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Charting Our Course Forward: a High-Level Outlook for the Coming Decade

Athena @ ST 3 November 2023

In our final edition of this series about China, the US, and Europe, we bring together the insights gathered from our exploration across the 3 major global players and highlight a 4th global force that will have a significant influence during the next 10 years - disruptive, global technologies.
What is changing?

Alongside almost every issue playing out between China, the US, and Europe, disruptive, global technologies will be either a key component of the problem or the solution. 

Before we turn to the 4th global force, let's first take a high-level outlook across our findings for China, the US, and Europe for the coming decade.  

Interdependencies and Potential Conflicts: As China, the US, and Europe continue to shape the future, their contributions will inevitably create interdependencies and potential conflicts. Economic competition, technological rivalries, and differing political ideologies may lead to tensions on the global stage.

For instance, trade disputes between the United States and China have the potential to disrupt global supply chains. Moreover, the competition for technological dominance in areas such as advanced micro chips, AI and 5G technology may fuel geopolitical conflicts.

Global Power Dynamics and Cooperation: The evolving contributions of these regions will redefine the global power dynamics and cooperation among nations. China's ascendancy challenges the established world order, requiring diplomatic engagement and a recalibration of international relations.

The US's technological leadership presents opportunities for collaboration to address global challenges, such as climate change and healthcare. Europe's commitment to sustainability aligns with global efforts to combat environmental crises and fosters multilateral cooperation.

Scenarios for the Future: Based on the analysis of China, the US and Europe's contributions, several scenarios for the future emerge. These scenarios consider different trajectories for global interdependencies and power shifts.

  1. Multipolar World: The world becomes increasingly multipolar, with China, the US and Europe as key centres of power. This scenario necessitates the development of new frameworks for international cooperation and diplomacy.

  2. Global Technological Collaboration: Technological innovation becomes a driver of global collaboration. Nations work together to address shared challenges through advancements in areas like AI, healthcare, and clean energy.

  3. Environmental Stewardship: Europe's sustainability initiatives gain global traction, leading to a renewed focus on environmental stewardship. Climate change mitigation and conservation efforts become central to international agendas.

As if this is not already complex and dynamic enough, let's zoom into the 4th serious global power that will influence the coming decade - disruptive, global technologies.

Disruptive global technologies are emerging as a potent and unique global factor. Their influence will profoundly shape global power dynamics. Importantly, these technologies currently operate in a largely unregulated space, almost akin to a sovereign power in their own right.

1. Influence on Global Power Dynamics:

Disruptive technologies, such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and biotechnology, are transforming industries, economies and societies. Nations that lead in these areas command significant power in the new digital landscape. The ability to develop, own, and deploy these technologies will redefine global power dynamics.

2. Security Implications:

As these technologies advance, they introduce a host of security considerations. Cybersecurity for example, becomes paramount as nations grapple with the potential consequences of cyberattacks on critical infrastructure, election interference and data breaches. The race for technological dominance has the potential to exacerbate tensions and alter traditional alliances.

3. Expected Development and Global Challenges:

Disruptive technologies offer the promise of addressing some of humanity's most pressing challenges. For instance, advancements in biotechnology hold the potential to revolutionize healthcare, while innovations in clean energy and environmental technologies can help combat climate change. The leading regions in these areas will be at the forefront of shaping the global response to these challenges.

4. The Unregulated Sovereign Power:

One of the most striking aspects of disruptive technologies is their largely unregulated status. They operate beyond traditional geopolitical boundaries and are not bound by the constraints of conventional statehood. This unique position allows them to exert influence, make decisions and impact global affairs in ways that were previously unimaginable.

  1. Data Sovereignty: The control and ownership of vast amounts of data, facilitated by tech companies, is tantamount to data sovereignty. This data can be leveraged to shape economic and political outcomes, raising questions about privacy and regulation.
  2. Regulation Dilemma: The unregulated nature of these technologies poses challenges for policymakers. Striking a balance between innovation and safeguarding the interests of citizens is a complex task. The development of coherent, globally accepted regulatory frameworks is an increasingly pressing issue.
  3. Diplomatic Challenges: The influence of disruptive technologies presents diplomatic challenges. International agreements and standards will need to be developed to manage global commons in the digital domain, such as cyberspace.

In summary, disruptive global technologies are not just tools or enablers but have evolved into a new global power factor. Their influence on global power dynamics, security considerations and development is growing, and the largely unregulated status of these technologies adds a layer of complexity to global governance. In the coming decade, understanding and harnessing this power will be a critical task for nations, organizations and international bodies.

Exploring the future with our new release of the Shaping Tomorrow platform

For government agencies, business organizations, educational institutions, NGOs or individuals, the latest version of our AI-supported Shaping Tomorrow platform includes a powerful new tool: Options.  After you have completed your topic scan, the Options button will provide a table of 5-10 items that you could consider as remedies to the likely future that your scan reveals.

In the example below we are displaying 5 Options around “Disruptive global technologies”. 

To produce an interactive and collaborative map of the key drivers around any of the items in your Options list, simply click on the item in the table. We’ve produced the following interactive map by clicking on ‘Promoting International Collaboration on AI Regulations’.

To learn more about our Options capabilities, just click HERE


With anticipation,

Matthew, Shaping Tomorrow