Foreseeing the future, whatever the name given to the endeavour, includes two major tasks.
The first one is, of course, the analysis, the process according to which the foresight, forecast, warning, or, more broadly, anticipation is obtained.
The second one is less obvious, or rather so evident that it may be overlooked. It is, however, no less vital than analysis. We need to deliver the output of the analytical process to those who need the foresight, the decision-makers or policy-makers. Ideally, the recipients must understand that output, because they will act on it. They need to integrate the new knowledge received in the decisions they will take.*
A huge challenge runs across these tasks: biases.
We must overcome the various natural and constructed biases – systematic mental errors – that limit human understanding. This article will present first the classical way we deal with biases: we consider them – quite rightly – as “enemies” and we devote much effort to mitigate them. Then, considering the specificity of the delivery stage, this article suggests that another strategy is necessary. We need to turn our usual strategy on its head and befriend biases. In that case, scenarios become a tool of choice for an enhanced delivery of our foresight to decision-makers […]
As we enter the “fourth industrial revolution”, the age of the digital transformation, a new emerging “AI-world”, and the “second quantum revolution”, national and international security must adapt. It must do so by anticipating this future world, avoiding surprises related to new – but also old – threats and dangers, while seizing the immense opportunities offered by what is no less than a change of paradigm (For the labels, respectively, Klaus Schwab, World Economic Forum, Helene Lavoix, The Future Artificial Intelligence – Powered World series, The Red (Team) Analysis Society, Jonathan P. Dowling, Gerard J. Milburn, “Quantum Technology: The Second Quantum Revolution”, 13 Jun 2002, arXiv:quant-ph/0206091v1).
The strategy related to cyber space and cyber security varies according to countries – and actors. It is handled in various ways by different types of agencies. After having briefly presented the main French, British and American state actors for cyber security, we shall focus on the French outlook and present the ANSSI, its goals and finally new outreach initiative, Agora 41.
This article focuses on the evolution of the balance of forces on the battlefield, notably for the Kurds, mainly in Syria but also in Iraq, one of the multiple layers of interactions that must be considered around the battle of Raqqa against the Islamic State. It is part of a series aiming at deciphering the various factors at work that will shape the outcome of the battle of Raqqa and thus impact the future. Such factors must be considered for scenarios as well as monitored for warning, notably by being included in corresponding mapping. The offensive against the Islamic State is progressing in the governorate of Raqqa. However, the outcome will not only be a more or less rapid victory against a …
Having organized the scenarios and detailed the general methodology for Scenario 2 in the last article, we shall now discuss the indicators for intervention and determine the likelihood of intervention occurring for the General National Congress (GNC), Council of Representatives (COR), and Government of National Accord (GNA), as well as see how the general case envisioned previously needs to be amended to reflect the reality on the ground as interventions have started. The initial narratives for the intervention scenarios can be found here (scenarios 2(1) to 2(9)). Note: we shall use the acronym COR for the Council of Representatives (nationalists), GNC for the General National Congress (Islamists), and GNA for the UN-backed Government of National Accord (unity government). Scenarios trees for …
The methodology of SF&W and risk management allows addressing these points. They should become rules and principles all analysts follow. Indeed, without paying attention to them, good analysis is impossible. The first article on The Black Swan can be accessed here.
(Notably pp.190-200) Considering uncertainty, but also our imperfect condition of human beings, the complexity of the social world, feedbacks, our more than insufficient knowledge and understanding, we must ….
Second, “black swans” refer to events that could absolutely not be predicted, as, for example for the Economist in ”The prediction games: Our winners and losers from last year’s edition”. Unfortunately, in this case, the label “black swans” excuses foresight errors. It tends to stop explanations and evaluation. Similarly, some will make statements along the line of “oh, but there is no point to do any foresight (or futures work or forecast), did you not read Taleb’s Black Swan? One cannot predict or foresee anything.”
This is a rather bold statement, especially when one seeks to anticipate uncertainty and to foresee and warn. We thus need to explore the unpredictability claim further.
Last weeks’ summary: In 2012 EVT, Everstate (the ideal-type corresponding to our very real countries created to foresee the future of governance and of the modern nation-state) knows a rising dissatisfaction of its population. Alarmed by the rising difficulties and widespread discontent, the governing authorities decide to do something when new elections start, which starts the second scenario, Panglossy. Dependent upon programmes created to face efficiently past challenges, prisoners of entrenched political groupings, the major parties campaign to come back to the order ante. Meanwhile, the polarisation and rise of a new opposition that took place during the election is temporarily frozen by the last hope thus created. The new Everstatan government decides that a return to economic efficiency through growth is the key to the crisis. …