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Scenarios for the Future of Technology
     and International Development
This report was produced by
The Rockefeller Foundation
and Global Business Network.

May 2010
Contents

     Letter from Judith Rodin. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4

     Letter from Peter Schwartz . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

     Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8

              WHY SCENARIOS? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9

              WHY TECHNOLOGY? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10

              THE FOCAL QUESTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11

              ENGAGING YOUR IMAGINATION                                   ......................................                             11

     The Scenario Framework . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13

              CHOOSING THE CRITICAL UNCERTAINTIES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

              GLOBAL POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC ALIGNMENT                                                     ....................               15

              ADAPTIVE CAPACITY                        .................................................                                     15

              THE SCENARIO NARRATIVES                                .........................................                               17

                    Lock Step . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18

                    Clever Together . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26

                    Hack Attack . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34

                    Smart Scramble . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42

     Concluding Thoughts. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49

     Appendix . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51
Letter from Judith Rodin
                                                                       President of the Rockefeller Foundation




                                                                              The Rockefeller Foundation supports work that expands opportunity and strengthens
                                                                              resilience to social, economic, health, and environmental challenges — affirming
                                                                              its pioneering philanthropic mission, since 1913, to “promote the well-being” of
                                                                              humanity. We take a synergistic, strategic approach that places a high value on
                                                                              innovative processes and encourages new ways of seeking ideas, to break down silos
                                                                              and encourage interdisciplinary thinking.

                                                                              One important — and novel — component of our strategy toolkit is scenario planning,
                                                                              a process of creating narratives about the future based on factors likely to affect a
                                                                              particular set of challenges and opportunities. We believe that scenario planning has
                                                                              great potential for use in philanthropy to identify unique interventions, simulate and
                                                                              rehearse important decisions that could have profound implications, and highlight
                                                                              previously undiscovered areas of connection and intersection. Most important,
                                                                              by providing a methodological structure that helps us focus on what we don’t
                                                                              know — instead of what we already know — scenario planning allows us to achieve
                                                                              impact more effectively.
Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development




                                                                              The results of our first scenario planning exercise demonstrate a provocative and
                                                                              engaging exploration of the role of technology and the future of globalization,
                                                                              as you will see in the following pages. This report is crucial reading for anyone
                                                                              interested in creatively considering the multiple, divergent ways in which our world
                                                                              could evolve. The sparks of insight inspiring these narratives — along with their
                                                                              implications for philanthropy as a whole — were generated through the invaluable
                                                                              collaboration of grantee representatives, external experts, and Rockefeller
                                                                              Foundation staff. I offer a special thanks to Peter Schwartz, Andrew Blau, and the
                                                                              entire team at Global Business Network, who have helped guide us through this
                                                                              stimulating and energizing process.
                   4
Leading this effort at the Rockefeller Foundation is our Research Unit, which
analyzes emerging risks and opportunities and thinks imaginatively about how to
respond to the complex, rapidly changing world around us. This outward-looking
intelligence function adopts a cross-cutting mindset that synthesizes and integrates
knowledge that accelerates our ability to act more quickly and effectively. It has
also helped to shape and build the notion of “pro-poor foresight” that is committed
to applying forward-looking tools and techniques to improve the lives of poor and
vulnerable populations around the world.

I hope this publication makes clear exactly why my colleagues and I are so excited
about the promise of using scenario planning to develop robust strategies and offer a
refreshing viewpoint on the possibilities that lie ahead. We welcome your feedback.




                                                                                        Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development
Judith Rodin
President
The Rockefeller Foundation




                                                                                                           5
Letter from Peter Schwartz
                                                                       Cofounder and Chairman of Global Business Network




                                                                              We are at a moment in history that is full of opportunity. Technology is poised to
                                                                              transform the lives of millions of people throughout the world, especially those who
                                                                              have had little or no access to the tools that can deliver sustainable improvements
                                                                              for their families and communities. From farmers using mobile phones to buy and
                                                                              sell crops to doctors remotely monitoring and treating influenza outbreaks in rural
                                                                              villages, technology is rapidly becoming more and more integral to the pace and
                                                                              progress of development.

                                                                              Philanthropy has a unique and critical role to play in this process. By focusing its
                                                                              patience, capital, and attention on the links between technology and international
                                                                              development, philanthropy will change not just lives but the very context in
                                                                              which the field of philanthropy operates. This report represents an initial step in
                                                                              that direction. It explores four very different — yet very possible — scenarios for
                                                                              the future of technology and development in order to illuminate the challenges
                                                                              and opportunities that may lie ahead. It promotes a deeper understanding of the
                                                                              complex forces and dynamics that will accelerate or inhibit the use of technology
Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development




                                                                              to spur growth, opportunity, and resilience especially in the developing world.
                                                                              Finally, it will seed a new strategic conversation among the key public, private, and
                                                                              philanthropic stakeholders about technology and development at the policy, program,
                                                                              and human levels.

                                                                              The Rockefeller Foundation’s use of scenario planning to explore technology and
                                                                              international development has been both inspired and ambitious. Throughout my
                                                                              40-plus-year career as a scenario planner, I have worked with many of the world’s
                                                                              leading companies, governments, foundations, and nonprofits — and I know firsthand
                                                                              the power of the approach. Scenario planning is a powerful tool precisely because
                                                                              the future is unpredictable and shaped by many interacting variables. Scenarios
                   6                                                          enable us to think creatively and rigorously about the different ways these forces
                                                                              may interact, while forcing us to challenge our own assumptions about what we
believe or hope the future will be. Scenarios embrace and weave together multiple
perspectives and provide an ongoing framework for spotting and making sense of
important changes as they emerge. Perhaps most importantly, scenarios give us a
new, shared language that deepens our conversations about the future and how we
can help to shape it.

The Rockefeller Foundation has already used this project as an opportunity to
clarify and advance the relationship between technology and development.
Through interviews and the scenario workshops, they have engaged a diverse set
of people — from different geographies, disciplines, and sectors — to identify the key
forces driving change, to explore the most critical uncertainties, and to develop
challenging yet plausible scenarios and implications. They have stretched their
thinking far beyond theoretical models of technology innovation and diffusion in
order to imagine how technology could actually change the lives of people from
many walks of life. This is only the start of an important conversation that will
continue to shape the potential of technology and international development going




                                                                                          Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development
forward. I look forward to staying a part of that conversation and to the better future
it will bring.




Peter Schwartz
Cofounder and Chairman
Global Business Network

                                                                                                             7
Introduction

                                                                       For decades, technology has been dramatically changing
                                                                       not just the lives of individuals in developed countries, but
                                                                       increasingly the lives and livelihoods of people throughout
                                                                       the developing world. Whether it is a community mobile
                                                                       phone, a solar panel, a new farming practice, or a cutting-
                                                                       edge medical device, technology is altering the landscape of
                                                                       possibility in places where possibilities used to be scarce.

                                                                       And yet looking out to the future, there is no        lives of poor communities but also to help scale
                                                                       single story to be told about how technology          and spread those that emerge? And how will the
                                                                       will continue to help shape — or even                 social, technological, economic, environmental,
Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development




                                                                       revolutionize — life in developing countries. There   and political conditions of the future enable or
                                                                       are many possibilities, some good and some less       inhibit our ability to do so?
                                                                       so, some known and some unknowable. Indeed,
                                                                                                                             The Rockefeller Foundation believes that
                                                                       for everything we think we can anticipate about
                                                                                                                             in order to understand the many ways in
                                                                       how technology and international development
                                                                                                                             which technology will impact international
                                                                       will interact and intertwine in the next 20 years
                                                                                                                             development in the future, we must first broaden
                                                                       and beyond, there is so much more that we
                                                                                                                             and deepen our individual and collective
                                                                       cannot yet even imagine.
                                                                                                                             understanding of the range of possibilities. This
                                                                       For philanthropies as well as for other               report, and the project upon which it is based,
                                                                       organizations, this presents a unique challenge:      is one attempt to do that. In it, we share the
                   8
                                                                       given the uncertainty about how the future will       outputs and insights from a year-long project,
                                                                       play out, how can we best position ourselves not      undertaken by the Rockefeller Foundation and
                                                                       just to identify technologies that improve the        Global Business Network (GBN), designed to
explore the role of technology in international     then to begin to examine what those possible
development through scenario planning, a            alternative paths may imply for the world’s
methodology in which GBN is a long-time leader.     poor and vulnerable populations. Such an
                                                    exercise required project participants to push
This report builds on the Rockefeller
                                                    their thinking far beyond the status quo, into
Foundation’s growing body of work in the
                                                    uncharted territory.
emerging field of pro-poor foresight. In 2009,
the Institute for Alternative Futures published     Scenario planning is a methodology designed
the report Foresight for Smart Globalization:       to help guide groups and individuals through
Accelerating and Enhancing Pro-Poor                 exactly this creative process. The process
Development Opportunities, with support from        begins by identifying forces of change in the
the Rockefeller Foundation. That effort was a       world, then combining those forces in different
reflection of the Foundation’s strong commitment     ways to create a set of diverse stories — or
to exploring innovative processes and embracing     scenarios — about how the future could evolve.
new pathways for insight aimed at helping the       Scenarios are designed to stretch our thinking
world’s poor. With this report, the Foundation      about both the opportunities and obstacles that
takes a further step in advancing the field of       the future might hold; they explore, through
pro-poor foresight, this time through the lens of   narrative, events and dynamics that might
scenario planning.                                  alter, inhibit, or enhance current trends, often




                                                                                                        Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development
                                                    in surprising ways. Together, a set of scenarios
WHY SCENARIOS?                                      captures a range of future possibilities,
                                                    good and bad, expected and surprising — but
The goal of this project was not to affirm what      always plausible. Importantly, scenarios are
is already known and knowable about what            not predictions. Rather, they are thoughtful
is happening right now at the intersections of      hypotheses that allow us to imagine, and then to
technology and development. Rather, it was to       rehearse, different strategies for how to be more
explore the many ways in which technology           prepared for the future — or more ambitiously,
and development could co-evolve — could both        how to help shape better
push and inhibit each other — in the future, and    futures ourselves.

