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100 Years: A Test for Endurance - Мир через 100 лет: сборник статей

Every centennial is an important milestone in any field. With the passing of 100 years, it is customary to discuss existing or changing trends, the stability of established relations and new development horizons. This is particularly true when applied to states, regions, communities, sectors of economy and new technologies. In this collection, experts offer their take on the next 100 years, and it is possible to clearly distinguish several global trends.

First, the Earth’s population will increase to 10 billion people. This estimate is based on the continuing economic growth of East Asian states and the expected strengthening of African countries; new medical technologies will also have a significant positive impact. The increase in population will inevitably lead to growing competition for resources. Access to water resources, especially fresh water, will become a vital struggle of great importance. Water consumption is predicted to grow by 70% compared to the early XXI century.

Second, energy projects will develop. When determining the level of development of the human civilization, researchers pay ever greater attention to the amount of energy consumed. Despite the growing significance that information plays in the life of the society, and the advances in material technologies, energy will still play the key role in the human development. New technological solutions are often directly linked to the use, even if only short-term, of significant amounts of energy. It can stimulate the development of energy projects connected with outer space and further research in hydrogen energy and controlled nuclear fusion.

Third, state borders will change. The political map of the world will fl uctuate significantly during the entire century. Experts have predicted not only the disintegration of some states, but also the strengthening of integration between existing countries. We may even see some countries merging. Fragmentation will be relevant for Europe and Southeast Asia. Strengthening integration should be expected in the Americas. Countries could merge in Northeast Asia. Along with the conventional picture of interstate relations, the activity of quasi-states and self-governed territories will be more visible and significant. The strengthening of state mechanisms and the striving to establish local rules will take place simultaneously in various parts of the world.

Fourth, changing state boundaries and the fluctuating number of states will prompt the evolution of requirements for state governance. The task of persuading citizens, of interacting with them, will come forward, pushing back the policy of merely informing society about decisions taken. With information spreading rapidly and being widely accessible, this aspect is greatly visible even today. This requirement involves the need to develop competences among government officials that allow them to make unconventional decisions on a case by case basis. To increase manageability, this approach will demand a wide range of behavioural codes to be formulated, and the role of ethical motivation in society will increase as well.

Fifth, it is not only ideas that will be employed to get results in the governance of state and society; new technologies aimed at increasing the efficiency of the global governance of society will play an important role as well. Further efforts will be applied to form a network of interaction

among civil societies at the global level. The development of space technology will allow the movements of citizens to be controlled with greater efficiency. Systemic achievements within these trends will result in a clearer idea of the world as a global village. There will be greater possibility for managing social processes remotely. At the same time, the state as a social institution will find itself in a more confined position, constrained both by the strengthening supranational institutions, as well as by civic associations and individuals.

Finally, particular attention should be paid to the inevitable clashes between new trends and traditional approaches to the state and society governance. In the future, this confrontation will lead to a growing number of weak states and conflicts within and between states. It will also have a negative impact on the development of global management mechanisms.

All these trends have huge potential and can drastically change life on Earth over the next 100 years. However, our everyday routine can raise questions of whether there is any need for plans, projects and inventions that are intended to last for centuries. Is it worth trying to look so far into the future when the present is so uncertain and changes so rapidly? The answer can be found in the time-tested Russian saying: Those who do not think about their future have no future. Hence the main conclusion: only those projects that are aimed towards the future can cross centennial marks. And nothing can be aimed towards the future without being simultaneously oriented toward shaping traditions and towards accountability to future generations.

For people living today, plans for a faraway future are always incomprehensible and even scary. These are always risky investments. Yet the results and feedback from work aimed towards the future are not measured in material returns only. This work challenges the present and makes a real contribution to creating future social ties. The value system of both individuals and human communities is of great importance for maintaining the stability of those ties. The increasing improvement of and interdependence among technologies will doubtlessly contribute to developing human individuality and the principles of social group structuring. It appears, though, that one thing will remain unchanged: sincerity among human beings in their every manifestation. The dividing line between the virtual and the real worlds will remain, even though there is a drive to blur it into invisibility. Yet this will make the question of development goals for the next 100 years even more relevant.

This collection presents a vision of the world over the next 100 years, based on the realities of the second decade of the XXI century. This is our reply today to the questions about the possibilities of the future development. Time will test the validity of all the forecasts. Several assessments will have to be discarded, and those will primarily be assessments that are based on linear extrapolation of current processes. At the same time, we can expect spontaneous changes, some utterly impossible events that are virtually impossible to predict. Our predecessors at the turn of the XX century offered their visions of the world i n 100 years, that is, of our world at the turn of the XXI century. Today, some of their conclusions look naïve, and some are still viewed as strikingly progressive. This is inevitable given the incomplete knowledge of new inventions, emerging processes and their consequences.

The articles in this collection are not without their shortcomings in terms of predicting the future. Yet the collection aims not so much to provide as clear a picture of the future as possible, but to shape in the reader’s mind questions about – and an attitude towards– the present that could be conducive to the emergence of the desired future. What should remain unchangeable is the motivation to investigate new phenomena and trends in order to enable us to see the patterns of nonlinear processes.

Timur Makhmutov

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