The Director of the Future Planet Research Centre- David Hunter Tow, predicts that Globalisation will be an unstoppable force in the 21st century and the only salvation for Eaaarth 2.0 as it races towards its imminent tipping point of harsh climate change and exhaustion of finite resources.
In such a globalised society the future enterprise will also be forced to substantially adapt its operating and management strategies to encompass a more innovative, ethical and collaborative mindset, regardless of size or industry, in order to survive.
By 2050 the process of globalisation will be well entrenched and our civilisation will have transformed into a tightly integrated networked community of all nations, creeds and cultures.
It is clear that at the beginning of the 21st century that 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 intensify, the rate of knowledge accrual will increase and manifest in the emergence of a dense and complex global civilisation.
The Future Planet Research Centre has defined a several key drivers of this unstoppable force, in the form of complex physical frameworks and social scenarios. In each scenario there are compelling reasons for nation states to cooperate, combining their physical and intellectual resources to ensure their own population’s and the planet’s survival.
Each of the following drivers and related scenarios will highlight the pivotal role of the Enterprise and its enabling Information Architecture.
Major drivers of globalisation include-
Global Warming and Climate Change- Lethal Impacts
Knowledge, Learning and Work- Revolutions
Embedding the Future Enterprise- Cloud World
Power, Politics, Economics and Ethics- New Frameworks
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 conflict and ignorance.
In such a global economy businesses and industries will continue to be exposed to unrelenting renewal and competition in industrial and service sectors as varied as- retail, manufacturing, energy, education, media, communications, advertising and healthcare. These and many more have already been disrupted over the past ten years, caught in a vortex of constant change.
Those enterprises that choose to ignore the looming tsunami will almost certainly pay the price of obsolescence.
Global Warming and Climate Change- Lethal Impacts
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 peace and 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.
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 energy in the form of solar, wind and wave, genetic modification of food plants to cope with drought and salination and smarter and more efficient 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 the depletion of finite resources- eventually triggering 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 scientists in most 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, communities and enterprises, cities and regions, are independently acting. They are establishing renewable energy projects on a massive scale- using solar, wind and biofuels to power homes, factories and power grids- big and small; 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 and scientific resources 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 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 existential danger awaiting them.
A global clearinghouse of climate-based information needs to be urgently established to keep communities informed of the local ramifications as well as global impacts to their environment, together with the basis to make decisions on the best way to proceed. This is already happening with local weather, power and water, food and commodity forecasts and involves focussing the best science, intelligence and technologies on problem target areas.
The global science, ecosystem, 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 such as used in Landsat. 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.
Embedding the Future Enterprise- Cloud World
It is clear that each enterprise will have a key role to play in meeting these objectives- gathering data about its operations, not only for its own performance goals, but to feed into the global matrix of controls to monitor and model comparative sustainability outcomes in relation to industry and regional benchmarks.
This will involve measuring its carbon footprint and impact on the ecosystems of the planet in realtime. Some statistics will involve mandatory reporting as in carbon trading systems, while key performance and service level indicators will keep its global customers, suppliers and shareholders informed. This information will be accessible directly on demand via shared public and private cloud services.
In other words it will have to be embedded in the communities it serves- as well as the the planet’s global ecosystem.
Flexible and agile Cloud services are already becoming a key enabler in this process, allowing enterprises to achieve such embedding while at the same time achieving major reductions in the processing, distribution and application of knowledge resources. These will be implemented as resource services- Resources as a Service- Raas- now set to link Iaas and Saas, making this a feasible managment tool..
In addition to switching to Cloud services to improve the efficiency and quality of sustainability and performance, enterprises will achieve major savings and revenue gains through global marketing, production and distribution, using local outsourcing, open public data and code as well as innovative social media promotional strategies.
Continuous and sustainable innovation through internal startups and acquisition is now a buzzword in all senior management circles- an essential component for maintaining a competitive edge and fending off disruptive interlopers. Incremental change and quality control is not enough to ensure survival in the 21st century.
And salvation for the future enterprise will require much more than big data and predictive algorithms. It will require synchronising with global mind power via information networks managed on the Web; in essence coordinating and harnessing the entire knowledge base of our civilisation, with each component of the planet’s intellectual mosaic- communities, research and innovation groups, corporations and government contributing according to their creative capacity and potential.
Open source data in public databases, will be a vital resource for all enterprises, tracking natural and engineered assets via satellites and sensors, monitoring ecosystems, infrastructure, dynamics of cities and populations, health and lifestyle, genetics, economic, production and census statistics, commodity and financial markets and weather forecasts etc. These are already available funded largely by the public purse and should be seen as part of the global commons for the benefit of all.
There is also a revolution in the open publication of research data in universities and Government departments, powering our national innovation and technology strategies. This creates an obligation on business to reciprocate value in terms of the welfare of the community in return for access to such opportunity benefits. This is not only a case of altruism and ethics but of economic necessity for those companies that want to survive in the new world order. Sustainability and survival will involve developing a ‘shared’ cooperativeeconomy beyond the current competitive-only mindset, that leverages the logic of distributing spare capacity to all stakeholders on an equitable basis.