                                                                                                                           9
WHY TECHNOLOGY?                                     as a category, cannot be divorced from the
                                                                                                                           context in which it develops. The scenarios
                                                                       Technology was chosen as a focal point of this      shared in this report explore four such contexts,
                                                                       project because of its potentially transformative   each of which, as you’ll see, suggests very
                                                                       role — both in a positive and negative way — in     different landscapes for technology and its
                                                                       addressing a wide range of development              potential impacts in the developing world.
                                                                       challenges, from climate change, healthcare,
                                                                       and agriculture to housing, transportation, and     Finally, a note about what we mean by
                                                                       education. Yet while there is little doubt that     “technology.” In this report, we use the term to
                                                                       technology will continue to be a driver of change   refer to a broad spectrum of tools and methods of
                                                                       across the developing world in the future, the      organization. Technologies can range from tools
                                                                       precise trajectory along which technological        for basic survival, such as a treadle pump and
                                                                       innovation will travel is highly uncertain.         basic filtration technologies, to more advanced
                                                                       For example, will critical technological            innovations, such as methods of collecting
                                                                       advances come from the developed world, or          and utilizing data in health informatics
                                                                       will innovators and their innovations be more       and novel building materials with real-time
                                                                       geographically dispersed? Or, how might the         environmental sensing capabilities. This
                                                                       global economic and political environment affect    report focuses on themes associated with the
                                                                       the pace of technology development?                 widespread scalability, adoption, and assessment
Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development




                                                                                                                           of technology in the developing world. While
                                                                       It is important to state that in focusing on        the scenarios themselves are narratives about
                                                                       technology, this project did not set out to         the global environment, we have paid particular
                                                                       identify a set of exact, yet-to-be-invented         attention to how events might transpire in sub-
                                                                       technologies that will help shape and change the    Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, and India.
                                                                       future. Rather, the goal was to gain a broader
                                                                       and richer understanding of different paths
                                                                       along which technology could develop — paths
                                                                       that will be strongly influenced by the overall
                                                                       global environment in which the inventors
                                                                       and adopters of those technologies will find
10
                                                                       themselves working and dwelling. Technology,
THE FOCAL QUESTION                                enough that significant technological change
                                                  is plausible and sufficiently short enough that
Every scenario project has a focal question —     we can imagine some possibilities for the kinds
a broad yet strategic query that serves as an     of technologies that could be developed and
anchor for the scenarios. For this project, the   applied. Focusing on how to overcome a set
focal question was:                               of obstacles associated with the application of
                                                  technology to the challenges of development
    How might technology affect barriers to
                                                  helped to both bound the inquiry and promote a
    building resilience and equitable growth      problem-solving approach that seeks to identify
    in the developing world over the next         potential, systematic intervention opportunities.
    15 to 20 years?
                                                  ENGAGING YOUR IMAGINATION
In other words, what new or existing
technologies could be leveraged to improve        It is our hope that these scenarios help inspire
the capacity of individuals, communities,         the same future-orientation in other initiatives
and systems to respond to major changes, or       that are broadly concerned with technology and
what technologies could improve the lives of      international development. Of course, there is no
vulnerable populations around the world? A        hard data about the future — nobody yet knows
15- to 20-year timeframe was chosen on the




                                                                                                      Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development
                                                  precisely what technologies will be successful at
assumption that it is both sufficiently long       addressing new and evolving development needs.
                                                  Rather, as you read the scenarios, think of them
                                                  as a journey — four journeys — into a future that
                                                  is relevant, thought-provoking, and possible.
  A Note on Terminology                           Imagine how the world will function and how
  The Foundation’s work promotes “resilience      it will be organized to tackle the challenges it
  and equitable growth.” Resilience refers to     faces. Who will be responsible for driving local
  the capacity of individuals, communities,       and global development initiatives and what
  and systems to survive, adapt, and grow         would that require? And what is your own role
  in the face of changes, even catastrophic       in leading your organization, community, or
  incidents. Equitable growth involves enabling   region to a preferred future?                       11
  individuals, communities, and institutions
  to access new tools, practices, resources,
  services, and products.
Scenarios are a medium through which great            could shape development, and test and adjust
                                                                       change can be not just envisioned but also            your strategies or personal actions accordingly.
                                                                       actualized. The more closely you read them, the
                                                                                                                             It is also our hope that these scenarios help
                                                                       more likely it becomes that you will recognize
                                                                                                                             to identify potential areas of future work for
                                                                       their important but less obvious implications
                                                                                                                             governments, philanthropies, corporations, and
                                                                       to you, your work, and your community. We
                                                                                                                             nonprofits, and that they illuminate choices and
                                                                       strongly encourage you to share and discuss
                                                                                                                             commitments that a wide range of organizations
                                                                       this report widely, use it as a springboard for
                                                                                                                             may want to make in these areas in the future.
                                                                       further creative thinking about how technology




                                                                              FURTHER READING ON TECHNOLOGY AND DEVELOPMENT
                                                                              This report adds to a growing body of literature focusing on the relationship between
                                                                              technology, development, and social systems. While not a comprehensive list, the following
                                                                              readings offer additional insights on this topic.
Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development




                                                                                    Caroline Wagner, The New Invisible College: Science for Development, 2008.

                                                                                    Institute for the Future, Science and Technology Outlook: 2005-2055, 2006.

                                                                                    RAND Corporation, The Global Technology Revolution 2020, In-Depth Analyses,
                                                                                    2006.

                                                                                    World Bank, Science, Technology, and Innovation: Capacity Building for Sustainable
                                                                                    Growth and Poverty Reduction, 2008.

                                                                                    UN Millennium Project, Task Force on Science, Technology, and Innovation,
                                                                                    Innovation: Applying Knowledge in Development, 2006.

                                                                                    W. Brian Arthur, The Nature of Technology: What It Is and How It Evolves, 2009.
12
                                                                                    STEPS Centre Working Papers, Innovation, Sustainability, Development: A New
                                                                                    Manifesto, 2009.
The Scenario
Framework
The Rockefeller Foundation and GBN began the scenario
process by surfacing a host of driving forces that
would affect the future of technology and international
development. These forces were generated through both
secondary research and in-depth interviews with Foundation
staff, Foundation grantees, and external experts.

Next, all these constituents came together           from renewable resources and may succeed, but
in several exploratory workshops to further          there will likely still be a significant level of
brainstorm the content of these forces,              global interdependence on energy.
which could be divided into two categories:
                                                     Predetermined elements are important to
predetermined elements and critical
                                                     any scenario story, but they are not the
uncertainties. A good starting point for any




                                                                                                        Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development
                                                     foundation on which these stories are built.
set of scenarios is to understand those driving
                                                     Rather, scenarios are formed around “critical
forces that we can be reasonably certain will
                                                     uncertainties” — driving forces that are
shape the worlds we are describing, also known
                                                     considered both highly important to the focal
as “predetermined elements.” For example, it is
                                                     issue and highly uncertain in terms of their
a near geopolitical certainty that — with the rise
                                                     future resolution. Whereas predetermined
of China, India, and other nations — a multi-polar
                                                     elements are predictable driving forces,
global system is emerging. One demographic
                                                     uncertainties are by their nature unpredictable:
certainty is that global population growth
                                                     their outcome can be guessed at but not known.
will continue and will put pressure on energy,
food, and water resources — especially in the
developing world. Another related certainty: that                                                       13
the world will strive to source more of its energy
While any single uncertainty could challenge         for example, the pervasiveness of conflict
                                                                       our thinking, the future will be shaped by           in the developing world; the frequency and
                                                                       multiple forces playing out over time. The           severity of shocks like economic and political
                                                                       scenario framework provides a structured way to      crises, disease, and natural disasters; and the
                                                                       consider how these critical uncertainties might      locus of innovation for crucial technologies
                                                                       unfold and evolve in combination. Identifying        for development. (A full list of the critical
                                                                       the two most important uncertainties guarantees      uncertainties identified during the project, as
                                                                       that the resulting scenarios will differ in ways     well as a list of project participants, can be
                                                                       that have been judged to be critical to the          found in the Appendix.)
                                                                       focal question.
                                                                                                                            The two chosen uncertainties, introduced
                                                                                                                            below, together define a set of four scenarios
                                                                       CHOOSING THE CRITICAL                                for the future of technology and international
                                                                       UNCERTAINTIES                                        development that are divergent, challenging,
                                                                       During this project’s scenario creation workshop,    internally consistent, and plausible. Each of the
                                                                       participants — who represented a range of            two uncertainties is expressed as an axis that
                                                                       regional and international perspectives — selected   represents a continuum of possibilities ranging
                                                                       the two critical uncertainties that would form       between two endpoints.
Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development




                                                                       the basis of the scenario framework. They
                                                                       chose these two uncertainties from a longer
                                                                                                                            STRONG      POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC ALIGNMENT      WEAK
                                                                       list of potential uncertainties that might
                                                                       shape the broader contextual environment of
                                                                       the scenarios, including social, technology,
                                                                                                                              LOW              ADAPTIVE CAPACITY              HIGH
                                                                       economic, environmental, and political trends.
                                                                       The uncertainties that were considered included,




14
GLOBAL POLITICAL                                   ADAPTIVE CAPACITY
AND ECONOMIC ALIGNMENT
                                                   This uncertainty refers to the capacity at
This uncertainty refers to both the amount         different levels of society to cope with change
of economic integration — the flow of goods,        and to adapt effectively. This ability to adapt
capital, people, and ideas — as well as the        can mean proactively managing existing
extent to which enduring and effective             systems and structures to ensure their resilience
political structures enable the world to deal      against external forces, as well as the ability
with many of the global challenges it faces.       to transform those systems and structures
On one end of the axis, we would see a more        when a changed context means they are no
integrated global economy with high trade          longer suitable. Adaptive capacity is generally
volumes, which enables access to a wider range     associated with higher levels of education in
of goods and services through imports and          a society, as well as the availability of outlets
exports, and the increasing specialization of      for those who have educations to further their
exports. We would also see more cooperation        individual and societal well-being. High levels
at the supra-national level, fostering increased   of adaptive capacity are typically achieved
collaboration, strengthened global institutions,   through the existence of trust in society; the
and the formation of effective international       presence and tolerance of novelty and diversity;
problem-solving networks. At the other             the strength, variety, and overlap of human




                                                                                                       Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development
axis endpoint, the potential for economic          institutions; and the free flow of communication
development in the developing world would          and ideas, especially between and across
be reduced by the fragility of the overall         different levels, e.g., bottom-up and top-down.
global economy — coupled with protectionism        Lower levels of adaptive capacity emerge in
and fragmentation of trade — along with a          the absence of these characteristics and leave
weakening of governance regimes that raise         populations particularly vulnerable to the
barriers to cooperation, thereby hindering         disruptive effects of unanticipated shocks.
agreement on and implementation of large-
scale, interconnected solutions to pressing
global challenges.
                                                                                                       15
Once crossed, these axes create a matrix of four
                                                                       very different futures:

                                                                           LOCK STEP – A world of tighter top-down        HACK ATTACK – An economically
                                                                           government control and more authoritarian      unstable and shock-prone world in which
                                                                           eadership, with limited innovation and         governments weaken, criminals thrive,
                                                                           growing citizen pushback                       and dangerous innovations emerge

                                                                           CLEVER TOGETHER – A world in which             SMART SCRAMBLE – An economically
                                                                           highly coordinated and successful strategies   depressed world in which individuals and
                                                                           emerge for addressing both urgent and          communities develop localized, makeshift
                                                                           entrenched worldwide issues                    solutions to a growing set of problems
Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development




16
THE SCENARIO NARRATIVES                             Please keep in mind that the scenarios in
                                                    this report are stories, not forecasts, and
The scenarios that follow are not meant to be       the plausibility of a scenario does not hinge
exhaustive — rather, they are designed to be        on the occurrence of any particular detail.
both plausible and provocative, to engage your      In the scenario titled “Clever Together,” for
imagination while also raising new questions        example, “a consortium of nations, NGOs [non-
for you about what that future might look and       governmental organizations], and companies
feel like. Each scenario tells a story of how the   establish the Global Technology Assessment
world, and in particular the developing world,      Office” — a detail meant to symbolize how a
might progress over the next 15 to 20 years,        high degree of international coordination and
with an emphasis on those elements relating         adaptation might lead to the formation of a
to the use of different technologies and the        body that anticipates technology’s potential
interaction of these technologies with the lives    societal implications. That detail, along with
of the poor and vulnerable. Accompanying            dozens of others in each scenario, is there to
each scenario is a range of elements that aspire    give you a more tangible “feel” for the world
to further illuminate life, technology, and         described in the scenario. Please consider
philanthropy in that world. These include:          names, dates, and other such specifics in each
      A timeline of possible headlines and          scenario as proxies for types of events, not




                                                                                                     Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development
      emblematic events unfolding during the        as necessary conditions for any particular
      period of the scenario                        scenario to unfold.

