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Victor Van Rij Ircg Wildcards24 10presentation Abu D Abi[1]
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Victor Van Rij Ircg Wildcards24 10presentation Abu D Abi[1]


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  • What we call here a Black Swan (and capitalize it) is an event with the following three attributes. First, it is an outlier, as it lies outside the realm of regular expectations, because nothing in the past can convincingly point to its possibility. Second, it carries an extreme impact. Third, in spite of its outlier status, human nature makes us concoct explanations for its occurrence after the fact, making it explainable and predictable. I stop and summarize the triplet: rarity, extreme impact, and retrospective (though not prospective) predictability. A small number of Black Swans explain almost everything in our world, from the success of ideas and religions, to the dynamics of historical events, to elements of our own personal lives. [4]
  • Also the ones which are at the margins of current thinking and planning. The we depends on who will be involved in the scan, so the selection of participants and consultation is crucial. Horizon scanning may explore novel and unexpected issues, weak signals, as well as persistent problems or trends .
  • 1. Impact:Values should be explicited before and during preselection of dat (during literature survey) , feed back should be sought with representative sounding boards . 2 For probability and plausibility judgement multiple angles experts, 3. also for desirability it is important to explicit the weighting of sometimes countervauiling values. 4.The rate of changeability seems a scientific matter (like the reliable unchangeable rotation of the earth etc) but also here especially when social processes are involved experts may have very different views (for instance to what extent can we change consumer behaviour etc) 5. If we repeat the scan after 2 or 3 yeras we will see that the issue probably moved through the other dimensions , it may have become mor or lesss desirable, more or less certain , and we may have a different view on its impact, by assessing the shift in these dimensions we can assess whether or not issues have moved to more “ certain desirable impact “ Scanning usually starts with literaturearture search (scan of scans and futures) the persons who are doing the scans should be aware of the fact that selection of issues is a value based process, for this reason it is important to explicit the values before and during teh selaction process again the””we”” raises the question who is involved and should be involved (depending on on the mission of the organsiation or level of government for whom the scan is executed
  • This picture shows what the map we used in the Netherlands. In the centre we have the earth and humans within a country or within Europe and the government that is responsible for the civilians and environment entrusted to them, in the center you find the mission and desired values (like the biological, the economical and so on) and to the left you find different categories where we search for opportunities (direct from the physical environment, like natural resources coming form earth, sea and waters, atmosphere, living world etc and above fruits of human interaction exploiting these resources and organizing our societies like S&T, education, economy and finance, government and law and so on) on the right sight we see the mirror down in red the dangers of the physical environment along the same categories but here we will place the dangers and treats (like pathogenic organisms from the living world destroying our cattle or crops or making us ill, climate change (also if this has not been cause by man) that endangers our agriculture , the earth producing land slides earth quakes etc), from water (draught, poison, flood) etc and above the dangers of human activities again in the same categories it seems obvious that every action we undertake alters things and therefore also contains threats and opportunities.
  • Here we viliualise how issues could be placed in a value matrix, the only missing dimension is time , it would be fun to have a movie showing all the issues moving in this matrix, human action should try to push most issues to the upper corner in the left, back of the matrix (desirable, certain , and stable (unchangeable), or if the desire contains changeability (to have more flexibilty) the issue should move just to the upper back of the martrix. WE should take into account that almost all issues are moer or less connected and tha these connection (mutual ) inlfluences also will vary in time , this is where scenario’s and road maps are build for
