Some of the future is knowable. When causes are known and slow to manifest, one need only watch to see the results revealed. The population size of a group is an example of one aspect of the future that can be predicted with a high degree of accuracy. Variables such as changes in birth rates over time, migration, and disease allow scientists to attach a range to their predictions. Anticipating how these variables will change outcomes over time is the art and science of predicting future trends. Many engage in such prognostications when the trends are linear and the causes and variables are understood. In these cases, future trends are quite predictable and worth foretelling. Some, however, predict about nonlinear or poorly understood events. One should discern between knowable future trends and the prophecies of oracles.
Futurists, seers, and prognosticators of all sorts have used trends as the basis of predicting the future. Of course, extending trends into the future does not necessarily reward one with accurate predictions. For instance, 73 individuals gathered at the World's Fair in 1893 to make predictions about 1993. Some of their inaccuracies included predictions that people would live to be 150, the government would grow smaller and simpler, and prison populations would decline as fewer crimes were committed.1 The reader should be cautious and judge if trends describe knowable and sufficiently linear events.
This appendix describes some of the general trends that served as background material in developing the 2025 worlds. Though some overlap is inevitable, the following categories are broad and simple, and they introduce the reader to the trends woven into the fabric of the alternate futures. The categories are computer hardware, computer software, space, communications, the media, nanotechnology, medicine, energy, international relations, the environment, education, world population, and economics.2 The one exception to the criteria of simplicity, or recognizability, is the field of nanotechnology-the ability to make things extremely small. This field has currently received little notoriety, but has the potential to affect most fields of science and technology. Nanotechnology will spawn revolutionary changes in the way humans conduct their lives and businesses.3
A more extensive list could have been compiled, but such a list would constitute a separate and lengthy volume in and of itself. Note that a disproportionate amount of text will be allocated to the environment and the last two categories. The environment receives extensive attention because it either impacts or is impacted by the number of people, where they live, and how they exploit the resources available to them. One good reason to examine demographics and economics is that these areas are particularly susceptible to statistical analyses.
This paper addresses two factors regarding computer hardware. First is the rapid evolution in the technology itself, so rapid it effectively renders systems obsolete within a year or two of introduction. Second is computers' impact on job production for the economy.
Over the last decade, the rate of increase in the speed of the central processing unit (CPU) of personal computers has risen from doubling every two years to doubling every 18 months.4 Considered from the viewpoint of 1986, that increase in the rate of change means the computers projected for the year 2000 are already available in the year 1996. Such accelerations in growth rates would be typical in a world experiencing exponentialn DTeK. This rate of doubling is known as "Moore's Law," and was postulated in 1965 by Gordon Moore, cofounder of Intel.5
Microprocessors continue to evolve at exponentially increasing speeds (fig. B-1). "Today's microprocessors are almost 100,000 times faster than their Neanderthal ancestors of the 1950s, and when inflation is considered, they cost 1,000 times less."6 Extrapolated 15 years, that rate of change in processing power produces a computer 1,000 times faster than current hardware, and 30 years at that rate would produce CPU speeds 1 million times faster than 1995 processors, but at the same price. Of course, the nature of lithographic processes limit current technologies from achieving such clock speeds. However, advances in technology, such as pipelining or parallel processing,7 may eliminate some of those barriers.8 In essence, the desktop computer of 2025 unarguably will be more powerful than today's Cray supercomputers.9
Figure B-1. Approximate Rate at which Speed of CPU Increases
The advent of this ever-more-capable hardware impacts job security, status, and levels of compensation.10 Developments in computer hardware have provided career opportunities for some, such as local area network (LAN) experts, but have negatively impacted other career fields. For instance, auto mechanics have gone from the role of well-paid specialists to mere technicians who remove and replace parts identified by a computer.11 Robotics in the auto industry have eliminated high-paying assembly-line jobs, often relegating individuals to minimum wage jobs.12 Remarkably, the LAN experts may be the next victims of continued advances, as plug-and-play software and hardware eliminate the need for individuals who can develop workarounds to connect disparate packages.13 It is similar types of economic upheaval in Digital Cacophony that lead computer engineers to sabotage the net, in response to losing their jobs to artificial intelligence.