      Short descriptions of what technologies       We now invite you to immerse yourself in
      and technology trends we might see            each future world and consider four different
      Initial observations on the changing          visions for the evolution of technology and
      role of philanthropy in that world,           international development to 2030.
      highlighting opportunities and
      challenges that philanthropic
      organizations would face and what their
      operating environment might be like

      A “day in the life” sketch of a person
                                                                                                     17
      living and working in that world
Scenario
                                                                       Narratives

                                                                       LOCK STEP
                                                                       A world of tighter top-down government control and more
                                                                       authoritarian leadership, with limited innovation and growing
                                                                       citizen pushback


                                                                       In 2012, the pandemic that the world had been       The pandemic blanketed the planet — though
                                                                       anticipating for years finally hit. Unlike 2009’s    disproportionate numbers died in Africa,
                                                                       H1N1, this new influenza strain — originating        Southeast Asia, and Central America, where
                                                                       from wild geese — was extremely virulent and        the virus spread like wildfire in the absence
                                                                       deadly. Even the most pandemic-prepared             of official containment protocols. But even
                                                                       nations were quickly overwhelmed when the           in developed countries, containment was a
Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development




                                                                       virus streaked around the world, infecting nearly   challenge. The United States’s initial policy of
                                                                       20 percent of the global population and killing     “strongly discouraging” citizens from flying
                                                                       8 million in just seven months, the majority of     proved deadly in its leniency, accelerating the
                                                                       them healthy young adults. The pandemic also        spread of the virus not just within the U.S. but
                                                                       had a deadly effect on economies: international     across borders. However, a few countries did
                                                                       mobility of both people and goods screeched to      fare better — China in particular. The Chinese
                                                                       a halt, debilitating industries like tourism and    government’s quick imposition and enforcement
                                                                       breaking global supply chains. Even locally,        of mandatory quarantine for all citizens, as well
                                                                       normally bustling shops and office buildings sat     as its instant and near-hermetic sealing off of
                                                                       empty for months, devoid of both employees          all borders, saved millions of lives, stopping
                                                                       and customers.                                      the spread of the virus far earlier than in other
18
                                                                                                                           countries and enabling a swifter post-
                                                                                                                           pandemic recovery.
China’s government was not the only one that        was deemed vital to national interests. In many
took extreme measures to protect its citizens       developed countries, enforced cooperation with a
from risk and exposure. During the pandemic,        suite of new regulations and agreements slowly
national leaders around the world flexed their       but steadily restored both order and, importantly,
authority and imposed airtight rules and            economic growth.
restrictions, from the mandatory wearing of face
                                                    Across the developing world, however, the
masks to body-temperature checks at the entries
                                                    story was different — and much more variable.
to communal spaces like train stations and
                                                    Top-down authority took different forms
supermarkets. Even after the pandemic faded,
                                                    in different countries, hinging largely on
this more authoritarian control and oversight
                                                    the capacity, caliber, and intentions of their
of citizens and their activities stuck and even
                                                    leaders. In countries with strong and thoughtful
intensified. In order to protect themselves from
                                                    leaders, citizens’ overall economic status
the spread of increasingly global problems — from
                                                    and quality of life increased. In India, for
pandemics and transnational terrorism to
                                                    example, air quality drastically improved after
environmental crises and rising poverty — leaders
                                                    2016, when the government outlawed high-
around the world took a firmer grip on power.
                                                    emitting vehicles. In Ghana, the introduction
At first, the notion of a more controlled world      of ambitious government programs to improve
gained wide acceptance and approval. Citizens       basic infrastructure and ensure the availability




                                                                                                         Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development
willingly gave up some of their sovereignty — and   of clean water for all her people led to a sharp
their privacy — to more paternalistic states        decline in water-borne diseases. But more
in exchange for greater safety and stability.       authoritarian leadership worked less well — and
Citizens were more tolerant, and even eager, for    in some cases tragically — in countries run by
top-down direction and oversight, and national      irresponsible elites who used their increased
leaders had more latitude to impose order in the    power to pursue their own interests at the
ways they saw fit. In developed countries, this      expense of their citizens.
heightened oversight took many forms: biometric
                                                    There were other downsides, as the rise of
IDs for all citizens, for example, and tighter
                                                    virulent nationalism created new hazards:
regulation of key industries whose stability
                                                    spectators at the 2018 World Cup, for example,
                                                                                                         19
Scenario Narratives LOCK STEP




                                                                          wore bulletproof vests that sported a patch       Meanwhile, in the developed world, the presence
                                                                          of their national flag. Strong technology          of so many top-down rules and norms greatly
                                                                          regulations stifled innovation, kept costs high,   inhibited entrepreneurial activity. Scientists
                                                                          and curbed adoption. In the developing world,     and innovators were often told by governments
                                                                          access to “approved” technologies increased       what research lines to pursue and were guided
                                                                          but beyond that remained limited: the locus       mostly toward projects that would make money
                                                                          of technology innovation was largely in the       (e.g., market-driven product development) or
                                                                          developed world, leaving many developing          were “sure bets” (e.g., fundamental research),
                                                                          countries on the receiving end of technologies    leaving more risky or innovative research
                                                                          that others consider “best” for them. Some        areas largely untapped. Well-off countries and
                                                                                                                            monopolistic companies with big research and
                                                                                                                            development budgets still made significant
                                                                        “IT IS POSSIBLE TO DISCIPLINE
                                                                                                                            advances, but the IP behind their breakthroughs
                                                                       AND CONTROL SOME SOCIETIES
                                                                                                                            remained locked behind strict national or
                                                                        FOR SOME TIME, BUT NOT THE                          corporate protection. Russia and India imposed
                                                                       WHOLE WORLD ALL THE TIME.”                           stringent domestic standards for supervising
                                                                         – GK Bhat, TARU Leading Edge, India                and certifying encryption-related products and
                                                                                                                            their suppliers — a category that in reality meant
Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development




                                                                                                                            all IT innovations. The U.S. and EU struck back
                                                                          governments found this patronizing and refused    with retaliatory national standards, throwing
                                                                          to distribute computers and other technologies    a wrench in the development and diffusion of
                                                                          that they scoffed at as “second hand.”            technology globally.
                                                                          Meanwhile, developing countries with more
                                                                                                                            Especially in the developing world, acting in
                                                                          resources and better capacity began to innovate
                                                                                                                            one’s national self-interest often meant seeking
                                                                          internally to fill these gaps on their own.
                                                                                                                            practical alliances that fit with those




20
Scenario Narratives LOCK STEP




interests — whether it was gaining access to        Wherever national interests clashed with
needed resources or banding together in order       individual interests, there was conflict. Sporadic
to achieve economic growth. In South America        pushback became increasingly organized and
and Africa, regional and sub-regional alliances     coordinated, as disaffected youth and people
became more structured. Kenya doubled its           who had seen their status and opportunities slip
trade with southern and eastern Africa, as new      away — largely in developing countries — incited
partnerships grew within the continent. China’s     civil unrest. In 2026, protestors in Nigeria
investment in Africa expanded as the bargain        brought down the government, fed up with the
of new jobs and infrastructure in exchange for      entrenched cronyism and corruption. Even those
access to key minerals or food exports proved       who liked the greater stability and predictability
agreeable to many governments. Cross-border         of this world began to grow uncomfortable and
ties proliferated in the form of official security   constrained by so many tight rules and by the
aid. While the deployment of foreign security       strictness of national boundaries. The feeling
teams was welcomed in some of the most dire         lingered that sooner or later, something would
failed states, one-size-fits-all solutions yielded   inevitably upset the neat order that the world’s
few positive results.                               governments had worked so hard to establish.

By 2025, people seemed to be growing weary of
so much top-down control and letting leaders




                                                                                                         Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development
and authorities make choices for them.




                                                                                                         21
Scenario Narratives LOCK STEP



                                                                       HEADLINES                       IN LOCK STEP

                                                                          Quarantine Restricts
                                                                           In-Person Contact;                    Italy Addresses         Vietnam to Require              African Leaders Fear
                                                                            Cellular Networks                    'Immigrant Caregiver'   ‘A Solar Panel                  Repeat of Nigeria's 2026
                                                                                   Overloaded                    Gap with Robots         on Every Home’                  Government Collapse
                                                                                       (2013)                    (2017)                  (2022)                          (2028)


                                                                           2010                         2015                2020                        2025                    2030
                                                                                             Intercontinental        Will Africa’s Embrace    Proliferating Trade
                                                                                           Trade Hit by Strict       of Authoritarian         Networks in Eastern
                                                                                           Pathogen Controls         Capitalism a la          and Southern Africa
                                                                                                      (2015)         China Continue?          Strengthen Regional Ties
                                                                                                                     (2018)                   (2023)




                                                                                         ROLE OF PHILANTHROPY                                           IN LOCK STEP
Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development




                                                                                     Philanthropic organizations will face hard choices in this world. Given the strong
                                                                                     role of governments, doing philanthropy will require heightened diplomacy skills and
                                                                                     the ability to operate effectively in extremely divergent environments. Philanthropy
                                                                                     grantee and civil society relationships will be strongly moderated by government,
                                                                                     and some foundations might choose to align themselves more closely with national
                                                                                     official development assistance (ODA) strategies and government objectives.
                                                                                     Larger philanthropies will retain an outsized share of influence, and many smaller
                                                                                     philanthropies may find value in merging financial, human, and operational resources.

                                                                                     Philanthropic organizations interested in promoting universal rights and freedoms will
                                                                                     get blocked at many nations’ borders. Developing smart, flexible, and wide-ranging
                                                                                     relationships in this world will be key; some philanthropies may choose to work only
22
                                                                                     in places where their skills and services don’t meet resistance. Many governments
                                                                                     will place severe restrictions on the program areas and geographies that international
                                                                                     philanthropies can work in, leading to a narrower and stronger geographic focus or
                                                                                     grant-making in their home country only.
Scenario Narratives LOCK STEP




           TECHNOLOGY                   IN LOCK STEP
        While there is no way of accurately predicting what the important technological
        advancements will be in the future, the scenario narratives point to areas where
        conditions may enable or accelerate the development of certain kinds of technologies.
        Thus for each scenario we offer a sense of the context for technological innovation,
        taking into consideration the pace, geography, and key creators. We also suggest a few
        technology trends and applications that could flourish in each scenario.

        Technological innovation in “Lock Step” is largely driven by government and is
        focused on issues of national security and health and safety. Most technological
        improvements are created by and for developed countries, shaped by governments’
        dual desire to control and to monitor their citizens. In states with poor governance,
        large-scale projects that fail to progress abound.

        Technology trends and applications we might see:

             Scanners using advanced functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)
             technology become the norm at airports and other public areas to detect




                                                                                                 Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development
             abnormal behavior that may indicate “antisocial intent.”

             In the aftermath of pandemic scares, smarter packaging for food and beverages
             is applied first by big companies and producers in a business-to-business
             environment, and then adopted for individual products and consumers.

             New diagnostics are developed to detect communicable diseases. The
             application of health screening also changes; screening becomes a prerequisite
             for release from a hospital or prison, successfully slowing the spread of many
             diseases.

             Tele-presence technologies respond to the demand for less expensive, lower-
             bandwidth, sophisticated communications systems for populations whose travel
             is restricted.
                                                                                                 23

             Driven by protectionism and national security concerns, nations create their
             own independent, regionally defined IT networks, mimicking China’s firewalls.
             Governments have varying degrees of success in policing internet traffic, but
             these efforts nevertheless fracture the “World Wide” Web.
Scenario Narratives LOCK STEP




                                                                                  LIFE      IN LOCK STEP

                                                                               Manisha gazed out on the Ganges River, mesmerized by what she saw. Back in
                                                                               2010, when she was 12 years old, her parents had brought her to this river so that she
                                                                               could bathe in its holy waters. But standing at the edge, Manisha had been afraid. It
                                                                               wasn’t the depth of the river or its currents that had scared her, but the water itself:
                                                                               it was murky and brown and smelled pungently of trash and dead things. Manisha
                                                                               had balked, but her mother had pushed her forward, shouting that this river flowed
                                                                               from the lotus feet of Vishnu and she should be honored to enter it. Along with
                                                                               millions of Hindus, her mother believed the Ganges’s water could cleanse a person’s
                                                                               soul of all sins and even cure the sick. So Manisha had grudgingly dunked herself
                                                                               in the river, accidentally swallowing water in the process and receiving a bad case
                                                                               of giardia, and months of diarrhea, as a result.