Open source code and algorithms as well as distributed processing software frameworks such as Apache Hadoop are also available in the public domain, made accessible by developer organisations such as Github, Google and Red Hat. Google’s Android op system and Go language are other examples of open source, while Apple’s IOS and apps are not- instead perpetuating a twentieth century closed ecosystem regime. And because the skills of many innovators can outstrip just a few talents, Google is now oustripping Apple in the race for the business market.
Tesla’s Elon Musk has also applied this counterintuitive principle and is market leader in electric vehicles against the global auto giants.There’s a lesson in this for all eneterprises. Just as every individual can share in the world’s knowledge via a $5 recycled smartphone- so every enterprise no matter how small can share the benefits of globalisation via cloud economics, cheap apps, global marketing and an outsourced workforce linked more closely to customers and supply networks.
The radical vision of truly collaborative globalisation is too fundamentally vital to be funneled through large organisations, politicians or nation states. It must instead be created by the community as a whole from the ground up, linked via networks and self-organising hubs into a supra-national entity evolving as a largely autonomous system, applying principles of social organisation to amplify individual and group intelligence on a massive scale. This is already happening through the efforts of tens of thousands of small businesses including- Startups, and Not for Profits; generating value to compete with the 20th century oligopolies to ensure a sustainable growth, ethical and sharing economy.
But before this can happen Big War and regional conflict will have to be neutered. The cost in lives and lost human potential is immeasurable in an era when the complete infrastructure of civilisation will have to be re-architectured to cope with the massive challenges ahead.
The EU has shown the way in the 20th century, providing the template for eliminating wars- demonstrating how 28 countries that fought for thousands of years finally achieved peace. When citizens from diverse nations work and play together, extremism and ignorance is stymied and the incalculable benefits of peace take precedence. And this happened over a short 60 year period.
Every individual, rich and poor, then should have the opportunity to participate in the great game of life- via the global information revolution; sharing access to the Web, and its repository of the world’s knowledge, without fear or discrimination.
And the future enterprise will be a critical part of this organic global renaissance. Work will be outsourced flexibly and rapidly as already occurring. Each enterprise will also need to cultivate its own brand of startup-style research and innovation in order to avoid the risk of lethal disruption. In return each enterprise should respect the values of the communities that nourish them; preserving, not trashing natural commons resources such as clean water and air, providing decent working conditions and a living wage to workers; without leaving a legacy of a polluted wasteland, as almost every mining, chemical, manufacturing, financial and retail multinational has in the 20th century. Even today, ultra wealthy companies such as Apple, Amazon, Walmart and Macdonalds cannot be trusted to act in good faith, avoiding taxes and violating labour laws of their own and host countries, forcing local populations to bear the cost of their negligence and corruption.
On the scientific and technology front, global collaboration is now the norm, encompassing international research networks, project alliances and business consortiums, beyond the limits of separate countries and cultures.
Even the US has been forced to take this route in relation to new business ventures- space travel, physics, technological and cosmological projects; sharing the cost and expertise, driven largely by the resource, budgetary and psychological constraints of a war fatigued country and a recognition that no state or empire remains exceptional in the flow of history.
Pluralist political, economic, trade, educational, cultural and environmental societal networks are also converging on a global basis, with major institutions such as the UN, WHO, UNESCO, EU, WTO, and G20, coordinating thousands of cross cultural and geopolitical initiatives.
Spurred on by increasing connection between individuals and groups mediated bysocial networks on the Web, explosive growth in such systems is likely to continue through the 21st century, largely eliminating the destructive obstructionism of corporate gatekeepers, autocratic governments and bureaucratic elites.
This enmeshment process is therefore leading to a new phase in life's development, the realisation of a global entity eventually encompassing all forms of human existence, not only biological, but artificial and virtual extensions as well. And this will happen not in the far future but in the here and now.
Robotic assistants, intelligent cyberagents and virtual human avatars already exist snd will all be in the mix in the future- creating the prototypes of new virtual societies, with the potential to evolve to a level of complexity similar to and symbiotic with our own.
Current forecasts of the role of robots in the future workplace predict that only lower level repetitive human occupations will be lost in the process. This is patently not true as we see the rise of algorithms and AI based entities based on machine learning and computational pattern matching intelligence, as in Google’s DeepMind. Most professions- engineering, medicine, planning and project management, increasingly depend on such deep algorithms. it’s only a short step to bypass the human component, even simulating human creative elements.
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.
New technologies such as the Oculus/Samsung VR mobile immersion system now on the verge of mass production, will support such communities, allowing humans to cross over and become part of virtual worlds, merging seamlessly with their cyber cousins.
Managing the planet this century therefore will involve the massive task of coordinating countless intelligent entities including the ecosystem of intelligent objects, to gain the maximum cognitive leverage within the timescale available to rescue tomorrow’s world from oblivion.
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 a large proportion of human engineered intellectual capacity.
