The 2017 report, Global Trends–Paradox of Progress, is the sixth in the Global Trends series released by the U.S. National Intelligence Council. The inspiration for this report is the “prosperity presumption,” the assumption among many that with increased prosperity other good things will follow: happiness, democracy, and peace. But the paradox of progress is that with the 2008 global financial crisis, the Arab Spring, and the rise of populist movements, the world is also becoming a more dangerous place.
This report explores three scenarios or pathways for the next twenty years:
- “Islands”-scenario investigates a restructuring of the global economy, with slow or no growth, a popular pushback against globalization, technology transforming work, and increased political instability.
- “Orbits”-scenario explores a future of tensions created by competing major powers seeking their own spheres of influence while attempting to maintain stability at home. This scenario includes the trend of rising nationalism and the use of a nuclear weapon.
- “Communities”-scenario describes how the diminishing capacity of governments open space for local governments and private actors. It will become harder for governments to control their societies.
Although these three scenarios seem gloomy, the same trends that create near-term risks could also create long-term opportunities. This report asserts that those states and societies that will be using the full potential of all individuals will be the most successful.
The main report is followed by extensive annexes with five-year forecasts for each region in the world, including the Arctic and space, and key global trends on how people live, create, prosper, think, govern, and fight.
Students of trends, forward-looking entrepreneurs, academics, policymakers, journalists, and anyone eager for a glimpse into the next decades will find this essential reading.