  • What we call here a Black Swan (and capitalize it) is an event with the following three attributes. First, it is an outlier, as it lies outside the realm of regular expectations, because nothing in the past can convincingly point to its possibility. Second, it carries an extreme impact. Third, in spite of its outlier status, human nature makes us concoct explanations for its occurrence after the fact, making it explainable and predictable. I stop and summarize the triplet: rarity, extreme impact, and retrospective (though not prospective) predictability. A small number of Black Swans explain almost everything in our world, from the success of ideas and religions, to the dynamics of historical events, to elements of our own personal lives. [4]
  • Blaming and shaming game foreseeable: yes , large hurricanes are a regular phenomena in this area – could we have done anything : yes: better water flooding protection (as in the Netherlands ) no constructions on unsafe areas foreseeable: Yes : Al Quaida already hit large US targets in Africa ; airplane suicide scenario was known. Could we have done anything: better intelligence on “real” dangerous groups, better safety measures in airplanes rather than useless ones on airports (leaves other targets as trains , tunnels and metro’s unprotected) – foreseeable yes, as well as the next ones , sub prime building up and selling through of loans though the financial system was observed as very risky; could we have done anything: yes, direct support of sub prime loaners by US government at the start could have prevented the cascade that followed , further building shields between risky loan activities and regular banking could have been installed on forehand to contain risk - foreseeable: yes , volcanic activity is regular on Iceland, outbursts with fumes that could harm Europe were known from history (like 1783), the effect on airplanes was known from near accidents elsewhere in the world it could have been worse, ; could we have done anything: yes, having a fume monitoring system in place, and alternative means of travel ready (busses, extra trains) ; if the fume clouds persist we also should think on maintaining additional food storages and measure for people with lung diseases – foreseeable: yes, oil drilling always had the risk of accidents (many accidents on land which were difficult to fix), that the risks are much higher with deep sea drilling and that the ecological risk are much higher is in fact logic; could we have done anything: yes, we could abandon the idea to search for oil on places where exploitation is too risky (especially if we do not have clear cut scenario’s on how to close a deap sea leak) and focus more on the safe alternatives
  • Like piling up of non degradable toxic substances (DDT), or components we do not know the effect of (high –low frequency emissions) Sub prime loans – unpayable debts/financial crisis Growing amount of frustrated people leading to terrorist power /or of their political support by frustrated nations/ 9-11 Asteroid impact, Sun cycle without solar flares ? Sun heats up in an incredible way nobody understands, the earth awakens (series of earth quakes etc.), aliens landing on earth Black swans
  • Earth, land (volcano’s, landslides, gas eruption, mud volcano’s,earth quakes) Air (climate change, dust, tornado, storms) Water (draught, floods , pollution natural causes) Biosphere (epidemics, plagues, zoo-noses, mass-starvation, infertility etc) Outer space (asteroids, extraterrestrial live, no or sudden solar activity) cards the potential interests and emotions of the communicator, the difference with the human caused wild cards is that the strength of the wild card always will be be supported by scientific evidence which can be contested in a scientific discourse Fear and wish for whom – what values are threatened)
  • Society (Value shifts, movements , hypes social trends, demography,social conflict) Technology and Science (breakthrough’s, new technologies etc) Economy (crisis, prosperous developments etc) Politics/Public services (everything that can go wrong and right, warfare) in scientific journals, science fiction, the internet and in other sources where people express future oriented views Fear and wish for whom – what values are threatened)
  • Fear and wish for whom – what values are threatened)
  • Fear and wish for whom – what values are threatened)
  • Fear and wish for whom – what values are threatened)
  • Policy makers aware of what can happen are better able to react (in security scenario-gaming is used to prepare decision makers in cases of emergency) A monitoring system for volcano ashes could already have been in place if we would have looked seriously to the geosphere wild cards For other natural wild cards we can think of several smart ways to mitigate nagtive impacts 4. For Human caused wild cards we can create countervailing policies (like preventing nuclear proliferation- who will be first to renounce its nuclear arms fully – France?? Britain?? Russia? The US?? China??etc
