There are many forces influencing global directions and the ability of governments, NGOs, and individuals to respond to crises and political events. This week, Executive Vice President John Byrne, and Creative Director Elliot Berman of the AML RightSource staff talk about the report Global Trends 2040, issued by the National Intelligence Council. John and Elliot explore the themes identified in the report and how they may influence global events over the coming decades.


National Intelligence Council - Global Trends 2040 TRANSCRIPT

Elliot Berman: Hey John, how are you this week?

John Byrne: Hey Elliot. I'm doing well, and yourself?

Elliot Berman: I'm good too, thanks. So this week I saw that the National Intelligence Council released their global trends, 2040 report. I wondered if you'd seen that.

John Byrne: Yeah, I've seen it. Obviously lengthy report - close to 150+ pages. So, I skimmed through some of it, and saw a lot of things that are relevant to all of us from a societal standpoint, but some particular issues that to the financial crime prevention communities, I thought were interesting. Some confirmations of what we thought, but some [issues] definitely looking ahead as the report is structured. So I thought that was pretty interesting.

Elliot Berman: Yeah. I agree. Just for our listeners’ backgrounds, the National Intelligence Council supports the Director of National Intelligence. And they do a lot of long-term strategic analysis, which of course this report looking out to 2040 does - it's interesting. They segmented their report around five themes and as I read them, some of the titles were interesting, but actually as I read the detail, weren’t surprising.

So first they looked at global challenges - things like disease, financial crises, technology disruptions, climate change. And I noticed that one of their comments was that some of these things seem to be coming more frequently and more intensively. They look at what they call “fragmentation” - which is, in an increasingly connected world we're becoming more divided and fragmented.

And one thing that was interesting that we've certainly seen in our country recently is the fact that there's an increasing tendency to gravitate to information silos where you're only getting information from people with similar views to yours. Then they talked about disequilibrium, which is noticing that current systems and organizations are increasingly challenged to deal with transnational challenges. They use COVID-19 as an example where the international response cooperation was not nearly as effective as maybe it could have been. They talked about [inaudible], which was interesting and that's really the fact that there's greater imbalance that's leading to greater what they call “concentration within community states and international communities”.

And again, an increasing division along identity affiliations, and a greater risk of societies or states or communities fracturing…and then they talked about adaptation, which is kind of the imperative, plus the advantages and there were some communities or nations, and this might be able to adapt to climate change better that will give them an advantage going forward.

Same thing with come countries that have more technology – it may give them an adaptive edge and then countries with older populations, because demographics, may have a disadvantage. So that was an interesting kind of five dimensional look at the world. This isn't an effort to predict, but it is an effort to look at potential future states, which for policy planning and contingency planning is important. But I know one of the things they looked at is the future of terrorism. And that really follows on a topic that you and I have talked about on a regular basis on this podcast. What did you see there, right?

John Byrne: Yeah. And again, a confirmation - plus they talk about extreme organizations on the left or the right that will continue to promote right issues like racism, anti-government environmentalism, and that's not going to just happen here, which it's already happening, but Europe and Latin America and maybe other regions. The other part of it that I thought was interesting, and we've talked a bit about technology and obviously our company is working closely with one of our new partners Arachnys, but technological advances, including biotech, AI, and that sort of thing. There's a positive there, but there's also an opportunity for terrorists to conduct more high-profile attacks by developing more remote attack methods.

So that was one thing that I thought was both frightening and makes sense. And then, technology is also going to give the government the ability to expand their surveillance capacity, that'll help combat terrorism, but obviously depending on the government, it could also of course, impact privacy, citizenry, all sorts of things.

So that's something that you're going to have to watch carefully. It's going to happen with or without all of us, obviously. But I thought that was interesting. And then, just shifting international power dynamics, the rise of China, which we're all identifying as something that could challenge the way the US tries to do counter-terrorism is more than problematic.

And I think that's only going to become more evident as we go forward. Nothing in this seems unusual, but again, use of technology, the expansion of extremist groups, is going to challenge our community and just society in general.

Elliot Berman: Yes. It is a long read, but I think the report is a worthwhile read and maybe, it's pretty well outlined, so you can move around the document pretty well, but there's a lot of good thought in here, and things that you and I, but also the whole community, is continually wrestling with. And while again, it's not intended to be predictive of what 2040 might look like, it does lay out how things could unfold. And it's good food for thought to be, that deep over-the-horizon planning, or at least thinking that people in our community have done for a long time.

I think This is a worthwhile resource.

John Byrne: Yeah. And just one more thing, another key takeaway and there's many in the report - the lack of multinational multilateral cooperation does leave the world more vulnerable as they say, to hackers and terrorists and criminal groups. As we're recording this, we're dealing with the pipeline hack in the United States. So, clearly there's a pressing need to restore global connectivity. And this, I think this report says it in a number of areas.

Elliot Berman: Agreed. So just a reminder to our listeners, you can find us on SoundCloud, you can find us on in the podcast section on Spotify, and in addition to This Week in AML, we have a number of other podcast series that we encourage you to check out and we'll be back with you next week.

Have a great weekend, John, and stay safe.

John Byrne: Take care Elliot.

Elliot Berman: You too.

John Byrne: Yep.

Elliot Berman: Bye bye.