Global Risk Factors and Music in Australia

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The Scenario Model


The approach to understanding the future of music in Australia is described in general terms in How to Explore the Cultural Future, the second special article about our 2014-15 major project.[1] Number five in the series of special articles deals with the intellectual roots of modern scenario planning, and a parallel approach we discovered elsewhere: Scenarios, Virtual History, and Chaos.


To build scenarios that depict possible futures ranging from “bad” to “best” requires context — lots of it. The music sector is complex and highly dependent on future environments in Australia and abroad which cannot be examined in isolation. Remarkably, we have been unable to find published scenarios which place the arts or any individual artform in the context of alternative global settings.[2] This venture appears to be a first.

Future scenarios 10 and 20 years ahead must start globally for most activities but especially if they are as internationally exposed as music. The digital revolution, inequality between and within nations, technology, climate change and other factors are bound to have a huge impact on Australia — our economy, sustainability and cultural policy, and hence on musical activity. We are part of the global community for better or worse.

The upper part of the scenario model lists global factors as primary, influencing music both directly and through their impact on Australia generally. Uncertainty is what scenarios are all about — we cannot forecast with any confidence at all, not even when we use good old-fashioned sensitivity analysis. But some factors come together, and some are more certain than others. A good scenario synthesises a multitude of underlying driving forces brings into one or two critical uncertainties — factors combine in various ways which then become the ultimate uncertainties. To identify these is a real challenge in scenario planning.

The flow chart to the right shows that the critical uncertainties result from global influences both directly and indirectly through their impact on the Australian economy, culture and environment. Other influences arise within Australia. Finally, the music sector itself generates influences shown by a dotted arrow on the flow chart. The interrelationships are ubiquitous.

The next step is the actual scenario building. We are developing three or four scenario stories, ranging across the spectrum of plausible possibilities from “best cases” to “worst cases”. Since conventional forecasting doesn’t work over a long period, it follows that each version to be at all plausible must be equally likely to eventuate — though once the scenario stories have been written, we can mitigate the outcomes that would eventuate if no action was to be taken.[3]

Further guidance for the scenarios will come from the wealth of recognised issues already identified in the Knowledge Base, and from the insightful responses to our scenario-planning survey we have received since launching the survey in June. We must also recognise the possibility of what may be called possible counter-intuitive implications or findings. A “bad-case” scenario may have some positive impact on the music sector — a tricky feature of scenario work that must be recognised.

Finally, scenarios are “the art of strategic conversation”. The initial scenario stories can only be presented in draft form. The feedback process shown by the yellow box at the bottom left-hand end of the model chart down to the final scenarios is crucial if leaders in the music sector are going to accept (own) these scenarios in their advocacy for the best possible future for music in Australia.

The project is now proceeding along this complex path.


Alt=Global factors

The red block to the upper left of the scenario model envisages seven global change factors which we have identified as possible influences on the future music sector. The influences are listed alphabetically in the red box to the right to show that no single factor is necessarily stronger than any other item on the list. Each of them will have a major influence on the future global society, but the extent and direction of this influence will depend on a wealth of societal, technological, ecological, economic and political factors. Furthermore, the seven sources of global influence are correlated to some extent, so a “bad” future in one will quite possibly be reinforced by “bad” futures in others, and similarly for relatively benign futures. This is captured in the model by the arrow going directly from “global change” to the yellow box of “critical interrelations and uncertainties”.

Alt=Australian futures

The green box in the upper right of the model represents four identified groups of general influences within Australia: the economy, cultural policy, net migration, and sustainability.[4] Though derived from the global situation, these items have specific Australian attributes and therefore add further uncertainties to the top yellow box on the chart, and hence to the future of the music sector.

Alt=Music sector inputs

The blue box, finally, shows the direct inputs from the music sector itself (whether influencing the analysis of critical interrelationships and uncertainties as suggested by the dotted arrow in the model chart, or as direct inputs into the writing of draft scenarios):

  1. The Music in Australia Knowledge Base itself
  2. The comments we received in our scenario planning inquiry between June and September from leaders of the music sector
  3. Possible counterintuitive findings where music might be advantaged in an otherwise unfavourable scenario.

