Global Foresight 2123
"The Next 100 Years" book offers a guide for the coming decades of transformation through a civilizational "make it or break it" moment.
  • Who is this text for and why:
    Policymakers and business leaders searching for innovative strategies to construct long-term sustainable economic, governing, and social frameworks.

    Change leaders looking for novel breakthrough solutions to the global crisis.

    Researchers seeking to comprehend the dynamics of the ongoing polycrisis and the principles governing the next stage of societal evolution.

    All those interested in the underlying processes shaping the future of our civilization, and in hopeful scenarios that emerge.
  • What this text says:
    Civilizations often collapse when they surpass the critical limits of their existence. In the 21st century, the global human civilization finds itself perilously close to these limits, facing environmental, social, technological, and spiritual polycrisis.

    As a global society, we are approaching a critical moment which can be “make it or break it". The coming century will be decisive for the survival and thriving of humankind and the planet, and critical decisions that seed this future should be taken within this decade.

    We should not see the progress of technologies, including AI, as our salvation or doom. It is our values and goals that shape our future, not technology. The real challenge is to create conditions for collaboration and cocreation within human societies and with the biosphere and other planetary systems.

    We need to discover a new human dream that will guide us into collective futures beyond the polycrisis. The search for this dream must not solely remain the concern of the privileged few, but must engage the participation of all communities, regions, and movements.

    The roadmap of 22 “pivotal steps" serves as a navigational guide into thrivable future that synthesizes environmental, technological, economic, political, cultural, and spiritual strategies of humanity's “guided evolution". These strategies are essential not only to continue the “human experiment" on Earth, but also to evolve into a multi-planetary species.

    Key cultural transformations involve the transition to “planetizen" peace-based culture and cultivation of the worldview and ways of thinking that foster harmonious relations between humans and more than human living world.

    Transition into the next stage of societal evolution bears risks of conflicts between existing and emerging power players, including geopolitical tensions. The true "winner" in this situation will be the one capable of creating the most inclusive and empowering platform for cooperation, resulting in win-win outcomes for all macro- and micro-players involved. Candidates for “builders of bridges into the future" include nations with global leadership potential, cities at strategic crossroads, and "movements of movements" that integrate secular & spiritual communities, businesses, and NGOs.

    “Bridgebuilders" only create conditions for the transition, but the actual transformation of our civilization requires the engagement of every individual, regardless of age or social status.


  • What will you find in this text:
    Original framework of “four thresholds" that determine the safe & livable future scenarios for humankind.

    The NICE framework of key attributes of scenarios & solutions that can drive us into a new reality beyond the threshold of polycrisis.

    22 pragmatic and visionary macro-projects" of humanity across four dimensions (economy, governance, culture, and consciousness) that can guide us into the 22nd century and beyond.

    Recommendations to various stakeholder types regarding their possible action strategies to navigate towards thrivable futures.


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WHY DO WE NEED THE DREAM
FOR THE NEXT 100 YEARS
In ancient times, the prevailing belief was that knowledge of the future was reserved for the all-knowing deities who disclosed their secrets to kings, priests, and the righteous ones. The 20th century began to democratize the future and empowered multitudes to become inventors, artists, entrepreneurs, and activists. Yet inspiring utopian visions remained unrealized, and a heavenly realm on Earth was never constructed, often leading to disillusionment. In the early 2020s, the future is more fearsome than appealing, associated with threats of rogue technologies, environmental crises, and humanity's decline. To thrive, our species needs to discover its new dream, overcoming outdated narratives and rekindling the ability to look beyond and find inspiration. This question will be decided within the next few decades, and it will determine our fate.

Visions of the future are often shaped by the rapid technological advancements like AI, quantum computers, and synthetic biology. Throughout the last 100 years, humanity has become almost entirely dependent on technologies, stepping into a kind of honeytrap. Unfortunately, technological progress is unpredictable and comes with its own set of challenges. It doesn't always develop as expected, and many technologies produce a whole range of new problems and unintended consequences – classical examples of the 20th century are plastics, pesticides, and radioactive materials. Technologies become increasingly hostile to living matter. It is no coincidence that the growth of the technosphere occurs in parallel to the aggravation of environmental threats and the biospheric decline.
We need to rethink our relationship - technology should be a tool, not a goal, of our civilizational work. We should not be blindfolded by the progress of technologies to pose as our salvation or doom – whether generative AI, or robotics and autonomous vehicles, or nano—and biotech, or any other type of technology that becomes the “hype of the year”. It is our values and goals that shape our future, not technology. We need to bring our technological progress into alignment with the more fundamental truth of our collective existence.

