Promises, Perils, and Paradoxes of Accelerating Everything

by Kathryn E. BouskillSeifu ChondeWilliam Welser IV

Technological developments and social dynamics could shift society into hyperdrive, which can usher in unprecedented security concerns. Despite the potential for increased speed as 2040 nears, this phase of acceleration is neither uniform nor deterministic. Without knowing the future, it is still possible to have the foresight to prepare for security in the age of increasing speed and to find value in collaborative discussions about the role of speed as a catalyst within future global risk and security. This Perspective — part of a series examining critical security challenges in 2040 — reviews the concept of speed and the general interdisciplinary approach the authors took to exploring the possibilities of a faster future. A central thread is the hypothesis that this iteration of acceleration could be more intense, that it will introduce novel security threats, and that its scale and scope will vary across social, cultural, and geographic categories. The Perspective’s conclusions are based on general findings from a technological, historical, and social science literature review coupled with high-level insights from three group discussions held across the United States among participants from a range of backgrounds.