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The world in 2050: A normative scenario

  • The Millennium Project
  • millennium project


This article presents a scenario based on the inputs of 550 futurists, scholars, business planners and policy advisers from around the world. Their views on global developments were distilled into a range of issues, opportunities and actions to address. These have been woven together into a scenario based on achieving norms by 2050 that were identified and rated by Millennium Project participants from around the world. This scenario describes how technological success, human development, and economic/political policies achieved a global economy that appears to be environmentally sustainable while providing nearly all people with the basic necessities of life and the majority with a comfortable living. The resulting social stability has created a relatively peaceful world and allowed the exploration of possible futures for the second half of the 21st century.
A Normative World in 2050
Excerpt from "1999 State of the Future: Challenges We Face at the Millennium"
By Jerome C. Glenn, CEO, The Millennium Project
The 2050 Global Normative Scenario Background:
Although the following may look like three alternative normative scenarios, they are
intended to be one scenario with three interdependent themes. Each theme represents
a different perspective on how change occurs. Some believe technology is the key force
that has made change occur. Others argue that changing consciousness and the
human capacity is more fundamental to long-term systemic change. Still others say that
political and economic policies create the conditions for changes in both technology and
human capacity. The following global normative scenario assumes that all three themes
are important to the realization of the normative future of 2050.
The process that created this scenario was initiated two years ago. A more detailed
explanation can be found in last years State of the Future or at www.millennium- Very simply, Millennium Project participants
identified and rated norms that formed the core of the normative scenario. In order of
preference, the participants selected the following top four norms around which to form
the scenario: environmental sustainability, plenty, global ethics (the identified and
accepted), and peace. The others in order of preference were health, freedom,
universal education access, equity, preservation of the human species, enlightenment,
exciting and meaningful life, self-actualization, longevity, everyone has everything they
want, and security.
The body of the normative scenario is composed of the actions to address the Global
Challenges in Chapter 2. These actions connected the present world to the normative
future of 2050 and gave another medium to share the thinking of the Global Lookout
Panel. A scenario review panel was formed of long-term normative-oriented participants
of the Project to reviewed and improve the draft of the scenario. As this is an ongoing
process, your suggestions for improvements are welcome and may help shape next
years edition. Even though the following normative scenario takes into account many
of the worlds pressing problems, it is intended to illustrate very optimistic possibilities
for our common future over the next two generations.
A Normative World in 2050
By 2050 the world had finally achieved a global economy that appears to be
environmentally sustainable while providing nearly all people with the basic necessities
of life and the majority with a comfortable living. The resulting social stability has
created a world in relative peace, exploring possible futures for the second half of the
21st century.
Different explanations have been given for the series of astounding successes achieved
by 2050. Some believe that breakthroughs in science and technology were the keys,
others that development of the human potential was more fundamental, and still others
that political and economic polices made the difference. All three themes were important
and mutually reinforcing.
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Technological Theme
Internet has become a right of citizenship. Businesses give free accounts to all
customers; employers give them as an employee benefit. The connection of virtually all
people to the global information and communications systems accelerated the pace of
scientific research and the introduction and diffusion of new technology. Biotechnology,
nanotechnology, and closed-environment agriculture fed the world. New and improved
sources of energy made cleaner economic growth. Brain-like intelligent systems used
neural networks to augment human intelligence and improve decision making.
Molecular manufacturing (nanotechnology) lowered manufacturing unit cost, requiring
less volume of materials and energy usage, and hence, lowered the environmental
impact of a population that had almost reached 10 billion. Vaccinology and genetic
engineering eliminated most acquired and inherited diseases further reducing the need
for more frequent pregnancies to have a similar sized family. This was a factor in further
lowering fertility rates, even though generational mini-booms have continued from the
great population explosion in the mid-20th century. Cyberspace had become a major
medium of civilization creating a constantly growing, non zero-sum economy and had
changed day-to-day life as significantly as the industrial revolution had changed life 200
years earlier. The success of the International Space Station had led to other orbital
habitats, the lunar base, and the pioneer communities on Mars. Nearly 250,000 people
now work in space communities in orbit, on the moon, and on Mars, giving a new
frontier for human imagination and advances in civilization.
Breakthroughs in the unified theory of matter and energy have led to a deeper
understanding of mass, inertia, gravity and quantum behavior. Experiments have begun
in the field of anti-gravity and faster-than-light communications through the use of
quantum phenomena. There are perhaps a hundred scientists who are studying
possibilities of extracting intrinsic, resting energy from space and using it in various
forms of propulsion. Cosmologists are adding more rigor to their theories of the origin of
the universe and have duplicated the earliest time in computer simulations that seem
almost exact, but the search still continues. Some signals of apparently extraterrestrial
origin have been detected but debates continue over whether they are truly
extraterrestrial or human artifacts, and if extraterrestrial, over their precise meaning.
The debates about the potential of extraterrestrial contact have forced us to think
beyond our geographic and ethnic boundaries. Additionally, scientific breakthroughs, the
ease of international and near-space travel, and the constant global communications
among people of different views on earth and near-space have also helped broaden our
perspectives. As a result, people began replacing their more parochial views and
consider global ethics more seriously. Not all people value love, truth, fairness, family,
freedom, and belonging, but far more than in the 20th century and enough to keep a
relatively peaceful world. The field of conflict resolution, which has made great progress
since its earliest applications a hundred years ago, recognizes these simple points and
its councilors builds on them in resolving disputes. Interestingly, the Great Cyber Games
played by one out of every three people alive today were instrumental in the
identification and acceptance of these global ethical norms which provid much of the
common ground for todays global cooperation. Although ethnic prejudice still exists, it
has been held in check more effectively than in the previous century.
Progress in information technology has been astounding. Microprocessors have
continued to increase in capacity; they are speeder, smaller, and less expensive. Today
computers are built into and integral with almost everything we make from machines
and appliance to buildings and artificial eyes with zoom lenses. Computer elements are
molecular in size, and their operations utilize quantum behavior.
