Wednesday, February 22, 2012

World Economic Forum - Global Risk 2012

Economic imbalances and social inequality risk reversing the gains of globalization, warns the World Economic Forum in its report Global Risks 2012. These are the findings of a survey of 469 experts and industry leaders, indicating a shift of concern from environmental risks to socioeconomic risks compared to a year ago. Respondents worry that further economic shocks and social upheaval could roll back the progress globalization has brought, and feel that the world’s institutions are ill-equipped to cope with today’s interconnected, rapidly evolving risks. The findings of the survey fed into an analysis of three major risk cases: Seeds of Dystopia; Unsafe Safeguards and the Dark Side of Connectivity. 

The report analyses the top 10 risks in five categories - economic, environmental, geopolitical, societal and technological - and also highlights "X Factor" risks, the wild card threats which warrant more research, including a volcanic winter, cyber neotribalism and epigenetics, the risk that the way we live could have harmful, inheritable effects on our genes. Key crisis management lessons from Japan’s earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters are highlighted in a special chapter.

Get more insight @ Global Risks 2012 - Seventh Edition

The key statement of the report related to Information Security can be read at

The report lists 10 technological risks:
  1. Critical systems failure: single-point system vulnerabilities trigger cascading failure of critical information infrastructure and networks.
  2. Cyber attacks: state-sponsored, state-affiliated, criminal or terrorist cyber attacks.
  3. Failure of intellectual property regime: ineffective intellectual property protections undermine research and development, innovation and investment.
  4. Massive digital misinformation: deliberately provocative, misleading or incomplete information disseminates rapidly and extensively with dangerous consequences.
  5. Mineral resource supply vulnerability: growing dependence of industries on minerals that are not widely sourced with long extraction-to-market time-lag for new sources.
  6. Massive incident of data fraud/ theft: criminal or wrongful exploitation of private data on an unprecedented scale.
  7. Proliferation of orbital debris: Rapidly accumulating debris in high-traffic geocentric orbits jeopardizes critical satellite.   
  8. Unintended consequences of climate change mitigation: Rapidly accumulating debris in high-traffic geocentric orbits jeopardizes critical satellite infrastructure. Attempts at geoengineering or renewable energy development result in new complex challenges.
  9. Unintended consequences of nanotechnology: The manipulation of matter on an atomic and molecular level raises concerns on nanomaterial toxicity.
  10. Unintended consequences of new life science technologies: Advances in genetics and synthetic biology produce unintended consequences, mishaps or are used as weapons.


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