                                                                               Remembering that experience is what made today so remarkable. It was now 2025.
                                                                               Manisha was 27 years old and a manager for the Indian government’s Ganges
                                                                               Purification Initiative (GPI). Until recently, the Ganges was still one of the most
Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development




                                                                               polluted rivers in the world, its coliform bacteria levels astronomical due to the
                                                                               frequent disposal of human and animal corpses and of sewage (back in 2010, 89
                                                                               million liters per day) directly into the river. Dozens of organized attempts to clean
                                                                               the Ganges over the years had failed. In 2009, the World Bank even loaned India
                                                                               $1 billion to support the government’s multi-billion dollar cleanup initiative. But
                                                                               then the pandemic hit, and that funding dried up. But what didn’t dry up was the
                                                                               government’s commitment to cleaning the Ganges — now not just an issue of public
                                                                               health but increasingly one of national pride.

                                                                               Manisha had joined the GPI in 2020, in part because she was so impressed by
                                                                               the government’s strong stance on restoring the ecological health of India’s most
                                                                               treasured resource. Many lives in her home city of Jaipur had been saved by the
24
                                                                               government’s quarantines during the pandemic, and that experience, thought
                                                                               Manisha, had given the government the confidence to be so strict about river usage
Scenario Narratives LOCK STEP




        now: how else could they get millions of Indian citizens to completely shift their
        cultural practices in relationship to a holy site? Discarding ritually burned bodies
        in the Ganges was now illegal, punishable by years of jail time. Companies found
        to be dumping waste of any kind in the river were immediately shut down by the
        government. There were also severe restrictions on where people could bathe and
        where they could wash clothing. Every 20 meters along the river was marked by
        a sign outlining the repercussions of “disrespecting India’s most treasured natural
        resource.” Of course, not everyone liked it; protests flared every so often. But no
        one could deny that the Ganges was looking more beautiful and healthier than ever.

        Manisha watched as an engineering team began unloading equipment on the banks.
        Many top Indian scientists and engineers had been recruited by the government to
        develop tools and strategies for cleaning the Ganges in more high-tech ways. Her
        favorite were the submersible bots that continuously “swam” the river to detect,
        through sensors, the presence of chemical pathogens. New riverside filtration




                                                                                               Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development
        systems that sucked in dirty river water and spit out far cleaner water were also
        impressive — especially because on the outside they were designed to look like
        mini-temples. In fact, that’s why Manisha was at the river today, to oversee the
        installation of a filtration system located not even 100 feet from where she first
        stepped into the Ganges as a girl. The water looked so much cleaner now, and recent
        tests suggested that it might even meet drinkability standards by 2035. Manisha
        was tempted to kick off her shoe and dip her toe in, but this was a restricted area
        now — and she, of all people, would never break that law.




                                                                                               25
CLEVER TOGETHER
                                                                       A world in which highly coordinated and successful
                                                                       strategies emerge for addressing both urgent and entrenched
                                                                       worldwide issues


                                                                       The recession of 2008-10 did not turn into the       and expansion largely ignored the very
                                                                       decades-long global economic slide that many         real environmental consequences of their
                                                                       had feared. In fact, quite the opposite: strong      unrestricted growth. Undeniably, the planet’s
                                                                       global growth returned in force, with the world      climate was becoming increasingly unstable.
                                                                       headed once again toward the demographic             Sea levels were rising fast, even as countries
                                                                       and economic projections forecasted before the       continued to build-out coastal mega-cities. In
Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development




                                                                       downturn. India and China were on track to see       2014, the Hudson River overflowed into New
                                                                       their middle classes explode to 1 billion by 2020.   York City during a storm surge, turning the
                                                                       Mega-cities like Sao Paulo and Jakarta expanded      World Trade Center site into a three-foot-deep
                                                                       at a blistering pace as millions poured in from      lake. The image of motorboats navigating
                                                                       rural areas. Countries raced to industrialize        through lower Manhattan jarred the world’s
                                                                       by whatever means necessary; the global              most powerful nations into realizing that climate
                                                                       marketplace bustled.                                 change was not just a developing-world problem.
                                                                                                                            That same year, new measurements showing that
                                                                       But two big problems loomed. First, not all
                                                                                                                            atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were climbing
                                                                       people and places benefited equally from this
                                                                                                                            precipitously created new urgency and pressure
                                                                       return to globalized growth: all boats were
                                                                                                                            for governments (really, for everyone) to do
26                                                                     rising, but some were clearly rising more.
                                                                                                                            something fast.
                                                                       Second, those hell-bent on development
In such an interconnected world, where the           capture processes that would best support
behaviors of one country, company, or individual     the global ecosystem. A functioning global
had potentially high-impact effects on all others,   cap and trade system was also established.
piecemeal attempts by one nation here, one           Worldwide, the pressure to reduce waste and
small collective of environmental organizations      increase efficiency in planet-friendly ways was
there, would not be enough to stave off a climate    enormous. New globally coordinated systems
disaster — or, for that matter, to effectively       for monitoring energy use capacity — including
address a host of other planetary-scale problems.    smart grids and bottom-up pattern recognition
But highly coordinated worldwide strategies for      technologies — were rolled out. These efforts
addressing such urgent issues just might. What       produced real results: by 2022, new projections
was needed was systems thinking — and systems        showed a significant slowing in the rise of
acting — on a global scale.                          atmospheric carbon levels.

International coordination started slowly, then      Inspired by the success of this experiment in
accelerated faster than anyone had imagined.         collective global action, large-scale coordinated
In 2015, a critical mass of middle income and        initiatives intensified. Centralized global
developed countries with strong economic             oversight and governance structures sprang
growth publicly committed to leveraging              up, not just for energy use but also for disease
their resources against global-scale problems,       and technology standards. Such systems




                                                                                                         Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development
beginning with climate change. Together, their       and structures required far greater levels of
governments hashed out plans for monitoring          transparency, which in turn required more
and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in             tech-enabled data collection, processing, and
the short term and improving the absorptive          feedback. Enormous, benign “sousveillance”
capacity of the natural environment over the         systems allowed citizens to access data — all
long term. In 2017, an international agreement       publically available — in real time and react.
was reached on carbon sequestration (by then,        Nation-states lost some of their power and
most multinational corporations had a chief          importance as global architecture strengthened
carbon officer) and intellectual and financial         and regional governance structures emerged.
resources were pooled to build out carbon            International oversight entities like the UN

                                                                                                         27
Scenario Narratives           CLEVER TOGETHER




                                                                           took on new levels of authority, as did regional   delivery and health outcomes. Companies,
                                                                           systems like the Association of Southeast Asian    NGOs, and governments — often acting
                                                                           Nations (ASEAN), the New Partnership for           together — launched pilot programs and learning
                                                                           Africa’s Development (NEPAD), and the Asian        labs to figure out how to best meet the needs
                                                                           Development Bank (ADB). The worldwide spirit       of particular communities, increasing the
                                                                                                                              knowledge base of what worked and what didn’t.
                                                                          “WHAT IS OFTEN SURPRISING                           Pharmaceuticals giants released thousands of
                                                                                                                              drug compounds shown to be effective against
                                                                            ABOUT NEW TECHNOLOGIES
                                                                                                                              diseases like malaria into the public domain
                                                                          IS COLLATERAL DAMAGE: THE
                                                                                                                              as part of an “open innovation” agenda; they
                                                                        EXTENT OF THE PROBLEM THAT                            also opened their archives of R&D on neglected
                                                                          YOU CAN CREATE BY SOLVING                           diseases deemed not commercially viable,
                                                                       ANOTHER PROBLEM IS ALWAYS A                            offering seed funding to scientists who wanted
                                                                                                                              to carry the research forward.
                                                                                  BIT OF A SURPRISE.”
                                                                        – Michael Free, Program for Appropriate               There was a push for major innovations in
                                                                                   Technology in Health (PATH)                energy and water for the developing world,
                                                                                                                              as those areas were thought to be the key to
                                                                           of collaboration also fostered new alliances and
                                                                                                                              improving equity. Better food distribution was
Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development




                                                                           alignments among corporations, NGOs, and
                                                                                                                              also high on the agenda, and more open markets
                                                                           communities.
                                                                                                                              and south-south trade helped make this a reality.
                                                                           These strong alliances laid the groundwork for     In 2022, a consortium of nations, NGOs, and
                                                                           more global and participatory attempts to solve    companies established the Global Technology
                                                                           big problems and raise the standard of living of   Assessment Office, providing easily accessible,
                                                                           everyone. Coordinated efforts to tackle long-      real-time information about the costs and
                                                                           entrenched problems like hunger, disease, and      benefits of various technology applications to
                                                                           access to basic needs took hold. New inexpensive   developing and developed countries alike. All
                                                                           technologies like better medical diagnostics and   of these efforts translated into real progress on
                                                                           more effective vaccines improved healthcare        real problems, opening up new opportunities

28
Scenario Narratives           CLEVER TOGETHER




to address the needs of the bottom billion — and    to solar created new “sun” jobs, drastically cut
enabling developing countries to become engines     CO2 emissions, and earned governments billions
of growth in their own right.                       annually. India exploited its geography to create
                                                    similar “solar valleys” while decentralized solar-
In many parts of the developing world, economic
                                                    powered drip irrigation systems became popular
growth rates increased due to a host of factors.
                                                    in sub-Saharan Africa.
Improved infrastructure accelerated the greater
mobility of both people and goods, and urban        Reduced energy dependency enabled all of these
and rural areas got better connected. In Africa,    countries and regions to better control and
growth that started on the coasts spread inward     manage their own resources. In Africa, political
along new transportation corridors. Increased       architecture above the nation-state level, like
trade drove the specialization of individual firms   the African Union, strengthened and contributed
and the overall diversification of economies.        to a “good governance” drive. Regional
In many places, traditional social barriers to      integration through COMESA (the Common
overcoming poverty grew less relevant as more       Market for Eastern and Southern Africa) and
people gained access to a spectrum of useful        other institutions allowed member nations to
technologies — from disposable computers to do-     better organize to meet their collective needs as
it-yourself (DIY) windmills.                        consumers and increasingly as producers.