Much of the computing capacity today makes machines simpler to use. Rather than
requiring everyone to learn to use them, the machines have been taught to listen and
act to needs and wishes of their users. The digital worlds vast amount of data has
been translated into computers and related technologies with access so easy an natural
people use them without even knowing it making them seem truly transparent.
Health is a widely accepted human right; equity in coverage and accessibility to quality
health services and health information exist regardless of capacity to pay, culture, race,
geographic location or social ascription. Tele-health and tele-medicine is widely
available and easily accessible. Health care providers adopt new paradigms to forecast
and prevent potential health problems through personal and public health approaches;
early detection through biomonitoring and management of problems that do occur.
Some people used to believe that computers would regiment us by forcing us to
conform to their specifications in order to use them. Today computers and the machines
that use them have supported diversity through mass customization. Manufacturers
make very short production runs of products that are tailored to the specific needs of
very small segments of consumers, differing in detail, but matching their criteria. The
software technology that uses ones body as passwords has eliminated toll-booths,
credit cards, and passport since people can be recognized by machines. Shopping is
now augmented by personal data bases of every thing from your buying history to
clothing measurements allowing the on-line or in-person to say, "This jacket will match
the slacks you bought last month," or "Dont you want get some matching cloths for
you nices doll for her birthday next week?
All of these improvements in information technology have resulted in an intricate system
of communications that some have called a "global brain" and planetary "nervous
system" which has improved the prospects for humanity. As access expanded,
diminishing costs of educational software (edutaiment), any motivated person could
obtain a college education and continue to learn about everything they wanted.
Individuals cross political and corporate boundaries in pico-seconds forming new
alliances unknown to traditional power structures. Rich and poor have nearly equal
access to cyberspace almost anywhere and anytime. The old distinctions between First
and Third Worlds are meaningless in cyberspace.
The old one-way media tended to be conflict-oriented, audiences were held by the
drama of disagreement. Interactive media tended to be cooperation-oriented, users
were held together by the satisfaction of collaboration. Cyberspace distributed the new
wealth of information more democratically than previous systems. As a result, anyone
can get the training, market research, planning, credit, and other resources to start their
own unique businesses and sell to the global cyberspace market. Over the past fifty
years, this development has made be a major factor in reducing unemployment
The invention of secure electronic money revolutionized retail transactions, international
trade, and provided extraordinary growth of employment. Individuals felt confident to
create businesses and sell worldwide. While retail use of the Internet got most of the
early publicity and attention, business-to-business transactions have grown
phenomenally. Today, businesses of any size identify suppliers and partners worldwide,
barter, order, and track order status simply and instantaneously around the world. Rules
preventing wild currency fluctuations limited financial crises and allowed small business
growth with security around the world. A fee-based system for central banks made
currency transactions transparent with online prices, information on counterparties, and
purposes of trades reduced speculation.
The synergy of telematics and micro-genetics provided a jump in human evolution
eliminating many diseases and increasing human capabilities. Robots, both giant and
nano, do the dangerous, repetitive, and precision work in surgery, security, health care,
space industrialization, house cleaning, sewer pipe clearing, bridge inspections, mining,
laboratories, and even the preparation of fast food. These robots are, for the most part
adaptive to their environments, single purpose, and employ biosensors that are derived
from both living cells and manufactured microprocessors.
Telecitizens, born in poorer areas but working in richer ones, helped their original
countries as tele-volunteers, accelerating the development process. The development
of artificial intelligence and its use in communications provided individuals with needed
and timely medical, financial, and other information. Software for multi-language
translators increased communications among different language groups.
The image of people walking by vending machines, reaching in their pockets, but finding
no coins and walking on, drove distributors in the early 21st Century to create voice
activated machines that billed at the end of the month on peoples cyber game
accounts. The televenders had a simple voice recognition and synthesis program that
let people speak to the machine, use their body patterns as their pass word, order their
sandwich, soft drink, communications, and play in the Great Cyber Games while they
drank or ate alone or with friends.
The Great Cyber Games contained links to databases that described global problems,
opportunities, challenges, strategies, and tactics. Players received points as they
identified answers that matched or improved on those in the database or identified new
problems judged to be critical enough to add to the database. When a person scored
enough points, they won "reality." They got a prerecorded message from a policy maker
working on the issue in which the player had received the highest score. The message
challenged the player to play in the "real world game." The current real world situation
was given to the player by the policy-maker, researcher, or potential employer. When
the player came up with something that was considered valuable, the player got
connected live to discuss their insight. Winners got to play in the real global game with
real actors and many got new jobs and careers.
The Great Cyber Games were attractive to policy or other kind of decision-makers
because it filtered out all the noise of computer conferences, journal articles, and got
right to the person with the ideas. The players liked it because they had the potential to
see their ideas realized and earn a living at meaningful work. Basic research labs used
it to identify the young scientists with the greatest potential to participate in their
research. An unintended bi-product of the game was a global personnel selection
system that today is credited for contributing to the phenomenal growth in new
theoretical principles that have led to many improvements. Another surprise was that it
performed the role of a global employment agency.
The Great Cyber Games also became an informal way to prevent some of information
warfares destruction by promoting more precise, honest, and compassionate thought
around the globe where it was needed, when it was needed, and in the form that was
needed, so that constructive action has had a chance to kept ahead of destructive
action. Granted, it continues to be a software race to keep ahead of the bad guys.
When it was scientifically demonstrated that certainty of discovery was the most
effective deterrent to dishonesty and crime, means for improving certainty of discovery
and positive identification, based on voice analysis and cross-referencing, global data
bases were created and the crime rates fell. International protocols were established for
sharing police data banks and the use of non-lethal weapons such as sticky foams and
aerosols that induce sleep.
Nanotechnology transceivers with voice stress software were incorporated into clothing
and jewelry; these systems alerted the user when people were lying or becoming
aggressive. Although counter software will always be a problem, requiring constant up-
grades, people have become more honest, or at least behave more honestly than in the
last century. It is difficult to imagine a return of dictatorships and to the organized crime
networks of the past with todays global connectivity and honestware universally
The field of miniaturization has been extremely important to the success of our world.
