VIEWS: 7 PAGES: 2 CATEGORY: Science & Technology POSTED ON: 6/13/2010
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.
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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