Software provides a tool to control computer hardware. This section discusses some impacts of software development, as well as some of software's vulnerabilities. Software is not immune to the vagaries of the computing environment, as emphasized by the proliferation of computer viruses. Where viruses strike productivity suffers, and hardware can even be destroyed.14
Sophisticated software now impacts the livelihood of various workers, including professionals and sportsmen who may have thought themselves immune from such invasions of their working environment.15 Programs such as Parson Technology's Personal Tax EdgeŽ make it possible for untrained taxpayers to assess complex tax issues such as alternative minimum tax payments, depreciation of rental property assets, and how to carry forward losses from a previous year's tax return.16 Similar programs allow consumers to write living wills and powers of attorney that are recognized in many states.17 These programs do not "mean the end of the knowledge worker. It just means that different knowledge will be valuable."18 The bottom line, however, is that certain "cookie-cutter" functions of the professionals can be replaced, so certain professions can expect to see a decline in the number of practitioners or to receive lower levels of compensation.
Software has even intervened in the world of sports. International Grand Master and Professional Chess Association World Champion Garry Kasparov recently played a chess match against a supercomputer, Deep Blue. Deep Blue won the first game, then drew the next two games before the human won and evened the score.19 Though Kasparov went on to win the match, it is considered only a matter of a few years before computers can defeat any human competitor.20 The reason computers perform so well is not a capability to plan better than humans. Instead, the computer is capable of analyzing a large number of moves very swiftly.21 Positional assessments, however, have historically been one of the computer's weaknesses, and that is what eventually led to Deep Blue's downfall.
Computer viruses can subvert data, alter the flow of money, sniff out passwords, and conceivably arm, disarm, or retarget weapons.22 In general, the normative problem is the loss of productivity caused by viruses that spread across under-protected networks in the work environment.23 To date, the impact is relatively innocuous because most virus writers are inexperienced, amateur programmers with few skills. What is to be feared in the future is the sophisticated code writer with both more insidious purposes and means. Such an individual may imperil financial markets, weapons systems, or network security.
Space control, as a concept, is the twenty-first century equivalent to the concepts of Sea Control and Sea Denial used by major naval strategists of Britain, France, and the United States during the eighteenth through the twentieth centuries . . . It will be a major challenge for our forces to sustain the ability to control or deny access to space-device gathered intelligence, especially with transnational commercial proliferation of such devices. Such capability will require a coordinated combination of political, diplomatic, and military strategic policies.24
This section briefly addresses future uses of space and some concerns regarding the US's ability to maintain space dominance.
What seems certain about the exploitation of space is that the military will grow more dependent on space assets and commercial developments in space.25 Direct military applications might include the placement of directed-energy weapons on satellites.26 Exploiting commercial space technologies may be even more crucial to the DOD's future. In eras of possibly declining budgets, the US military will rely on leveraging high-technology commercial programs in order to sustain a substantive capabilities edge versus potential aggressors. This commercial research might include developing new materials on space stations by 2005.27 Though precise applications obviously cannot be provided for these supposed developments, it is sufficient to presume that the military dare not forego the opportunity to leverage new technologies lest a competitor gain an edge.