Despite growing concerns of technological advancements, technologies continue to drive transformations of the global society. Since the mid-20th century, we are living into the "Great Acceleration" of exponentially growing human capacity, wealth, and technological complexity. This dynamic puts our species into the dominant position on the planet. However, modern society's foundation is precarious, relying on exploitation of planetary resources, ecosystems, and indigenous cultures.
The concept of rapid acceleration of change, as proposed by Alvin Toffler in "Future Shock," continues to shape our world, leading to a formidable poly-crisis, the confluence of challenges that demand a fundamental transformation of our civilization. While we continue to prioritize personal, organizational, and national success, the real challenge is to create conditions for collaboration within human societies and with biosphere and other planetary systems.

The “Great Acceleration” has dire consequences for the Earth’s health dimensions, including biosphere stability and climate. Planetary boundaries mark limits to our ability to adapt to changes within the biosphere, land, atmosphere, and oceans. Aside from the pressing need to address climate challenges, restoration of biosphere integrity and normalization of biogeochemical flows are also necessary. Humanity's connection with Earth is vital, and aligning economy, culture, and governance with this truth is crucial.

Historically, civilizations collapse due to either internal breakdown from exceeding “complexity thresholds”, or to disregarding their environment's limits. Humanity currently faces both of these dynamics, overshooting planetary boundaries and struggling to steer its own growing complexity. Unlike humanity’s past history where isolated civilizations could “keep the flame” of the species’ evolution, our contemporary interconnected world lacks a backup, a “Civilization B”, making collapse's cost immense. As a global society, we face a crucial choice: adapt to complexity or face eradication. This presents an opportunity for evolution if we steer our collective action towards alignment with Earth's systems.

The shape of this sustainable future in the next 100 years, including the future role of technologies, is defined by several key questions:
  • How are our daily lives structured, and how is our economy organized, including the systems for producing, distributing, and consuming goods?
  • How do we make decisions, and how are our governance systems (including fundamental social institutions) organized?
  • What values do we uphold, and what cultural norms do we perpetuate?
  • How is our worldview shaped, and what are the key attributes of our consciousness, including the organization of our thinking and language?


Society cannot be engineered like a rocket or skyscraper. Instead of designing static and ultimately unrealistic utopias, we should embrace a collaborative process of "discovering the future" through prototyping and experimentation. This is a Protopian approach that focuses on an achievable and evolving vision of the future while recognizing the complexity of the world, recognizing interconnectedness, and encouraging diverse voices and openness for growth and collaboration. Protopia allows for multiple co-existing futures that align and integrate with each other.

It is crucial to recognize that every person on Earth, whether an affluent Manhattanite or a resident of Mumbai slums, is a co-creator of our collective future, not a mere hostage or victim of changes unfolding before our eyes. The threats we face are all a result of our civilization's previous path – but the future is ours to make. By embarking on a journey of discovering a new human dream, and making it in the Protopian way, we give ourselves a chance of moving beyond the polycrisis. By actively engaging in future discovery, by prototyping and practicing ways of being and acting that manifest a future reality, the future is “seeded” in the present.

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MAPPING THE CRITICAL BOUNDARIES
The current decade is marked by escalating crises disrupting every aspect of human society and raising doubts about the future well-being of mankind. To understand our pathway into the future, we need to recognize the critical constraints of our collective existence. While humanity might occasionally transgress some of these boundaries, prolonged disregard of these limits ushers in catastrophic outcomes, from habitat degradation and technosphere instability to social upheaval and collective irrationality.

