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Future Issue - Idiocracy and the Changing Distribution of Knowledge

1 June 2009

 In a simple, yet intuitively appealing description, knowledge holds the key to the human
capacity to manipulate and exploit its environment, and plays an essential role in ensuring
a state’s socio-political stability, economic prosperity and, above all, security.

This Future Issue sketches a broad picture of the state of knowledge in 2009 in order to
examine its time-lagged effects on, a.o., socio-political stability and the future distribution
of economic and political power. It examines international knowledge differences,
national distributions of knowledge and knowledge diffusion for the EU, the US, Japan,
South Korea, and at times the OECD states as well as China and India. In doing so, it
provides the general trends and context within which future developments will emerge.
The global knowledge landscape is experiencing significant shifts, both with respect to
its geographical distribution and to its role and status. These shifts may carry a number
of security implications both at the international and the national level for security and
business continuity. The four most important implications are:

• The growing number of citizens around the world with tertiary education may
affect the socio-political stability of nation-states with authoritarian or hybrid
• The changing balance of knowledge may pose a threat to the economic
security of states when MNCs decide to relocate (more of) their R&D centers to
developing economies and undermine the competitive edge of those states left
with little R&D capacity of their own
• The changing balance of knowledge may affect the global military balance as
numerous nation-states will master the ability to produce disruptive military
• States that are able to create social upward mobility pathways and eliminate
gender barriers attain a brain gain and create a competitive advantage vis-à-vis
their competitors

Experts on this report

Strategic Analyst

Tim Sweijs

Tim Sweijs is a Senior Strategist. He is the initiator, creator and author of numerous studies, methodologies, and tools for research projects in horizon scanning, conflict analysis, international and national security risk assessment, and capability development.

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