The list of sources listed below starts with those initiated in Australia, and then notes international sources. Each of the specific Australian scenarios has clear global connotations. Many of these sources cover more than one of the groups listed in the scenario model chart, with a possible bias towards general Australian scenarios and scenarios focusing on the future natural environment. The last item on the list of other sources, on global risks according to the World Economic Forum, is given special treatment in the final main section.

Australian scenarios

  • A classical scenario study for the Australian Business Foundation (since 2012 part of the NSW Business Chamber, its original patron) shows four scenarios for Australian business from 2000 to 2015. The scenarios were built in 1999 by GBN Australia, the local branch of international scenario group Global Business Network.[5]
  • The Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency (AWPA) in 2012 produced four scenarios, again in the classical mould, developed in support of the national workforce development strategy, to “help deal with the uncertainties involved in assessing future demands for skills."[6]
  • An offshoot of this program developed projections of a disparate group of arts and recreation occupations including heritage, creative and performing arts, sports and recreation, and gambling. It showed separate forecasts by Deloitte Access Economics of “the top 10 arts and recreation occupations” including music professionals (7,000 of 211,500 people employed in arts and recreation), for each of the four AWPA scenarios. We will study these despite being sceptical about singling out part of the music sector and treating it together with other occupations like sports coaches, gardeners and greenkeepers. We think it is the wrong use of scenario-based information. The music sector, and any other well-defined economic or cultural sector, should be analysed as a whole, not through statistical manipulation of data together with largely unrelated sectors like sports or gambling.
  • Negotiating our Future: Living Scenarios for Australia to 2050 was published in two volumes in 2012. It is a must-read study sponsored by the Australian Academy of Science which asks: What is our realistic vision for an ecologically, economically and socially sustainable Australia in 2050 and beyond? The focus is Australia’s social-ecological system. It is backed by a wide range of background papers in Volume 2.
  • Australia to 2050: Future Challenges was circulated by then Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan (Labor) and is the latest “intergenerational report” to date (“IGR 2010”). It concludes that an ageing population and climate change present significant long-term risks for the economy and the sustainability of government finances. Its broad agenda includes support of productivity growth through investment in infrastructure, skills and education, overhauling the health system, and introducing a carbon pollution reduction scheme which was subsequently discontinued by the Coalition government on 1 July 2014. The report does not use scenario analysis as such but contains a sensitivity analysis of some long-run economic and fiscal projections which hints at what approximations might have been made.
  • Australia’s Low Pollution Future: The Economics of Climate Change Mitigation (2008) contains a description of two scenarios examining the potential costs of the Labor Government’s then proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, and two further scenarios developed jointly with the Garnaut Climate Change Review. The last two scenarios assumed global action by all countries taking on emission reduction obligations from 2013, representing “an optimal post-2012 agreement”.
  • The most recent population projections by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS Cat 3222.0), dated 2013, include detailed estimates for 2033 and 2063, which are important because they show variations that will have impacts over the twenty years covered by the scenarios, especially concerning the dependency ratio (between people 65+ and children and the working-age population) and net migration. There may be other implications depending on people's perceptions about Australia's migration policy.

Other Scenarios

The main topics are climate change, international digital trade, digital development and its impact on particular industries and sectors, and global risks in general. There are also reports on intellectual property scenarios which need to be integrated into the assessments.