  • : Earth quakes in this particular region are regular ; can we do anything about it: re building earth quake proof, prepare evacuation scenario’s (taking into account disrupted infrastructures) (and other volcano’s in dense populated areas) : Vesuvius is irregular active and highly dangerous; can we do anything about it: evacuation measures (prepare additional escape infrastructures) and shrinking the town on longer term (people should not live in this area) : Debt growth of countries was known ; can/could we do anything about it: like in the sub prime crisis , direct support for the debt countries stops the initiation of cascade effects; anti speculation measures on EURO should be in place (monitoring money flows, who buys sells what) : world wide effort to renew the non proliferation policy – avoid nuclear energy
  • Transcript

    • 1. (potential) wild cards as future shakers and shapers early and weak warning signals
      • Presentation
      • For the: Governmental Forum - Abu Dhabi- 24-25 November
      • Session 1: “ Weak signals and wild cards; implications in different policies”
      • Victor van Rij
      • Senior Advisor Foresight
      • Ministry of Education, Culture and Science
      • Netherlands
    • 2. Presentation
      • Scanning of future horizons
      • The use of the wild card concept (within two FLA of EU)
    • 3. EU FLA website
    • 4. EU FLA - Research projects Blue Sky project
      • Scanning for Emerging Science and Technology Issues (SESTI)
      • Use of foresight to align research with longer term policy needs in European Commission (FARHORIZON)
      • Visions, scenarios and implications for policy and practice (INFU)
      • Participative horizon scanning (CIVISTI)
      • Wild cards and weak signals (IKNOW)
      • Security and defence (SANDERA)
    • 5. EU FLA - Research projects
      • European Foresight Platform – supporting Forward Looking decision-making (EFP)
      • The World and Europe in 2030 (AUGUR)
      • The future of the Mediterranean area (MEDPRO)
      • The evaluation of EU policies (DEMETER)
      • Post carbon society (PACT, GILDED, PASHMINA)
    • 6. Horizon scanning Horizon scanning as integrated approach
    • 7. Horizon scanning
      • Horizon scanning is an instrument to shape the future to (common) desires, needs after participative thinking and debating
      • Horizon scanning
      • Systematic Search for Issues with Potential high (Future) Impact on what we consider to be important
      • Issues are statements /narratives/storylines about the future, based on outcomes of research, trend analysis, scenario studies, weak or faint signal analysis but also on our imagination
      • Issues are therefore based on a mix of scientific knowledge and tacit knowledge including our imagination
    • 8. Issue dimensions
      • IMPACT : Issues that may have great or less great impact on what we see as important (seize of impact)
      • PROBABILITY & PLAUSIBILITY : Issues that are certain or less certain but still plausible (probability and plausibility)
      • DESIRABILITY : Issues that are desirable or not desirable for society (desirability, common or opposed values)
      • CHANGEABILITY : Issues that are not changeable or changeable by human action (changeability)
      • TIME : moment of observation , interaction, dynamics
    • 9. Opportunities/solutions : Threats/problems from: And Ecology, Ecosystem Biodiversity Human: Survival , Health Welfare, wealth Wellbeing Democracy, law Self-realization Culture, ethics Physical environment Natural resources from (Outer) Space, Sun Space Sea and waters Earth and soil Atmosphere Climate Living world Physical environment Shortage/destruction/ (Outer) Space Space Sea and waters Earth and soil Atmosphere climate Living world Human action/brainpower Science & Technology Education Social system Political, Government, legal, economy, finance Other Systems (infrastructures, production, transport, ICT, energy, industry, healthcare, agriculture) Human action/environment Science, technology Education Social system Political, Government, legal Economy, finance Systems (infrastructures, production, transport, ICT, energy, industry, health care, agriculture ) COMMON LONG TERM DESIRES & VALUES With expected large impact on society:
    • 10. Issues with Potential high Impact on what we consider to be important certainty desirability changeability Climate Change Nuclear War NBIC convergence The Internet Migration Ageing society
    • 11. wild cards
      • An event or serie (cascade) of events (with seemingly low probability?)
      • that changes the settings of our world completely (causing high impact
      • shocks/disruptions)
      • Which we hardly see coming or we do not want to see coming
      • Earth quakes of the mental landscape (Karlheinz Steinmuller), black
      • swans (Nassim Nicholas Taleb)
      • They usually have immediate and enduring consequences
    • 12. Wild cards
    • 13. Rationalisation afterwards
      • After the fact, the event is rationalized by hindsight, as if it had been expected (Taleb) . Could we not have foreseen the event???Could we have done anything about it ????