While potential military applications are of longer term interest, US strategic and operational security issues are an ongoing concern as commercial and foreign space ventures develop intelligence-gathering capabilities once the sole domain of the DOD. This problem was exacerbated in the 1990s by the Russians and Chinese entering the commercial space markets as a means for generating hard currency.28 For instance, designers plan to provide one-meter resolution photos from commercial satellites by 1999 (fig. B-2); Russian imagery is already available with details down to two meters, though the images are historical.29 Operational issues are involved, because not only will such images provide any paying customer the ability to find targets, but precision targeting may be available from Global Positioning System satellites. Currently a hand-held "receiver can deduce its position to less than 5 meters by comparing signals received simultaneously from up to six different satellites--and the accuracy will soon be measured in centimeters."30 The mixture of accessible satellite imagery and a precision targeting mechanism implies a formidable threat to the operations of US forces abroad, and even to the populace of the continental United States if combined with a ballistic missile capability.
Figure B-2. Civilian Satellite Ground Resolution
Communications security issues impact bandwidth31 and the ability to operate in remote locations while denying that capability to the opposition.
"It is important to note that there is a tradeoff between high bandwidth and secure communications; security, particularly antijamming, requires redundancy and error-correction data, resulting in lower throughput (i.e., lower usable bandwidth)."32 Adm William A. Owens, for one, feels that the trend favors those who seek to increase security.33 For instance, a fiber-optic cable has characteristics that make it difficult to tap undetected. By the year 2000 one estimate is that communications should have reached a rate of one terabit34 per second over a single fiber.35 Consequently, bundles of fiber-optic cables would provide a relatively secure means of communication with tremendous bandwidth. Of course, that technology benefits potential enemies as well as the DOD.
Current and future realities are that operations in remote locations will require robust and reliable communications via commercial satellites. As a result, an enemy who knows which commercial satellites are being used by the American military could lease channels from the same source, thereby providing a level of sanctuary to their communications base. Even if satellite links are disrupted, it may be difficult to prevent an enemy from receiving information about the positioning of forces in a conflict if, as some suggest, the information and communications picture of the future is dominated by a worldwide decentralized network of interconnected webs.36 Of even greater concern is that this ubiquitous network is particularly susceptible to attack inside the US.37
It is safe to assume the omnipresent eye of the CNN camera will be an integral part of any future military operation. Hundreds of millions of people worldwide will judge the appropriateness of everything an air commander does.38
Traditionally, the media have not exerted much influence with respect to fundamental American attitudes and beliefs, but the media "can be important in influencing opinion on particular issues (especially network television)."39 In 1968, Walter Cronkite's opinion that North Vietnam could not be defeated sent shock waves through the White House, by some accounts contributing to President Johnson's decision not to stand for reelection.40 Media impact may become even more important under the dual influence of technology and the development of adversarial or "new" journalism. This "new" breed of journalist is said to be most concerned with discovering "truth" rather than uncovering "facts," a significant change from the twentieth century standard of impartiality.41 The combination of 24-hour, worldwide coverage and "new" journalism will present endlessly evolving challenges to leaders attempting to implement a particular policy or to achieve some specific military or economic objective. The Toffler's, in fact, note that broadcasts during combat operations, via commercial satellites, may "alter the actual dynamics and strategies in war."42
Of crucial import to alternate futures such as Gulliver's Travails and Digital Cacophony is the notion that the spread of new media forms, such as satellite broadcast access and bulletin boards on the Internet, tends to undermine central control, dispersing power towards ever smaller groups.43 This breakdown of central control is not confined to just new forms of media interaction. Activists such as Steve Dunifer are currently taking advantage of advances in technology to aid individuals in setting up pirate radio stations. It is possible to distribute the parts for a 30-watt radio transmitter44 inside a suitcase, at a minimal cost. These operations are so small and difficult to control that they usurp the Federal Communications Commission's monopoly in the United States and threaten government control of information in several one-party foreign states.45 In the future broad-band communication capabilities, supported globally by seamless satellite, fiber, and wireless links, will empower individuals in the information and communications domain as never before.46
Reflecting trends towards demassification and individual access to multiple means of communication, the media will also learn to design its message for the individual consumer, using commercial and government databases to surround each individual with a personalized news and advertising presentation.
