Monday 8, February 2016

Dubai – MENA Herald: Were terrorist attacks, financial crises, natural disasters, and epidemics the world faced all unforeseeable events, or merely huge failures of humankind to think the unthinkable?
Speaking at the opening day of the 4th World Government Summit (WGS 2016) on “How Governments Get Ready for the Unthinkable”, Peter Schwartz, an American futurist, innovator, author, and co-founder of the Global Business Network, addressed the fundamental question of why humans fail to anticipate the future and questioned whether governments can take preemptive measures to prepare for the future.
Despite the world becoming more connected and more advanced, governments still encounter surprises. However, Schwartz challenged world governments by stating that these events, such as the collapse of Soviet Union, as well as the September 11 attacks and the 2008 global financial crisis were all events that were foreseeable. The American futurist claimed that these events were “failure of imagination, not failure of prediction…the signals for surprise are out there and they can be seen.”
The innovator emphasized that in order to anticipate the future and avoid fatal error, acting in advance in a timely manner is imperative. “Yet, this is not enough to just see the future. The government must act upon it. Governments fail to prevent disasters from occurring primarily because they do not take immediate measures to change the course of future. It is important for governments to take on two essential tools for thinking about surprises: rigorous analysis and imagination.”
Schwartz further pointed out that most governments are captured by the present moment and do not ask the right questions, such as what do we do and can we prevent outcomes from happening? In some cases, government officials are overly confident about the future and make the error of not seeing the whole story and “only a slice of it.”
He added that opinions must be diversified and indicators must be spotted in advance to track what has unfolded. Schwartz noted there are indeed governments that have good conversations amongst the country’s leaders that take notion of surprise easily. The UAE, France, UK, and Holland were among the few that he listed.
In a world where humans may become biologically, genetically and medically enhanced and neural control is already achieved, Peter Schwartz stressed: “We can see these surprises coming if we do our homework and do our thinking in a rigorous manner…If we take the surprise in a serious way, we can get our government to avoid being trapped in uncertainties.”
The World Government Summit has attracted more than 3,000 personalities from over 125 countries, and 125 speakers in over 70 sessions. The attendees include VIPs and senior experts from the public and private sectors globally, ministers, decision makers, CEOs, innovators, officials, experts, entrepreneurs, academics, and university students. A number of initiatives, reports and studies are set to be launched during the summit and throughout the year. The summit runs from February 8 – 10, 2016 at the Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai.