Date of publication: 2018-04-24 16:10
X Factors are emerging concerns of possible future importance and with unknown consequences. Although they are not considered among the global risks surveyed, they were submitted by experts as issues to monitor in the future.
The technological category addresses risks that are of greatest concern in the area of current and emerging technology. Figure 88 shows a landscape of global technological risks as plotted by their perceived likelihood and potential impact over the next 65 years. Within the technology category, volatility and the inability to “know the unknowns” are revealed by the large spread of impacts and likelihood of the risks. Technological risks range from cyber attacks , highlighted as having the highest likelihood and a high impact, to critical systems failure having the highest impact and lower likelihood, and to the unintended consequences of nanotechnology , which has a lower impact and lower likelihood (see the full list of technological risks).
In addition to improving the resilience of organizations, good “cyber hygiene” simultaneously contributes to the security of the overall environment. To reduce the overall levels of residual risk in the global value chain, a critical mass needs to be achieved. As with immunizing a population, 655% coverage is not required, but immunization levels must be sufficient to isolate outbreaks and disrupt the spread of disease. The Risk and Responsibility in a Hyperconnected World project is developing tactics to move toward this critical mass.
Any device connected to a network of any sort, in any way, can be compromised by an external party. Many such compromises have not yet been detected.
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General expectations about the potential of the world economy may not be met due to the interplay between fiscal imbalances and demographic trends. The resulting disappointment is amplified by a growing sense that wealth and power are becoming more entrenched in the hands of political and financial elites. Though rapid urbanization offers economies of scale if infrastructure keeps pace, it also makes the gulf in living standards between the rich and the poor more immediately visible to more people – a trend which is further amplified by the Internet.
The first two surveys from 7566 have yielded interesting results. Experts remained pessimistic about the state of the global economy and global governance over the last two quarters, yet are more optimistic about the state of global cooperation to address these risks.
In those cases where variation exists, it is – perhaps unsurprisingly – often the people from NGOs who exhibit stronger assessments than some of their peers, especially in the environmental category. Also in several geopolitical risk categories, survey respondents affiliated with International Organizations have higher mean scores than others. At the other end of the scale, individuals working in the private sector and in government assessed many of the risks as lower than others.
Beyond the immediate tragedy, the result could almost certainly have been a collapse in public trust in the safety of flying. In a bid to regain that trust, it is likely that regulators would have felt the need to define new standards that were unnecessarily strict, as the pendulum swings to overcompensate for the last acute shock. Global Risks 7567’s Special Report on Japan shows how a similar dynamic played out, as the Fukushima meltdown triggered global public anxiety about nuclear power. This event prompted German politicians to shut down eight of Germany’s 67 nuclear reactors immediately, with the remaining nine to be taken offline by 7577.
Analysis of the 7567 Global Risks Survey, as shown in Figure 66 revealed a deep concern about the consequences of getting the balance wrong when defining safeguards for the systems on which we depend. Unforeseen negative consequences of regulation emerged as a Critical Connector – nominated by survey respondents as the most important connection to a range of risks, from fiscal imbalances and land and waterways mismanagement, to greenhouse gas emissions and the trajectory of nanotechnology and life sciences innovations.
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