What is the impact of burgeoning media presence on military operations? Lt Col Marc D. Felman suggests that combatant commanders might add a new principle of war:
Media Spin--Pay close attention to public relations, recognizing that public support is an essential ingredient of combat success. Aggressively ensure that media portrayal of combat operations is nether distorted nor misrepresented through press omissions. Above all, safeguard the safety of the troops and operational security but do not lie to the media merely for [the] sake of convenience. Never take for granted how combat operations will be portrayed in the news. Avoid operations that will swiftly turn public support away from the war effort and capitalize on success stories by ensuring they get maximum exposure. In an age where 24-hour instantaneous battlefield news coverage is a fact of life, paying attention to media spin is of paramount importance. For a combatant commander, anything less would be irresponsible.47
Nanotechnology will influence society as dramatically as the discovery of fire, writing, and agriculture put together.48 Nanotechnology appears to have revolutionary applications across the depth and breadth of engineering, from computers to medicine to materials science.49 What is nanotechnology, and how will this field impact the technologies of 2025?
The apex of nanotechnology is engineering at the molecular or even atomic level to create structures at the ultramicroscopic level, structures that can then be plugged together like Lego blocks at the designer's whim. The structures created might even be self-organizing, aligning themselves in response to external stimuli.50
A self-organizing nano-structure offers untold opportunities to expand present capabilities in a variety of fields. Eric Drexler of the Institute for Molecular Manufacturing in Palo Alto, California, states that building a computer atom by atom would offer more processing power in a desktop package than all the computing power created to date. At the large-scale industrial end of the spectrum, Drexler speculates that by arranging atoms in a precise fashion a material might be developed with "100 times the strength-to-weight ratio of steel. Thus, automobiles or anything else made of today's steel could be 10 times stronger and 10 times lighter at the same time."51 In the medical field nano-devices might be designed to act as cancer leukocytes. In the transportation safety field a wisp of molecules might respond to a collision in a manner that controls the rate of the deceleration forces that currently cause much of the harm to humans.52 Another proposal posits the development of swarms of nano devices that act to screen cities from various forms of viral, conventional, or informational attack, as well as providing a means for distinguishing between denizens of the city versus intruders.53 That concept is used in Digital Cacophony.
"In 25 years the human genomethe DNA encyclopedia of our genetic codewill have been mapped, and we will be applying that knowledge to diagnostics, treatment of disease, manipulation of our bodies, and even behavior control."54 At the simplest level, this knowledge will allow the identification of individuals at risk for many diseases, and subsequent modification of behavior or therapeutic intervention.55 Some prognosticators even project that new organs will be grown from the patient's own tissue as early as the year 2015, while others predict that diseased organs will be regenerated, rather than replaced.56 Another aspect in the pending medical revolution is that automation will replace the current plodding trial-and-error research process of developing drugs based on plants. Automating the testing of reactive properties of plants means that researchers can reach out past the one-half percent of plant species that have been studied to date.57
By 2025 the worldwide demand for fuel is projected to increase by 30 percent and that for electricity by 265 percent. Even with more efficient use and conservation, new sources of energy will be required. Solar energy could provide 60 percent of the electricity and as much as 40 percent of the fuel.58
Finding alternate sources is important due to environmental concerns, as well as for the US to reduce its reliance on Persian Gulf oil reserves.59 This appendix discusses two potential replacement energy sources: fusion and solar power. Some other sources are "biomass (using a crop like corn to make fuels like alcohol),"60 geothermal, hydropower, waste-to-energy, and wind.
Marvin Cetron speculates that commercially viable fusion reactors will be available after 2010, and a major source of power by 2030.61 Others suggest that practical, commercial applications of fusion will not arrive until 2045.62 In the alternate futures of this study, Digital Cacophony and Zaibatsu represent worlds wherein commercially developed fusion is representative of the revolutionary nature of Exponentialn DTeK.
