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Intelligence agents predict a future shaped by faceless enemies like disease and climate change


WASHINGTON – The intelligence community has released a wide-ranging report detailing its predictions for the state of the world over the next two decades.

The National Intelligence Council, in a report released Thursday, suggested that no matter how humanity faces today’s challenges, some of the greatest threats will not be caused or instigated by human perpetrators. These global challenges are likely to include “climate change, disease, financial crises and technological disruption”, which could create “food and water insecurity”, “increase migration” and its destabilizing effects, create “new health challenges” and decimate biodiversity, write the authors.

One of the prime examples of this threat is the current COVID-19 pandemic, write the authors, which they describe as the most disruptive global event since World War II.

Intelligence agents predict a future shaped by faceless enemies like disease and climate change

Homeboy employee Joseph Kuresa receives a photo from Shaun Murry. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

The pandemic has “shaken long-held assumptions about resilience and adaptation and created new uncertainties about the economy, governance, geopolitics and technology,” the report said. How the world adapts and learns from the challenges of the past year “is very much in question,” the authors continued, but it will likely have a big impact on how the future is shaped.

“These challenges will overlap and cascade, including in ways that are difficult to predict,” concludes the intelligence report, published every four years. “National security will require not only defending against armies and arsenals, but also resisting and adapting to these common global challenges.”

The National Intelligence Council, a small body within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence made up of high-level experts on various regions and threats, was formed in 1979 and tasked with examining the near and distant future. Its ‘Global Trends’ reports are written to help senior politicians, legislators and individuals think strategically about possible evolving threats to the current global order and what the future might have depending on how the United States faces them.

The report draws not only on analysis by Council members, but also interviews and conversations with academics, civil society organizations, outside experts and even, according to the new report, high school students in Washington. , DC.

According to the authors of the report, whose analysis is speculative but based on available facts and trends, several “alternative scenarios” could occur by 2040.

The first, a stated goal of the Biden administration, is a “renaissance of democracies” in which the United States and its allies ushered in a new era of democratic norms and structures, supported by a growing global economy and better quality of life for people everywhere.

Intelligence agents predict a future shaped by faceless enemies like disease and climate change

President Biden looks on Thursday at an event on gun violence prevention in the Rose Garden of the White House. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP via Getty Images)

In this future scenario, analysts write, the authoritarian form of government demonstrated by officials in Russia and China will fail, in part because of the innovation lag caused by “years of increasing societal control and surveillance.” However, China has already demonstrated success in technical innovation, in part due to aggressive intellectual property theft and in part through broad mobilization of its society in a way that is impossible in a democratic country.

Second, analysts predict a possible “global drift” in which the predominant chaos created by societal divisions, disinformation, slow economic growth and other factors continue “largely unanswered”, giving Beijing continued opportunities to take advantage of the divisions in the West prompting China to constructively meet the challenges as a world leader.

Alternatively, the authors suggest that the United States and China could enter an era of “competitive coexistence,” in which the economic future of countries is inextricably linked, reducing the chances of outright war and forcing cooperation on. issues like climate change.

Nevertheless, the trend of increasing connectivity favored in particular by the Internet could be reversed, which would allow the globe to be compartmentalized in different regions or in economic and security “blocks” where information is compartmentalized, supply chains are isolated and there are far fewer people. trade, suggest the authors. This system could leave many countries caught in the middle and risk becoming “failed states”, analysts write, while global challenges go unaddressed due to the growing fragmentation of society.

Finally, the intelligence community predicts that the United States could be heading towards a 2040 in which countries are forced to deal with a global tragedy such as a food crisis, ideally prompting a global coalition to mitigate its effects.

Overall, the council predicted that no superpower would dominate across the world, suggesting that the United States and China should share the responsibilities as they urge the rest of the world to choose sides.

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