  • The United States International Trade Commission (USITC) in 2013 and 2014 published a massive investigation, Digital Trade in the U.S. and Global Economies, which is currently the standard reference in this still relatively unexplored topic (as discussed in the last section of Foreign Trade in Music Goods).
  • The Internet has been the subject of several investigations, including ‘What is the Future of the Internet?’ by American journalist Jonathan Strickland. The Pew Research Internet Project continues to publish new papers with titles like ‘Social Media and the ‘Spiral of Silence’’ and ‘AI, Robotics and the Future of Jobs’, on specific topics such as consumer choice, mobile phones, public libraries and – last but not least – the state and future of the music industry. American futurist Gerd Leonhard is also a good source on technological topics including the Internet itself, the future of education, public media, business in a networked society, and again music and the music industry. The Internet and related digital technology is well covered by futurists, especially in America.
  • Inequality is the subject of a major recent study by French economist Thomas Piketty, now available in English.[7] His main thesis is that inequality is at the heart of the political economy and has been for three centuries because returns on capital tend to exceed the rate of economic growth, so its share increases relative to incomes. The apparent reduction in inequality of wealth and income in the decades following World War II was an exception rather than the rule; since the late 1970s inequality has proliferated. Inequality is an issue that cannot be ignored in our scenarios, whether dealing with it within individual countries or between countries.
  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published its fifth assessment report in 2014. The issue of climate change has not abated. The IPCC has abandoned its use of classical-type scenarios used in its previous assessment in 2007. Instead, it has defined a series of “representative concentration pathways” (RCPs) based on limiting atmospheric greenhouse gases to a certain level by the year 2100. This still makes the IPCC scenarios very useful because each can be plugged into a set of compatible general scenarios. Our main IPCC sources are the reports by Working Groups 1 and 3.
  • Better Growth, Better Climate: The New Climate Economy Report was published a week before the September United Nations Climate Summit 2014 in New York City. It comes from the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, an independent body chaired by former president of Mexico Felipe Calderón and British economist Nicholas Stern who wrote the first major report on the economics of climate change back in 2006. The report urges action within the next 15 years to prevent global warming from exceeding 2oC by the end of the century, but it says that if the world spends wisely on reducing emissions (setting out a program on how to do so), the climate problem can be largely solved and economic growth would be higher than in a high-carbon world.
  • Also in the run-up to the UN summit, The Economist in its 20 September 2014 issue published 'Briefing: Curbing climate change'. As well as reviewing the Calderón/Stern report it conducted its own review of twenty policies and courses of action to establish how much they have done to reduce the stock of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. It came up with the somewhat unexpected result that the phasing out of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) following the Montreal Protocol of 1987 has had almost as much effect on reducing emissions to date as the total of all the other items on the list. The Montreal Protocol was concerned with the ozone layer but CFCs are also highly potent greenhouse gases. The substitute for CFCs, hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) don’t affect the ozone layer but are themselves strong greenhouse gases, and moves are being made to phase them out.
  • Intellectual property has been the subject of scenario studies. In view of the issues surrounding IP in the digital age, this is potentially important. Further investigation is underway using websites like this one.
  • Is new technology an accelerating force? A survey of recent issues of New Scientist will be undertaken shortly.
  • A review of economic and political issues based on recent issues of The Economist will be carried out as well.
  • Composition of consumption over time — drift to services? Implications for music goods and services.
  • In 2010, the World Economic Forum commissioned PricewaterhouseCoopers to investigate Biodiversity and Business Risk. The report demonstrated that biodiversity loss is at the nexus of many risks, affecting economic value. It identifies several plausible scenarios, generally from a business angle, concluding that “perhaps the most unpredictable aspect we face in the debate on biodiversity is the pace of change."

The final source listed here is the World Economic Forum’s annual report on Global Risks. It is such an important and all-inclusive analysis that the next section is devoted to the latest report.

Global Risks 2014

This is the prime source on global concerns generally, including some that are not covered above (like global governance, growth and distribution). The World Economic Forum (WEF) has conducted its annual Global Risks Perception Survey since 2006-07, making 2013-14 the eighth. The WEF was founded in 1971 when a group of European business leaders met under the patronage of the European Commission and European industrial associations. During the 1980s it was transformed into a truly global organisation. The Forum is most widely known for its annual meeting of leaders in Davos, Switzerland.

The 2013-14 survey was conducted in October and November 2013 “among WEF’s multi-stakeholder communities of leaders” from business (40.6%), academia (18.3%), non-government organisations (17.0%), international organisations (8.5%), government (7.4%), and other sources (8.2%). Of over 700 respondents, 52% were from advanced economies and 40% from the emerging and developing world (8% unspecified). Females comprised a minority (27.7%).

