How We Govern Will Be a “Game-Changer” for the Coming Decades

In December 2012, the National Intelligence Council released its most recent version of its quadrennial Global Trends series, Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds. The analysis identifies megatrends that will likely shape the course of the coming two decades, as well as six key “game-changers” in terms of global economy, governance, conflict, regional instability, technology and the role of the U.S.

The report anticipates a governance gap as a central game-changer in transforming the world.  According to the authors, “The increasing number of players needed to solve major transnational challenges – and their discordant values – will complicate decision making.”

The report further asserts, “The governance gap will continue to be most  pronounced at the domestic level and driven by rapid political and social changes. The advances during the past couple decades in health, education, and income—which we expect to continue, if not accelerate in some cases—will drive new governance structures.”

In this context, the role of technology in relation to the government is viewed as uncertain. “The widespread use of new communications technologies will become a double-edged sword for governance. On the one hand, social networking will enable citizens to coalesce and challenge governments, as we have already seen in Middle East. On the other hand, such technologies will provide governments—both authoritarian and democratic—an unprecedented ability to monitor their citizens. It is unclear how the balance will be struck between greater IT-enabled individuals and networks and traditional political structures.”

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