In 2024, the backdrop of our civilization is composed of both astoundingly rapid innovation and growing crises: forces that enable, on average, and those that hinder, on average. In economic terms, they are forces that accelerate growth, or are deflationary, and those that decelerate growth, or are inflationary.

I see indications that the backdrop for the next several decades will involve both of these forces accelerating. Artificial intelligence is improving an increasingly fast pace, as pretty much anyone who has been paying attention the last couple of years will tell you. In the same category are blockchain and tokenization, which currently get less attention than AI. These, or crypto for short, are technologies that increase efficiency and therefore have an overall effect of accelerating growth, if harnessed well by any given community or economy.

At the same time, anyone who has been paying attention for the last couple decades can tell you that climate change poses increasingly severe risks to stability and prosperity. The climate has been stable for 12,000 years and it enabled us to build our civilization. For most of that time, technological advancement was gradual and relatively stable. Then, there was increasing technological advancement in the last couple hundred years, and even more so in the last couple of decades, and again more so in the last few years. At the same time, the last couple of decades has seen the destabilization of our climate accelerate. This acceleration of both instability in our climate and technological development will continue to increase for the foreseeable near future. The two forces will potentially collide, causing one to slow the other.

Another disruptive force that has been accelerating lately is military conflict. If this were to increase, it could be a force that has profound influence on the direction and rate of change for the others.

The value of foresight and preparation

All of these forces are strong. Strong tailwinds and strong headwinds; forces pushing toward prosperity and others pushing toward calamity. What will be the net result?

The result will depends on how these forces interact which depends on how we prepare for them and react to them.

For example climate instability will be much more disruptive if risks are not mitigated, and if our civilization does not adapt to the new conditions we will be experiencing.

Likewise, artificial intelligence will be much more disruptive if we do not prepare for the way it will change our civilization and economic interactions. For example, it is possible to ensure economic stability for people whose jobs are no longer relevant. Moreover, the incredible growth of artificial intelligence and other technologies offers an opportunity to fund climate resilience. If done well, this could foster a net relatively stable period.

Foresight gives us the opportunity to prepare but does not guarantee it. If we are to prepare well and increase the chances of prosperity, it will take courage, a willingness to try new things, and open minds to learn from unexpected places. I hope we do all that and more.