To capture the voice of youth, the survey also targeted the WEF’s “community of global shapers”. Under-30s accounted for 21.8% of the 2013-14 survey respondents. The survey is as representative as can be expected of a general global sample.

There are three kinds of findings from the survey:

  1. Global risks of highest concern, found by asking respondents to rank the top five risks from a list of 31 concerns in the 2014 report. The nominated top risk was given a score of five, the nominated risk ranked fifth a score of one.
  2. Creating a global risks “landscape” by asking respondents to assess the likelihood and global impact of each of the 31 concerns, using a scale from one (not likely/no impact) to seven (extremely likely/very high impact). There were two questions: “How likely is this risk to materialise globally over the next 10 years?” and “What is the estimated impact globally if this risk were to materialise (impact to be interpreted in a broad sense beyond just economic circumstances)?”
  3. Interconnected risks: The respondents were asked to nominate between three and six pairs of risks they believed were connected, disregarding the direction of causality.

The three illustrations that follow deal with each of these findings in turn.

Alt=Table 1

Eight years of WEF’s Global Risks surveys show a changing but largely consistent list of nominated risks, classified as economic (light blue in Table 1 and the two charts following), environmental (green), geopolitical (gold), societal (red), and technological (purple). Respondents chose among the 31 risks nominated in the 2014 survey, and roughly similar numbers in previous years except for 2012 and 2013 when the decision was made to increase the number of risks to 10 for each of the five main categories. WEF considered the information shown in Table 1 to be consistent enough to be published as a time series in the annual Global Risks report.

The most likely single risk has changed from being economic (“asset price collapse” following the onset of the global financial crisis and still top in 2011) to being societal (“income disparity”). But more strikingly, among the five most likely global risks the environment has grown from not being represented at all in any year up to 2011 to being prominent enough to account for 10 of the 20 most likely risks in 2011 to 2014. The environmental risks have a number of labels though many would be associated with climate change as a unifying factor (including 2012 and 2013 when “rising greenhouse gas emissions” was the term used instead of climate change).

Based on likelihood of occurrence, economic risks in contrast with environmental risks fall from occupying 11 of the 20 the top five most likely nominations in the 2007 to 2010 surveys to showing up only three times in the 2011 to 2014 surveys. The picture is different when impact is considered rather than likelihood as discussed below.

The major category with the smallest number of observations is technology, though cyber-attacks made it into the top five most likely global risks in 2012 and again in 2014. Technology is generally seen as a positive rather than negative force in the world, and therefore less likely to show among the major risks. The two other nominated technological risks in 2014 came nowhere near the total top five: “critical information infrastructure breakdown” and “data fraud/theft”.[8]

The list changes when considering impact. The single top impact risk in each of the eight years of the survey from 2007 to 2014 was economic: asset price collapse in each of the first four years switching to what would be generally fiscal crises from 2011 to 2014. There may have some bias towards economic risks in a sample of respondents consisting of 40.6% business people, though it isn’t major and is unsurprising in an organisation calling itself an economic forum. The ranking of economic factors according to impact in Table 1 actually declined from the 2007 to 2010 surveys when a total of 13 of the top five 20 global risks were economic, to the 2011 to 2014 surveys when the number fell to 10 of 20.

During the same period, global environmental impact risks rose from none in any year from 2007 to 2010 to a total of six of the 20 possible observations adding the survey results from 2011 to 2014.

One type of geopolitical impact risks came third on the list in 2011 (“geopolitical conflict”) and fourth in 2013 (“diffusion of weapons of mass destruction”). “Food shortage crises”, a societal risk, made the list in third place in 2012.

The 2014-15 survey is being conducted in October-November 2014 which happens to coincide with the writing of this article. The world is awaiting the outcome of the West African Ebola crisis (a societal risk) and what can be done. It is considered the worst outbreak of an epidemic disease for decades, caused by genetic change in a virus that has been around for 40 years. In the absence of a vaccine up to now the current strain of Ebola has been fatal to most humans.