                                                                                                         Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development
Given the circumstances that forced these new       Over the course of two decades, enormous strides
heights of global cooperation and responsibility,   were made to make the world less wasteful, more
it was no surprise that much of the growth          efficient, and more inclusive. But the world was
in the developing world was achieved more           far from perfect. There were still failed states
cleanly and more “greenly.” In Africa, there        and places with few resources. Moreover, such
was a big push for solar energy, as the physical    rapid progress had created new problems. Rising
geography and low population density of much        consumption standards unexpectedly ushered
of the continent enabled the proliferation of       in a new set of pressures: the improved food
solar farms. The Desertec initiative to create      distribution system, for example, generated a
massive thermal electricity plants to supply        food production crisis due to greater demand.
both North Africa and, via undersea cable lines,    Indeed, demand for everything was growing
Southern Europe was a huge success. By 2025,        exponentially. By 2028, despite ongoing efforts      29

a majority of electricity in the Maghreb was        to guide “smart growth,” it was becoming clear
coming from solar, with exports of that power       that the world could not support such rapid
earning valuable foreign currency. The switch       growth forever.
Scenario Narratives              CLEVER TOGETHER




                                                                       HEADLINES                    IN CLEVER TOGETHER
                                                                                                            'Info Cruncher' Is
                                                                                                            Grads' Job of                                                  Consortium of Foundations
                                                                                 Global Economy             Choice as Data        A First: U.S. Solar                      Launches Third Green
                                                                                 Turns the Corner           Era Dawns             Power Cheaper than Coal                  Revolution as Food
                                                                                 (2011)                     (2016)                (2020)                                   Shortages Loom (2027)


                                                                          2010                      2015                         2020                       2025                     2030
                                                                                   Radical U.S. and China               Green Infrastructure                 Transparency International
                                                                                  Emission Targets Signal               Reshapes Economic                    Reports 10th Consecutive Year
                                                                                      New Era in Climate                Landscape                            of Improved Governance
                                                                                     Change Negotiations                (2018)                               (2025)
                                                                                                   (2015)




                                                                                     ROLE OF PHILANTHROPY                                      IN CLEVER TOGETHER
Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development




                                                                                 In this world, philanthropic organizations focus their attention on the needs of the
                                                                                 bottom billion, collaborating with governments, businesses, and local NGOs to improve
                                                                                 standards of living around the globe. Operationally, this is a “virtual model” world
                                                                                 in which philanthropies use all of the tools at their disposal to reinforce and bolster
                                                                                 their work. With partnerships and networks increasingly key, philanthropies work in a
                                                                                 more virtual way, characterized by lots of wikis, blogs, workspaces, video conferences,
                                                                                 and virtual convenings. Smaller philanthropies proliferate, with a growing number of
                                                                                 major donors emerging from the developing world.

                                                                                 Systems thinking and knowledge management prove to be critical skills, as
                                                                                 philanthropic organizations seek to share and spread best practices, identify leapfrog
30
                                                                                 opportunities, and better spot problems in failed or weak states. There are considerable
                                                                                 flows of talent between the for-profit and nonprofit sectors, and the lines between
                                                                                 these types of organizations become increasingly blurred.
Scenario Narratives       CLEVER TOGETHER




           TECHNOLOGY                IN CLEVER TOGETHER
        In “Clever Together,” strong global cooperation on a range of issues drives technological
        breakthroughs that combat disease, climate change, and energy shortages. Trade and
        foreign direct investment spread technologies in all directions and make products
        cheaper for people in the developing world, thereby widening access to a range of
        technologies. The atmosphere of cooperation and transparency allows states and
        regions to glean insights from massive datasets to vastly improve the management
        and allocation of financial and environmental resources.

        Technology trends and applications we might see:

              The cost of capturing data through nanosensors and smart networks falls
              precipitously. In many developing countries, this leads to a proliferation of
              new and useful services, including “sousveillance” mechanisms that improve
              governance and enable more efficient use of government resources.

              Intelligent electricity, water distribution, and transportation systems develop
              in urban areas. In these “smart cities,” internet access is seen as a basic right
              by the late 2010s.




                                                                                                    Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development
              A malaria vaccine is developed and deployed broadly — saving millions of lives
              in the developing world.

              Advances in low-cost mind-controlled prosthetics aid the 80 percent of global
              amputees who live in developing countries.

              Solar power is made vastly more efficient through advances in materials,
              including polymers and nanoparticles. An effective combination of
              government subsidies and microfinance means solar is used for everything
              from desalination for agriculture to wi-fi networks.

              Flexible and rapid mobile payment systems drive dynamic economic growth
              in the developing world, while the developed world is hampered by entrenched
                                                                                                    31
              banking interests and regulation.
GBN/Rockefeller Scenarios on Technology & Development
GBN/Rockefeller Scenarios on Technology & Development
GBN/Rockefeller Scenarios on Technology & Development
GBN/Rockefeller Scenarios on Technology & Development
GBN/Rockefeller Scenarios on Technology & Development
GBN/Rockefeller Scenarios on Technology & Development
GBN/Rockefeller Scenarios on Technology & Development
GBN/Rockefeller Scenarios on Technology & Development
GBN/Rockefeller Scenarios on Technology & Development
GBN/Rockefeller Scenarios on Technology & Development
GBN/Rockefeller Scenarios on Technology & Development
GBN/Rockefeller Scenarios on Technology & Development
GBN/Rockefeller Scenarios on Technology & Development
GBN/Rockefeller Scenarios on Technology & Development
GBN/Rockefeller Scenarios on Technology & Development
GBN/Rockefeller Scenarios on Technology & Development
GBN/Rockefeller Scenarios on Technology & Development
GBN/Rockefeller Scenarios on Technology & Development
GBN/Rockefeller Scenarios on Technology & Development
GBN/Rockefeller Scenarios on Technology & Development
GBN/Rockefeller Scenarios on Technology & Development
GBN/Rockefeller Scenarios on Technology & Development
GBN/Rockefeller Scenarios on Technology & Development

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GBN/Rockefeller Scenarios on Technology & Development

