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30.06.2000 · Research Group on the Global Future

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Research Group on the Global Future
Center for Applied Policy Research (CAP)
Munich, Germany

I pass with relief from the tossing sea of Cause and Theory to the firm ground of Result and Fact.
-- Winston Churchill --

Results from the Research Group

(1) Decision Makers 2010
(2) Working Papers
(3) Expo 2000
(4) Documentation - Aventis Triangle Forum
(5) July Newsletters



Building Sustainability in a Globalized World
June 7-10, 2000, Hong Kong

The knowledge economy offers opportunities to build a sustainable world, but simultaneously raises the danger of increasing disparities. Thirty-four experts from a dozen different countries convened in Hong Kong to grapple with three key aspects of the global future:

  • Political Legitimacy in a Globalized World

  • Solving Problems of Demography and the Environment through Technology

  • Trilateral Disharmony and Conflict Resolution.

Presentations came from the diverse viewpoints of

* Ivan Miklos, Deputy Premier, Government of Slovakia

* Jih Chang (Bob) Yang, Executive Vice President,
Idustrial Technology Research Institute, Taiwan

* Boris Steipe, Senior Research Fellow, Genetic
Research Center, University of Munich, Germany

* Beth Noveck, Director of International Programs,
Information Society Project, Yale Law School, USA

and many others.

Rising leaders from politics, business, and science also met Hong Kong's business elite to talk about how globalization affects one of the world's most dynamic cities.

Complete results, featuring Real Audio presentations from the working groups, available on




1. The World of Ones and Zeroes: Social Consquences of the Digital Revolution

Ones and zeroes, the basic positions of computer switches, in their trillions make the digital revolution. Signals, switches, packets set the ones and zeroes in motion, making them more productive for the people who build, maintain and use the networks of digits. These networks, from the simplest cable connecting a computer to a printer or a sensor regulating fuel flow into an engine up to the private networks that speed billions of dollars around world financial markets or the public internet make the digital revolution beneficial and inescapable. Like DNA assembling proteins into cells and organisms, the simplest elements of the digital world give rise to unexpected complexity and consequences at the human scale. Ones and zeroes shape our lives today as surely as DNA does; the institutions of our societies could as little function without digital information as our bodies could function without oxygen. Coming to grips with the digital revolution is a question of survival as well as an opportunity for prosperity; it is simultaneously necessary and liberating. Fortunately, the benefits far outweigh the dangers for both individuals and societies.

The paper discusses:

I. Introduction
II. Six Reasons Digitalization is Revolutionary
Perfect Duplication
Preservation of the Original
Surmounting Time and Distance
Shortening Cycles of Everything
Declining Costs and the Push toward Pervasiveness
Self-Reinforcing Trends
III. Four Concentric Circles: Spreading Digitalization
The Fate of Money: Finance
The Speed of Everything: Business
The People's Business: Government
We Ourselves: Society
IV. Conclusions: Fulfilling Promises


2. Evolution in Human Hands: The Implications of Biotechnology for Society

The advances in molecular biology confront mankind with a fundamental transformation of our conception of nature, the depth of which can only be compared with the birth of the modern natural sciences in the seventeenth century and the revolutions in physics at the beginning of the twentieth century. At the centre of the molecular revolution is the recognition that all carbon-based life forms are based on a self-reproducing sequence of data, whose "programming language" is based on the same "letters" for all organisms. The universality of the genetic code allows an abundance of recombination possibilities for organic life. If "this century was the century of physics and chemistry", as the American chemist and Nobel Prize winner Robert Curl pronounced four years ago, then "it's just as clear that the next century will be the century of biology".

In the space of just a few decades scientists have discovered how to decipher the code of life and make alterations feasible -- through genetic technology. Even allowing for due caution in terms of estimates of the time frame for the thinkable and doable -- consider the extraordinary degree of speculation regarding human cloning -- it's certain that the story of the molecular revolution will complete itself in this new century.

