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Foresight

Trends in Artificial Intelligence and Big Data

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Thursday, January 24, 2019
Abstract in English: 
This paper addresses the present state of play and future trends, uncertainties and possible disruptions of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data in the following areas:
Political: AI is biased, difficult to scrutinise and to estimate its power, and – more so when embodied in autonomous systems – potentially dangerous. Policy responses are accountability, transparency, safety and control, and public debate. These should be based on ethics. AI will lead to better governance, more debate, new policy actors and processes, a contest over centralisation, and the EU catching up. AI might progress in a revolutionary or evolutionary mode, lead to new political divisions, and change democracy. AI might be misused as a “superior orders” defence. What if data analysis changes or replaces democracy?
Socio-economic: Big Data is changing the role of data, is often dependent on sensitive information, is handicapped in the short term but better in the long term due to data protection, and its industry is in danger of monopolisation. AI lowers the cost of prediction, replaces human prediction and human labour and causes social problems, increased nudging and misuse of the term AI. AI will lead to more data, economic growth and more job market distortions. AI might lead to new industry giants, a request for more privacy, new state solutions, yet unknown jobs, AI taxes and increased state ownership. What if new economic ideologies emerge, singularity strikes or AI monopolies are broken up?
Geopolitical: AI is increasing the power competition between the US and China and gives both more power. Europe tries to create businesses and find its strengths. All are investing in military solutions and the west has a slight disadvantage here. AI will lead to a shakeup of the international system, hierarchies and networks becoming more powerful, and real-life deception being more difficult. AI might lead to China becoming the most powerful power overall and in AI. The future of AI R&D and the success of Europe’s broad approach is uncertain. What if there are two digital worlds, China becomes a data-privacy defender, and AI become targets?
Technological: Superintelligent AI is invested in and researched, challenged by philosophy, and possible this century. It might imitate the brain, be assembled together or be designed by other AIs. An intelligence explosion or a conscious AI could be possible, and might be the last invention of humanity. It would require long term funding, need to overcome many technical hurdles, be dangerous due to its intellect, possibly be contained with collective intelligence, and maybe have humans lose their jobs, safety or purpose.
Key questions for policy-makers: What makes European AI distinctive? What areas can and should we prioritise, if any? What should be regulated? How could and should the EU foster AI development, avoid monopolisation, provide data pools, use high data standards, link researchers and corporations, balance fundamental with applied AI research and private with state funding, boost applications, compensate for job loss, keep AIs away from dangerous actors, support EU foreign policy (neighbourhood, FPI, democracy and human rights, aid and development, economic freedom), improve our lives with AI, change the geopolitical AI race, deal with autonomous weapons and superintelligent AI and organise Foresight?
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19
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The Future of Government 2030+ - A Citizen Centric Perspective on New Government Models

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Friday, March 1, 2019
Abstract in English: 
The Future of Government 2030+: A Citizen Centric Perspective on New Government Models project brings citizens to the centre of the scene. The objective of this project is to explore the emerging societal challenges, analyse trends in a rapidly changing digital world and launch an EU-wide debate on the possible future government models. To address this, citizen engagement, foresight and design are combined, with recent literature from the field of digital politics and media as a framework. The main research question of the project is: How will citizens, together with other actors, shape governments, policies and democracy in 2030 and beyond? Throughout the highly participatory process, more than 150 citizens, together with CSO, think tank, business and public sector representatives, as well as 100 design students participated in the creation of future scenarios and concepts. Four scenarios have been created using the 20 stories emerged from citizen workshops. They served as an inspiration for design students to develop 40 FuturGov concepts. Through the FuturGov Engagement Game, the project’s ambition is to trigger and launch a debate with citizens, businesses, civil society organizations, policy-makers and civil servants in Europe.
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102
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Unexpected Developments in International Politics. Foresight Contributions 2018

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Wednesday, September 5, 2018
Abstract in English: 
How might we have to imagine the Middle East if there were a political thaw between Iran and Saudi Arabia? Could Turkey leave NATO in the near future? What would happen if security-related EU databases were successfully hacked; if South Korea were to arm itself with nuclear weapons; or if an American woman were to head the United Nations? Of course, these situations, as explored in the SWP’s latest Foresight research paper, are only hypothetical. Why address them? Because unexpected events have abounded in international politics in recent years. Brexit; the election of Donald Trump as US President; and Russia’s annexation of Crimea are only the most striking examples. Science and politics should therefore ready themselves for likely future surprises. The Foresight research paper aims to assist with this. We cannot and do not want to predict the future. However, with the help of systematic foresight we can better prepare for unplanned situations. This means improving our view of conceivable – albeit unlikely – developments that would seriously impact on German and European foreign and security policy. It also includes reviewing previous expectations – as this research paper likewise tackles. What actually happened to the battery revolution that was supposed to secure our power supply? Did the negotiation process on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU unfold as experts had anticipated? Such reviews are instructive, and can be used to gain insights for the future.
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50
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What if....? Scanning the horizon: 12 scenarios for 2021

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Friday, January 25, 2019
Abstract in English: 
Foresight is about choice, decision and action – and not, as is repeated time and again, predicting the future and getting it wrong.
This Chaillot Paper aims to alert decision-makers to potential developments with significant strategic impact while they can still prepare for, or even avoid them. This is done using two methods combined: horizon-scanning as well as single scenario-building. Taken together, they produce plausible events set in 2021 – with strategic ramifications well beyond that. All 12 scenarios in this Chaillot Paper reflect the expertise and imagination of the researchers who wrote them: some explore potential conflicts, while others look at disruptive political developments, or indeed at crises with significant ramifications.
That said, all are designed in the hope of drawing attention to foreign and security policy aspects which are potentially overlooked, and all are extrapolated from ongoing and recent developments.
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74
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Western Options in a Multipolar World