Nanotechnology helps produce low cost and custom designed food. As Nature breaks
down dirt, air, and water and re-assembles the molecules into potatoes, nanotechnology
"universal assemblers" break materials into molecules or atoms, then follows the
instructions from custom designed food molecules to manufactures food. With
nanotechnology, whatever we can design, we can build. The same technology that had
been used to produce integrated circuit chips was used to produce tiny machines. For
example, a mass spectrograph, complete with all valves and analysis apparatus was
made on a silicon chip. Motors are now constructed with diameters of less than
millimeter; accelerometers used in automobile air bags are too small to be seen with the
naked eye. It is commonplace to use biological materials in such chips now to sense the
reaction to various contaminants or initiate actions based on their presence.
Technologists have learned about forces that occur uniquely at this scale (e.g. lubricants
can have molecules that are too large to work properly in such machines) and have
developed special molecular forms (fullerines) that have desired properties. Some
applications today are sensors for transition from laminar to turbulent flow on the
surface of wings, and the distortion of the airfoils to delay transition, measurement of the
purity of water supplies with micro "fish", telemetry transmitters that can be swallowed to
measure reactions in the body, and measurement of the stress induced in buildings by
earthquakes using sensors that were cast into the structural concrete.
All of this activity has had a great affect on materials science. After a plateau that lasted
for several decades, superconductivity is being experienced at higher and higher
temperature; now thin film superconductors exist at -100 degrees Celsius. The
developments in this field included bio-molecules, low pressure diamond coatings, ultra
light solids that float in air, and composite materials strong and light enough to form the
skin of a large scale rocket designed to enter orbit with a single stage.
New forms and mechanisms of the distributed global economy began to emerge in the
early 21st century. A whole new lexicon was developed to describe the digital life forms
that built cyber culture and the collaborative economies of today. Software agents
assisted our transition. They sought new opportunities for collaboration, alerted us to
synchronicity to discover the value of new and counter intuitive ideas, and coached us
in new forms of self-organization. They even produced images of fields of people,
places, and opportunities of cooperative intent. Such "fields of cooperative intent" are
one of the new units of social organization and entrepreneurial effort. Knowledge and
wisdom have become added measures of wealth and value.
Global idea management systems were integrated into the Great Cyber Games, further
accelerating the progress of more environmentally friendly economic and technological
development. Common data protocols for unconventional science and an international
registry of new and unconventional ideas with national copyright protections was
connected to clearinghouses that reported success, failure, and inconclusive research.
Use of software that prompted the user to see potential synergies of their work with
research in other fields, that they might not have otherwise considered, has now
become a useful protocol in all fields.
Biotechnology has created high yield plant species that are disease and pest-resistant,
use less fertilizer and are more tolerant of drought and brackish water. More recent
applications of biotechnology are completely changing the 10,000 year traditional use of
seeds, water and land to grow crops. Today large scale production of food in factories
using genetic techniques produce much of the worlds food. Food factories use
genetically altered micro-organisms to organize raw materials into nutritious food. The
inputs are primarily sunlight or other energy forms, carbon dioxide, water, and
nitrogenous materials. The output is amino acids and directly consumable food. In
another approach, cells from natural foods such as carrots or meat are cloned and the
outputs of the food factories are edible replications of the parent cells. Such techniques
make agricultural production possible without land. It is also beginning to reduce the
need for farmland for meat by producing novel protein, substituting meat from cows and
chickens. Such meat substitutes for fish has promoted the recovery of ocean fisheries
and the establishment of ocean plantations. Perhaps equally important, inventions in
this field have also produced the current counters to biological weapons and removal of
pathogenic microbiological agents from food.
The mapping of bacterial, human, and plant genomes, provided knowledge of genetic
processes and to some extent, information about how to control them. The tiny interior
robots of nanomedicine repair cells, tissues, and organs. Some of the diseases that
have be eliminated or controlled are cancer, cystic fibrosis, hemophilia, rheumatoid
arthritis, AIDS, hypercholesterolemia, and some forms of mental illness. Monoclonal
antibodies, sometimes mounted in bio-chips, are being used in sensitive diagnostic
tests and in drug delivery systems that pinpoint specific sites in the body. Techniques in
this field have led to genetic medicine in which the genetic properties of humans are
modified in vivo to cure or ameliorate diseases caused by genetic anomalies. Disease
diagnosis based on the analysis of ones genetic material is routine; these diagnoses
not only relate to existing diseases, but also the propensity to future disease and in
some cases, the propensity to abhorrent behavior.
The traditional view of human reproduction is still undergoing changes simultaneously
with the increasing progress toward self-determination, equal rights, economic
autonomy of women, and the evolution of male and female roles. Some of the more
controversial advances have centered on long-term male and female contraceptives,
the ability to select the sex of a child before conception, and the ability to influence
genetics and biochemical processes. The world became quite alarmed in the early 21st
Century when low cost and portable methods for determining the sex of a baby before
conception became commonly available. Many feared that parents in some cultures
would only select males, distorting the future demographics of human race. After
several years of intense debate, threats of international sanctions, interventions of
leading personalities, and a short but rapid increase in male births in some countries,
the number of female and male births returned to balance. This left many uneasy about
unforeseen consequences of new technology. As a result, technological forecasting and
assessment has become a normal part of the work in advanced institutes today.
