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SEMINAR: Global Strategic Trends

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Global Change Institute

Seminar Room (275)

Saint Lucia, QLD 4067

Australia

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Global Strategic Trends is the UK Ministry of Defence’s long-term horizon scanning. Its aim is to look out to thirty years to provide a strategic context for those developing long-term capabilities, policies and strategies. Work on the sixth edition of Global Strategic Trends is maturing and we are now able to describe the key trends that we believe will have a major impact in the decades ahead. For example, the global population will continue to grow from around 7.6 billion today to around 9.8 billion by 2050. Approximately half of that growth is expected to occur in Africa. Whilst absolute poverty is likely to be virtually absent from Asia by 2050, it is expected to endure in Africa with between 400 million to 700 million likely to remain trapped in poverty. As populations grow and the cost of travel falls the number of international migrants looks set to increase.

Information technology is changing the way people interact, form their opinions and relate with each other, potentially allowing external actors to undermine the cohesion of a society or allow authoritarian states unprecedented opportunities for control and repression. Artificial intelligence is coming of age and the inexorable growth in computing power, connectivity and available data will mean that the artificial intelligence of the future will be orders of magnitude more capable than today’s. Many mid-skilled jobs are being automated, and whilst new jobs are emerging there are fewer of them and they are often less well paid than the jobs lost. Yet machines will become more capable, more efficient and cheaper. Last year China became the world’s leading purchaser of industrial robots underlining the shift of economic power away from Europe and America towards Asia.

By 2050 the effects of climate change are likely to be keenly felt, with virtually ice-free summers in the Arctic, rising sea levels and catastrophic droughts in many parts of the world. Renewable energy offers the prospect of abundant, cheap, clean energy but, despite its rapid adoption, it alone will not halt climate change in the coming decades.


ABOUT THE PRESENTER

Simon Cole joined the Civil Service in December 2000 in the Office of Government Commerce (an office of HM Treasury). In 2001 he joined the “Fast Stream” and transferred to the Ministry of Defence (MOD) in October. In 2006 he was promoted to Assistant Head and his first assignment was a 6-month tour as a POLAD (Political and Policy Advisor) based in Basra, Iraq. Upon his return he spent 2 years as the business manager for the battlefield and tactical communication and information systems project team, followed by a 2-year tour in the Falkland Islands as the Command Secretary (Commander British Force’s chief advisor on all civil matters). He took up his current post as Assistant Head (Futures) in the Development, Concept and Doctrine Centre in September 2011.

Prior to joining the Civil Service, Simon spent 5 years as an officer in the Royal Marines and 2 years working for Bloomberg in the City of London. In between jobs he spent time as a volunteer (as a deck-hand with the International Fund for Animal Welfare and with the United Nations World Food Programme in northern Kenya). Prior to starting work he studied Ecology at the University of Leeds.

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Global Change Institute

Seminar Room (275)

Saint Lucia, QLD 4067

Australia

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