      • Recent Examples
      • Flooding New Orleans
      • 9 – 11 –
      • Financial crisis
      • Iceland Volcano
      • Oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico
    • 14. Important distinctions
      • It is important to make distinction between
      • Wild cards that happened
      • And
      • Envisioned (potential) Future Wild cards
      • ------------------------------------------
      • Nature caused Wild(NWC)
      • and
      • Human caused (HWC)
    • 15. From wild cards that happened we can learn Different types
      • Tension building - almost invisible trends or sequence of events
      • (DDT, Subprime loans)
      • Sudden unexpected events with a known very low or unknown
      • probability but which we know will happen on basis of historical
      • evidence (rare coincidence)
      • Sudden unexpected events wich may never occur but can be imagined and which if they happen have an unavoidable character
      • The unimaginable
    • 16. Financial crisis Many sub prime loans gave 3 starting years with no interest Tension building The financial crisis Subprime loans
    • 17. Tension building The financial crisis Student loans Total Student debt in US Total Articles with worries for a crisis connected to student debt (google news timeline)
    • 18. Natural caused wild cards (NWC)
      • Laws of Nature , historical evidence , black swans
      • The communication of potential wild cards is however a human activity which brings in aspects of social caused wild cards
      • Wild card search from natural causes usually delivers an assembly of mainly potential negative challenges with a low probability but potential high impact.
      • The “where” and “when” and “seize” of potential wild cards of this kind are usually very uncertain which also means that we can encounter many controversies on the probability estimation or duration and seize of the challenge like climate change
    • 19. Human Caused Wild Cards (HWC)
      • Are the product of human ideas, emotions, interests, decisions and
      • communication mostly in combination with ( perceived) facts
      • They can be realized
      • But c an also be created (imagined)
      • They contain usually wishes and fears,
      • Powerful HWC influence the future debate, very powerful HWC influence the course of history (as self fullfilling or self denying prophecies)
    • 20. Human Caused Wild Cards (HWC)
      • They are used by people who want to change the course of history at
      • large as terrorists, political leaders , scientist for good and for bad
      • They can be powerful lobby- or propaganda tools to change the discourse on the future (warning, selling)
      • The shape , evoked emotions and facts make the strength of the wild card, but also the timing and context, the authority
      • Further study is needed on how they work and evolve , also because they can be used to create desirable futures
      • Horizonscanning of WC and in depth analysis (of roots-targets of HWC) both needed
    • 21. Realized ones can successfully influence the (future) course of history
    • 22. But imagined ones can be used as well as propaganda
    • 23. as warning cards
    • 24. as marketing cards Nano saves our lives Bioinspired nanotechnology creates nano - vehicles for targeted drugs application and diagnosis. We will be able to cure cancer? TECHNOLOGY and SCIENCE
    • 25. “ Signals” for HWC can be found everywhere where people create strong future storylines
      • All media contain signals , internet contains (almost) all media
      • HWC signals contain a mix of statements that evoke emotions, appeal interests and facts connected to the future.
      • Their initiation may be intended (The Day after Tomorrow or the
      • Inconvenient Truth) but also unintended (rumour causing panic, financial crisis), so who is initiating, enhancing etc is important
      • Horizon scanning may enhance and create signals for Wild cards, therefore has the potential not only to inform decision makers but also to create new futures (by initiation of strong persuasive wild cards)
      • (Potential) wild cards can be used to make the world better but also as weapons in a world of conflict
      • Finding them needs understanding of emotions, facts and interests who is behind this (so the search of WS needs inter subjective-cultural assessment)
    • 26. Gulf of Mexico incident News Google timeline Start of raising uncontrollable risk deep sea drill
    • 27. DESERTEC plans made public News Google timeline
    • 28. What is the value of wild card search and thinking
      • Making policies more resilient to the occurrence and the effects of wild card events (more adaptive to what could change suddenly)
      • Giving us hints on what kind of early (weak) signals to look for
      • Making us able to monitor the arrival/realisation of wild cards and to timely adapt or mitigate the impact by the monitoring of their early warning signals
      • Helping to support safety measure investments (like monitor systems , higher dikes, affluence measures for floods, earth quake proof building mechanisms, escape routes etc )
      • Counteracting undesirable human caused wild cards
      • Creating futures with positive wild cards
    • 29. Rationalisation on forehand
      • Before the fact, the event has happened What can we foresee in parallel with the cases before???
      • How can we spot wild cards that may come ??? Can we do anything about it ????
      • Examples
      • Earthquake 8.0 Istanbul
      • Eruption of the Vesuvius
      • EC financial crisis
      • US credit card crisis , student loan crisis
      • Nuclear war from upcoming nations
      • New technologies resolving the energy crisis in a resolute way ??
      • New discoveries keeping us healthy and young while ageing??