The World Energy Organization, created in the early 21st century, coordinated research
and helped improve policy leading to todays safer mix of sources that have reversed
the greenhouse effect. These include hydrogen, third generation fission plants, solar
power satellites, renewable energy source Hydrogen has become a major source of
energy for automobiles and medium for transporting energy from origin to use. In its
gaseous form it was stored at high density in metal hydrides and later released by a
modest amount of heat. In addition to extracting it from natural gas, it is also produced
from water by electrolysis (the focus here was on a new form of catalysis) and by high
temperature disassociation of water, processes that use a great deal of electricity or
very high temperature. The former method of extraction from water has provided the
basis for an argument to build second and third generation nuclear plants and solar
satellites, while the later for large-scale solar thermal plants. An additional benefit of the
production of hydrogen from seawater has been desalination to produce fresh water
and hence preventing water conflicts in the Middle East and other potential crisis
Thousands of 100-mile long robotically managed closed-environment agricultural tubes,
interspersed with photovoltaic strips across the Sahel, produced sufficient food for Africa
and exports to Asia. Surplus energy from the strips is currently exported by microwave
to earth orbit and relayed worldwide via the satellite energy grid.
The synergies of advanced research in biology and physics necessary for human space
flight has generated an extraordinary number and range of inventions, stimulated
thought about the meaning of life, history, and our common future, and created many
opportunities for peaceful international cooperation. International R & D cooperation led
by INSPACECO (the international public-private consortium) lowered launch costs to
under US$500 a pound making it possible for an individual to move to a space
community with a basic support package for a quarter million dollars. This, plus the
growing space tourism and space lottery business (winners a get free visit to an orbital
space vacation center), has opened a political debate on space migration. Some argue
that migration from earth is inevitable; it is in the myths of many cultures. People
advocate accelerating the construction of alternative habitats in space as insurance for
the human species should an earthly catastrophe threaten life on earth. Others argue
that life always moves to new niches and our curiosity will drive use one day beyond the
solar system.
Space-related inventions have created new industries, tax sources for social programs,
improved living standards, expanded access to tools by miniaturization and production
processes that have lowered the costs of many technologies from satellite
communications to medical diagnostic techniques. Income from satellite
communications, solar power satellites, orbital energy relay satellites (orbital electricity
grid), lunar and asteroid mining, weightless manufacturing, and space tourism has led to
an enormous growth of private sector ventures in space. This acceleration of the
privatization of space applications has avoided the public cycles of interest and
disinterest in space support, so common in the last century.
Hierarchical institutions of the 20th century have given way to network organizations
and a plethora of short-term, task-oriented, individually-initiated teams made possible by
intelligent software agents in cyberspace. Cyber-UN and other international
organizations can only be understood in cyberspace, because "employees" are not
concentrated into one building or geographic center from which they operate. Instead
people are connected around the world under the cyber umbrella of the international
organization, but they may also be working for other institutions such as NGOs,
corporations, universities, other UN systems, and traditional systems like nation-states
and regional organizations. These cyber organizations are better thought of as
executive information systems, with knowledge visualization, that are available in
cyberspace for improved decision making by a user or group of users. This is the
medium through which harmonization of global standards was achieved and through
which accountability, transparency, and participation in the range of human enterprise
today is reinforced.
Despite the technological progress and scientific insight in which todays society is
based, most scientists and engineers believe that there is still more to come, that the
future holds further excitement, progress and discovery.
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Human Development Theme
The acknowledgment that education was the solution to many problems and that the
knowledge economy was spreading rapidly, stimulated governments and corporations
worldwide to increase their investments in education, training, and applications of
cognitive science. The race to educate the world began after the World Summit on
Cognitive Development in 2010. Most institutions that had even a peripheral association
with education began debating the most equitable and cost/effective ways to make
everyone knowledgeable, virtuous, and intelligent. Internet access became a right of
citizenship. Educational software was imbedded into nearly everything that could hold a
computer chip. The World Cyber Games permeating daily life blending entertainment
and education.
The transition from a mostly illiterate global population to a mostly educated world was
achieved by the mid-2040s. The interconnection of many separate programs into a
global system of education created a cyberspace in which all could get the best
education at their own pace, learning style, and in their own language. Ethical and
effective decision-making was a new focus of education. The availability of data of all
sorts, married with an integrated global scholarly and scientific knowledge base,
increased the speed of problem solving in all fields, by providing a logically structured
framework into which existing and newly acquired knowledge could be placed and
assimilated in a non-redundant way for examination, discussion, and extension by
scientists and scholars worldwide and for a full range educational applications.
Academic and business interests collaborated to create a sophisticated body of
principles and techniques for knowledge visualization and the use of artificial
intelligence to make it possible to rapidly navigate the knowledge of the world. This
allowed for content and context to be connected, reducing confusion and culture shock
in cyber space.
The Global Cyber Games was integrated with the knowledge systems so that one could
move easily between play and education. An unanticipated consequence of the games
was the large number of people it helped to identify and acknowledge global ethics, and
the growth of responsible behavior and compassion.
In addition to the vast improvements in educational technology, the content of
conventional public education also changed during the early 21st century. Education
successfully linked human ecology to decision-making in an increasingly global society,
including the moral basis for decisions, the nature and management of risk, and dealing
with uncertainty. It emphasized compassionate behavior and socially acceptable values
such as tolerance and diversity. Instruction in "how to learn" and the scientific method
was given greater prominence in both educational systems and professional training
programs. Multi- and transdisciplinary techniques and non-linear thinking approaches
became common in most curricula. It is generally accepted that the creative process
included failure, chaos, uncertainty, and holding of contradictory positions. The speed of
feedback from inquiry to intelligent response is so fast today that curiosity has become a
normal mental state for adults.
Advances in cybernetics and human cognitive development increased the use of
machine intelligence to augment human intelligence, while emphasizing social and
emotional development for improved decision making. In short, it became fashionable to
be intelligent and virtuous.
It was not enough to learn and understand the history and current status of an item; in
the world of 2050 an educated person also knew a range of possible futures for that
item. Many reasons have been given for the addition of future-oriented curricula in
education. Some argued that we were simply forced into it by the increasing complexity
of issues, growing numbers of people involved in decisions, accelerating rate of change,
and lead-times involved with environmental solutions. Others pointed to new
opportunities in globalization and other unprecedented conditions, such as the
international millennium celebrations and events that stimulated increased corporate,
political, academic and personal thinking about future possibilities. Futurists had used
the year 2000 as an opportunity to introduce futures methods and perspectives through
global television and Internet events. Future-oriented university courses in and around
cyber space became popular. As a result, nearly all institutions began providing routine
up-dates on near- and long-term future dynamics. Long-term perspectives and
improved futures methodology were increasingly applied to address the full range of
global issues and opportunities. This contributed to the improved conditions enjoyed in
the mid-21st Century and expected for future generations as well.