We can categorize these thresholds into four categories:
  • The first and the most essential threshold is set by the planetary boundaries, sustaining the complex planetary systems including our planet's environment, biosphere, and climate.
  • The second threshold is set by social foundation, defined by the need to satisfy basic needs (food, water, shelter, healthcare, peace etc.) that are critical for human survival.
  • The third threshold is the technological ceiling, defined by the risks of “dark” scenarios with misused or out of control tech that can massively damage our society and harm the biosphere.
  • The fourth threshold is the cognitive & spiritual foundation, defined by the risks to humanity's collective mental health & socio-cultural alignment that can critically disrupt our ability to communicate and cooperate with each other.
By navigating beyond the poly-crisis – which can be described as a situation in which multiple critical boundaries are trespassed – we can find our pathway into the future. The pursuit of a world that, in the words of Buckminster Fuller, “works for everyone” must involve the participation of all communities and regions, requiring a broad public dialogue involving all stakeholders.

1. Crisis of non-renewability

Depletion of finite resources essential for human survival and development and accumulation of pollutants in the land, air, and water.

2. Climate crisis

Urgent and severe socio-economic impacts of climate change, including rising temperatures, sea-level rise, extreme weather events, and ecological disruptions.

3. Biosphere collapse

Threat of widespread ecological degradation and loss of biodiversity due to human activities, disrupting critical ecosystems and the potential collapse of the delicate balance that supports life on Earth.
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FROM EVOLUTIONARY CRISIS TO EVOLUTIONARY TRANSITION
The convergence of global risks, including environmental, biomedical, economic, and geopolitical challenges, is leading to a poly-crisis that threatens the survival of our entire species by the mid-century, a “tsunami” of rising existential risks. Despite the expectation of many that future generations will live well into the 22nd century, the continuation of current models of extraction, exploitation, and competition puts humanity on the brink of extinction. While some may disregard these risks or have personal escape plans, both of those strategies have miniscule chances of success. The unprecedented combination of threats demands urgent attention and action.

Our collective hope lies in the fact that humanity is nowadays in a unique position to confront these threats, being able to employ the range of global institutions, decentralized decision-making structures, and many advanced technologies, including the unprecedented power of Internet and Artificial Intelligence to foster real-time understanding and communication. However, there is a barrier preventing us from fully embracing these solutions, which appears currently beyond our grasp as a global society.

Complexity theory explains these barriers well, by considering how evolving systems confront limitations in their current mode of existence leading to instability and potential collapse. In some cases, the system can undergo a "complexity leap" to a new, more stable level with new qualities and structures. For example, the Great Oxidation Event two billion years ago led to the extinction of anaerobic life on Earth and, at the same time, the emergence of multicellular life and complex ecosystems as a new evolutionary attractor.

Throughout its history, humanity has experienced similar “complexity leaps” resulting in novel models of existence and social organization, such as during the Neolithic Revolution and the Industrial Revolution. These shifts expanded opportunities of individuals and societies, increased the diversity of human cultures and the intricacy of technological systems. They also frequently brought losses to personal freedoms, traditions, and practices, now mostly forgotten apart from small traces in indigenous mythologies.

The Age of Great Acceleration marks a new bifurcation zone for humanity, where the crises of the human population, biosphere, and planetary systems are converging. The Sixth Mass Extinction, caused by the dynamics of human civilization and the technosphere, prompts a search for a new evolutionary attractor for all life on Earth. The outcome remains uncertain - whether the Planet and Life will view humanity and its technologies as parasites, or integrate them as a new driving force (as it did with “toxic” oxygen in the past). Humanity can either passively observe or actively support the shift to a new level of complexity for both itself and the planet.

As we anticipate a crucial transition, we are approaching a critical “make it or break it” moment. Many forces pull the humanity into the downshift, including geopolitical rivalries, manipulative technologies, and social upheavals. The evolutionary leap, the upshift, is a possibility – but it is not guaranteed.
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NICE FRAMEWORK
In the quest for transformation, technology is viewed as a reflection of culture and ways of existence - so, we should not simply look for new technological solutions to address the poly-crisis, but to consider the shape of future economy, governance, culture, and consciousness.

From the perspective of evolutionary transition, we need to understand the qualities of an evolutionary attractor within the space of long-term viable scenarios. In other words, how should our civilization be organized so that existing challenges no longer threaten us? What is the way of being on the "other side", "beyond the threshold" of the poly-crisis we are facing?

While many scenarios can match the "beyond the threshold" vision, they all have distinct attributes that can be categorized into the following four groups - named the NICE framework:

Nature-aligned (nature-based, regenerative): scenarios & solutions geared towards restoring and sustaining diverse ecosystems, fostering the well-being of individuals, communities, and the planet.

