Future Issue - Idiocracy and the Changing Distribution of Knowledge

June 1st 2009 - 12:00
 In a simple, yet intuitively appealing description, knowledge holds the key to the human
capacity to manipulate and exploit its environment, and plays an essential role in ensuring
a state’s socio-political stability, economic prosperity and, above all, security.

This Future Issue sketches a broad picture of the state of knowledge in 2009 in order to
examine its time-lagged effects on, a.o., socio-political stability and the future distribution
of economic and political power. It examines international knowledge differences,
national distributions of knowledge and knowledge diffusion for the EU, the US, Japan,
South Korea, and at times the OECD states as well as China and India. In doing so, it
provides the general trends and context within which future developments will emerge.
The global knowledge landscape is experiencing significant shifts, both with respect to
its geographical distribution and to its role and status. These shifts may carry a number
of security implications both at the international and the national level for security and
business continuity. The four most important implications are:

• The growing number of citizens around the world with tertiary education may
affect the socio-political stability of nation-states with authoritarian or hybrid
• The changing balance of knowledge may pose a threat to the economic
security of states when MNCs decide to relocate (more of) their R&D centers to
developing economies and undermine the competitive edge of those states left
with little R&D capacity of their own
• The changing balance of knowledge may affect the global military balance as
numerous nation-states will master the ability to produce disruptive military
• States that are able to create social upward mobility pathways and eliminate
gender barriers attain a brain gain and create a competitive advantage vis-à-vis
their competitors
Dr. Tim Sweijs is the Director of Research at The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies. He is the initiator, creator and author of numerous studies, methodologies, and tools for horizon scanning, early warning, conflict analysis, national security risk assessment, and strategy and capability development. Tim has lectured at universities and military academies around the world. His main research interest concerns the changing character of contemporary conflict. Tim is a Senior Research Fellow at the Netherlands Defence Academy and an Affiliate at the Center for International Strategy, Technology and Policy in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology.