04 January 2008

The DCDC Global Strategic Trends Programme 2007-2036

The Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre (DCDC) is a UK Ministry of Defence think-tank, collocated with the Defence Academy at Shrivenham.

The DCDC Global Strategic Trends Programme 3rd Edition is the latest iteration of work commenced by the DCDC, as the Joint Doctrine and Concepts Centre (JDCC), in 2001 and is published here(PDF)

Strategic Trends explores a range of potential outcomes over the next 30 years. As with previous editions, the document has been placed in the public domain in order to generate debate and discussion.

As well as establishing trend-based outcomes across the 5 dimensions (over 500 in total), Strategic Trends seeks to identify and interpret the likely pattern of change over the next 30 years. In doing so, it assesses that during this period human activity will be dominated and affected by 3 pervasive Ring Road Issues:

• Climate Change.
• Globalization.
• Global Inequality.

"There is compelling evidence to indicate that climate change is occurring and that the atmosphere will continue to warm at an unprecedented rate throughout the 21st Century. "

"..there will continue to be winners and losers in a global economy led by market forces, especially so in the field of labour, which will be subject to particularly ruthless laws of supply and demand."

"the gap between rich and poor will probably increase and absolute poverty will remain a global challenge. "

"The power and ubiquity of the media will increase the tendency towards populist and personality-based politics in democratic electorates, with confidence in politicians centered on administrative and executive competence rather than issues. "

"Absolute poverty and comparative disadvantage will fuel perceptions of injustice among those whose expectations are not met, increasing tension and instability, both within and between societies and resulting in expressions of violence such as disorder, criminality, terrorism and insurgency.

They may also lead to the resurgence of not only anti-capitalist ideologies, possibly linked to religious, anarchist or nihilist movements, but also to populism and the revival of Marxism. "

"Rapid mobilization – ‘Flashmobs’ - may be undertaken by states, terrorists and criminals, and may involve dispersed communities across international boundaries, challenging security forces to match this potential agility and ability to concentrate. "

" AI and the effective replication of human judgement processes, when combined with autonomous systems, particularly robotics, are likely to enable the application of lethal force without human intervention, raising consequential legal and ethical issues. "

"A more permissive R&D environment could accelerate the decline of ethical constraints and restraints. The speed of technological and cultural change could overwhelm society’s ability to absorb the ethical implications and to develop and apply national and international regulatory and legal controls. Such a regulatory vacuum would be reinforcing as states and commercial organizations race to develop and exploit economic, political and military advantage."

"By 2035, an implantable information chip could be developed and wired directly to the user’s brain."

Revolution, flashmobs, and brain chips. A grim vision of the future
Rear Admiral Chris Parry at the IISS Military Leaders’ Forum sponsored by KBR