Intelligent: scenarios & solutions incorporating intelligent technological components that can autonomously make decisions, learn, and evolve (AI & IoT, but also components based on nature-based technologies such as wetware).

Complex (non-linear, network): scenarios & solutions rooted in the principles of non-linear and network systems, utilizing closed cycles and feedback mechanisms, allowing for self-regulation and adaptability.

Empowering (or humanizing): scenarios & solutions embodying a holistic approach that emphasizes the nurturing of human qualities, facilitates collaboration, co-creation, solidarity, and empathy, ultimately fostering a sense of unity and mutual support.

This framework highlights the diverse and interconnected nature of the processes that can contribute to the evolution of a new reality beyond the threshold of poly-crisis.


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22 STEPS TO 22nd CENTURY
In this book, 22 steps are outlined for the transition across short-term, mid-term, and long-term horizons. These strategies guide humanity towards the NICE reality and into the thrivable futures of the 22nd century.
The detailed description of 22 “steps into the 22nd century” follows, with projected time frame indications for each step across three horizons – near future (until 2035), mid-term future (before 2060s), and long-term future (from 2060s into 2100s).
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GUIDING THE EVOLUTIONARY TRANSITION
Multiple transitions projects have already been initiated on the global scale in the effort to snap beyond mounting challenges and avert future cataclysms. Some, like energy transition and decarbonization, are already part of the regular political and business agenda. Others, like regenerative economy, planetizenship, and universal well-being culture are gaining recognition. These initiatives nurture various components of an emerging planetary socio-economic system that can replace the non-sustainable industrial model. The "22 Steps into the 22nd Century" guide helps to navigate this transition, emphasizing interconnectedness between technological, economic, and cultural shifts that need to occur. The timeline for the new socio-economic paradigm to firmly establish itself within society is expected to be a minimum of 25-30 years, requiring substantial reorganization of legal frameworks, educational institutions, industrial & urban infrastructure, and other components that keep the existing system in place.

However, benefits of the transition are not distributed equally, and it may bring advantages to some while causing setbacks for others. History shows that similar major transitions in the past often involved tensions and upheavals. This transition will also likely trigger conflicts between proponents of the old and new paradigms, both within societies and among nations, due to resistance to adopting new worldviews and opposition from elites who stand to lose their status. Conflicts will intensify in the coming decades, peaking around the mid-21st century when environmental and technological risks are projected to be the highest. This period presents a critical juncture where the civilization has the opportunity either to break down – or to break free from historical cultural patterns and transit towards a new paradigm of a peace-based planetary civilization.

Historically, societies have used wars as a means to progress and rejuvenate their culture, but the prospect of a global conflict in the 21st century bears existential risks due to the unprecedented lethality of modern weaponry - therefore, the forthcoming generation must resolve tensions through peaceful means. If society successfully navigates beyond the "break it" phase of the first half of the 21st century, the new socio-economic system is projected to dominate the world by 2070-2080s. The ongoing transition compels global powerhouses to adopt a new approach focused on cooperation and co-creation rather than confrontation and dominance.

Amidst the fragility of global civilization, the competition for the future is intensifying with new participants entering the fray. However, the winning position in this contest is not gained through subduing competitors, but by offering a compelling new dream for humanity and fostering conditions to make it a reality through cooperative endeavors. The true "winner" is the one that creates the most inclusive and empowering platform for collaboration, leading to mutually beneficial “win-win” outcomes for all players involved and guiding us towards thriving futures in the turbulent 21st century. What humanity desperately needs are bridges into the futures, not arenas for bullfights.

"Builders of bridges to the future" are characterized by their ability to
  • foster global collaboration, while upholding the complexity of modern technological civilization;
  • possess & implement long-term vision, orchestrating processes and conducting projects over extended timeframes;
  • engender trust, by taking responsibility for implementing their vision, providing it with resource support, and demonstrating dedication to their collaboration platform;
  • navigate future, recognizing and addressing humanity’s challenges while offering feasible pathways for the future.
Entities that match the profile of "builders of bridges to the future" include
  • Nations with macroregional and global leadership potential such as the United States, China, the European Union, India, and emerging Islamic and Asia-Pacific nations;
  • Cities and territories at strategic crossroads such as Singapore, Dubai, San Francisco, Shanghai, Paris, Amsterdam, and “future-proof" Scandinavian capitals;
  • "Movements of movements" that integrate real-life and online communities, businesses, non-profit organizations, and religious orders, such as the Catholic Church currently stepping up as one of the leaders of environmental movement.
The role of a bridge builder holds long-term benefits, but it is also vulnerable and requires significant resource allocation. Instead of seeing bridge building as a competition for leadership, it could be more reasonable to approach it as an effort to establish a new global consensus in the interests of all, including marginalized communities. This approach assumes that various "builders" take complementary roles to collectively achieve shared humanity objectives.