In addition to the popularization of executive training seminars in long-term
perspectives, the many National Futures Academies popularized and improved the
quality of instruction of futures studies through networks of universities. They helped
integrate futures, creative, non-linear thinking into educational curricula that addressed
decision-making. The moral basis for decisions, the nature of risk, and dealing with
uncertainty were also integrated into these courses. Futures research methods were
converted into teaching methods to help future-orient instruction.
The millennium provided the focus to foster collaboration among the various inter-
religious dialogues on human values and morals that continued over several decades
and through all forms of media. This accelerated the inter-religious studies that found
common moral values and attitudes acceptable to all cultures. Religious leaders publicly
acknowledged the existence and value of a variety of approaches to spiritual
enlightenment and becoming a virtuous person. These public acknowledgments and
dialogues helped to reduce the hatred created by the many ethnic conflicts of the late
20th century. The personal intervention of some religious leaders who condemned those
who called for violence in the name of religion, reduced the use of religion as a
justification for ethnic conflict.
Although cultural and religious conflicts will still need more time to fully disappear, these
new initiatives have help to keep them in sufficient check to prevent the kinds of wars so
prevalent in the last century.
Philosophers and artists created terminology and imagery that communicated the
strength of diversity is its underlying unity and our ethical responsibilities to future
generations. Global ethics have become generally understood and scientifically
documented for social stability. This did not mean that all people adhered to global
ethics, but that it became a force for social stability. Advertising and social marketing
taught tolerance and respect for diversity and equal rights. All managers today have
received training courses in ethical behavior in a multiethnic context. As a result thinking
globally includes responsibility about global impacts.
Psychonauts exploring the mind and cybernauts exploring cyberspace helped create
new forms of notation and symbols that enabled the general public to understand the
sophisticated world of 2050. These new forms made the global education systems more
intelligible to a broad range of people. These notations and symbols helped transcultural
collaboration in creating the cultures of peace we enjoy today. Many of the new kinds of
perceptions of reality and ways of knowing that helped this transition could only have
emerged through human interaction using these new forms of notation.
Diversity and shared ethical values were encouraged by the countless celebrations of
humanity-as-a-whole at the millennium. People and institutions learned the painful
lessons generated by the many ethnic conflicts that followed the fall of the USSR.
Polycultural views were created from shared beliefs and interests that enhanced
peaceful coexistence. Polyculturalism also helped smooth the transition of nation-centric
states to regional and global institutions. Global economic success diminished the
importance of excessive materialistic desires and people looked for more meaning in
their lives. Experience -- more than information -- became the key economic value. By
2050 enough people understood that ethnic diversity is a comparative advantage in a
global economy and society, and has made our world far more peaceful today than in
the past. Diverse views from many cultures provided the insights to manage an
increasingly complex world and shared ethical values promoted cooperation and
Changes in global frames of reference and philosophies due in part to understanding of
the interaction of population and economic growth with environmental degradation gave
rise to the more enlightened age of today. The merger of the environmental movements
and human rights groups in collaboration with many leading multinational corporations
made possible the global educational campaign that made clean air, water, and land to
be accepted as a human right. As a result, many changes in environmental policies and
behaviors have been made. It became unthinkable to establish an environmentally
dangerous project.
In the late 20th century, it was scientifically documented that the behavior and values of
most astronauts changed as a result of the "breakaway phenomena", the psychological
reaction to leaving earth. Seeing the earth from space caused psychological and even
neurological changes that created new neural connections associated with the concept
of humanity; and, hence the value forming process. Human consciousness became
more compassionate with the daily flood of images of earth from orbital communities,
the lunar base, and the Mars pioneers. Many of children born in space have developed
careers related to conflict prevention and re-enforcing the value of ethnic diversity. Their
increasing interaction with the earth-based groups has provided a calming influence on
potential social conflicts.
Others believed that the increasingly aging population in the global labor force helped to
provide wisdom for increasing ethical considerations in business and daily life. Still
others point to the NGO global dialogs and studies on ethics that scrutinized and
encouraged improvement of ethical standards in business as the reason for the more
humane use of free markets.
Whatever the reasons, the 20th century self-centered greed and welfare attitudes were
replaced by a more moral entrepreneurial spirit, environmental consciousness, and
compassion. Growing numbers of experienced, energetic and active older men and
women are respected and occupy important positions shared with younger groups. The
traditional "linear life paradigm" where people pass from education, work, leisure and
retirement is replaced by "cyclical life paradigms". A safety network exists to protect the
elderly in need. Thanks to a variety of public and private options, social security is
Nearly all formerly less advantaged groups (the poor, the elderly, women, ethnic and
racial minorities) participate in the cyber cash economy; universal literacy and Internet
access allows people to learn and work at home. Poor women were especially helped
by these changes which contributed to decreases in infant mortality rates, generated
government support for childcare, contraceptives, and family planning, as well as the
powerful role models for women provided by various media. Inter-religious dialogs about
the changing role of women, birth control, and religion were also credited with these
changes. Equal pay for equal work is now a universal norm. Disabled persons are able
to live functional lives and participate indiscriminately in society.
The interest in assessment of the past and visioning of the future became so popular at
the time of the millennium that inquiry into new and sometimes counter intuitive ideas
became much more acceptable. As a result, much more was learned about how to
increase natural abilities by self-control of inherent human healing power, cognitive
enhancing strategies, and conscious involvement with computer generated artificial
By the end of the 20th century, many norms underpinning peace were widely accepted,
such as territorial integrity, non-use of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, the
immunity of civilian aircraft and ships, international obligation to help refugees, the
inadmissibility of colonial rule, the unacceptableness of officially sanctioned and racial
discrimination, the undeniable equality of woman, and human rights. But not until the
world education system became more efficient, did these norms become almost
universally perceived as normal today.
The transitions from authoritarian regimes to democracies was smoothed by advanced
training programs and seminars for senior political officials to discuss with their
international peers successful transition strategies in the areas of the rule of law,
respect for human rights, free media, tolerance of political opposition, free elections,
and an independent civil society.
Because of the speed and ubiquity of communications systems, decision-makers and
the general public became increasingly aware of the consequences of their decisions --
almost as they occurred. Feedback on the results of actions is so rapid, which in turn
allows for new, self-correcting decisions. This has reduced the time from early warnings
to timely and effective responses and contributed to the solution of many of the seemly
intractable problems of the 20th century.
Just as body building became fashionable among many in the late 20th century, so too
mind building has became fashionable in early 21st century. Parents learned that giving
their babies diversity of environment with consistency of love enhanced cognitive
development. Nutritional supplements known as "brain food" became common. Rumors
persist that we have crossed the threshold of using gene therapy to increase
Cognitive science and behavioral sciences increasingly intermingled helping policy
makers to understand how to improve mental as well as social well being. One of the
most successful software applications of cognitive science was "Think Smart", a self-
customizable virtual reality program with tele-presence options that directly stimulated
neural development. Eye tracking, voice commands, and neural output in a virtual
reality eye piece allowed one to visualize their capacities as virtual icons and use their
mental strengths to improve their weaker areas. The more adventurous used this
software interactivity when connected to tele-presence global education systems and
the Great Cyber Games. Tele-robots give the tele-presence sense by letting users
people, hear and often feel what a remote robot is seeing, hearing and feeling at the
time. Such tele-presence makes people actually feel that they are swimming in the deep
ocean, on the surface of Jupiter, or in an ant colony, when they are sitting a home.
Unfortunately some people prefer these simulations to real life. But despite the
problems it has generated, simulation is a new educational tool of great power.
Synergies from research in cognitive science and sociology gave NGOs better methods
to promote peace, engage in conflict resolution, and build consensus. New knowledge
of brain reasoning and decision processes was applied to enhance the brains ability
for complex reasoning. The philosophy of science and cognitive science helped society
reach a better understanding of objective vs. subjective truth.
With global consciousness (awareness that everyone is aware of the world as-a-whole)
institutional forms continuously reinvented themselves. Few hierarchical or network
institutions existed in a continuous sense as in the 20th century. Instead they became
fields for collaborative actions of varying time duration. Every four years the Olympic
movement re-enforced this consciousness through its games in both cyber and three-
dimensional space. In 2040, when the Mars Pioneers won the first Olympic competition
in solar sailing between earth and lunar orbit, humanity seemed to pass some threshold
of consciousness. We became aware that we were no longer an earth-only species but
will become a space faring one.
Our human capacity is just now beginning to be understood. The current debate about a
possible signal from extraterrestrial intelligence is revolutionizing our values, philosophy,
and views of the human potential as we enter the second half of the 21st century.
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Political Economic Policy Theme
The number of wars decreased as democracies and respect for cultural diversity
increased in the early 21st century. Although old cultural conflict wounds of the past still
flare occasionally, we can successfully avert and prevent them for growing into larger
conflicts. The resulting social stability nurtured economic growth and created 2 billion
people in the global middle class by 2010. This increased conditions for further stability
and sustainable growth that moved over 5 billion people in the middle class by 2050.
The UN Secretariats early warning and monitoring system coupled with a new rapid
response capability were instrumental in preventing international and internal wars. Its
indicators of peace and security are transparent for cross-referencing by media,
governments, NGOs, and the public. This transparency - especially with the media -
connected early warning with appropriate and timely action. Instead of a standing UN
Army, nations agreed to identify troops which would be immediately available for rapid
response peacekeeping and peace building missions which have been trained together
with other such national troops and which use compatible equipment and
communications. NGOs cooperated with this system by establishing networks to
monitor indicators of conflict and discuss and link strategies for rapid deployment of
non-military resources. States were able to reduce their military budgets by paying a
"security insurance fee" to the UN Security Insurance Agency to work in tandem with
UN Peacekeeping as a rapid development and peace making contingents. The UNSIA
was able to avoid the veto by being governed by a public-private-civic governing council
that worked in partnership the UN Security Council.
As a complexity of global issues and the number of people involved in the decision-
making process increased, institutions found new approaches to management and
decision making. Most hierarchical institutions have evolved into network organizations
and have increased their public accountability, transparency, and participation in
management. Many network organizations have evolved into fields of common interests
as individuals cross political boundaries electronically, making new alliances
unbeknownst to traditional power.
The UN Secretariat and Security Council has been streamlined and is now supported by
advanced executive information management systems, software agents, and
knowledge visualization systems. Nearly all the work of UN now occurs in "Cyber UN,"
leaving the Secretariat building in New York more for ceremonial duties. Some of UNs
specialized agencies have been merged while others have increased in importance like
the WTO, WHO, WSO (World Sustainable-development Organization), and INSPACO.
These global institutions have harmonized international standards, protocols, and
coordination among international organizations, governments, corporations, and NGOs.
Both multi-national corporations and NGOs have become transnational in their policy
influence. Regional institutions have also grown in importance.
The transition from dictatorships to democracies is now complete. Authoritarian regimes
cooperated in the transition realizing that democratic processes were increasingly
necessary for social stability and the generation of wealth en par with global norms.
Improved information technology helped make UN Electoral Units instrumental in this
transition by providing effective election design, management, and monitoring. Threats
to make development assistance and loans from international organizations dependent
on progress toward democracy sometimes proved counterproductive. The incentive of
participation in the Global Partnership for Development (GPD) proved effective as a
partnership between high income countries and those with less industrial and
entrepreneurial cultures to improve economic development. GDP membership required
respect for human rights and policies to address environmental security. If they were
abridged or thwarted sufficiently, intervention by UN peacekeeping forces could be
authorized by the Security Council. A little noticed article in the GPD called for
acceptance of periodic NGO assessments of progress on democratization and the
reduction of corruption. The corruption reports have become an annually anticipated
event and have proven to be an effective instrument through which countries have
reduced corruption.
