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2020 Visionaries proach. They call out a need for a new model to meet Then the Singularity happens in 2048 and we’re all the needs of the new century. uploaded by force. It’s hard to exaggerate the sheer complexity of the sit- I’m kidding about that last one. uation. If the great obstacle to our continued survival I think. and prosperity as a species were “just” global warming, achieving success would be tricky but doable. The chal- About the Author lenge we face is global warming plus resource collapse Jamais Cascio is a writer, futurist, and ethicist based in the San plus pandemic disease plus post-hegemonic disorder Francisco Bay Area. He specializes in design strategies and pos- plus the myriad other issues. sible outcomes for future scenarios. Cascio has written for the Nonetheless, there are reasons for optimism. The Atlantic and The Wall Street Journal, and is the author of Hacking the Earth: Understanding the Consequences of Geoengi- neering (Lulu.com, 2009). He was one of Foreign Policy maga- Solutions to Complex Challenges zine’s “Top 100 Global Thinkers” for 2009. We know what we need to do to mitigate climate change, and we have the necessary technology. What we’re missing, more than anything else, is the political will. But politics and society can change — we’ve seen it The Future of Freedom and Democracy happen before. It might take a generational shift, it might take a disaster (or three), or it might just come Ian Bremmer, head of the world’s largest political-risk from an expanding understanding of what we’re doing consultancy, is widely regarded as the go-to expert on the to the planet. It will take a lot of people working on fixes and solutions and ideas — not simply top-down intersection of geopolitics and business. In his new book, mandates, but massively multi-participant quests, The End of the Free Market, Bremmer describes the rise of a across thousands of communities and hundreds of new geopolitical force — state capitalism — a form of gov- countries, bringing in literally millions of minds. The very description reeks of innovation potential. ernment where political elites use state-owned companies • Innovation in energy. A mix of nuclear, wind, solar, and sovereign wealth funds to entrench their power, and and a few others, such as ocean thermal energy conver- sion and hydrokinetic power, will overtake fossil fuels where markets are rigged for political gain. China is the by the 2020s, even if China and India retain coal-fired quintessential example; after recording year-over-year ex- power plants. If handled poorly, such recalcitrance may end up being a driver for significant global tension. If pansion while the United States experienced the worst re- handled well, it could be an engine for new markets cession since the Great Depression, China has also become and development. • Innovation in urbanization. More than half the
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