Global Technological Risks

Posted on March 3, 2012. Filed under: globalization, policy, society | Tags: , , |

Global risks don’t respect national boundaries.  That’s why it might be a good idea to pay attention to thought leaders like the World Economic Forum and it’s Global Risks 2012 report, 7th edition, released in January 2012.  The report analyzes 50 global risks, 10 each in economic, environmental, geopolitical, societal, and technological categories.

To quote Security Management, “You may need a stiff drink after reading this sobering report. If, instead, you’re of a mind to be dismissive of such projections, consider that this same group put “asset price collapse” as its number one global risk in 2007 and as early as 2006 had asset bubbles and the massive misallocation of capital in the U.S. property market as the number one global concern.” (source: Editor’s Note: Fighting Butterfly Effects with Starfish Resilience, Mar. 2, 2012)

So what are the ten global technological risks to monitor?  In more or less alphabetical order:

  •  chronic systems failure* (the technology “centre of gravity”)
  • cyber attacks**
  • the failure of intellectual property regimes
  • the mass dissemination of false information online
  • a massive incident of data fraud or theft
  • mineral resource supply vulnerability
  • the proliferation of space debris in satellite orbits
  • the unintended consequences of climate change mitigation, nanotechnology and new life sciences

* critical systems failure – highest impact, lower liklihood, but deemed technological centre of gravity because of its important influence and consequence

** cyber attacks – highest liklihood and high impact

Clearly these (and the other global risks identified by the World Economic Forum) canot be solved by a single business, industry, or even a single country.  But that does not mean individual businesses and industries should not be aware of these risks and considering potential impacts.  In fact, they clearly should!

Need research or writing assistance?  Perhaps I can help. 

~Nora K. Stoecker, NKS Info Services

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