Gazing into the future | By Dr. Farrukh Saleem


Gazing into the future

US-China contest: From 2001 till 2017, the US and China shared a complementary role under the ‘war on terror’ paradigm.

In 2018, Office of the United States Trade Representative, in a report titled ‘Findings of the investigation into China’s acts, policies, and practices related to technology transfer, intellectual property and innovation’, accused that “China’s industrial and technology policies are unfair and inequitable.” That was the beginning of a ‘tech war’ between the US and China.

In 2019, the United States Department of Treasury accused China of “currency manipulation”. That was the beginning of a ‘financial war’.

The current US policy on China rests on two pillars: geostrategic containment of China and economic decoupling.

Iran going off the radar. The new focus is Asia-Pacific. China has the BRI-Belt and Road Initiative. The G7 has announced B3W-Build Back Better World.

Cold War I was about three things: physical territory, control of military hardware and supplier of weapons.

Cold War II is also about three things: control of networks, supplier of technology and cyberspace.
The US and China are in a state of war-a ‘techno-political’ war.

History is witness that super powers create global waves and minor powers are forced into picking sides. Who will win-the US or China? Possibility number 1: One world, two systems.

Possibility number 2: One system dominates. Possibility number 3: One system displaces the other.

Future of war: According to General Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Russia, “War is now conducted by a roughly 4:1 ratio of non-military and military measures.” The ‘future of war’ is about ‘weaponized information’ and ‘weaponized financial instruments’.

According to Jack Lew, the 76th United States Secretary of the Treasury, “Instead of fighting countries militarily, the US can now cripple them financially.” This is how the United States Department of Treasury has evolved. Does our Ministry of Finance know that?

According to General Stanley McChrystal, Commander US Joint Special Operations Command, “For the foreseeable future what happens on social media will be crucial to the outcome of any debate, battle of war.”

War is now moving from ‘destructive means’ to ‘disruptive means’. War is now moving from ‘destructive technologies’ to ‘disruptive technologies’.

War is now moving from ‘weapons of mass destruction’ to ‘weapons of mass disruption’. Minds are at war and social media is the new war zone.

The US and China are both into ‘weaponization of Artificial Intelligence’-autonomous weapons, autonomous vehicles, AI-driven surveillance, and AI-driven logistics.

Future of disease: The future of disease is about three things: drug resistant infections, resistance to antibiotic treatment and drug resistant tuberculosis.

The three biggest challenges are: population growth, rapid urbanisation and antimicrobial resistance (when “bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change over time and no longer respond to medicines making infections harder to treat and increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death”).

Pakistan is up against three major challenges: insufficient health policies, lack of basic health facilities and weak governance.

Disruptive technologies: In the next two decades it’s going to be all about ‘technology supremacy’, ‘technological domination’ and technology-driven societal changes.

States will be disrupted and so would societies and industries within states. Artificial intelligence and automation would mean widespread job losses.

According to McKinsey Global Institute, “intelligent agents and robots could eliminate as much as 30 percent of the world’s human labor, displacing the jobs of as many as 800 million people.”

As per expert estimates, “automation will displace between 400 million and 800 million jobs by 2030, requiring as many 375 million people to switch job categories entirely.

For Pakistan, tough times ahead. Tough times call for tough decisions. Tough decisions require political consensus-and that is what we need to develop. Gazing into the future with predictive analytics.

It is going to be a tightrope for Pakistan-and her decision makers. We must make the right decisions-and right decisions depend on right predictions.
I never think of the future – it comes soon enough.
— Albert Einstein

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