The paper discusses:

I. The molecular revolution
II Life as information: the handling of genetic data in the age of genetic analysis
A legal framework for the use of genetic data Genetics as the basis for a transformation of the norms of human society
III Live longer, work longer: the influence of biomedicine on the age structure and the social security systems of the industrialised societies
Consequences for the politics of the labour market of
the new age structure
The if-then-relationship between medical progress and
the costs of the public health system
IV The economic exploitation of the gene: on the way
to a new economic age
Patenting of genetic resources
Agriculture as hi-tech producer
Indispensable, but inadequate: biotechnology and genetics as an element in the war against world hunger
V Reprogramming the human animal: how the changeability of humanity forces value-based decisions



(3) EXPO 2000

Reports form the Future: Expo 2000, Hannover

Does the world need a world exhibition? A huge deficit, the absence of visitors and even the superpower USA - are these signals, that world fairs hardly make sense in an interwoven, globalized world?

Our web reporters explored Expo's offline and online performance to check the facts. They also met Dr. Martin Roth, head of the thematic area and the Global Dialogue, who frankly spoke about his experiences as one of Expo's chief organizers.

  • Read the review, why a visit to the Expo is still worth the effort

  • Listen to the statements of the movers and shakers

  • Learn more about the "Global Dialogue" on the web

  • Browse also through the press dossier on the Expo:



The Aventis Triangle Forum is a high-level meeting of decision makers, scientists and artists from North America, Asia and Europe to address questions of global change. It is part of the project How We Want to Live Tomorrow which was jointly set up by the Aventis Foundation and the Center for Applied Policy Research.

In 1999, through three structured discussions, the Aventis Triangle Forum addressed our ability to build a common, sustainable future. The results of five Input Task Forces and a discussion paper served as an analytical framework and a starting point for the participants.

Documentation of this event is now available, as a German PDF download (3.0MB) and as an English PDF download (3.0MB) or request a print version in either language by writing

Research Group on the Global Future
Center for Applied Policy Research
Maria-Theresia-Str. 21
81675 Munich (Germany).



In July, the Research Group on the Global Future will host its annual capstone event: the Aventis Triangle Forum, a top-level gathering of leaders from politics, business, academia, and civil society in Asia, Europe and North America, which will take place July 19-21 at the Watermill Center (see http://www.robertwilson.com).

Confirmed participants include:

Benjamin Barber, Director of the Walt Whitman Center
for the Culture and Politics of Democracy, Rutgers
University, author of Jihad vs. McWorld, USA

Kriengsak Chareonwongsak, Executive Director, Institute
of Future Studies for, Development, Thailand

Juergen Dormann, Chairman of the Board of Management,
Aventis, S.A., France

Angela Kane, United Nations. Director of Americas and
Europe Division - Department of Political Affairs, USA

Wolfgang Reinicke, Director, UN Global Public Policy
Project, USA

Supachai Panitchpakdi, Deputy Prime Minister, Thailand
and Incoming Director, World Trade Organization,

Lord George Weidenfeld of Chelsea, Chairman, Orion
Publishing Group, UK

Robert Wilson, Theater Director, USA

global_futures will follow the Forum closely, with a special issue preceding the event, live reporting during the Forum, and a special follow-up issue. Live coverage of the Forum will also be available on http://www.aventis-forum.uni-muenchen.de.

Tune in to hear from people changing the world.



global_futures also offers an interactive forum. Recommendations,letters, and tips are welcomed by the editors, particularly on the topics of the digital future, biotechnology, sustainability and the new economy. Send all feedback to mailto:fgz@lrz.uni-muenchen.de.



Sascha Meinert, Douglas Merrill, Patrick Meyer, Juergen Turek

Research Group on the Global Future
Center for Applied Policy Research
Geschwister Scholl Institute
Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich
Maria-Theresia-Strasse 21
D-81675 Munich, Germany
Tel: +49 89 2180 1300