There are some important but perhaps under-recognised forces at work in the world right now:
Is the "international community" in danger of collapse?
- The civil war in Syria has entered a new, more dangerous phase as the various external actors – Iran, Israel, Russia, Turkey, US – are locked in an increasingly dangerous final scramble for leverage ahead of any peace negotiations. Turkey and the US are this close to open conflict in Northern Syria. US forces have already killed Russian nationals. And Iran and Israel are for all intents and purposes at war in Syria now too. Meanwhile, the regime is pounding the last strongholds of rebels and jihadists. Where, exactly, is the “international community” of which we used to speak?
- As actual conflict rages in the Middle East, a more nebulous battle is playing out in cyberspace where – by comparison with conventional war – there are still relatively few rules of the game. Beyond gamely broaching the subject, there’s little desire among the major cyber powers to cooperate in limiting this new form of conflict. (source Signal from Eurasia Group, 20/02/18)
Not enough work
- As robots get better at light industrial tasks like apparel manufacturing, whole swaths of the developing world are about to get stretched tight.
- Bangladesh alone needs to create roughly 2 million new jobs every year to keep pace with an expanding population. But job growth in the country's most important industry, textiles, is getting clobbered by automation (source Signal from Eurasia Group, 20/02/18).
- Some 92 percent of Brazilians are worried about the inability to discern fake news from real news online, according to a poll done late last year. That is the highest percentage of any country surveyed. Germany, as it happens, is the only country where a majority of citizens are not worried about this problem (source Signal from Eurasia Group, 20/02/18).
- Oxford University released a study that confirmed the worst-kept secret of the last 18 months: social media has been harnessed to spread politically polarising content. But there are also more optimistic signals, as people use technology to heal these divisions, too. VR has found a use case in helping consumers encounter challenging situations (from migraines to sexual harassment), and in the process build empathy and understanding (source: TrendWatching, 21/02/18).