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A host of catastrophes, natural and otherwise, as well as some pleasant surprises —like the sudden end of the cold war without a shot being fired —have caught governments and societies unprepared many times in recent decades. September 11 is only the most obvious recent example among many unforeseen events that have changed, even redefined our lives. We have every reason to expect more such events in future. Several kinds of unanticipated scenarios —particularly those of low probability and high impact —have the potential to escalate into systemic crises. Even positive surprises can be major policy challenges. Anticipating and managing low-probability events is a critically important challenge to contemporary policymakers, who increasingly recognize that they lack the analytical tools to do so. Developing such tools is the focus of this insightful and perceptive volume, edited by renowned author Francis Fukuyama and sponsored by The American Interest magazine. Bl indside is organized into four main sections. "Thinking about Strategic Surprise" addresses the psychological and institutional obstacles that prevent leaders from planning for low-probability tragedies and allocating the necessary resources to deal with them. The following two sections pinpoint the failures —institutional as well as personal —that allowed key historical events to take leaders by surprise, and examine the philosophies and methodologies of forecasting. In "Pollyana vs. Cassandra," for example, James Kurth and Gregg Easterbrook debate the future state of the world going forward. Mitchell Waldrop explores why technology forecasting is so poor and why that is likely to remain the case. In the book's final section, "What Could Be," internationally renowned authorities discuss low probability, high-impact contingencies in their area of expertise. For example, Scott Barrett looks at emerging infectious diseases, while Gal Luft and Anne Korin discuss energy security. How can we avoid being blindsided by unforeseen events? There is no easy or obvious answer. But it is essential that we understand the obstacles that prevent us first from seeing the future clearly and then from acting appropriately on our insights. This readable and fascinating book is an important step in that direction.

Table of Contents

  1. Front Cover
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  1. Title Page
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  1. Copyright Information
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  1. Table of Contents
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  1. 1. The Challenges of Uncertainty: An Introduction
  2. Francis Fukuyama
  3. pp. 1-6
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  1. 2. Thinking about Catastrophe
  2. Richard A. Posner
  3. pp. 7-19
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  1. Part One: Cases: Looking Back
  2. p. 21
  1. 3. Slow Surprise: The Dynamics of Technology Synergy
  2. David Landes
  3. pp. 23-28
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  1. 4. U.S. Intelligence Estimates of Soviet Collapse: Reality and Perception
  2. Bruce Berkowitz
  3. pp. 29-41
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  1. 5. Econoshocks: The East Asian Crisis Case
  2. David Hale
  3. pp. 42-53
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  1. Part Two: Cases: Looking Ahead
  2. p. 55
  1. 6. The Once and Future DARPA
  2. William B. Bonvillian
  3. pp. 57-70
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  1. 7. Fueled Again? In Search of Energy Security
  2. Gal Luft and Anne Korin
  3. pp. 71-81
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  1. 8. Emerging Infectious Diseases: Are We Prepared?
  2. Scott Barrett
  3. pp. 82-90
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  1. Part Three: Forecasting
  2. p. 91
  1. 9. Ahead of the Curve: Anticipating Strategic Surprise
  2. Peter Schwartz and Doug Randall
  3. pp. 93-108
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  1. 10. Can Scenarios Help Policymakers Be Both Bold and Careful?
  2. Robert Lempert
  3. pp. 109-119
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  1. 11. Innovation and Adaptation: IT Examples
  2. M. Mitchell Waldrop
  3. pp. 120-125
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  1. Part Four: What Could Be
  2. p. 127
  1. 12. Cassandra versus Pollyanna: A Debate between James Kurth and Gregg Easterbrook
  2. pp. 129-142
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  1. 13. Global Discontinuities: A Discussion with Owen Harries, Itamar Rabinovich, Niall Ferguson, and Scott Barrett
  2. pp. 143-152
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  1. 15. Afterword
  2. Francis Fukuyama
  3. pp. 169-172
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 173-180
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  1. Contributors
  2. pp. 181-182
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 183-198
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  1. Back Cover
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Additional Information

ISBN
9780815729891
MARC Record
OCLC
173812431
Pages
198
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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