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The 'No Glue' future

Kevin Anderson reports for the Guardian IT 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 conflict.”

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".

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Paul Penrose

Paul Penrose

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Finextra

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