  • 1. Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development
  • 2. This report was produced by The Rockefeller Foundation and Global Business Network. May 2010
  • 3. Contents Letter from Judith Rodin. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Letter from Peter Schwartz . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 WHY SCENARIOS? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 WHY TECHNOLOGY? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 THE FOCAL QUESTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 ENGAGING YOUR IMAGINATION ...................................... 11 The Scenario Framework . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 CHOOSING THE CRITICAL UNCERTAINTIES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 GLOBAL POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC ALIGNMENT .................... 15 ADAPTIVE CAPACITY ................................................. 15 THE SCENARIO NARRATIVES ......................................... 17 Lock Step . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Clever Together . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Hack Attack . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Smart Scramble . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42 Concluding Thoughts. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 Appendix . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51
  • 4. Letter from Judith Rodin President of the Rockefeller Foundation The Rockefeller Foundation supports work that expands opportunity and strengthens resilience to social, economic, health, and environmental challenges — affirming its pioneering philanthropic mission, since 1913, to “promote the well-being” of humanity. We take a synergistic, strategic approach that places a high value on innovative processes and encourages new ways of seeking ideas, to break down silos and encourage interdisciplinary thinking. One important — and novel — component of our strategy toolkit is scenario planning, a process of creating narratives about the future based on factors likely to affect a particular set of challenges and opportunities. We believe that scenario planning has great potential for use in philanthropy to identify unique interventions, simulate and rehearse important decisions that could have profound implications, and highlight previously undiscovered areas of connection and intersection. Most important, by providing a methodological structure that helps us focus on what we don’t know — instead of what we already know — scenario planning allows us to achieve impact more effectively. Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development The results of our first scenario planning exercise demonstrate a provocative and engaging exploration of the role of technology and the future of globalization, as you will see in the following pages. This report is crucial reading for anyone interested in creatively considering the multiple, divergent ways in which our world could evolve. The sparks of insight inspiring these narratives — along with their implications for philanthropy as a whole — were generated through the invaluable collaboration of grantee representatives, external experts, and Rockefeller Foundation staff. I offer a special thanks to Peter Schwartz, Andrew Blau, and the entire team at Global Business Network, who have helped guide us through this stimulating and energizing process. 4
  • 5. Leading this effort at the Rockefeller Foundation is our Research Unit, which analyzes emerging risks and opportunities and thinks imaginatively about how to respond to the complex, rapidly changing world around us. This outward-looking intelligence function adopts a cross-cutting mindset that synthesizes and integrates knowledge that accelerates our ability to act more quickly and effectively. It has also helped to shape and build the notion of “pro-poor foresight” that is committed to applying forward-looking tools and techniques to improve the lives of poor and vulnerable populations around the world. I hope this publication makes clear exactly why my colleagues and I are so excited about the promise of using scenario planning to develop robust strategies and offer a refreshing viewpoint on the possibilities that lie ahead. We welcome your feedback. Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development Judith Rodin President The Rockefeller Foundation 5
  • 6. Letter from Peter Schwartz Cofounder and Chairman of Global Business Network We are at a moment in history that is full of opportunity. Technology is poised to transform the lives of millions of people throughout the world, especially those who have had little or no access to the tools that can deliver sustainable improvements for their families and communities. From farmers using mobile phones to buy and sell crops to doctors remotely monitoring and treating influenza outbreaks in rural villages, technology is rapidly becoming more and more integral to the pace and progress of development. Philanthropy has a unique and critical role to play in this process. By focusing its patience, capital, and attention on the links between technology and international development, philanthropy will change not just lives but the very context in which the field of philanthropy operates. This report represents an initial step in that direction. It explores four very different — yet very possible — scenarios for the future of technology and development in order to illuminate the challenges and opportunities that may lie ahead. It promotes a deeper understanding of the complex forces and dynamics that will accelerate or inhibit the use of technology Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development to spur growth, opportunity, and resilience especially in the developing world. Finally, it will seed a new strategic conversation among the key public, private, and philanthropic stakeholders about technology and development at the policy, program, and human levels. The Rockefeller Foundation’s use of scenario planning to explore technology and international development has been both inspired and ambitious. Throughout my 40-plus-year career as a scenario planner, I have worked with many of the world’s leading companies, governments, foundations, and nonprofits — and I know firsthand the power of the approach. Scenario planning is a powerful tool precisely because the future is unpredictable and shaped by many interacting variables. Scenarios 6 enable us to think creatively and rigorously about the different ways these forces may interact, while forcing us to challenge our own assumptions about what we
  • 7. believe or hope the future will be. Scenarios embrace and weave together multiple perspectives and provide an ongoing framework for spotting and making sense of important changes as they emerge. Perhaps most importantly, scenarios give us a new, shared language that deepens our conversations about the future and how we can help to shape it. The Rockefeller Foundation has already used this project as an opportunity to clarify and advance the relationship between technology and development. Through interviews and the scenario workshops, they have engaged a diverse set of people — from different geographies, disciplines, and sectors — to identify the key forces driving change, to explore the most critical uncertainties, and to develop challenging yet plausible scenarios and implications. They have stretched their thinking far beyond theoretical models of technology innovation and diffusion in order to imagine how technology could actually change the lives of people from many walks of life. This is only the start of an important conversation that will continue to shape the potential of technology and international development going Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development forward. I look forward to staying a part of that conversation and to the better future it will bring. Peter Schwartz Cofounder and Chairman Global Business Network 7
  • 8. Introduction For decades, technology has been dramatically changing not just the lives of individuals in developed countries, but increasingly the lives and livelihoods of people throughout the developing world. Whether it is a community mobile phone, a solar panel, a new farming practice, or a cutting- edge medical device, technology is altering the landscape of possibility in places where possibilities used to be scarce. And yet looking out to the future, there is no lives of poor communities but also to help scale single story to be told about how technology and spread those that emerge? And how will the will continue to help shape — or even social, technological, economic, environmental, Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development revolutionize — life in developing countries. There and political conditions of the future enable or are many possibilities, some good and some less inhibit our ability to do so? so, some known and some unknowable. Indeed, The Rockefeller Foundation believes that for everything we think we can anticipate about in order to understand the many ways in how technology and international development which technology will impact international will interact and intertwine in the next 20 years development in the future, we must first broaden and beyond, there is so much more that we and deepen our individual and collective cannot yet even imagine. understanding of the range of possibilities. This For philanthropies as well as for other report, and the project upon which it is based, organizations, this presents a unique challenge: is one attempt to do that. In it, we share the 8 given the uncertainty about how the future will outputs and insights from a year-long project, play out, how can we best position ourselves not undertaken by the Rockefeller Foundation and just to identify technologies that improve the Global Business Network (GBN), designed to
  • 9. explore the role of technology in international then to begin to examine what those possible development through scenario planning, a alternative paths may imply for the world’s methodology in which GBN is a long-time leader. poor and vulnerable populations. Such an exercise required project participants to push This report builds on the Rockefeller their thinking far beyond the status quo, into Foundation’s growing body of work in the uncharted territory. emerging field of pro-poor foresight. In 2009, the Institute for Alternative Futures published Scenario planning is a methodology designed the report Foresight for Smart Globalization: to help guide groups and individuals through Accelerating and Enhancing Pro-Poor exactly this creative process. The process Development Opportunities, with support from begins by identifying forces of change in the the Rockefeller Foundation. That effort was a world, then combining those forces in different reflection of the Foundation’s strong commitment ways to create a set of diverse stories — or to exploring innovative processes and embracing scenarios — about how the future could evolve. new pathways for insight aimed at helping the Scenarios are designed to stretch our thinking world’s poor. With this report, the Foundation about both the opportunities and obstacles that takes a further step in advancing the field of the future might hold; they explore, through pro-poor foresight, this time through the lens of narrative, events and dynamics that might scenario planning. alter, inhibit, or enhance current trends, often Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development in surprising ways. Together, a set of scenarios WHY SCENARIOS? captures a range of future possibilities, good and bad, expected and surprising — but The goal of this project was not to affirm what always plausible. Importantly, scenarios are is already known and knowable about what not predictions. Rather, they are thoughtful is happening right now at the intersections of hypotheses that allow us to imagine, and then to technology and development. Rather, it was to rehearse, different strategies for how to be more explore the many ways in which technology prepared for the future — or more ambitiously, and development could co-evolve — could both how to help shape better push and inhibit each other — in the future, and futures ourselves. 9
  • 10. WHY TECHNOLOGY? as a category, cannot be divorced from the context in which it develops. The scenarios Technology was chosen as a focal point of this shared in this report explore four such contexts, project because of its potentially transformative each of which, as you’ll see, suggests very role — both in a positive and negative way — in different landscapes for technology and its addressing a wide range of development potential impacts in the developing world. challenges, from climate change, healthcare, and agriculture to housing, transportation, and Finally, a note about what we mean by education. Yet while there is little doubt that “technology.” In this report, we use the term to technology will continue to be a driver of change refer to a broad spectrum of tools and methods of across the developing world in the future, the organization. Technologies can range from tools precise trajectory along which technological for basic survival, such as a treadle pump and innovation will travel is highly uncertain. basic filtration technologies, to more advanced For example, will critical technological innovations, such as methods of collecting advances come from the developed world, or and utilizing data in health informatics will innovators and their innovations be more and novel building materials with real-time geographically dispersed? Or, how might the environmental sensing capabilities. This global economic and political environment affect report focuses on themes associated with the the pace of technology development? widespread scalability, adoption, and assessment Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development of technology in the developing world. While It is important to state that in focusing on the scenarios themselves are narratives about technology, this project did not set out to the global environment, we have paid particular identify a set of exact, yet-to-be-invented attention to how events might transpire in sub- technologies that will help shape and change the Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, and India. future. Rather, the goal was to gain a broader and richer understanding of different paths along which technology could develop — paths that will be strongly influenced by the overall global environment in which the inventors and adopters of those technologies will find 10 themselves working and dwelling. Technology,
  • 11. THE FOCAL QUESTION enough that significant technological change is plausible and sufficiently short enough that Every scenario project has a focal question — we can imagine some possibilities for the kinds a broad yet strategic query that serves as an of technologies that could be developed and anchor for the scenarios. For this project, the applied. Focusing on how to overcome a set focal question was: of obstacles associated with the application of technology to the challenges of development How might technology affect barriers to helped to both bound the inquiry and promote a building resilience and equitable growth problem-solving approach that seeks to identify in the developing world over the next potential, systematic intervention opportunities. 15 to 20 years? ENGAGING YOUR IMAGINATION In other words, what new or existing technologies could be leveraged to improve It is our hope that these scenarios help inspire the capacity of individuals, communities, the same future-orientation in other initiatives and systems to respond to major changes, or that are broadly concerned with technology and what technologies could improve the lives of international development. Of course, there is no vulnerable populations around the world? A hard data about the future — nobody yet knows 15- to 20-year timeframe was chosen on the Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development precisely what technologies will be successful at assumption that it is both sufficiently long addressing new and evolving development needs. Rather, as you read the scenarios, think of them as a journey — four journeys — into a future that is relevant, thought-provoking, and possible. A Note on Terminology Imagine how the world will function and how The Foundation’s work promotes “resilience it will be organized to tackle the challenges it and equitable growth.” Resilience refers to faces. Who will be responsible for driving local the capacity of individuals, communities, and global development initiatives and what and systems to survive, adapt, and grow would that require? And what is your own role in the face of changes, even catastrophic in leading your organization, community, or incidents. Equitable growth involves enabling region to a preferred future? 11 individuals, communities, and institutions to access new tools, practices, resources, services, and products.
  • 12. Scenarios are a medium through which great could shape development, and test and adjust change can be not just envisioned but also your strategies or personal actions accordingly. actualized. The more closely you read them, the It is also our hope that these scenarios help more likely it becomes that you will recognize to identify potential areas of future work for their important but less obvious implications governments, philanthropies, corporations, and to you, your work, and your community. We nonprofits, and that they illuminate choices and strongly encourage you to share and discuss commitments that a wide range of organizations this report widely, use it as a springboard for may want to make in these areas in the future. further creative thinking about how technology FURTHER READING ON TECHNOLOGY AND DEVELOPMENT This report adds to a growing body of literature focusing on the relationship between technology, development, and social systems. While not a comprehensive list, the following readings offer additional insights on this topic. Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development Caroline Wagner, The New Invisible College: Science for Development, 2008. Institute for the Future, Science and Technology Outlook: 2005-2055, 2006. RAND Corporation, The Global Technology Revolution 2020, In-Depth Analyses, 2006. World Bank, Science, Technology, and Innovation: Capacity Building for Sustainable Growth and Poverty Reduction, 2008. UN Millennium Project, Task Force on Science, Technology, and Innovation, Innovation: Applying Knowledge in Development, 2006. W. Brian Arthur, The Nature of Technology: What It Is and How It Evolves, 2009. 12 STEPS Centre Working Papers, Innovation, Sustainability, Development: A New Manifesto, 2009.
