US intelligence report warns of global consequences of social fragmentation


Income inequality could worsen, according to the report, sometimes linking it to information inequality.

The “trust gap” between an informed public that has confidence in a government solution and a wider public with deep skepticism of institutions is widening, according to the report.

The problem is compounded by technology. Algorithms, social media, and artificial intelligence have replaced expertise in deciding which information gets disseminated the most, making the public more vulnerable to misinformation.

Yet positive demographic changes over the past decades, with people moving out of poverty into the middle class, have created “rising expectations,” said Maria Langan-Riekhof, director of the Council’s Strategic Futures group. intelligence. But fears of declining incomes across the world are increasing, a worrying trend when paired with changes in the way information is shared and social divisions have deepened.

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“These concerns lead people to seek the security of trusted voices, but also of like-minded groups within their societies,” said Langan-Riekhof. “Overlap these trends that I’m describing, and you kind of see this recipe for bigger divisions, increasing fracking. We believe this is likely to continue and possibly get worse. “

Over time, according to the report, these trends could weaken democratic governments.

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“At the same time as populations are increasingly self-reliant and demand more, governments are under increased pressure due to new challenges and more limited resources,” the report said. “This widening gap portends greater political volatility, an erosion of democracy and a broadening of the roles of alternative providers of governance. Over time, these dynamics could open the door to larger changes in the way people govern. “

The Global Trends Report has often looked at possible future situations. In the 2017 report, an example envisioned a pandemic plunging the world into economic chaos. He envisioned nationalist politicians eroding alliances, lower oil prices causing calamity, and more isolationist business practices. He also predicted a pandemic (although in 2023, not 2020), which limited travel, caused economic distress and exacerbated existing trends towards isolation.

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The report discussed the risk of a pandemic for nearly two decades, said Gregory F. Treverton, former chairman of the National Intelligence Council that helped lead the 2017 effort. The 2004 report said some experts believed it was was “only a matter of time” before a pandemic, he said.


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