In a globalized era where futures studies can provide warning signals for security threats, cooperation among the major futures studies players in Europe and its allies in North America and beyond is vital. Civil unrest, ethnic conflict, terrorist attacks, or state-led discrimination can have an impact on the security of neighboring states or even strategic partners a continent away. Yet while those claiming to have foresight prowess have created lucrative business opportunities, not all groups use scientifically reliable methods useful for preventing security risks. Making unified progress on security policy and global cooperation between institutes even more difficult, many institutes use futures research vocabulary differently. This article discusses the methodology and futures lingo used by foresight companies and institutes. Specifically, it focuses on an overview of which of their quantitative methods can provide early warning mechanisms in military and political security.
In scanning the literature provided by futures institutes about themselves, as well as their publications, two main observations stand out: 1.) While “pop futurism” confuses popular trends with futures research, the genuine expert will know the difference. 2.) One can identify the real security foresight specialist by his or her use of methods that have met with success in providing early warning signals. These methods often come from the fields of statistical analysis and computer simulation, but can be enriched by human judgment which tests modeling results in the real world.