Concept & Philosophy

The need to foresee and warn

If we want to survive and, less dramatically, move forward in the best possible way, our contemporary societies need to reduce uncertainty regarding the future, to evaluate the changes we shall have to face and are already facing, to prepare for them and, in the best case to harness them towards a future we wish to see happening.

Foresight and warning in modern societies

Traditionally, those who were responsible for foreseeing the future belonged to the priest class. Then, they were interacting in a sometimes tense way with rulers, who were using those forecasts and warnings to rule society, indeed to coordinate with changes happening in their environment, be it in terms of agriculture such as knowing when to plant crops, or in military terms such as planning for defense or attacks.

Today, science has most often taken over this mission from the priests, although with variations according to countries. Meanwhile, in our complex societies, the rulers, are the citizens regrouped in different nations, represented by governments and assemblies in representative democracies. The state, i.e. the entity that seconds the ruler to govern, is most often a formal rational-legal bureaucracy.

Yet, in this beginning of the 21st century, part of science, notably social sciences, has sometimes completely given up its predictive mission. In the public sector, foresight and warning, if it is done at all, is mainly endeavoured by small teams within administrations, mostly for military, sometimes intelligence, needs, or with an exclusive focus on a specific area such as economics or technological innovation. In the corporate world, foreseeing tends to be restricted to a narrow approach of risks, often focused on what could immediately and directly impact activity and profits.

As rulers nowadays also include the Nation, then, citizens have a duty to assume their role and to be aware of the changes the future may hold, if they want to choose their representatives properly and if they want to remain in charge of their own destiny, without falling prey to many dangerous traps. Thus, citizens and nations need to use foresight and warning.

Furthermore, strategic foresight and warning for national security (in the larger understanding of the term) fully lacks the status of proper scientific discipline. It thus benefits neither from funding, nor from dedicated research or even less training. The whole field – on the contrary from its close cousins futures studies, which provides essentially for businesses or innovation/technological foresight – demands more effort, more research, more publication, more testing, etc, without falling prey to the various difficulties that affect so many scientific disciplines, such as the extreme slowness of peer review processes.

The work of The Red (Team) Analysis Society, including through this website, is thus also part of an effort at starting building strategic foresight and warning as a scientific endeavour, which would benefit from multi-disciplinary scientific findings on the one hand, from practical experience through its use, for example within state’s apparatuses or within NGOs, on the other.

As a conclusion, this website aims at contributing to deliver a strategic foresight and warning grounded in science to nations, including citizens, to the state apparatuses that support the nation in its governing tasks, as well as to all actors involved in and having to cope with governance and security.