UPDATE 11 December 2012: The report is now out. The below commentary was posted 12 December 2011, one year prior to the final report. Global Trends 2030: Full Copy (166 Pages) Here, Review by Robert Steele — Report Lauds Fracking as Energy Solution, Disappoints on Multiple Fronts
Although Global Trends 2030 will not be released by the US secret intelligence community until after the November 2012 election, minutes of the 22-24 May 2011 meeting are available and provide a useful panorama of what the group is and is not considering.
A few observations:
2. They are so beholden to status quo science they actually consider the exploitation of shale gas and oil to be a serious positive–lacking a strategic analytic model, it does not occur to them to examine the true cost of such initiatives, e.g. water, environmental degradation, etcetera. They do not “get” the fragmentation of knowledge as being among the chief obstacles to creating strategic intelligence.
3. They are oblivious to the “eight tribes“* while creeping up on government-business collaboration (and clearly also oblivious to the fact that this is actually plutocracy and corporate capture, not collaboration).
* Academia, Civil Society [inclusive of labor and religion], Commerce, Government [all levels], Law Enforcement, Media, Military, Non-Governmental / Non-Profit.
4. They still think intelligence is about direct support to the President, and that an unclassified Global Trends 2030 will somehow help enhance their access. Not so. Absent a sustained comprehensive grasp of “Smart Nation” fundamentals across the leadership of the US intelligence community, nothing good will come of this.
5. They deceive themselves in thinking their small meetings are in any way diverse. They have no idea how to blend the sciences and the humanities, science and religion, north and south, young and old. This is still a club for old white guys from the “right” circles in old Europe and eastern USA. “CELAC? We don't need no stinking CELAC.” Newsflash: Nobody needs Global Trends 2030. It is simply not a serious piece of work.
6. They are still state-centric and thinking in broad regional patterns. “Hybrid” is not a term they understand, nor do they compute M4IS2.** They are delusional in thinking government is going to govern, and have no appreciation for how to achieve agility and resilience in the M4IS2 context…five billion poor people, each armed with a free cell phone and supported by national and regional call centers unleashing their minds one cell call at a time–and oh by the way, four times the annual aggregate income of the one billion rich.
** Multinational, Multiagency, Multidisciplinary, Multidomain Information-Sharing and Sense-Making
7. They still conceptualize “leadership” as being a top-down government-centric activity, and have not made the intellectual or ethical leap toward facilitative bottom-up leadership (Epoch B) that uses shared intelligence (decision-support) to harmonize behavior, policies, and spending across boundaries.
8. Their sharply limited grasp of demographics are–to quote one World Bank official–“frightening in their ignorance.” For this group, demography is a sterile concept–they are not getting the “whole earth” aspect of why people leave their centuries-old habitats, nor how we must work to keep them there, creating a prosperous world at peace.
9. In May this group dared to speak of the “Atlantic space” as the region most immune to the problems of multipolar politics. These old people (and their younger sychophants) dream of the “Atlantic century.” The nuances of China into Africa and Brazil into Africa do not appear.
10. There is a modest (implicitly arrogant) view that regional unions will be important (never mind that Latin America is now shutting out the US and Canada), deeply rooted in–I do not make this stuff up–the belief that “driven by proactive outreach and policies, Western values will have the greater potential to spread and lead to common views on issues like justice, inclusion, disease, nuclear weapons, and climate change.” It's at this point I wonder if any of them have a clue about the toxic costs of industrialized agriculture, predatory financial fraud, and the global class war led by America's elite, among other things.
11. This group is hopelessly ignorant of the fundamentals of bottom-up collective intelligence or the vast advances that have been made in open source and participatory everything. They confuse observers with inclusiveness, and the Gates Foundation with effectiveness.
12. They touch on the need for Whole of Government planning, programming, and budgeting, and recognize the utility of have long-term budgets. This may well be the most important observation in the entire report, but it is not one they have the gravitas to pursue.
13. As I come to the end of these minutes that are as good as they can be, I have six thoughts:
a. Out of date–twenty years after PowerShift (Alvin Toffler not Jessica Matthews) these people still think that a key observation is that we are moving toward a knowledge economy and away from a material economy.
b. Incoherent. $80 billion a year and this is the best we can do? It is explicitly clear that the US intelligence community is not investing in such a way as to harness the distributed intelligence of the Whole Earth.
c. Pedestrian [page 9 – no doubt an excellent account of what is being said – privatization of foreign policy catches my attention, and I wonder how long these people are going to be oblivious of the clear and present danger of working for a government that lacks both intelligence and integrity].
d. Techno-philes. There are no philosophers in this group. They serve the corporate vapor-ware mind-set.
e. Weak on web and research methods. As one of the 1986 handfu of pioneers, along with Diane Webb and Andy Shepard, of Worth a Look: 1989 All-Source Fusion Analytic Workstation–The Four Requirements Documents, what Howard Rheingold wrote about in his book Tools for Thought: The History and Future of Mind-Expanding Technology, I find their fascination with a single University of Denver “model” to be breathtakingly ignorant. Evidently they never heard of Banks & Textor's A Cross-Polity Survey or have any idea that there are deep broad models outside their narrow little world. This reminds me of the Vice-Chairman of the National Intelligence Council in the 1990's who had never heard of citation analysis–evidently Harvard and RAND don't do that kind of basic research.
f. Lost. The “brainstorming” at the end is a bit sad. We are obviously dealing with an entire new generation of clones of past generations, but without the memory.