Solar power is a technology that is finally becoming economically competitive. That competitiveness was fostered by a 40-fold decrease in the price of generating photovoltaic power from 1979 to 1989.63 Eric Drexler suspects that nanotechnology might lead to breakthroughs in solar technology producing costs "significantly less than central-plant-produced electricity."64 Even now, predictions indicate that solar power will be competitive with conventional generation shortly after the year 2000.65 These and similar renewable technologies are crucial elements in the environmental planning strategies of worlds such as Gulliver's Travails and 2015 Crossroads. Returning to the quote that opened this section, however, note that solar energy is not sufficient to meet all the projected energy requirements of 2025. Coal- and oil-powered energy plants will still be required.
Most commentators predict that the number of nation-states will continue to grow (fig. B-3). Secretary of State nominee Warren Christopher, in Senate confirmation testimony, underscored the seriousness of the situation by noting that the world might soon have 5,000 nations unless people put aside ethnic differences.66 Even if states do not proliferate to such an extent, individuals such as Riccardo Petrel, the director of science and technology forecasting for the European Community, predict that states will continue to lose relative power as new actors dominate the socioeconomic stage. Petrel predicts that multinational corporations will ally with city and regional governments to dominate the decision-making processes.67 The role of nongovernmental organizations will also continue to flourish-both benign groups such as the Red Cross and Greenpeace, and malign groups such as drug cartels and terrorists. The latter groups will use technology to link resources and shield their dominions.68
Figure B-3. Independent States, 1945-202569
The increasing volume of trade between nations, as a percentage of each nation's economy, creates a growing interdependence that analysts such as Peter Drucker perceive as determining the characteristics of relations between groups in the future.70 Some individuals predict that future wars will be small and regional in nature because major military conflicts are contrary to international trade and "the well-being of the trading nations."71 Others argue that strife might become more common, because the gap between the haves and have-nots is going to continue to grow.72 The Tofflers also dispute any utopian vision, noting that in 1914 Britain and Germany were each other's largest trading partners, yet they went to war. The Tofflers suggest that interdependence creates complexity, which can lead to unexpected effects because no one can predict how an input to one part of the system will impact outputs elsewhere. Their thesis is that unintended consequences can make the world more dangerous.73
Environmental problems are unlikely to be the proximate cause for conflicts. . . . Most pollution, resource, and population problems take decades to unfold. Their effect also depends upon the adaptive capacity of nations and societies; it would be inappropriate to jump from environmental trends to predictions about impending conflict. In most cases, environmental problems aggravate existing political disputes, rather than being the immediate cause for conflict. An exception to this rule could arise from water disputes over the Euphrates River involving Turkey, Syria, Iraq, or Iran.74
Though environmental degradation may not directly cause conflict in a region or local area, it can contribute to population and resource pressures that could lead to destabilization of society and civil authority, especially if the environmental degradation can be linked to specific groups.75 Of greater international concern, however, is the impact of global environmental change, generated by human activities, on the well-being and security of the world community. The following human-induced environmental changes have already endangered the global commons and the future stability of the world; their impact will be felt for decades and potentially for centuries to come:76
Pollution will increase in varied sectors. For instance, acid rain will be a continuing problem as industrializing countries choose not to hurt profits by installing emission-control equipment.77 Acid rain can "seriously affect soil properties, agriculture, certain sensitive inland fisheries, and coniferous trees."78 Often, the first victims will be the forests and animals located where the acid rain falls, sometimes thousands of miles from the pollutant's origin. In 1996 Dr Adrian Frank indirectly linked acid rain to moose deaths in Sweden. Lime was being used in the forests to counteract acid rain damage, but when moose ingested the lime while eating foliage they unexpectedly experienced a toxic liver imbalance of copper and molybdenum.79 Such unintended consequences are representative of the problems experienced in Digital Cacophony, wherein solutions to one problem generate unexpected side effects.
