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27 March 2007

Conceptualizing future national security threats

One of the more interesting analytic tradecraft courses we recently observed featured prominently the use of what others apparently considered highly unusual examples of potential future national security threats and new target accounts. Granted, the majority of the class being either military / former military, or new entrants to the community; one can grant the idea of major post-globalization economic issues as being somewhat out of the typical range for these individuals – no matter how old hat they might be now for the Proteus and 5GW crowd. And certainly one offers kudos to the instructors for attempting to broaden the horizon of the discussion, particularly given the nature of the forum.

However, the ever forward looking Bruce Sterling has unearthed a fascinating video that better illustrates the point of that class’s instructors than any mere discussion or text could. This is a prime example of why good intelligence officers – even those that are not assigned to futures / predictive accounts – should always occasionally check into what the science fiction community is saying; and how those ideas are warped through the think tanks and academics into a persistence of vision. Or perhaps a consensual hallucination, depending on one’s perspective – but in this case, the there that is there is not so far of a reach; or as another famous writer once put it so well, the future is already here – just not evenly distributed.