Kevin Anderson reports for the
on an exercise organised by the
Economic and Social Research Council
to consider what sort of world the interplay and advances in nanotechnology, genomics, information technology and cognitive science might create. The policy wonks considered four possible visions of the future – two
positive and two negative.
The worst world envisioned was dubbed "No Glue", where the financial, political and social bonds of society are undone by a mass-market migration to online modes of interaction.
"We considered a rapid evolution of virtual worlds that completely outpaced the ability of governments and international institutions to cope. Financial markets moved quickly into these virtual worlds because they were a much more efficient way of doing
business than in the past. Virtual currencies became the medium of exchange. As nations declined and virtual worlds rose, offline social bonds frayed and people lost trust in each other. War and terrorism declined but the world was plunged into constant low-level
Disturbing, but I wouldn't start stocking up on tinned goods just yet. Anderson concedes that the negative scenarios were only developed because the positive visions of the future - in which advances in genetic engineering, nanotechnology and alternative
energy sources usher in a bright new tomorrow - were "not that interesting".