We are also witnessing the rapid development of a serious geopolitical risk called Islamic State (IS), also known as ISIS or ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria/the Levant). Operating in Iraq and Syria it has caused western democracies once again to provide military and other support in an effort to defeat what has developed into a well-equipped terrorist force.

“Pandemics” and “Terrorist attacks” are both on the current WEF lists and could well make it to the top five global risks in terms of likelihood and, quite possibly, impact. As Table 1 demonstrates, the risks change over time. Any serious new development has potential impact, not just where it originates but globally.

Global Risks 2014, published before the Ebola crisis, actually identified “perhaps the oldest form of systemic risk” as that arising from viruses and pandemics which “has entered a dangerous new phase as people and goods move at increasing speeds and over greater distances, with many passing through a small number of airports and other hubs.” (p 26)

Alt=Chart 1

The 31 global risks in 2014 form a “landscape” plotted in two dimensions: likelihood along the horizontal axis and impact vertically. Each of the risk were assigned scores on the seven-point scale, and the average scores (4.31 for average likelihood and 4.56 for average impact) were used to divide the landscape into four quadrants. The range for likelihood of each risk was from less than 3.5 to almost 5.5 for likelihood and from about 3.8 to 5.3 for impact.

Chart 1 shows only the upper right quadrant where 10 of the 31 global risks show above-average scores on both likelihood and impact. The size of each plot gives a combined visual impression of likelihood and impact which marks unemployment/underemployment and fiscal crises as the two most serious economic risks; water crises, climate change and extreme weather events as the worst environmental risks; and income disparity as the main societal risk to watch. Cyber-attacks were also relatively likely to occur and to have significant impact if they did; biodiversity loss/ecosystem collapse, food crises and natural catastrophes were closer to the lower left corner of the upper quadrant which covers risks that are above-average on both criteria.

In other quadrants, pandemics were seen as relatively unlikely but having slightly above average impact should they occur; terrorist attacks to be slightly more likely but having less impact. Terrorism remained in the lower left quadrant with both likelihood and impact below average, though not by very much. The highest impacts outside the upper right quadrant were from the technological risk of “critical information infrastructure breakdown” (considered relatively unlikely), followed by “political and social instability” and “failure of financial mechanism or institution”, both of which were rated just below average likelihood. “Global governance failure” was also rated as having above-average impact and was only slightly less likely to occur according to the 2014 survey.

Alt=Chart 2

Asking respondents to nominate between three and six pairs of interconnected global risks brings out some important new perspectives. Chart 2 suggests that some global risks are clearly interconnected, others less so. The strength of each interconnection is shown by the thickness and colour of each line: the strongest thick dark blue lines are centred on fiscal crises and unemployment — which has another strong link with income disparity. There is another strong — and unsurprising — link between climate change and extreme weather which is not directly connected with other strong neighbouring links.

Light blue lines also indicate strong connections, and the thinner brown lines are significant too. The total picture that emerges from the three coloured interconnection lines in conjunction is the link between the three main risk nodes — centred on global governance failure linking to fiscal crises and unemployment in one direction and climate change and its associated risks in the other.[9]

Global Risks 2014 draws two main conclusions from the interconnections map, both associated with the cluster around global governance failure, fiscal crises, and political and social instability:

Instabilities in an increasingly multipolar world : “Domestic pressures are denting both the appetite and the ability of advanced economies to maintain that authority on the global stage. Large emerging-market countries are keen to play a significant role but are struggling to reconcile rapid economic growth, domestic social change and complex political reform. At the same time, global multilateral institutions are finding it hard to achieve consensus, and thus concerted action, on critical matters due to the proliferation of assertive, discordant voices. [The chart] shows how the failure of global governance is connected with other risks.” (p 27)

Generation lost highlights the connections between unemployment, fiscal crises, political and social instability, income disparity and global governance failure — much the same risks that were identified above.