Meanwhile, the ozone layer is being depleted, increasing the risks of skin cancer and other skin diseases for humans and farm animals.80 Despite the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer,81 the use of technology based on CFCs is likely to continue into the twenty-first century. As a result, the ozone layer could not fully regenerate until at least the twenty-second century because CFCs take a century to settle out of the atmosphere.82 What is driving the continued use of these ozone-depleting chemicals?
The problem is that developing nations are attempting to modernize, and CFCs are cheaper than alternative technologies. For instance, the Carrier Corporation has tripled sales of air conditioners to Asia since 1986 and now believes that by 2000 Asia may account for half its sales.83 This "pell-mell chase after refrigerators"84 will likely involve use of CFC technology. In response to charges that they are violating the Montreal Protocol, the Chinese reply that other countries must provide technical and financial assistance if China is to develop alternative, non-CFC technology.85
This is the type of ecologically interdependent economic policy that contributes to international strains in several of the alternate futures. Of course, the problem is not restricted to industrializing nations. Skyrocketing prices for CFCs have created a lucrative market for smuggling into America, according to Miami-based US Customs agent Keith S. Prager. In a recent case the owner of an American automotive air-conditioning shop was "charged with smuggling 60,000 pounds of CFCs from Mexico."86 CFCs are also used in other fields, such as the production of circuit boards and styrofoam packaging. Industrialists will not forsake CFCs readily as long as replacement products remain more expensive.
Humanity also acts against its own long-term interests with respect to deforestation. Though acid rain contributes to deforestation,87 most of the destruction is undertaken to fuel agricultural expansion and economic development. The process leads to losses in plant and animal species, increases global warming and climate shifts, and over time degrades the supportability of the land due to erosion and overexploitation.88
Species extinctions constitute an opportunity loss for humanity. This loss is reaching sizable proportions, as perhaps "15 to 20 percent of all species will become extinct by the year 2000."89 As noted in the medicine section, half of 1 percent of plant species have been tested for medical properties to date. As a result, at the same time technology opens unparalleled opportunities, the impact of population growth and economic exploitation reduces the scope of those opportunities.90
What are other impacts of deforestation? "On a local scale, trees protect the soil from the rain and wind that would otherwise wash or blow it away."91 At the regional level, deforestation of upland watersheds in the Himalayas is believed to have exacerbated the extent of flooding in Bangladesh. The disastrous flood of 1988 left two-thirds of Bangladesh under water and 25 million people homeless, nearly a quarter of the population. At the global level, forests reduce global warming by absorbing energy that might otherwise reflect back to the atmosphere, and by absorbing carbon dioxide (CO2), one of the greenhouse gases. Deforestation not only eliminates these beneficial aspects but releases the stored CO2 back into the atmosphere.92
All of the above environmental topics impact global warming patterns, though oftentimes circuitously, and the extent of damage caused by all of the above can be traced to humanity. Acid rain increases rates of deforestation, thus reducing the CO2 sink.93 The contributions of deforestation to global warming already have been noted. Finally, CFCs contribute some cooling effects, but the impact is regional whereas warming is spread relatively evenly around the globe. As a result, the differential changes in temperature gradients may alter weather patterns in unforeseen and perhaps unfavorable directions.94 Benjamin Santer, of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, developed a model that produced evidence human pollution, particularly the release of CO2, is responsible for global warming, also known as the greenhouse effect.95 Combining all these effects has numerous implications for future regional and global environments, but this paper only addresses the impact of global warming on flooding of low-lying lands.