However, we need to recognize that “bridge builders" only enable the transition of humanity. A bridge still needs to be walked, and it is going to be walked by us. And, as the saying goes, this is a bridge that can only be crossed in unity. The actual transformation of our civilization requires the engagement of every individual, regardless of age or social status. Each person has the capacity and responsibility to become a bridgeway to the future by altering their behavior and actively seeking pathways to create a harmonious and sustainable society. There are many things each of us can do, from becoming aware and connecting with like-minded peers to pioneering our own gamechanging projects.
The "new human dream" is already here, awakening through myriad conversations, artistic expressions, and political debates. It will manifest itself only if we combine efforts of our minds, hearts, and bodies to materialize this vision. The future transforms into the present when we live it and care about it.
VII
WHAT YOU CAN DO AS A LEADER
Walking into Thrivable Futures
YOUR ROLE
WHAT YOU CAN DO
BUSINESS LEADERS, TECHNOLOGICAL ENTREPRENEURS, AND INVESTORS
  • Prioritize universal wellbeing of your team, your clients, and environment
  • (Re)design your products and processes to align with NICE framework – especially digital ones!
  • Experiment with new forms of governance that employ collective (hybrid) intelligence & wisdom, and decentralize leadership Invest in products & solutions within emerging economic sectors that promote human- and planet-centricity, and address challenges of the polycrisis
  • Create inter-organizational networks and associations to support the rise of new economic sectors that conform to NICE framework
  • Explore how your business can be part of global preventive security systems
POLITICAL LEADERS
  • Promote universal being approaches in public decision making and reporting
  • Design and promote frameworks (including financial incentives) that enable human- and planet-centric economy
  • Fight to reduce security budgets and redirect funds to "preventive security" measures, cultivation of peace-based culture, and future cocreation
  • Preserve, promote, and expand "deep democracy" models
  • Experiment with and promote empathy-based approaches to governance
  • Establish and promote legal rights of non-human being
RESEARCHERS AND EDUCATORS
    • Help students master skills of the future
    • Experiment with new models of learning that convey values of thrivable society
    • Facilitate projects that prototype various technological, cultural, and environmental aspects of the future
    • Conduct action research around various aspects of emerging future
    • Create tools that help accelerate transition into desirable futures
    • Cultivate collective (hybrid) wisdom formats in your own work, design methods for amplifying wisdom of communities
    • Increase public awareness about emerging future scenarios
    CIVIC AND RELIGIOUS ACTIVISTS
    • Activate "future maker" movements
    • Develop and spread collaborative formats that conform to NICE framework
    • Create formats to promote trust and mutual understanding
    • Explore connections between ancient & emerging wisdom traditions, and spread practices that can increase self-awareness and love towards all being
    PUBLIC & CIVIC DIPLOMATS
    • Promote dialogue between various cultures and human communities
    • Facilitate intercultural collaboration of youth
    • Help diasporas discover their role in "future making"
    • Become the ambassador of the "culture of peace"
    • Advocate, promote and advance the planetizen perspective & culture
    • Champion rights of humans & non-human being
    CREATORS, ARTISTS & MEDIA
    • Explore and promote the new human dream by artistic & creative means
    • Use science & art collaborations to prototype possible futures
    • Use art as a way to teach "skills of the future"
    • Explore new languages for the emerging culture of the 22nd century
    • Tell inspiring stories about people that bring future into being here and now
    EVERYONE
    • Make yourself aware about trends that shape our collective futures
    • Engage in forums where future of humanity and the planet is explored
    • Connect with possible role models and mentors in engaging with futures
    • Start mastering "skills of the future"
    • Join volunteer groups, movements or civic initiatives of future cocreation
    • Launch your own project and become a leade