The focus on young people is worth quoting in full: “Around the world, the generation coming of age in the 2010s is most affected by the legacy of the financial crisis and slow economic growth. In many countries, dramatically high unemployment is frustrating young people’s efforts to earn, generate savings, gain preferential experience and build careers. Traditional higher education is even more expensive and its payoff more doubtful. These issues need to be addressed inclusively on local, national and global levels to minimize the risks of a breakdown in social cohesion and enduring loss of human and economic potential.

In general, the mentality of this generation is realistic, adaptive and versatile. Smart technology and social media provide new ways to quickly connect, build communities, voice opinions and exert political pressure. This generation of digital natives is full of ambition to make the world a better place, yet feels disconnected from traditional politics and government – a combination which presents both a challenge and an opportunity in addressing global risks.” (p 33)[10]

Importantly, Global Risks 2014 shows a separate chart for both under-30s and women respondents (as noted previously 21.8% and 27.7% of the total number of respondents, respectively). These groups were considerably more concerned about global risks than older people and males.

The gender difference is highly significant (p 18). Women rated the highest impact to come from water crises with a score as high as 6.2 on the seven-point scale. They rated climate change second (5.9) followed by biodiversity loss/ecosystem collapse and unemployment/underemployment (both about 5.7), extreme weather events (5.6), fiscal crises (5.5), income disparity (5.3), political and social instability (5.2). These eight risks were all rated above five by the women.[11]

The comparable scores for males were water crises 4.7 (the largest gender difference with women averaging 6.2), climate change just below 5.0 (almost a full point on the seven-point scale less than females), biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse 4.6 (more than a full point below the finding for females), unemployment 4.8, extreme weather events 4.7 (almost a point lower than the average for females), fiscal crises 5.3, income disparity 4.7, and political and social instability 4.6.

Females saw every one of the 31 identified global risks as more serious than the males did. Males came close in only three cases: pandemics and weapons of mass destruction about a percentage point and the technological risk of critical information infrastructure breakdown about two percentage points. The observation for pandemics doesn’t quite fit what one might expect and a larger difference might show in the next survey given the coincident timing of the 2014-15 survey and the growing perception of the Ebola epidemic. Among the eight major risks all scoring above five for females, only one, fiscal crises, scored above five among males, though climate change came close. Women generally rated environmental and societal risks much more seriously than males.

There are also considerable differences between people under 30 and 30-plus. For each of the 31 global risks the younger respondents saw the greater threat (p 19). Of the eight scoring five or more, water crises led among the under-30s with a score of 5.9, followed by fiscal risks (5.6), unemployment/underemployment, climate change and biodiversity loss/ecosystem collapse (each 5.5), extreme weather events (5.4), weapons of mass destruction (5.2, but likelihood considered relatively low), and failure of financial mechanism or institution (5.0).

People aged 30 or more scored the impact of water crises at just below 5.0, fiscal crises at 5.3 (the highest score among the 31 global risks for this group though still below the 5.6 for under-30s), unemployment and underemployment just below 5.0, climate change 5.1, biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse much lower than the younger group at 4.7, extreme weather events 4.6 (ditto), weapons of mass destruction again low likelihood but impact scoring 4.6, and failure of financial mechanism or institution 4.6.

The picture may be marginally less clear than for the genders, but the environmental scores are still significantly more pessimistic among the under-30s. Unemployment and underemployment are also matters of high concern with the group of younger people, who are close enough in age to be highly conscious of youth unemployment, though presumably reasonably safely employed themselves.