One of the dire predictions tied to global warming addresses the issue of rising sea levels as glaciation recedes and the ice caps are put at risk. Since the 1890s the average global temperature has increased by about one degree Fahrenheit.96 Santer's model predicts the temperature will rise another 2.3 degrees Fahrenheit by 2050 (fig. B-3), but others have forecast increases of five to nine degrees.97 Some suggest that a six-degree rise would suffice to melt the icecaps, since that is comparable to temperatures that ended the last Ice Age. Such melting would raise sea levels up to three meters. Subsequent flooding in the low countries, island states, and along coasts would displace up to 100 million people.98 Other scientists disagree with both the temperature extremes and the extent to which sea levels will rise. At least one source suggests that sea levels will rise a maximum of one-third of a meter by 2050. A one-meter rise in sea levels would find Egypt and Bangladesh among the hardest hit countries, as the majority of their populations and arable land lie in deltas that would be susceptible to flooding, particularly during storm surges. "Where the rivers are dammed, the effects of inundation and coastal erosion will be particularly severe."99 The US would also be impacted by rising sea levels, though developed areas would probably choose to take protective measures. Conservative estimates indicate that $30 to $100 billion would have to be spent to protect low-lying coastal cities from a two-meter rise in sea levels.100 Such infrastructure investments would obviously crimp budget opportunities elsewhere.
Figure B-4. Global Warming Trends (1880-2050)
Education may become an area of competition, as countries steal the best ideas and techniques from each other.101 That is because education will remain "a major goal for development as well as a means for meeting goals for health, higher labor productivity, stronger economic growth, and social integration. Countries with a high proportion of illiterates will not be able to cope with modern technology or use advanced agricultural techniques."102
To enhance the competitiveness of the educational process, education may be demassified, adjusted to meet the individual needs and capabilities of the student. Furthermore, traditional methods of instruction may be replaced by interactive sessions using personal computers,103 artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and simulations in a seamless teaching environment.104 This process would be aided and abetted by feedback from analysis of the students' cognitive processes so that the learning devices could alter strategies to best support learning.105 At the very least, students will be expected to take charge of their own learning. They may meet in a traditional schoolhouse to enhance social interaction, or they may meet interactively. In any case, the decision to focus on a particular area will be delegated to the student(s), who can engage an instructor or computer packages on an as-needed basis.106
The end result of educational opportunities is often seen in impacts on population growth, along with the predicated economic consequences. These consequences will show up by comparing current enrollment trends with the projected rates of population and economic growth. For instance, in industrialized countries over 95 percent of the populace receives secondary schooling. In Latin America these rates approach 50 percent for males and females, but in other developing nations the female half of the populace often lags 10 percentage points or more behind their male counterparts in secondary school attendance rates. Formal educational opportunity has a strong correlation with birth rates, so educational opportunity differences between males and females impact the future of many areas. In Asia, enrollment for males has only recently approached 50 percent, while in Central Africa less than 25 percent of the population receives a secondary education.107
Since Malthus, scientists have speculated on the day when humanity would exceed the planet's carrying capacity.108 That age may be pending. Gretchen Daily, a Stanford biologist, noted that at current rates of consumption and population growth109 every drop of fresh water available would be getting used by the year 2020.110 This study used the highest published rates as the standard, generating a population base of approximately 10 billion in 2025. Lower rates were applied to worlds such as Digital Cacophony, where increased education opportunities and access to information decreased fertility rates at dates earlier than otherwise projected.
The problem of increasing numbers of people competing for scarce resources is exacerbated because "about 95 percent of the world's population growth between 1992 and 2042 will take place in the Developing World."111 The states with such high rates of growth are the same states that cannot afford the infrastructure to support burgeoning masses of would-be urbanites seeking jobs. Nor are moves to rural areas an answer, since population pressure often leads to overuse of the land, resulting in desertification. As a direct consequence, people must migrate to seek sustenance, adding fuel to an international refugee problem that already numbered between 20 and 40 million in 1994.112 Examination of table 2113 exposes at least one potential direction of refugee flows. The population of Africa nearly triples between 1995 and 2025, while that of Europe is relatively stable.
