Shaping the Next One Hundred Years

Shaping the Next One Hundred Years: New Methods for Quantitative, Long-Term Policy Analysis

Robert J. Lempert
Steven W. Popper
Steven C. Bankes
Copyright Date: 2003
Edition: 1
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 208
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7249/mr1626rpc
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  • Book Info
    Shaping the Next One Hundred Years
    Book Description:

    A sophisticated reader ought to view with great skepticism the prospect of answering questions about the long-term future. The checkered history of predicting the future-from the famous declarations that humans would never fly to the Limits to Growth study to claims about the "New Economy"-has dissuaded policymakers from considering the effects of their decisions more than a few months or years ahead. However, today's choices will significantly influence the course of the twenty-first century. New analytic methods, enabled by modern computers, may transform our ability to reason systematically about the long term. This report reviews traditional methods of grappling with the morrow, from narratives to scenario analysis, which fail to address the multiplicity of plausible long-term futures. The authors demonstrate a quantitative approach to long-term policy analysis (LTPA). Robust decision methods enable decisionmakers to examine a vast range of plausible futures and design near-term, often adaptive, strategies to be robust across them. Reframing the question "What will the long-term future bring?" as "How can we choose actions today that will be consistent with our long-term interests?" these methods provide powerful analytic support to humans' innate capacity for "what-if-ing." Choosing the challenge of sustainable development as an example, the authors discuss how these methods may be applied to real-world LTPA and a wide range of other challenges of decisionmaking under conditions of deep uncertainty.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-3485-4
    Subjects: Transportation Studies, Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. PREFACE
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  4. FIGURES
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. TABLES
    (pp. ix-x)
  6. SUMMARY
    (pp. xi-xviii)
  7. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xix-xx)
  8. ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
  9. Chapter One THE CHALLENGE OF LONG-TERM POLICY ANALYSIS
    (pp. 1-10)

    Our world confronts rapid and potentially profound transitions driven by social, economic, environmental, and technological change. Countries that have achieved political stability and wealth coexist uneasily among regions with fragile governments and economies whose people often live in dire poverty. Pressures grow on the natural environment. Technology has created tremendous opportunities but has also unleashed awesome destructive power more readily accessible than imagined a few decades ago. It is increasingly clear that today’s decisions could play a decisive role in determining whether the twenty-first century offers peace and prosperity or crisis and collapse.

    In many areas of human endeavor one...

  10. Chapter Two A HISTORY OF THINKING ABOUT THE FUTURE
    (pp. 11-38)

    Interest in the future is not new. Human reason and imagination have always compelled people to reflect on the past and speculate on what will be. This chapter surveys the principal means humans have used over the millennia to consider the long-term future and how their actions might affect it. This broad view and a focus on the essence of each approach leads to two basic findings. The first provides a source of comfort. Tools that support thinking about the long-term consequences of today’s actions have a lengthy pedigree. Much has been done, providing a trove of experience and insight...

  11. Chapter Three ROBUST DECISIONMAKING
    (pp. 39-68)

    Often in the history of science, new tools have launched new ways of looking at the world. Galileo altered conventional views about the human place in the cosmos when he pointed his telescope, newly invented as an aid to maritime navigation, into the sky and discovered in the orbits of Jupiter’s moons the existence of more than one center of motion in the universe. The microscope revealed the existence of a hitherto unsuspected world requiring new explanations. The steam engine prompted Sadi Carnot’s inquiries into the intimate relationship between heat and motion, launching energy as a central concern for science...

  12. Chapter Four A FRAMEWORK FOR SCENARIO GENERATION
    (pp. 69-86)

    This chapter begins the demonstration of a robust decisionmaking approach to LTPA. This report aims not to produce specific policy recommendations but rather to reveal the new capabilities that are now available to those concerned with the long term. The analysis here involves neither the level of detail nor the level of stakeholder participation necessary for practical policy results. Its novelty rests in the framing of means for applying robust decision methods to problems of LTPA. By focusing on a specific challenge—the issue of global sustainability—the relative simplicity of the treatment that follows permits a greater focus on...

  13. Chapter Five IMPLEMENTING ROBUST DECISIONMAKING
    (pp. 87-124)

    The preceding chapter described a framework (XLRM) and a scenario generator, and it explained how the wide variety of information contained in them defines a multiplicity of plausible long-term futures relevant to sustainable development. The present chapter applies the approach described in Chapter Three to the problem of global sustainability and shows how this information may be applied to identify society’s best near-term strategies for shaping this future to achieve positive outcomes. It should not be a surprise that computer simulation model(s) using a wide range of inputs can trace a multitude of paths into the long-term future. The challenge...

  14. Chapter Six POLICY-RELEVANT LONG-TERM POLICY ANALYSIS
    (pp. 125-144)

    This report demonstrates a methodology for thinking seriously and systematically about near-term steps that can purposefully shape the long-term, unpredictable future. Work in this study and in other efforts (cited in Chapter Three) suggests that the method and technology hold considerable promise for addressing not only problems associated with long-term policy and long-range thinking, but also in application to a wide range of other venues where deep uncertainty inhibits or frustrates more traditional decision support approaches. The promise is there. Nevertheless, it is also appropriate to point out those features that will require further elaboration for this promise to be...

  15. Chapter Seven CONCLUSION: MOVING PAST FAMILIAR SHORES
    (pp. 145-148)

    Based on experience, a sophisticated reader ought to view with great skepticism the prospect of successfully answering such a question. The checkered history of attempts to predict the long-term future—from the famous declarations that man would never fly, to theLimits to Growthstudy, the unanticipated end of the Cold War, to claims about the “New Economy”—should humble anyone who claims to extend their gaze past the well-charted inner seas on into the deep waters where the future is not tightly constrained by the past. Like navigators sailing before the days of the reliable compass, those who should...

  16. Appendix A DESCRIPTION OF THE WONDERLAND SCENARIO GENERATOR
    (pp. 149-164)
  17. Appendix B ASSESSING ROBUST STRATEGIES
    (pp. 165-176)
  18. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 177-188)