Articles in This Series

  1. Putting Numbers on Our Cultural Assets: Not Yet Possible   (27.3.2014)
  2. How to Explore the Cultural Future   (7.4.2014)
  3. Cultural and Creative Activity in Australia   (15.4.2014)
  4. Global Risk Factors and Music in Australia   (17.10.2014)
  5. Scenarios, Virtual History, and Chaos   (20.10.2014)
  6. Ideas from Other Global Scenarios   (8.12.2014)
  7. Four Global Scenarios Set the Stage   (18.12.2014)
  8. Music Sector Structure for Scenarios   (28.2.2015)
  9. Valuing the Invaluable   (5.3.2015)
  10. Some Big Possible Positives - Or?   (20.6.2015)
  11. A First Set of Music Sector Scenarios   (23.6.2015)
  12. Global Leadership Challenges: A Missing Link in the Scenario Planning (31.10.2015)
  13. Present and Future Changes and Their Role in the Scenarios   (20.12.2015)
  14. Complex Adaptive Systems and Music   (9.1.2016)


Hans Hoegh-Guldberg. Entered on Knowledge Base 17 October 2014. Revised 9 November 2014 after developing updated music sector scenario model.


  1. The timeline set out in that article was optimistic, and the approach has been modified in the light of our experience to date. This is inevitable in a pioneering project with a substantial learning process.
  2. The closest thing is a workshop in Edinburgh in March 2014 advocating scenarios for artists, but no formal work has been done.
  3. Mitigation of the ill effects of increased greenhouse gases — how to avoid a worst case scenario — is an essential part of the approach taken by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), most recently in its 2014 report.
  4. Other influences may be added as the detailed scenario building proceeds, but the four identified ones are likely to be important.
  5. GBN was founded in Berkeley, California, in 1987 where its head office remains. One of the founders was Peter Schwartz who was Royal Dutch/Shell’s head of scenario planning from 1982 to 1986 continuing the pioneering work for Shell of Pierre Wack, another founder of the discipline. For further information on the development of modern scenarios, see Scenarios, Virtual History, and Chaos. GBN was acquired in 2000 by the Monitor Group, which was itself absorbed into Deloitte in January 2013 with GBN continuing to provide scenario advice as it has since it was founded. Deloitte is one of the “big four” global professional services firms along with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), EY and KPMG.
  6. AWPA was absorbed into the Australian Ministry for Industry on 1 July 2014, as the Coalition Government set about restructuring government services and funding schemes and maintaining control of a growing budget deficit.
  7. Thomas Piketty, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, translated by Arthur Goldhammer. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England, 2014.
  8. The 2012 and 2013 lists of 10 technology risks (rather than just three as in 2014) did not produce any more “top 5” impact risks, in fact not one in 2013. The three most likely risks within the technology group in 2013 were “critical systems failure” (which was also the top technology in terms of impact that year and showed up as the number five impact risk in 2014 as shown in Table 1), cyber-attacks, and data fraud/theft. The seven other nominations in 2012 and 2013, none of which made it to the “top 5”, were “unforeseen consequences of new life science technologies”, “mineral resource supply vulnerability”, “massive digital misinformation”, “unforeseen consequences of climate change mitigation” (arguably an environmental risk), “failure of the intellectual property regime”, “proliferation of orbital debris”, and “unforeseen consequences of nanotechnology”.
  9. There is a multitude of lesser links and lesser risks, not all of which could be drawn on Chart 2. But Chart 2 presents the essence with its concentration on the three stronger classifications.
  10. Another section of Global Risks 2014 referring to the full version of the interconnections chart focuses on possible “digital disintegration” which it again sees as connected with global governance failure, directly linked with cyber-attacks, and via terrorism with “critical information infrastructure breakdown”. Within the technology sector, the survey revealed strong direct connections between cyber-attacks and data fraud/theft and between cyber-attacks and critical information infrastructure breakdown. — “While cyberspace has proved largely resilient to attacks and other disruptions so far, its underlying dynamic has always been such that attackers have an easier time than defenders. There are reasons to believe that resilience is gradually being undermined, allowing this dynamic of vulnerability to become more impactful. — First, the growth of the “Internet of Things” means that ever more devices are being connected online, touching many more parts of life and widening both the potential entry points for and impacts of disruption. Second, there is ever-deepening complexity of interactions among the many aspects of life that are dependent on connected devices, making these impacts potentially harder to predict.” (p 38)
  11. These observations were read off the charts rather than tables, but they can’t be far off the mark.
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