"The rich get richer, the poor have children,"114 and the old get older.115 Trends in medicine, economic growth, population density, and other areas tend to multiply the differences between the technological haves and have-nots. For instance, per capita gross domestic product in the US is projected to grow from $25,850 in 1995 to $37,740 in 2025, primarily as a consequence of a projected 1 percent annual population increase and economic growth averaging over 2 percent. In contrast, though Saudi Arabia is currently one of the better-off developing nations, analysts project a decline in per capita GDP there from $9,510 to $3,865. Their population is growing faster than their economy, which is dependent upon oil exports.116 Higher relative per capita income translates into increased access to better health care. Better medicine extends lives and increases the likelihood children will survive into adulthood. The intertwined issue of economics and children is critical. Industrialized countries can rely on social programs and investment programs to provide for health care in their dotage. The elderly in developing nations rely on the good fortunes of their children "so they have as many as they can."117 A vicious cycle results, eroding the ability of countries to escape from the web of poverty.
Worldwide population trends will impact food, water, the environment, economic competition, and military affairs. For instance, over 3 billion Chinese and Indians (table 3) will be pressing against each other, potentially jostling for critical resources and markets. Combining the data in these tables with those in the next section, which discusses economic trends, provides insights into where economic competition will arise in 2025 and where outward refugee flows are most likely as birth rates exceed economic growth.
Scientists such as Wolfgang Lutz, the director of the International Institute for Applied Systems in Vienna, Austria note that fertility appears to be dropping worldwide, as depicted by the flattening of the population growth curve in figure B-5. Lutz estimates that the world's population will reach about 10 billion in 2050 and 12 billion in 2100.
Figure B-5. Population Growth over Time
Economic forces can change political structures and the international landscape, altering relationships between nations, corporations, and individuals. Economics, therefore, ranks among the most important of trends. This study has examined growth rates of various regions of the world, and projections for their future growth, including the impact of multinational corporations. A synopsis of this material is contained in tables 4 and 5.
As the study participants examined the impact of the drivers on the alternate futures, two worlds emerged as clearly outside the boundaries of existing trends. Economic growth rates in the alternative futures were based on a relative scale. Consequently, in Digital Cacophony the growth rates were greater than current trends, while in Gulliver's Travails the rates were lower than current trends (table 4). Thus, a range of projected economic data points was created. The world of King Khan contains two further extremes that lie outside table 4. In King Khan, the GDP of greater China is estimated at $75.6 trillion. The GDP for the United States in that world was estimated using a notional 1.3 percent average annual growth rate, yielding a 2025 GDP of $10.1 trillion.122
Some facets of existing trends merit special mention. For instance, the current rate of growth in the Chinese GDP indicates their economy will supplant that of the United States as the world's largest economy by 2001. Furthermore, combining Western Europe's 1996 GDPs with those from Central and Eastern Europe would create a market encompassing 850 million peoples and a combined GDP of $12-14 trillion, already dwarfing the current American GDP of around $7 trillion.123 Table 4 demonstrates that extrapolating growth rates to 2025 describes a world in which the GDP of China is four times that of the United States, though table 5 shows that the per capita GDP of the United States is still 40 percent greater than that of China while both trail Japan.
Trends in the growth of MNCs also require notice. Most opinions indicate that MNCs will continue to grow in size, economically if not in personnel, and new ones will appear.124 This has critical bearing on the power of the nation-state, since in 1992 the world's 44 largest MNCs were among the 100 largest economic units and produced almost 10 percent of the world's gross product.125 MNCs will grow not only in size but in power, particularly as governments downsize by privatizing certain aspects of social programs.126 To gather a further sense of the sprawling size and economic clout of MNCs, consider that one-quarter of all world trade is currently between subsidiaries of the same firm.127 If this trend continues, it will proportionally diminish the relative power of states, an effect that is exacerbated as state control of currency rates diminishes.128 The calculations for the MNCs also demonstrate the danger of extending growth rates for corporations indefinitely into the future. If one accepted the calculations wholeheartedly, then Genentech would develop into the world's second largest economic unit in Digital Cacophony, and Intel would be the fifth largest economic unit in the same world.
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