So is this a feasible proposition? Yes, but only by applying adaptive, system technology, capable of responding autonomously and 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 the strategy behind IBM’s Watson, Google’s DeepMind and many other cyborg prototypes. But even such a 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.
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 energy outputs.
In tomorrow’s collaborative multipolar world major states will have to give up the idea that their goals or citizen’s aspirations are more important than those of any other.
Knowledge, Education and Work- Reset
Knowledge is now flowing like a deep river 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, make payments, 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.
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 the flood 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.
Just ponder the number of industries turned upside down or about to be radically renovated in the last twenty years mainly by innovative startups using mobile apps replaced by- online retailing, 3D print manufacturing, mobile phone photography, free online education, wireless telephony, streaming music, film and video distribution, ebook and newspaper publishing, flexible vehicle sharing, spare room renting and airline seat 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 flows will then follow the new education and work flows across borders with geography becoming 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 shared, sustainable economy is replacing the high growth/ultra competitive consumption society- utilising shared Internet distribution of knowledge,
shared design, production distribution and marketing of goods and services - empowering individuals and corporations to collaborate and innovate.
Power, politics, Ethics and Economics- New Frameworks
The stresses on all societies will be enormous during the next fifty years, but only through global cooperation will the Earth's finite resources be conserved and shared and anarchy and conflict 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.
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.
By 2060 a new climate of tolerance will have emerged out of necessity, 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 states.
This is not wishful thinking but the inevitable and essential outcome of a truly globalised society fighting for its survival.
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.
The end of the Cold War 1 heralded a new international order- a crucial transformation from power politics and military might to power economics. But there is the risk that a new Cold War 2 will emerge from the East/West divide over the Ukrainian/Russian crisis. This time the currency of power is knowledge and cyberwarfare is replacing guns. Russian hackers have toyed with Wall Street’s elite capitalist banks slicing through multiple layers of sophisticated security as if it didn’t exist.
And instead of the enormous benefits flowing from wider access to the Internet, it has been subverted at the last moment by the spectre of an Orwellian cyberspy mentality.
Prior to this social catastrophe, each nation and supra-national bloc- Asia, Europe and the US, was busy evolving its own variation of a hybrid version of capitalism and socialism, depending on its historical roots and level of interaction between the public and private sectors.
In a globalised world it’s difficult to see a ‘one template fitting all’ scenario- more likely a constant mixing of variations with a goal that offers a balance between the individual and state, combined with the opportunity for both to fulfill their sides of an unwritten grand bargain.
But the new Utopian knowledge power conferred by the Web, promising an egalitarian level information playing field for the developing world, is now jeopardised by this intrusion of an obsessively paranoid international cyberspy diaspora which has thrown the previous fragile state/citizen compact into disarray.
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.
If this trend continues it is likely that a more anarchic dense networked Internet structure will evolve to replace the current formal hierarchical backbone architecture, adapting more flexibly to the future permutations of a multipolar world.
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.
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, as well as technical and social knowledge.
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. They saw economic growth not as a way to expand national and political power, but as a way to relieve poverty and share the social benefits.
But these idealistic goals rapidly evaporated post WW2, eventually dissipating in a winner take all scramble for growth and geopolitical power, with a unipolar militarised alpha US leveraging its lucky country natural wealth and luring the best overseas minds to augment its knowledge base.
Now it’s realised that growth is a double edged sword which has to be balanced with sustainability in a world with rapidly depleting finite resources. And with the help of new technology there’s also a renewed interest in a more sharing economic model.
The infrastructure and instruments supporting the world’s financial-capitalist systems are now in a state of rapid flux- equity, hedge and foreign exchange 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, cheaper automated procedures sharing unused capacity and leveraging a more creative and innovative mindset.
Stock exchanges, brokers and traders are also under siege from algorithmic and Internet trading networks, offering instant access to global markets.
Meanwhile the new tech masters of the universe- Google, Facebook, Amazon,Microsoft and Apple etc as well as a host of smaller creative and agile players are jockeying for a piece of the action in this new globalised world- 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.
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.
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.
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, wrecking havoc and causing enormous damage to quality of life.
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 no, 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 and evolutionary 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.
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 sharing 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. And the future enterprise must play its part as an active catalyst and innovator.
The trend towards globalisation is not a chance historical accident, but is 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.
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.
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 rigorous scrutiny.
A number of techniques hold out promise for salvation, including the application of algorithmic and computational templates, artificial intelligence, network and holistic systems theory, bayesian statistics and problem solving methods such as Game Theory.
And a new culture is emerging to leverage these advances- a global or meta-culture, superimposed on but not obliterating the best of local and national legacies. 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 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 shunned by customers and recorded for common access by future generations.
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 in which they are embedded, which in turn are becoming more responsive to the long term health of the planet that is their life blood, no matter how many layers of technology are built on top of it.
So now the stage is set for the emergence of a global culture in the 21st 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, environmental, economic, ethical 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.
The future enterprise will have to follow suit- sharing a common global culture while providing a powerful innovative processing portal for applying industry and application knowledge.
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