Sources of global instability

The Q&A section of LinkedIn is a clever way to make professionals invest some of their most expensive time on activities with no immediate or clear return. One of the more recent questions was:
"From your perspective, what do YOU see as THE major source of global instability facing us? How would you overcome these instabilities?"
To which I replied:

According to Donald Rumsfeld's taxonomy,

1) As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.

There are only few universal sources of instability we can all agree on--e.g. death. Usually, one's source of instability leaves another indifferent and makes other prosper. For example, a gal in Africa may think AIDS is IT, while a British pal frets about global warming. Not to mention how one may think of globalization in the US or France vs. Chindia. Usually, these situations present arbitrage opportunities.

2) We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.

We all know that everything comes to pass--even the supremacy of the US, or of the Chinese Communist Party. What we don't know is for how long the US can maintain its supremacy and what price is everyone party to the world order willing to negotiate. Accepting Chindia in the power structures (e.g. G8) could be a palliative.

3) But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don't know
We don't know.

Here's where anyone's imagination goes wild. In addition to the usual suspects (a large asteroid will hit the planet, the oil reserves are depleted before we find alternative sources, global warming, etc.) I would add the unforeseen externalities of R&D, such as nano-X, stem-Y and younameit-Z. And here's where some science fiction writers (include today's prophets just as well) make their money.

In conclusion, absent of the crisis, there is no single source of global instability, but a myriad of them that keep testing out optimism.

I would add that it's interesting finding out that most people's opinions, on broad themes like the one above, tend to be skeptical in nature and embrace major views already circulating in mass-media. In other words, is it that media become somehow source for instability, or instability cannot become a problem unless acknowledged by media?

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