“No island is an island.”
That was the message of Jamie Metzl, one of the speakers at the 2018 Cayman Economic Outlook conference held at Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa on Feb. 1.
Metzl, who is described as a “changemaker, geopolitics and biotechnology expert, and futurist novelist” has worked in several posts with U.S. government agencies, including the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the U.S. State Department and the U.S. National Security Council. In saying no island is an island in a globalised world, Metzl was indicating that even small island nations like the Cayman Islands will feel the effects of the coming changes.
“Big trends will be reaching us and reaching us in a big, fundamental and transformational way,” he said.
Technology will be one of the catalysts for the change, he said, citing Moore’s law, which predicted the exponential pace of the digital revolution because of ever-increasing capacity and the decreasing of costs of integrated circuits. He also spoke of the technological tools that are allowing the advancement of genome sequencing, which could be used to predict, diagnose and treat diseases.
Speaking to the theme of this year’s conference “Global Integration or Dis-integration: Surviving the Challenge,” Metzl’s talk then took a dramatic view of future geopolitical stability because of the rise of populism and nationalism.
“We are witnessing the decline and potentially the end of the post-war international order,” he said, referring to the framework where the United States took a leadership role in global affairs after World War II. Other factors beyond the desire in many countries to return to a time of strong sovereignty and nationalism that are affecting the established world order include technological advances, China’s rise and “U.S. exhaustion,” Metzl said.
“The old world is crumbling and the new world hasn’t been born yet, and in the interim, monsters are rising,” he said. “We’re moving from a win-win to a zero-sum world … where there will be few winners and lots of losers.”
The best defence against the rising monsters is to “keep learning and keep connected to other people and new ideas,” Metzl said. “The change is happening so fast. The only way we can keep up is as network communities.” Metzl said the world is in a critical moment of change.
“The world that is coming is a different world,” he said, noting that high moral and ethical values will be vital to establishing order in the new world.