As the world progressed toward peace, the reduction in arms R&D, production,
stockpiling, trade, and military personnel was accelerated along with the efforts to
convert military technology to civilian uses. This contributed to government debt
reduction. The synergies of advanced research in biology, physics, and engineering
necessary for human space habitation have created new industries and tax resources
for universal education programs. This helped to justify government investment into
research that lowered launch costs. While government funds for the initial solar power
satellites, orbital habitats for space manufacturing, lunar base, and the Martian station
were necessary, the majority of space applications are financed and owned by global
corporations, INSPACECO, or a combination of both.
The International Criminal Court was established with enforcement powers to punish
those convicted of atrocious collective and communal violence. In close cooperation
with the court, the UN Secretariat created a parallel early warning system focusing on
potential and emerging crime threats.
Internet access became a right of citizenship as governments realized that it was a
logical extension of the public library. Telecommunication monopolies were replaced by
local, regional, and global enterprises as new technological capacities were introduced.
Content and use of international networks are regulated as little as possible, although
there are many specialty groups that make blocking software that prevents the
reception of offensive materials to those groups. Imbedded software code strengthened
the enforcement of intellectual property rights.
Participatory processes informed by futures research continue to develop and improve
national and corporate visions of the future. Socio-cultural indicators were developed to
improve analysis. The interaction of these indicators with global scientific, economic,
political and environmental factors is now standard. This led to the creation of the
common protocols used at regional intergovernmental meetings and countries to share
their futures perspectives and communicate the implications of decisions to the public.
NGOs contributed to confidence building, conflict resolution and preventive diplomacy.
NGOs are now regularly included in decision making of international organizations.
The growth and integration of regional trade groups has nearly completed the transition
to the WTO objective of free trade with common standards of behavior. The
globalization of markets, media, information technology, education, urbanization, and
the harmonization of international standards seem to be sufficient to prevent regression
to dictatorships and national wars. The IMF issued new SDRs (Special Drawing Rights)
that made it easier for developing countries to pay off their debt. Standard central bank
rules were finally observed by all countries on the issuance of currency, which now
helps controls inflation. The Global Securities and Exchange Commission was
established to tame currency markets and central banks made currency transactions
sufficiently transparent to reduce speculation. Small business was promoted through
access to land, credit, technology, and training. Special attention was given to women.
Increasing numbers of people now accept that access not possession is the measure of
wealth. This new cultural norm helped to change consumption patterns. Global dialogs
about ethics and common values have helped the New Wealth Indicators (NWI) which
replaced GDP as the primary focus for national accounting. This has stimulated more
ethical and free markets. The increasing participation of those 65-85 in the labor force
provided additional wisdom for increasing ethical considerations in business.
Entrepreneurial spirit and stewardship replaced the welfare attitude. Employee
ownership is now common in the many forms of Employee Stock Ownership Plan
(ESOP) which made corporate shares available to employees. Employee access their
own companys Intranet to see elements of their planning system, work flow,
production indicators, etc. this allowed them to more intelligently participate in the
NGOs identified, monitored, and publicized sources of the constraints to free markets
and unethical business practices around the world. Participatory processes between
labor, management, and consumers helped better match training and future work to
keep employment high. Public voting on political elections and potential corporate
decisions of global importance via global networks has become a common practice. A
side benefit was the continual identification and acknowledgment of the many hidden
and delayed costs assumed by government, which in turn lead to the acceptance of full
cost accounting today.
Internet gave equal access to rich and poor as prices for computers, software, and
telecommunications fell, capacity grew, and ease of use improved. It accelerate
economic development by providing greater and faster access to the worlds
knowledge, and became the medium for participating in the worlds economy. It
distributed the wealth of information more democratically than previous systems.
Electronic money made international commerce more secure, which allowed instant
global delivery of many services. Tele-citizens from poorer countries working in richer
ones can helped their original countries as tele-volunteers to the development process.
The Great Cyber Games helped to distribute the workload from those who were
overloaded to the underemployed. The cyber games Work Unit allowed people to bid
on work from the overloaded.
Although the 1999 World Conference on Science was not initially hailed as a great
success, it did initiate the discussions that laid the foundations for the political
agreements to create and accept the UNESCO-ICSU definitions of terms, standards,
and measurements that proved necessary for effective political and economic polices
that eventually achieved sustainable development by the mid-21st century. The use of
environmental tax incentives, product labels, and international sanctions on violators of
a series of UN treaties related to sustainable development required these scientifically
determined definitions and measures. With these changes in policy and an increasingly
informed global market, businesses competed to show their environment correctness.
The more successful companies got a jump on the competition by creating their own
labeling programs prior to government policies.
Although "sustainable development" had become the most internationally accepted goal
for humanity, it was not realized until several powerful personalities provided the spark
to move the world from "lip service" to more serious action. Companies created their
own green labels as competitive advantage with those who didnt use environmentally
sound production practices. Consumer groups helped the knowledge and service
companies find the industrial supplies and products for their businesses that were
created in more ecologically sound ways. "Green" producers and consumers united in
political movements that changed waste-subsidizing economic policies. (For example,
providers began charging for the real costs of water, nuclear energy costs, etc.). The
global inter-religious discourses helped to make reasonably clean air, water, and healthy
soil a human right rather than a factor in economic cost/benefit analysis.