  • 13. The Scenario Framework The Rockefeller Foundation and GBN began the scenario process by surfacing a host of driving forces that would affect the future of technology and international development. These forces were generated through both secondary research and in-depth interviews with Foundation staff, Foundation grantees, and external experts. Next, all these constituents came together from renewable resources and may succeed, but in several exploratory workshops to further there will likely still be a significant level of brainstorm the content of these forces, global interdependence on energy. which could be divided into two categories: Predetermined elements are important to predetermined elements and critical any scenario story, but they are not the uncertainties. A good starting point for any Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development foundation on which these stories are built. set of scenarios is to understand those driving Rather, scenarios are formed around “critical forces that we can be reasonably certain will uncertainties” — driving forces that are shape the worlds we are describing, also known considered both highly important to the focal as “predetermined elements.” For example, it is issue and highly uncertain in terms of their a near geopolitical certainty that — with the rise future resolution. Whereas predetermined of China, India, and other nations — a multi-polar elements are predictable driving forces, global system is emerging. One demographic uncertainties are by their nature unpredictable: certainty is that global population growth their outcome can be guessed at but not known. will continue and will put pressure on energy, food, and water resources — especially in the developing world. Another related certainty: that 13 the world will strive to source more of its energy
  • 14. While any single uncertainty could challenge for example, the pervasiveness of conflict our thinking, the future will be shaped by in the developing world; the frequency and multiple forces playing out over time. The severity of shocks like economic and political scenario framework provides a structured way to crises, disease, and natural disasters; and the consider how these critical uncertainties might locus of innovation for crucial technologies unfold and evolve in combination. Identifying for development. (A full list of the critical the two most important uncertainties guarantees uncertainties identified during the project, as that the resulting scenarios will differ in ways well as a list of project participants, can be that have been judged to be critical to the found in the Appendix.) focal question. The two chosen uncertainties, introduced below, together define a set of four scenarios CHOOSING THE CRITICAL for the future of technology and international UNCERTAINTIES development that are divergent, challenging, During this project’s scenario creation workshop, internally consistent, and plausible. Each of the participants — who represented a range of two uncertainties is expressed as an axis that regional and international perspectives — selected represents a continuum of possibilities ranging the two critical uncertainties that would form between two endpoints. Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development the basis of the scenario framework. They chose these two uncertainties from a longer STRONG POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC ALIGNMENT WEAK list of potential uncertainties that might shape the broader contextual environment of the scenarios, including social, technology, LOW ADAPTIVE CAPACITY HIGH economic, environmental, and political trends. The uncertainties that were considered included, 14
  • 15. GLOBAL POLITICAL ADAPTIVE CAPACITY AND ECONOMIC ALIGNMENT This uncertainty refers to the capacity at This uncertainty refers to both the amount different levels of society to cope with change of economic integration — the flow of goods, and to adapt effectively. This ability to adapt capital, people, and ideas — as well as the can mean proactively managing existing extent to which enduring and effective systems and structures to ensure their resilience political structures enable the world to deal against external forces, as well as the ability with many of the global challenges it faces. to transform those systems and structures On one end of the axis, we would see a more when a changed context means they are no integrated global economy with high trade longer suitable. Adaptive capacity is generally volumes, which enables access to a wider range associated with higher levels of education in of goods and services through imports and a society, as well as the availability of outlets exports, and the increasing specialization of for those who have educations to further their exports. We would also see more cooperation individual and societal well-being. High levels at the supra-national level, fostering increased of adaptive capacity are typically achieved collaboration, strengthened global institutions, through the existence of trust in society; the and the formation of effective international presence and tolerance of novelty and diversity; problem-solving networks. At the other the strength, variety, and overlap of human Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development axis endpoint, the potential for economic institutions; and the free flow of communication development in the developing world would and ideas, especially between and across be reduced by the fragility of the overall different levels, e.g., bottom-up and top-down. global economy — coupled with protectionism Lower levels of adaptive capacity emerge in and fragmentation of trade — along with a the absence of these characteristics and leave weakening of governance regimes that raise populations particularly vulnerable to the barriers to cooperation, thereby hindering disruptive effects of unanticipated shocks. agreement on and implementation of large- scale, interconnected solutions to pressing global challenges. 15
  • 16. Once crossed, these axes create a matrix of four very different futures: LOCK STEP – A world of tighter top-down HACK ATTACK – An economically government control and more authoritarian unstable and shock-prone world in which eadership, with limited innovation and governments weaken, criminals thrive, growing citizen pushback and dangerous innovations emerge CLEVER TOGETHER – A world in which SMART SCRAMBLE – An economically highly coordinated and successful strategies depressed world in which individuals and emerge for addressing both urgent and communities develop localized, makeshift entrenched worldwide issues solutions to a growing set of problems Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development 16
  • 17. THE SCENARIO NARRATIVES Please keep in mind that the scenarios in this report are stories, not forecasts, and The scenarios that follow are not meant to be the plausibility of a scenario does not hinge exhaustive — rather, they are designed to be on the occurrence of any particular detail. both plausible and provocative, to engage your In the scenario titled “Clever Together,” for imagination while also raising new questions example, “a consortium of nations, NGOs [non- for you about what that future might look and governmental organizations], and companies feel like. Each scenario tells a story of how the establish the Global Technology Assessment world, and in particular the developing world, Office” — a detail meant to symbolize how a might progress over the next 15 to 20 years, high degree of international coordination and with an emphasis on those elements relating adaptation might lead to the formation of a to the use of different technologies and the body that anticipates technology’s potential interaction of these technologies with the lives societal implications. That detail, along with of the poor and vulnerable. Accompanying dozens of others in each scenario, is there to each scenario is a range of elements that aspire give you a more tangible “feel” for the world to further illuminate life, technology, and described in the scenario. Please consider philanthropy in that world. These include: names, dates, and other such specifics in each A timeline of possible headlines and scenario as proxies for types of events, not Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development emblematic events unfolding during the as necessary conditions for any particular period of the scenario scenario to unfold. Short descriptions of what technologies We now invite you to immerse yourself in and technology trends we might see each future world and consider four different Initial observations on the changing visions for the evolution of technology and role of philanthropy in that world, international development to 2030. highlighting opportunities and challenges that philanthropic organizations would face and what their operating environment might be like A “day in the life” sketch of a person 17 living and working in that world
  • 18. Scenario Narratives LOCK STEP A world of tighter top-down government control and more authoritarian leadership, with limited innovation and growing citizen pushback In 2012, the pandemic that the world had been The pandemic blanketed the planet — though anticipating for years finally hit. Unlike 2009’s disproportionate numbers died in Africa, H1N1, this new influenza strain — originating Southeast Asia, and Central America, where from wild geese — was extremely virulent and the virus spread like wildfire in the absence deadly. Even the most pandemic-prepared of official containment protocols. But even nations were quickly overwhelmed when the in developed countries, containment was a Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development virus streaked around the world, infecting nearly challenge. The United States’s initial policy of 20 percent of the global population and killing “strongly discouraging” citizens from flying 8 million in just seven months, the majority of proved deadly in its leniency, accelerating the them healthy young adults. The pandemic also spread of the virus not just within the U.S. but had a deadly effect on economies: international across borders. However, a few countries did mobility of both people and goods screeched to fare better — China in particular. The Chinese a halt, debilitating industries like tourism and government’s quick imposition and enforcement breaking global supply chains. Even locally, of mandatory quarantine for all citizens, as well normally bustling shops and office buildings sat as its instant and near-hermetic sealing off of empty for months, devoid of both employees all borders, saved millions of lives, stopping and customers. the spread of the virus far earlier than in other 18 countries and enabling a swifter post- pandemic recovery.
  • 19. China’s government was not the only one that was deemed vital to national interests. In many took extreme measures to protect its citizens developed countries, enforced cooperation with a from risk and exposure. During the pandemic, suite of new regulations and agreements slowly national leaders around the world flexed their but steadily restored both order and, importantly, authority and imposed airtight rules and economic growth. restrictions, from the mandatory wearing of face Across the developing world, however, the masks to body-temperature checks at the entries story was different — and much more variable. to communal spaces like train stations and Top-down authority took different forms supermarkets. Even after the pandemic faded, in different countries, hinging largely on this more authoritarian control and oversight the capacity, caliber, and intentions of their of citizens and their activities stuck and even leaders. In countries with strong and thoughtful intensified. In order to protect themselves from leaders, citizens’ overall economic status the spread of increasingly global problems — from and quality of life increased. In India, for pandemics and transnational terrorism to example, air quality drastically improved after environmental crises and rising poverty — leaders 2016, when the government outlawed high- around the world took a firmer grip on power. emitting vehicles. In Ghana, the introduction At first, the notion of a more controlled world of ambitious government programs to improve gained wide acceptance and approval. Citizens basic infrastructure and ensure the availability Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development willingly gave up some of their sovereignty — and of clean water for all her people led to a sharp their privacy — to more paternalistic states decline in water-borne diseases. But more in exchange for greater safety and stability. authoritarian leadership worked less well — and Citizens were more tolerant, and even eager, for in some cases tragically — in countries run by top-down direction and oversight, and national irresponsible elites who used their increased leaders had more latitude to impose order in the power to pursue their own interests at the ways they saw fit. In developed countries, this expense of their citizens. heightened oversight took many forms: biometric There were other downsides, as the rise of IDs for all citizens, for example, and tighter virulent nationalism created new hazards: regulation of key industries whose stability spectators at the 2018 World Cup, for example, 19
  • 20. Scenario Narratives LOCK STEP wore bulletproof vests that sported a patch Meanwhile, in the developed world, the presence of their national flag. Strong technology of so many top-down rules and norms greatly regulations stifled innovation, kept costs high, inhibited entrepreneurial activity. Scientists and curbed adoption. In the developing world, and innovators were often told by governments access to “approved” technologies increased what research lines to pursue and were guided but beyond that remained limited: the locus mostly toward projects that would make money of technology innovation was largely in the (e.g., market-driven product development) or developed world, leaving many developing were “sure bets” (e.g., fundamental research), countries on the receiving end of technologies leaving more risky or innovative research that others consider “best” for them. Some areas largely untapped. Well-off countries and monopolistic companies with big research and development budgets still made significant “IT IS POSSIBLE TO DISCIPLINE advances, but the IP behind their breakthroughs AND CONTROL SOME SOCIETIES remained locked behind strict national or FOR SOME TIME, BUT NOT THE corporate protection. Russia and India imposed WHOLE WORLD ALL THE TIME.” stringent domestic standards for supervising – GK Bhat, TARU Leading Edge, India and certifying encryption-related products and their suppliers — a category that in reality meant Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development all IT innovations. The U.S. and EU struck back governments found this patronizing and refused with retaliatory national standards, throwing to distribute computers and other technologies a wrench in the development and diffusion of that they scoffed at as “second hand.” technology globally. Meanwhile, developing countries with more Especially in the developing world, acting in resources and better capacity began to innovate one’s national self-interest often meant seeking internally to fill these gaps on their own. practical alliances that fit with those 20
  • 21. Scenario Narratives LOCK STEP interests — whether it was gaining access to Wherever national interests clashed with needed resources or banding together in order individual interests, there was conflict. Sporadic to achieve economic growth. In South America pushback became increasingly organized and and Africa, regional and sub-regional alliances coordinated, as disaffected youth and people became more structured. Kenya doubled its who had seen their status and opportunities slip trade with southern and eastern Africa, as new away — largely in developing countries — incited partnerships grew within the continent. China’s civil unrest. In 2026, protestors in Nigeria investment in Africa expanded as the bargain brought down the government, fed up with the of new jobs and infrastructure in exchange for entrenched cronyism and corruption. Even those access to key minerals or food exports proved who liked the greater stability and predictability agreeable to many governments. Cross-border of this world began to grow uncomfortable and ties proliferated in the form of official security constrained by so many tight rules and by the aid. While the deployment of foreign security strictness of national boundaries. The feeling teams was welcomed in some of the most dire lingered that sooner or later, something would failed states, one-size-fits-all solutions yielded inevitably upset the neat order that the world’s few positive results. governments had worked so hard to establish. By 2025, people seemed to be growing weary of so much top-down control and letting leaders Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development and authorities make choices for them. 21
  • 22. Scenario Narratives LOCK STEP HEADLINES IN LOCK STEP Quarantine Restricts In-Person Contact; Italy Addresses Vietnam to Require African Leaders Fear Cellular Networks 'Immigrant Caregiver' ‘A Solar Panel Repeat of Nigeria's 2026 Overloaded Gap with Robots on Every Home’ Government Collapse (2013) (2017) (2022) (2028) 2010 2015 2020 2025 2030 Intercontinental Will Africa’s Embrace Proliferating Trade Trade Hit by Strict of Authoritarian Networks in Eastern Pathogen Controls Capitalism a la and Southern Africa (2015) China Continue? Strengthen Regional Ties (2018) (2023) ROLE OF PHILANTHROPY IN LOCK STEP Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development Philanthropic organizations will face hard choices in this world. Given the strong role of governments, doing philanthropy will require heightened diplomacy skills and the ability to operate effectively in extremely divergent environments. Philanthropy grantee and civil society relationships will be strongly moderated by government, and some foundations might choose to align themselves more closely with national official development assistance (ODA) strategies and government objectives. Larger philanthropies will retain an outsized share of influence, and many smaller philanthropies may find value in merging financial, human, and operational resources. Philanthropic organizations interested in promoting universal rights and freedoms will get blocked at many nations’ borders. Developing smart, flexible, and wide-ranging relationships in this world will be key; some philanthropies may choose to work only 22 in places where their skills and services don’t meet resistance. Many governments will place severe restrictions on the program areas and geographies that international philanthropies can work in, leading to a narrower and stronger geographic focus or grant-making in their home country only.
