We are in the midst of immense technological developments that are drastically transforming the world we live in every ten to fifteen years. Technological waves are affecting every aspect of our lives: family structure; the social and political structure; the economy; and the way we live, work, eat, spend time, consume, learn, travel, and communicate. Shocks resonate throughout the system as a consequence of accelerated changes. The old tools are quickly becoming outdated. As a result, we need new instruments to deal with the new environment. During the search for new instruments, we also produce very risky behaviors that bring about financial crises, as is the case of the credit crisis and subsequent economic recession beginning in 2008. Thus, innovation and creativity sometimes involve greater levels of risk taking and the potential of systemic breakdowns of the economic systems (see Chapter 1 "The Nature of Risk: Losses and Opportunities").
Technological waves do not spread evenly over the world. They are typically delayed at certain invisible border lines. These border lines can be depicted by the geographical distribution of countries by their developmental stage (see Figure 17.1 "Links between the Holistic Risk Picture and Global Technological Development"). The border lines typically coincide with the border lines of civilizations (the cultural and religious features that tie a certain region together). Many indicators show the level of development that a country has reached: mortality, GDP per capita, and health indicators, for example. On the world map, they all follow quite similar patterns, as we can see in Figure 17.1 "Links between the Holistic Risk Picture and Global Technological Development", which depicts the distribution of phones (number of lines per 1,000 people) and life expectancy at birth. These rankings generally agree with the ranking by many other indicators.
Figure 17.1 Links between the Holistic Risk Picture and Global Technological Development