well as the customers it serves, eventually on a largely autonomous basis. It will also apply the latest knowledge within a far more ethical and non-combative environment; cooperatively as well as competitively, applying sustainable methods of energy conservation and high standards of ethical governance.

Sound too good to be true?

Not really – just a logical and inevitable outcome driven by changes in the global environment which are already largely in train and in which the enterprise of the future will play an increasingly significant role.

David Tow - Future Planet

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