How Might Technology Shape the International Environment to 2030?

By Matt Klinger

The U.S. National Intelligence Council's (NIC) Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds provides an interesting perspective on technology and the future.  According to the NIC, four technology "arenas" will shape global developments to 2030: (1) information technologies (like data solutions, smart cities, etc.); (2) automation and manufacturing technologies (like 3D printing and autonomous vehicles); (3) resource technologies (think genetically modified crops); and (4) health technologies (like human augmentation).  

The impact of technology is among five potential "game-changers" the NIC identifies that could lead to four widely varying scenarios for 2030.  These "potential worlds" largely vary based on the level of international cooperation to address global challenges and the power of non-state actors to confront (or contribute to) these issues.

Although the report doesn't make this point explicitly, the implication is clear: to avoid dangerous potential outcomes countries and individually need to develop appropriate legal regimes in concert to govern projected technological developments.