  • 23. Scenario Narratives LOCK STEP TECHNOLOGY IN LOCK STEP While there is no way of accurately predicting what the important technological advancements will be in the future, the scenario narratives point to areas where conditions may enable or accelerate the development of certain kinds of technologies. Thus for each scenario we offer a sense of the context for technological innovation, taking into consideration the pace, geography, and key creators. We also suggest a few technology trends and applications that could flourish in each scenario. Technological innovation in “Lock Step” is largely driven by government and is focused on issues of national security and health and safety. Most technological improvements are created by and for developed countries, shaped by governments’ dual desire to control and to monitor their citizens. In states with poor governance, large-scale projects that fail to progress abound. Technology trends and applications we might see: Scanners using advanced functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technology become the norm at airports and other public areas to detect Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development abnormal behavior that may indicate “antisocial intent.” In the aftermath of pandemic scares, smarter packaging for food and beverages is applied first by big companies and producers in a business-to-business environment, and then adopted for individual products and consumers. New diagnostics are developed to detect communicable diseases. The application of health screening also changes; screening becomes a prerequisite for release from a hospital or prison, successfully slowing the spread of many diseases. Tele-presence technologies respond to the demand for less expensive, lower- bandwidth, sophisticated communications systems for populations whose travel is restricted. 23 Driven by protectionism and national security concerns, nations create their own independent, regionally defined IT networks, mimicking China’s firewalls. Governments have varying degrees of success in policing internet traffic, but these efforts nevertheless fracture the “World Wide” Web.
  • 24. Scenario Narratives LOCK STEP LIFE IN LOCK STEP Manisha gazed out on the Ganges River, mesmerized by what she saw. Back in 2010, when she was 12 years old, her parents had brought her to this river so that she could bathe in its holy waters. But standing at the edge, Manisha had been afraid. It wasn’t the depth of the river or its currents that had scared her, but the water itself: it was murky and brown and smelled pungently of trash and dead things. Manisha had balked, but her mother had pushed her forward, shouting that this river flowed from the lotus feet of Vishnu and she should be honored to enter it. Along with millions of Hindus, her mother believed the Ganges’s water could cleanse a person’s soul of all sins and even cure the sick. So Manisha had grudgingly dunked herself in the river, accidentally swallowing water in the process and receiving a bad case of giardia, and months of diarrhea, as a result. Remembering that experience is what made today so remarkable. It was now 2025. Manisha was 27 years old and a manager for the Indian government’s Ganges Purification Initiative (GPI). Until recently, the Ganges was still one of the most Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development polluted rivers in the world, its coliform bacteria levels astronomical due to the frequent disposal of human and animal corpses and of sewage (back in 2010, 89 million liters per day) directly into the river. Dozens of organized attempts to clean the Ganges over the years had failed. In 2009, the World Bank even loaned India $1 billion to support the government’s multi-billion dollar cleanup initiative. But then the pandemic hit, and that funding dried up. But what didn’t dry up was the government’s commitment to cleaning the Ganges — now not just an issue of public health but increasingly one of national pride. Manisha had joined the GPI in 2020, in part because she was so impressed by the government’s strong stance on restoring the ecological health of India’s most treasured resource. Many lives in her home city of Jaipur had been saved by the 24 government’s quarantines during the pandemic, and that experience, thought Manisha, had given the government the confidence to be so strict about river usage
  • 25. Scenario Narratives LOCK STEP now: how else could they get millions of Indian citizens to completely shift their cultural practices in relationship to a holy site? Discarding ritually burned bodies in the Ganges was now illegal, punishable by years of jail time. Companies found to be dumping waste of any kind in the river were immediately shut down by the government. There were also severe restrictions on where people could bathe and where they could wash clothing. Every 20 meters along the river was marked by a sign outlining the repercussions of “disrespecting India’s most treasured natural resource.” Of course, not everyone liked it; protests flared every so often. But no one could deny that the Ganges was looking more beautiful and healthier than ever. Manisha watched as an engineering team began unloading equipment on the banks. Many top Indian scientists and engineers had been recruited by the government to develop tools and strategies for cleaning the Ganges in more high-tech ways. Her favorite were the submersible bots that continuously “swam” the river to detect, through sensors, the presence of chemical pathogens. New riverside filtration Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development systems that sucked in dirty river water and spit out far cleaner water were also impressive — especially because on the outside they were designed to look like mini-temples. In fact, that’s why Manisha was at the river today, to oversee the installation of a filtration system located not even 100 feet from where she first stepped into the Ganges as a girl. The water looked so much cleaner now, and recent tests suggested that it might even meet drinkability standards by 2035. Manisha was tempted to kick off her shoe and dip her toe in, but this was a restricted area now — and she, of all people, would never break that law. 25
  • 26. CLEVER TOGETHER A world in which highly coordinated and successful strategies emerge for addressing both urgent and entrenched worldwide issues The recession of 2008-10 did not turn into the and expansion largely ignored the very decades-long global economic slide that many real environmental consequences of their had feared. In fact, quite the opposite: strong unrestricted growth. Undeniably, the planet’s global growth returned in force, with the world climate was becoming increasingly unstable. headed once again toward the demographic Sea levels were rising fast, even as countries and economic projections forecasted before the continued to build-out coastal mega-cities. In Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development downturn. India and China were on track to see 2014, the Hudson River overflowed into New their middle classes explode to 1 billion by 2020. York City during a storm surge, turning the Mega-cities like Sao Paulo and Jakarta expanded World Trade Center site into a three-foot-deep at a blistering pace as millions poured in from lake. The image of motorboats navigating rural areas. Countries raced to industrialize through lower Manhattan jarred the world’s by whatever means necessary; the global most powerful nations into realizing that climate marketplace bustled. change was not just a developing-world problem. That same year, new measurements showing that But two big problems loomed. First, not all atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were climbing people and places benefited equally from this precipitously created new urgency and pressure return to globalized growth: all boats were for governments (really, for everyone) to do 26 rising, but some were clearly rising more. something fast. Second, those hell-bent on development
  • 27. In such an interconnected world, where the capture processes that would best support behaviors of one country, company, or individual the global ecosystem. A functioning global had potentially high-impact effects on all others, cap and trade system was also established. piecemeal attempts by one nation here, one Worldwide, the pressure to reduce waste and small collective of environmental organizations increase efficiency in planet-friendly ways was there, would not be enough to stave off a climate enormous. New globally coordinated systems disaster — or, for that matter, to effectively for monitoring energy use capacity — including address a host of other planetary-scale problems. smart grids and bottom-up pattern recognition But highly coordinated worldwide strategies for technologies — were rolled out. These efforts addressing such urgent issues just might. What produced real results: by 2022, new projections was needed was systems thinking — and systems showed a significant slowing in the rise of acting — on a global scale. atmospheric carbon levels. International coordination started slowly, then Inspired by the success of this experiment in accelerated faster than anyone had imagined. collective global action, large-scale coordinated In 2015, a critical mass of middle income and initiatives intensified. Centralized global developed countries with strong economic oversight and governance structures sprang growth publicly committed to leveraging up, not just for energy use but also for disease their resources against global-scale problems, and technology standards. Such systems Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development beginning with climate change. Together, their and structures required far greater levels of governments hashed out plans for monitoring transparency, which in turn required more and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in tech-enabled data collection, processing, and the short term and improving the absorptive feedback. Enormous, benign “sousveillance” capacity of the natural environment over the systems allowed citizens to access data — all long term. In 2017, an international agreement publically available — in real time and react. was reached on carbon sequestration (by then, Nation-states lost some of their power and most multinational corporations had a chief importance as global architecture strengthened carbon officer) and intellectual and financial and regional governance structures emerged. resources were pooled to build out carbon International oversight entities like the UN 27
  • 28. Scenario Narratives CLEVER TOGETHER took on new levels of authority, as did regional delivery and health outcomes. Companies, systems like the Association of Southeast Asian NGOs, and governments — often acting Nations (ASEAN), the New Partnership for together — launched pilot programs and learning Africa’s Development (NEPAD), and the Asian labs to figure out how to best meet the needs Development Bank (ADB). The worldwide spirit of particular communities, increasing the knowledge base of what worked and what didn’t. “WHAT IS OFTEN SURPRISING Pharmaceuticals giants released thousands of drug compounds shown to be effective against ABOUT NEW TECHNOLOGIES diseases like malaria into the public domain IS COLLATERAL DAMAGE: THE as part of an “open innovation” agenda; they EXTENT OF THE PROBLEM THAT also opened their archives of R&D on neglected YOU CAN CREATE BY SOLVING diseases deemed not commercially viable, ANOTHER PROBLEM IS ALWAYS A offering seed funding to scientists who wanted to carry the research forward. BIT OF A SURPRISE.” – Michael Free, Program for Appropriate There was a push for major innovations in Technology in Health (PATH) energy and water for the developing world, as those areas were thought to be the key to of collaboration also fostered new alliances and improving equity. Better food distribution was Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development alignments among corporations, NGOs, and also high on the agenda, and more open markets communities. and south-south trade helped make this a reality. These strong alliances laid the groundwork for In 2022, a consortium of nations, NGOs, and more global and participatory attempts to solve companies established the Global Technology big problems and raise the standard of living of Assessment Office, providing easily accessible, everyone. Coordinated efforts to tackle long- real-time information about the costs and entrenched problems like hunger, disease, and benefits of various technology applications to access to basic needs took hold. New inexpensive developing and developed countries alike. All technologies like better medical diagnostics and of these efforts translated into real progress on more effective vaccines improved healthcare real problems, opening up new opportunities 28
  • 29. Scenario Narratives CLEVER TOGETHER to address the needs of the bottom billion — and to solar created new “sun” jobs, drastically cut enabling developing countries to become engines CO2 emissions, and earned governments billions of growth in their own right. annually. India exploited its geography to create similar “solar valleys” while decentralized solar- In many parts of the developing world, economic powered drip irrigation systems became popular growth rates increased due to a host of factors. in sub-Saharan Africa. Improved infrastructure accelerated the greater mobility of both people and goods, and urban Reduced energy dependency enabled all of these and rural areas got better connected. In Africa, countries and regions to better control and growth that started on the coasts spread inward manage their own resources. In Africa, political along new transportation corridors. Increased architecture above the nation-state level, like trade drove the specialization of individual firms the African Union, strengthened and contributed and the overall diversification of economies. to a “good governance” drive. Regional In many places, traditional social barriers to integration through COMESA (the Common overcoming poverty grew less relevant as more Market for Eastern and Southern Africa) and people gained access to a spectrum of useful other institutions allowed member nations to technologies — from disposable computers to do- better organize to meet their collective needs as it-yourself (DIY) windmills. consumers and increasingly as producers. Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development Given the circumstances that forced these new Over the course of two decades, enormous strides heights of global cooperation and responsibility, were made to make the world less wasteful, more it was no surprise that much of the growth efficient, and more inclusive. But the world was in the developing world was achieved more far from perfect. There were still failed states cleanly and more “greenly.” In Africa, there and places with few resources. Moreover, such was a big push for solar energy, as the physical rapid progress had created new problems. Rising geography and low population density of much consumption standards unexpectedly ushered of the continent enabled the proliferation of in a new set of pressures: the improved food solar farms. The Desertec initiative to create distribution system, for example, generated a massive thermal electricity plants to supply food production crisis due to greater demand. both North Africa and, via undersea cable lines, Indeed, demand for everything was growing Southern Europe was a huge success. By 2025, exponentially. By 2028, despite ongoing efforts 29 a majority of electricity in the Maghreb was to guide “smart growth,” it was becoming clear coming from solar, with exports of that power that the world could not support such rapid earning valuable foreign currency. The switch growth forever.
  • 30. Scenario Narratives CLEVER TOGETHER HEADLINES IN CLEVER TOGETHER 'Info Cruncher' Is Grads' Job of Consortium of Foundations Global Economy Choice as Data A First: U.S. Solar Launches Third Green Turns the Corner Era Dawns Power Cheaper than Coal Revolution as Food (2011) (2016) (2020) Shortages Loom (2027) 2010 2015 2020 2025 2030 Radical U.S. and China Green Infrastructure Transparency International Emission Targets Signal Reshapes Economic Reports 10th Consecutive Year New Era in Climate Landscape of Improved Governance Change Negotiations (2018) (2025) (2015) ROLE OF PHILANTHROPY IN CLEVER TOGETHER Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development In this world, philanthropic organizations focus their attention on the needs of the bottom billion, collaborating with governments, businesses, and local NGOs to improve standards of living around the globe. Operationally, this is a “virtual model” world in which philanthropies use all of the tools at their disposal to reinforce and bolster their work. With partnerships and networks increasingly key, philanthropies work in a more virtual way, characterized by lots of wikis, blogs, workspaces, video conferences, and virtual convenings. Smaller philanthropies proliferate, with a growing number of major donors emerging from the developing world. Systems thinking and knowledge management prove to be critical skills, as philanthropic organizations seek to share and spread best practices, identify leapfrog 30 opportunities, and better spot problems in failed or weak states. There are considerable flows of talent between the for-profit and nonprofit sectors, and the lines between these types of organizations become increasingly blurred.
  • 31. Scenario Narratives CLEVER TOGETHER TECHNOLOGY IN CLEVER TOGETHER In “Clever Together,” strong global cooperation on a range of issues drives technological breakthroughs that combat disease, climate change, and energy shortages. Trade and foreign direct investment spread technologies in all directions and make products cheaper for people in the developing world, thereby widening access to a range of technologies. The atmosphere of cooperation and transparency allows states and regions to glean insights from massive datasets to vastly improve the management and allocation of financial and environmental resources. Technology trends and applications we might see: The cost of capturing data through nanosensors and smart networks falls precipitously. In many developing countries, this leads to a proliferation of new and useful services, including “sousveillance” mechanisms that improve governance and enable more efficient use of government resources. Intelligent electricity, water distribution, and transportation systems develop in urban areas. In these “smart cities,” internet access is seen as a basic right by the late 2010s. Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development A malaria vaccine is developed and deployed broadly — saving millions of lives in the developing world. Advances in low-cost mind-controlled prosthetics aid the 80 percent of global amputees who live in developing countries. Solar power is made vastly more efficient through advances in materials, including polymers and nanoparticles. An effective combination of government subsidies and microfinance means solar is used for everything from desalination for agriculture to wi-fi networks. Flexible and rapid mobile payment systems drive dynamic economic growth in the developing world, while the developed world is hampered by entrenched 31 banking interests and regulation.