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Perspectives
pic GEAB 126 2020-2040: Exponential global development

The world is on the brink of a wave of unprecedented development which is poised to sweep over the Middle East, Africa, India, Southeast Asia, the United States and the planet as a whole. The foundations on which this new world will be built are becoming clearer and clearer: A globalised electric grid, networks of financial centres, new commercial roads, crypto-currencies, e-economies, reinvented global governance etc. All these provide the infrastructure which will shape this unimaginable phase of multipolar and multiconnected development, which we will attempt to describe in the following paragraphs.

Exponential or explo-sive?
If we look at the growth of world GDP since 1960,[1] we see that it is growing at a surprisingly steady rate, with the exception of one recessive jolt in 2008-2009. This is not really surprising since the production of wealth has been intrinsically dependent on the presence of raw materials to be processed, on the labour available to produce, on the quantity of solvent consumers to transform this production into cash, on sufficient money to reinvest and on well-trained brains to constantly reinvent the process. In the real world, all this raw material for growth is only available in limited quantity, thus providing a strict framework for potential growth.

fig1Growth of Global GDP (%), 1960-2016. Source: World Bank

However, from 2020, we are expecting a trend towards a triple paradigm shift in growth limits:

  • Firstly, with the arrival on the world production market of a whole series of new regions bringing along human resources, raw materials and innovative brains. But this increase is still based on materiality where growth is extended through the adjunction of. 1.2 billion Africans, 430 million South Americans, 70 million Centro-Asians, 640 million south-eastern Asians and 1.2 billion Indians.[2]
  • Secondly – and this is where we start talking about exponential development and no longer of simple acceleration – the transition to an e-economy will literally dissociate growth from material goods (human, energy, monetary). Artificial intelligence, increasing dematerialisation of consumer products, a monetary system freed from the issuing capacities of central banks alone; all this is already on the table, but we have not seen anything (especially in the West) of the real potentialities that it creates, knowing that this year, $1 trillion has gone into the digital transformation of society;[3]
  • Finally, let us add that growth will also be liberated from planet Earth thanks to an unlimited conquest of space, now fully open for trade (space economy). [4]

The exponential characteristics seen in this phase of development not only make it possible to draw attention to the opportunities, but also to the risks of such a rapid change – risks that will require the presence of global instances of process control.
E-economy: We haven’t seen anything yet (Register to read this chapter)
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