Humankind is facing global challenges that are placing people and the planet under stress and in great uncertainty. At the same time, breakthroughs in science and technology are occurring at an unprecedented pace, although the full ramifications as well as their potential are neither evident nor really assessed.
The science and technology in the world’s advanced research institutes are developing – in fields ranging from artificial intelligence, genome editing and brain stimulation to synthetic food and space travel, as well as in human sciences – will reshape how we view ourselves and each other, how we relate to society and how we care for our planet and the environment. What’s more, the speed at which we have to adapt to this technology is accelerating.
Despite the increasingly preponderant role of science and technology, the global scientific community has not been much engaged as a stakeholder in international policy-making and diplomacy, which tend to focus more on the role of governments, international organizations, businesses and NGOs.
If the involvement of the global scientific community in the future forms of multilateralism is crucial, however, the development of applications based on advancements in science and technology and the drafting of the associated regulations should not be left solely to scientists and engineers, nor to a handful of individuals or entities with funding or a privileged vantage point. Rather, applications and regulations should be designed by taking humanity into account, and more specifically by considering what individuals and societies think about them and how they will use them.
Due to the complexity and systemic nature of global challenges, it will be crucial to break down sector-driven silos. Only through multilateral, cross-disciplinary thinking and coordination can we address in an anticipative way such issues as ending poverty through inclusive growth, tackling climate change and combating public health emergencies.
Our method to implement our vision, “Use the future to build the present”, is to bring together different communities – academic, diplomatic, impact and citizens – in order to jointly anticipate technological advancements and develop solutions for a sustainable future.