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Monday, November 27, 2017
Abstract in English: 
No one can know the future. China and Russia—who are currently challenging, albeit in different ways, the Western liberal order—face difficulties at home and could become inward-focused and disengaged. Nonetheless, almost thirty years after the end of the Cold War, geopolitics looks like it is poised for another turn of the wheel that may not be as favorable to Western interests.
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12
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The Future of International Trade and Investment (ESPAS Ideas Paper)

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Thursday, September 20, 2018
Abstract in English: 
This paper examines current trends, uncertainties and wild cards in relation to international trade and investment. It then considers implications for the European Union.
The European Union’s interest remains clear: a rules-based order is better than a transactional or winner-takes-all approach to international trade. But it is wise to plan for the worst, while hoping for the best.
The future of international trade and investment may lie somewhere between the extremes of the status quo and a reversion to protectionism. This would involve a thorough revision and rebalancing of multilateral norms, to take account of major global changes on many fronts. The EU has traditionally been a leading player in the creation of international institutions and norms. But the days when Europe could dictate the global agenda are over. Europe’s role will be increasingly a matter of seeking to influence events, rather than asserting dominance. In the coming decades, internal unity and a strong sense of purpose will be all the more important.
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12
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The Future of Warfare (ESPAS Ideas Paper)

Title Original Language: 
The Future of Warfare (ESPAS Ideas Paper)
Original Language: 
Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Thursday, September 20, 2018
Abstract in English: 
Warfare is shaped by geopolitical, societal, technological, economic and military trends:
Geopolitical: The multipolar relations between ever bigger political entities with overlapping spheres of influences are defined by surpise and uncertainty. Smaller political entities will be weaker and proxy wars more common in the future. Detterence will be reinterpreted, vulnerable states more prone to aquire nuclear weapons and international norms weakened. Megacities will be central battlefields that leave ground forces vulnerable.
Social: Warfare will shift to the internet, it will be uncontrollably ‘open-source’, live and shocking, with ever more spectacular terror. Armies will be more network-centred, waging more personalised wars and will have to find new ways to interact with democratic societies. Women in combat and the disappearance of world war veterans change the way people think about war.
Technological: Mankind becomes more powerful over time, with non-state actors possessing capabilities currently restricted to super-powers. It will struggle to outlaw technological advances and wage war without violence. The West will lose its technological superiority and will have even bigger problems in knowing how and what to research. Both inferior and highly developed armies will develop new ways of engaging the enemy. Artificial intelligence (AI) will mean that democratic armies have to balance the ‘human in the loop’ policy against effectiveness.
Economic: The economy of the opponent will be a bigger target than in the past, with commercial and dual-goods becoming more important, and the environment a more widely used weapon.
Military: Possible future military situations will be more diverse then ever. Western armies will be vulnerable to cheap weaponry. The idea that wars will be easy to win will make the world more dangerous.
Key uncertainties are China, the cyber-dimension, robotics, autonomous systems and artificial intelligence, paradigmatic breakthroughs such as quantum computing, general AI and anti-ballistic systems, nuclear detterence and nuclear bargaining. Ten key questions for policy-makers focus on strategic autonomy, adaptation, balancing reserves, R&D, cooperation and export, interventions, China, weakening norms, anticipation, communication and procurement.
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Latin America and the Caribbean 2030: Future Scenarios

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Thursday, December 1, 2016
Abstract in English: 
The report finds that if the region and world move ahead as expected, 57 million more Latin Americans and Caribbean citizens will join the middle class over the fourteen-year period. Annual regional GDP growth will be 2.4 percent, slightly outperforming the US rate of 2.2 percent. But the region will face significant challenges ranging from income inequality to its demography and the impact of climate change.
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156
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Global Trends and the Future of Latin America: Why and How Latin America Should Think About the Future

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Thursday, September 1, 2016
Abstract in English: 
Latin America must strengthen its ability to plan forward and deepen its strategic reflection if it is to govern better and improve the design of public policies. Achieving this may require countries in the region to familiarize themselves with global scenarios and to explore the types and scale of challenges that they might confront. A national perspective is not sufficient; a global vision is essential.
Globalization creates a stream of effects that cannot be controlled by individual countries. With an outlook that takes into consideration the rest of the world, Latin American governments could improve their capacity to anticipate events and, when those events occur, to respond effectively to uncertainty and rapid change. Through strategic planning that envisions diverse and myriad situations, countries of the region may be able to skirt damage or even identify advantageous responses. In effect, human action might alter trajectories in ways that could bring the region closer to desirable outcomes.
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56
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CoR’s Future Role and Institutional Positioning

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Friday, September 12, 2014
Abstract in English: 
Good governance is based upon foresight that allows decision makers to make informed choices. The Committee of the Regions (CoR) has turned to strategic foresight to anticipate the forthcoming changes within the EU political system. The exercise is a second step in strategic foresight at the horizon of 2025, which follows the report on the future challenges facing the CoR and European local and regional authorities (LRAs).
The aim of this second report is to address the CoR’s future role and institutional positioning within the European political architecture. It draws up five future-based scenarios with predictions about the evolution of the CoR's institutional and political role, its associated powers and relations with other EU institutions and stakeholders. For each scenario, the report analyses the consequences for the overall EU institutional setup, the evolution of parliamentarism, the supranational decision-making process and the CoR mandate.
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83
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