Mitigating Unforeseen Risk by enabling Socratic Dialogue
Death of 'Ceteris Paribus' & Growing Power of Networks
London, UK - 4 August 2007, 10:21 GMT
Dear ATCA Colleagues
[Please note that the views presented by individual contributors are not
necessarily representative of the views of ATCA, which is neutral. ATCA conducts
collective Socratic dialogue on global opportunities and threats.]
We are grateful to:
. Prof Nigel M de S Cameron, based in Chicago, Illinois, and Washington, DC,
USA, for "Mitigating Unforeseen Risk by enabling Socratic Dialogue
(ATCA & C-PET);"
. Dr Thierry Malleret based in Geneva, Switzerland, for "Decline of
'Ceteris Paribus' and the Growing Power of Networks like ATCA for Early Warning;"
. John Petersen, based in Washington, DC, and Arlington, Virginia, USA for
"Impact Factor of Wild Cards or Black Swans on
. Prof Prabhu Guptara, based in Wolfsberg, Switzerland, for "ATCA's
role in addressing New Technologies' Black Swans and C-PET;"
. Prof Nigel M de S Cameron, based in Chicago, Illinois, and Washington, DC,
for "The Center for Policy on Emerging Technologies
. John Petersen, based in Washington, DC, and Arlington, Virginia, for "Solar
Storms, Climate, Consciousness and Transition;"
. The Lord Howell of Guildford, based at The Palace of Westminster, London,
for "Out of the Energy Labyrinth;"
. John Elkington based in London, UK, from Sao Paulo, Brazil, for "Diamonds,
Clubs, Spades and Hearts;"
. Dr Thierry Malleret based in Geneva, Switzerland, for "The
Lesson of Humility in dealing with Black Swans;"
. Andrew Leung based in London, UK, and frequent visitor to China, for "The
China Black Swans;" and
. Prof Jean-Pierre Lehmann based in Ouchy and IMD Lausanne, Switzerland, for
"Integrating The Black Swan in Corporate Global
in response to the ATCA presentation, "Low Probability
High Impact and Black Swan Events -- Considerations for Future Scenarios --
The Opportunity and Risk of Asymmetric Globalisation."
Professor Nigel M de S Cameron is Director of the Center on Nanotechnology
and Society at the Illinois Institute of Technology, where he is Research
Professor of Bioethics, an Associate Dean at Chicago-Kent College of Law,
and President of its affiliated Institute on Biotechnology and the Human Future.
Dear DK and Colleagues
Re: Mitigating Unforeseen Risk by enabling Socratic Dialogue (ATCA & C-PET)
Professor Guptara's generous and practical comments on my ATCA posting about
emerging technologies and global Socratic dialogue prompt some further reflections,
since one clear aim of the Center for Policy on Emerging Technologies (C-PET)
is to mitigate risk by drawing on the wisdom of such dialogue. So I warmly
welcome his intervention and look to ATCA's distinguished members to aid in
building the global network that will crucially inform and develop this new
There will of course be those for whom such efforts at dialogue are unappealing.
Those toward the Luddite end of the spectrum may see it as all an attempt
to promote suspect technologies. Those toward the technophile end may see
the reverse: a Luddite plot to undermine the future. But, easy as it is to
apply labels of this kind, it is my experience that there is very considerable
common ground for conversation, even if persons who are smart and conscientious
may differ in their conclusions. Part of our current predicament is that the
undeveloped character of the discussion has had the effect of highlighting
the views of those on the acknowledged extremes, who have to some degree begun
to set the agenda. This is disturbing, not least from a risk management perspective.
The antidote lies in vigorous think-tank activity that brings together persons
of expertise, influence and vision to explore common ground, identify challenges
and solutions, and engage with the media and the public. It is with such a
conviction that some of us have set out to seek the collaboration and funding
we need to develop the Center for Policy on Emerging Technologies and its
Prof Nigel M de S Cameron is originally from the UK, he has studied at Cambridge
and Edinburgh universities and the Edinburgh Business School. His chief interest
lies in the implications of emerging technologies for policy and human values.
He has served as bioethics adviser on US diplomatic delegations to the United
Nations General Assembly and UNESCO, and was recently an invited US participant
in the US Department of State/European Commission Perspectives on the Future
of Science and Technology consultation in Varenna, Italy. He is a member of
the United States National Commission for UNESCO, and of the advisory boards
of the Converging Technologies Bar Association, the Nano Law and Business
Journal, the World Healthcare Innovation and Technology Congress, and 2020
Thierry Malleret is Managing Partner at Rainbow Insight headquartered in Geneva,
Switzerland. Rainbow Insights is an advisory boutique that provides tailor-made
intelligence to investors, business leaders and high-net-worth individuals.
Until March 2007, Thierry headed the Global Risk Network at the World Economic
Forum, a network that brings together top-end opinion and policymakers, CEOs
and academics to look at how global issues will affect business and society
in the short- and long-term. Thierry has organised Davos and spoken at global,
industry and regional events for several consecutive years. Prior to that,
he worked in investment banking (as a Chief Economist and Strategist of a
major Russian investment bank), think tanks and academia (both in New York
and Oxford) and in government (with a three-year spell in the Prime Minister's
office in Paris). Thierry has written several business and academic books,
and has also published four novels. He has appeared on numerous network television
programs (including CNN and CNBC) and has been widely published, among other
places, in: the International Herald Tribune, Wall Street Journal and Time
Magazine. His new book: Global Risks - Business Success in Turbulent Times,
has been published by Palgrave Macmillan. He was educated at the Sorbonne
and École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris and St Antony's
College at Oxford. He holds a PhD in Economics. He writes:
Dear DK and Colleagues,
Re: Death of "Ceteris Paribus" and the Growing Power of Networks
like ATCA for Early Warning
In regard to our ongoing conversations about black swans, I'd like to stress
the critical significance of the notions of interdependence and interconnectedness
when analyzing global risks and opportunities.
What to do when confronted with such bewildering complexity, which no human
brain can possibly grasp? There are a few ways to deal appropriately with
this, which we have analyzed in detail. A great tool is to rely on the power
of networks and Socratic Dialogue (precisely what ATCA does!). Networks are
the most efficient form of an early-warning system, provided that they are
built on the strength of weak ties (connections to people who do know other
people you don't know, like the ATCA pool of 5,000 distinguished members from
governments, business, NGOs, academia, inventors, original thinkers and media
heads across 120 countries).
We look forward to your further thoughts, observations and views. Thank
For and on behalf of DK Matai, Chairman, Asymmetric Threats Contingency
ATCA: The Asymmetric Threats Contingency
Alliance is a philanthropic expert initiative founded in 2001
to resolve complex global challenges through collective Socratic
dialogue and joint executive action to build a wisdom based global
economy. Adhering to the doctrine of non-violence, ATCA addresses
asymmetric threats and social opportunities arising from climate
chaos and the environment; radical poverty and microfinance; geo-politics
and energy; organised crime & extremism; advanced technologies
-- bio, info, nano, robo & AI; demographic skews and resource
shortages; pandemics; financial systems and systemic risk; as
well as transhumanism and ethics. Present membership of ATCA is
by invitation only and has over 5,000 distinguished members from
over 120 countries: including 1,000 Parliamentarians; 1,500 Chairmen
and CEOs of corporations; 1,000 Heads of NGOs; 750 Directors at
Academic Centres of Excellence; 500 Inventors and Original thinkers;
as well as 250 Editors-in-Chief of major media.
The views presented by individual contributors are not necessarily
representative of the views of ATCA, which is neutral. Please
do not forward or use the material circulated without permission
and full attribution.
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