Governance in the Information Age

At a recent meeting in Abu Dhabi, the World Economic Forum examined three scenarios for governance – each an extrapolation of a major current trend – that could arise from the ongoing information revolution. With that revolution already changing the global balance of power, the WEF's examination could hardly be more timely.

ABU DHABI – As the year comes to an end, it is only natural to ask what might lie ahead. But, instead of asking what may lie ahead in 2014, let us jump to mid-century. What will governance look like in 2050?

That is what the World Economic Forum (WEF) asked at a recent meeting in Abu Dhabi that focused on the future of governance under three potential scenarios arising from the ongoing information revolution. With that revolution already marginalizing some countries and communities – and creating new opportunities for others – the question could hardly be more timely.

The first scenario that participants considered is a world ruled by so-called “megacities,” where governance is administered largely by major urban agglomerations. The second possibility is a world in which strong central governments use big data to fortify their control. And, in the third scenario, central governments are fundamentally weak, with markets – and the enterprises that dominate them – providing almost all services.

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