In his keynote address, Robert Merton chooses not to focus on the financial crisis. It is clear to him there were “fools and knaves,” as well as “many structural elements that would have happened even if people were well behaved and well informed” -- risks are simply “embedded in our systems.” Instead, Merton explores how financial engineering is essential in preparing for the inevitable next crisis, and in solving critical challenges. “The world has changed; we can’t go back. Let’s talk about what we should do going forward.” To illustrate society’s need for financial innovation, Merton uses “a live case study:” the vast problem of retirement funding. In the past decade, stock market declines and falling interest rates have hit mainstream employer pension...
Oil Production will peak within ten to thirty years, requiring a shift to complete new energy methods.
The limits to traditional representative democracy are appearing because of the increasingly complexity of society, the overwhelming amount of information of real time media, and need for big money to be reelected.
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The increasing symptoms of global warming are becoming obvious in many different ways.
Unknown viruses and resistant bacteria are emerging that are untouched by existing medicines.
Conflict between the trends of aging in the developed world and the increasing numbers of youth in the developing world creates an economic and social time bomb.
There is an ongoing severe reduction in biodiversity throughout the world.
We are approaching a moment of "technological singularity"when runaway advances outstrip human comprehension and all our knowledge and experience becomes useless as a guidepost to the future.
The future vitality and sustainability of the economy and society will be dependent on the ability of leadership to develop cognitive complexity and continuous innovation in the capacities of the citizens.
There will be an increasing clash of civilizations and rise of terrorism.
There are three economies in churn at the same time:
a) Last stages of the Industrial Economy
b) Twenty year transition stage called the Creative Knowledge Economy.
c) The early stages of a Web/Networked Economy
National borders increasingly will be seamless.
Artificial intelligence is emerging which, when combined with biotechnology and nanotechnology, may very well transform the concept of what it means to be human.
Scenario thinking is a tool for motivating people to challenge the status quo, or get better at doing so, by asking "What if?" Asking "What if?" in a disciplined way allows you to rehearse the possibilities of tomorrow.