For example: Will women's rights survive the battle against religious extremism? Will the military use the elderly to monitor remote battlefields, thus freeing younger people for other tasks? Will online "blogs" reduce the influence of conventional media? Will international consortiums form their own armies? And will online banking affect national borders, becoming a primary source of e-globalization, virtual money laundering, and terrorist funding?
The 49 visionaries, along with their widely varied outlooks, gathered in the stark quarters of the Sandia National Laboratories Advanced Concept Group (ACG) in late September for the latest of what Sandia Labs likes to call "think-fests" to investigate long-range problems that could impact national and global security. And, as a National Nuclear Security Administration laboratory, Sandia hopes the visiting visionaries come up with some long-range solutions.
Discussing the future or war and peace were people from U.S. Special Forces and from conciliation groups. There were social and political and educational theorists. And there were people who know how to blow things up. There were people on third careers after spending decades in the military and people just starting out with degrees from Harvard. Eighteen were Sandia employees.
The visionaries were tasked with a single assignment: create four versions of the world as it might exist in 2025; inclusive globalization, pernicious globalization, regional competition, and a post-polar world where everyone works together and the U.S., while still considered the world's most powerful nation, no longer commands global dominance.
While no one conclusion emerged, there were many worth of further mind-play.
You may notice that most of these predictions assume an overall decrease in the actual or perceived military power of the U.S. by 2025. At least one of the visionaries, Alan Williams an engineer in charge of the Georgia Tech Research Institutes Future Threat Initiative, objected. [Most of] these assumptions are that the U.S. wont be the dominant military power in 2025," said Williams. "Its my job to see that it remains so, and I believe that it will."