In response to the query about potential "wild card" future events, the author have mulled a few over and have come up with the usual grim list. Here are a few wild cards that truly stand out in his mind: 1. a catastrophic weather event rivaling or surpassing Hurricane Katrina, 2. a dramatic political shift to the far left, 3. political upheaval in China, 4. a worldwide backlash against fundamentalist religions, 5. widespread illness and death from tainted food (either accidental or deliberate), 6. a surprisingly rapid economic recovery, 7. the disabling of the Internet, 8. a disruptive new business model on the scale of the Web when it emerged in the mid-1990s, and 9. the incapacitation of Pres Obama, through scandal, illness, or assassination.

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									                                                                                     starvation in areas where food is
By Brian Pomeroy                                                                     scarce.

A Wild Card Sampler                                                                    •	 A surprisingly rapid economic
                                                                                     recovery. The experts tell us that the
                                                                                     United States may be mired in reces-
An overview of commonly cited wild cards offers a gloomy                             sion for many months, perhaps years.
                                                                                     However, the economy could reignite
view of the future, with a few positive possibilities.                               more rapidly than forecast, due to gov-
                                                                                     ernment stimulus, market forces, or
                                                                                     some unforeseen event. While surely a
                                                                                     positive development, this wild card
                                                                                     invites speculation over the recovery’s

I   n response to the query about po-
    tential “wild card” future events, I
    have mulled a few over and have
come up with the usual grim list (pan-
demics, terror attacks, natural disas-
                                           prices could cause flashpoints in Rus-
                                           sia and the Middle East that would
                                           demand U.S. intervention, including
                                           military options.
                                             •	 A worldwide backlash against
                                                                                     political impacts and the potential loss
                                                                                     of the recession’s silver-lining benefits,
                                                                                     such as greater social awareness and
                                                                                     sustainable living.
                                                                                       •	 The disabling of the Internet.
ters, oil prices, wars, etc.). Because     fundamentalist religions. Not that        This could happen either for technical
they’ve been considered before, they’re    this would be an anti-religious move-     reasons (a virus that crashes virtually
not really true wild cards, but here are   ment, but believers will choose spiri-    every node on the network) or by hu-
a few that truly stand out in my mind.     tual paths that would better reconcile    man intervention (a powerful individ-
   •	 A catastrophic weather event         faith with science and reason. A back-    ual or group effectively shutting it
rivaling or surpassing Hurricane           lash would also signal a rejection of     down). In our increasingly wired
Katrina. In addition to the widespread     terror, repression, and the other hall-   society, losing the Internet would be
death, destruction, and disruption that    marks of extreme religious and politi-    catastrophic on many levels — from
such an event would cause, it would        cal movements.                            the economic and social to the indi-
refocus attention on climate change,                                                 vidual and psychological. More likely
perhaps enabling even more assertive                                                 might be a subtle but widespread re-
steps to combat global warming.
   •	 A dramatic political shift to the
                                           “[There] might be a                       jection of Internet use by those who
                                                                                     feel it has become too intrusive in their
far left. Since the 2008 U.S. presiden-
tial election, pund
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