Columbia International Affairs Online: Policy Briefs

CIAO DATE: 08/2008

A Day in the Future - Accelerating Solutions to Security Threats

Greg Austin, Leland Russell

February 2008

EastWest Institute


The security environment of the future will be shaped by transnational threats evolving from wars, violent extremism, natural disasters, pandemics, and unaddressed systemic problems-including poverty, organized crime, and environmental degradation. Technology will remain a force-multiplier for violent extremists, not only for higher levels of lethality, but for propaganda dissemination. Real-time, global communication will exacerbate the psychological impact of potential threats and the aftermath of incidents.

The confluence of these circumstances will cause rising international anxiety and insecurity about physical well-being, prosperity, and even the sustainability of human existence. This will in turn feed an intensifying backlash against "modernity" and the pace of social and technological change, based on fears-both real and imagined.