The World Sustainable-development Organization (WSO) was created to provide a
global focus for business, government, and individual efforts to invest into sustainable
development. The International Court of Environmental Arbitration and Conciliation has
become the key instrument for advising the UN Security Council on environmental
security actions. UN Peacekeeping forces were deployed when the ICEAC ruled against
a state that was unwilling to stop the leakage of nuclear waste that endangered several
countries. Since then the threat of UN military intervention has been sufficient to cause
remedial actions. Intergenerational equity has become a major global value and legal
The WSO provided a global collection point for contributions and investments into
alternative sources of energy, energy storage, and efficiencies to extend non-renewable
energy sources. In response to global warming, it worked with oil companies to help
them expand into renewable energy sources. It also provided political leadership for
INSPACO to place earth rectennas for solar power satellites in China and India during
the first round of receiving countries to reduce by WSO helped local authorities in
cooperation with farmers, agribusinesses, and environmental NGOs provide natural
habitat corridors and integration of habitat in agriculture to protect biodiversity. WSOs
collaboration with local authorities helped them set goals or limits for percent of land-
use for natural pristine reserves, low intensity agriculture, and high intensity agriculture.
Ecological and energy taxes were initiated to create disincentives for inappropriate
energy use and tax incentives for less polluting alternative energy sources. All stages of
the production process were included (extraction, production, distribution and
consumption). Corporate-NGO partnerships developed model sustainable communities
in different settings around the world that were designed around reduced consumerism,
sustainability, community values, traffic-free, sylvan spaces, with less than 2,000
people. Buying clubs and consumer unions encouraged consumers to purchase from
service industries that draw from more environmentally friendly industrial processes.
Better government policies were stimulated by the establishment of national accounts
that included the economic, social, and health impacts of the depletion of natural
resources. National laws were developed to compensate victims of pollution and other
environmental damage. Tradeable pollution permits were used to insure international
compliance to fix global emission limits for countries and industrial sectors. With broad
public support, governments entered into voluntary agreements with industry to commit
itself to go "beyond regulation" in exchange for a relaxation of administrative and
compliance costs of regulations (data collecting, reporting, verification).
Similarly, there are now government incentives for smaller and healthier families,
effective long-term contraceptives, low infant mortality rates. Since family planning or
spacing has become acceptable in nearly all cultures, it is unlikely that birth rates will
increase in the near future. Birth rates have fallen sufficiently that now more people
worry about sufficient population growth to the support the worlds increasingly aging
The synergies among the successes in political economic policies, human development,
and technology have resulted in a better world in 2050 that few at the turn of the century
believed was possible.
... In EVNs, learning settings could be characterized by a hybrid (formal and informal), inter-, and trans-disciplinarily, participatory, and problem-oriented learning (Fuller & Söderlun, 2002). It should facilitate the development of key competencies needed for dealing with real problems (Fuller & Söderlund, 2002; Glenn & Gordon, 1999). According to the strategic impact of emerging digital technologies, an EVN from a technological perspective could be implemented through three distinctive stages (Mackintosh, 2004). ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This study presents the results of a futures study focusing on education industry in the next 30 years. Through an environmental scanning and a future event production practice, an alternative scenario has been developed for the future of the education system as a whole. This study differs from other studies by adopting Slaughter's environmental scanning model as an underpinning for knowledge analysis. In light of a paradigm shift in service and business logic and emerging new learning theories like connectivism, the study introduces the concept of 'Education Value Network' (EVN) as a new alternative model for education transformation. In addition to educational impact analysis, the paper outlines the SWOT analysis of this alternative future from economic, socio-cultural, and individual perspectives and lastly addresses the possible avenue for further research.
... Students take part in a creative process with challenging modes of dialogue in a value-driven learning environment. In this model, there is place for transmitting tacit knowledge based on expert experiences, because dialogue is functioning as a 'universal brain', which has improved the prospects for individual thinking [28]. At an extreme, technology appears to become an extension of the brain. ...
The way that the academic practice in higher education universities responds to the influence of computer networks and technology will be central to the definition of their future role. The traditional metaphor of university as self-contained village is challenged as knowledge becomes widely available on the Internet and teacher–student and student–student dialogues are not bound by spatial boundaries. The paper presents four metaphoric spaces that virtual dialogues can take place in. Each of these appears to fail the criteria of creating space where knowledge that a particular individual has can be shared, recreated, and amplified through interactions with others in academic contexts. We consider the effect of three driving forces that could create alternative teacher and student roles and dialogues between them. A technology-driven shaping of virtual learning may result in auto-responsive ‘robosapiens’, a relativist societal-driven shaping of virtual learning may result in socially isolated ‘nerds’. An environment in which technology is shaped by ethical evaluation with respect to higher level (e.g. meta-conceptual) learning is desired to raise the standards of intellectual and technological talents. Such an environment is considerably different from the norms of present-day universities and the every-day roles of teachers and students.
Full-text available
Scenario planning has steadily grown to become a significant part of business and organisational foresight processes, particularly where planning situations demand approaches beyond traditional forecasting, due to extent of uncertainty variables or length of future time under consideration. However, despite general consensus as to the importance of the scenario approach in general, and rapid growth in both theory and practice in the field, fundamental questions remain over which situations are most tractable to scenario planning and why; and, in the face of uneven success in application, which among an apparent myriad scenario planning approaches best serves different planning situations, or organisations holding different goals. This dissertation makes an intervention into this problem, investigating to what extent scenario planning projects can be separated by underlying project purpose, and, based on original primary case studies and case-­‐based structured interviews, finds that two meta-­‐categories of purpose exist, which are here referred to as " adaptive " and " visionary-­‐advocacy " purposes. It is argued that a purpose-­‐based distinction of scenario modes provides part-­‐explanation of the effective basis, or absence thereof, of scenario work for different situations—a basis which is achieved via congruence of scenario project purpose with (a) underlying organisational planning purpose, and (b) the extent of organisational influence over external conditions, including macro-­‐variables of change, that constrain it. These findings suggest additions to scenario method as currently understood, particularly pre-­‐project analysis (audits) of both an organisation's planning purpose and its external constraint conditions, to ascertain the presence of absence of necessary congruencies, so as to inform adoption of the purpose platform (and allied methodology) more likely to produce successful outcomes in application. iv This dissertation is dedicated to the memory of Professor Colin Firer, Graduate School of Business, University of Cape Town. v ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
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