We know now that it is unrealistic to create the World Government from scratch; it has to be formed from an existing organisation, which scope and prerogatives must be greatly extended. But for such an organisation to be successful in mitigating existential risks it should have a mandate from all of us to act on our behalf. That of course will not happen. Even if there had been a world poll agreeing to establish it, that would certainly not come to fruition. Would those who hold power in autocratic or dictatorial regimes give up their privileges and introduce a democratic government as part of the World Government? Certainly not! It’s a pity, but that is our world and our civilisation and perhaps that’s one of the reasons why we are in such an existential danger.
Therefore, the only plausible solution, is to assume from the very start that any supranational organisation, which is to be created will only include economically and militarily significant countries but not all countries, because there would simply be no agreement to do so. We see a similar scenario happening right now. The European Union wanted to go ahead and formalize a political Union, but the UK would never agree to it. That’s why the UK has decided to exit from the ‘ever closer union’ EU. That, on the other hand, has motivated some of the remaining 27 EU countries to move ahead towards a federal European Union but those initial initiatives have been stalled, as usual, by current events.
We must remind ourselves again that we need the World Government for one key reason – to mitigate the existential risks that Humanity faces. One of these existential risks is the Global Disorder. To mitigate this existential risk, we need to change entirely the way our civilization functions. That’s why we need create the world-wide organization with significant powers. The migration wave of 2015 into the EU is the best example of how quickly national opinions change and become deeply entrenched. Therefore, we must look at a candidate organization that would be capable to reduce the existential risks in general, but in particular, its capability to minimize the global social and political disorder. Such an organization would have to improve dramatically the coherence of objectives between the member states, and from a global perspective.
Who has the best credentials to become a de facto World Government? To make that assessment, we need to specify what would be the scope and prerogatives needed for such an organisation to be successful in mitigating existential risks, ignoring for now other objectives that it may have. Here is a check list of the required capabilities for the best organisation to play the role of the World Government:
- Could the organisation execute supranational powers over a large part of the globe?
- Does it have, or will it soon have, its own army and rescue services?
- Will it be able to redefine human values that would become the foundation for the future new constitution and a legal system underpinning, what must become with time, a Human Federation?
- Could it ensure very fast and co-ordinated response in emergency (potentially within hours)?
- Does it have a large reserve of emergency supplies of food, seeds, etc.?
- Does it have experience in dealing with large scale, global crises?
- Does it have long-term experience in democracy and the rule of law, so that any decisions are made according to democratic rules, acceptable to a majority of the population?
- Does it have enough resources, including financial, to deal with the current existential risks?
- Is it very likely that it will be open to free and fair criticism and will it act on it?
- Will it be able to adapt the way it works and introduce new laws very rapidly?
- Does it have almost immediate access to best scientists and practitioners in every domain?
- Does it have, or will it be able, to develop early warning system?
- Could it create a very large civilization’s refuge (a physical space in case of a catastrophic danger, i.e. huge caverns or tunnels)?
- Does it have and can it store large supplies of vaccines and medicines?
- Is it, or will it be, capable of reducing nuclear proliferation?
- Does it have or will it be capable of a strict oversight of molecular technologies?
- Will it be able to fight populism with facts?
Now, that we know what capabilities such an organisation must have to mitigate existential risks, how would we then select the best candidate to play the role of the World Government. To select such an organisation, I have created a table with 10 selection criteria for 10 organizations or large countries. I have tried to make the selection as objective as possible. 3 of the 10 criteria that I have used are completely objective: military power, territory size, and GDP. The remaining 7 criteria are subjective but that subjectivity is within a narrow margin, which over the 10 criteria could not make a big difference. The whole objective of this process is to select an organisation, which is likely to be one of the top three candidates, whatever the weights. The results are presented in the table below.
As you can see, the organization that has come at the top is the European Union. It could be gradually transformed, initially embracing only perhaps 30-35 countries, from the current confederation status into a full Federation, in a similar manner to the Eurozone expansion. It is already planning to take on new members, so in the next 10 years we may have other countries such as Ukraine or Georgia as members of this re-invented organization.
Let me now make a few comments on some countries and the assigned values. As you can see there is not a big difference between the first three countries but there is a big difference between the third (USA and the fourth (Japan). So, I will only make comments on the first three countries for each of the categories.
- General remarks. If the scores are the same for an organization and a single country, then a country gets one point less because it is much more difficult to achieve a given rank, in an organization composed of many countries, than in a single country. Therefore, USA can get a maximum of 9 points.
- Democracy: NATO was scored lower because of Turkey (autocracy) and Albania, Bulgaria, Romania and Montenegro and Slovakia (all have too high level of corruption).
- Human rights. NATO was scored lower because of Turkey (autocracy).
- Military Power. EU’s military power score was the same as China’s (because China is a single state and gets 1 point less). USA, the strongest power was scored 9 points because as a single state it gets 1 point less than a maximum 10).
- Economic power. No adjustment made.
- Organizational capability. USA was scored 9 points because as a single state it gets 1 point less than an organisation.
- Response time to risk. USA was scored 9 points because as a single state it gets 1 point less than an organisation.
- Land Mass. No adjustment made.
- Experience in large programmes. USA was scored 9 points because as a single state it gets 1 point less than an organisation. NATO adjustment due to experience in mainly military operations.
- Versatility. USA was scored 9 points because as a single state it gets 1 point less than an organisation. NATO adjustment due to lack of versatility and focus on military operations only. That however may change in the future.
- Neutrality and objectivism. USA was scored 9 points because as a single state it gets 1 point less than an organisation. NATO adjustment due to Turkey’s operations in Syria and Iraq and autocracy of the regime.
In the end, even if NATO or the USA had been chosen instead of the European Union, the whole process of changes that would have to be applied to any of these three organisations would have been very similar. However, the changes to be applied to convert NATO or even more so, the USA, into a de facto World Government would have been much more difficult. In any case, I consider the EU as a kind of a strawman to see what kind of organizational and political changes the candidate for the potential World Government would have to go through. Therefore, the European Union came on top in the selection process for the organization that could have the best chance of mitigating existential risks.
Let’s remind ourselves that the key question is which organisation is potentially the best one to control the risk stemming from AI when it achieves the status of Superintelligence and ultimately becomes a Technological Singularity. But Superintelligence is only one of the existential risks that need to be mitigated. Therefore, any organisation that we choose to act on behalf of the whole Humanity must be capable of dealing with other risks too, including the Global Political and Social risks. The EU seems to fulfil these conditions best.
We will now look more closely at the EU’s capabilities, its strengths and weaknesses and the scope of reforming EU so that it could start acting as the World Government. In general, the EU has quite a few features that are important for that task such as:
- Nearly uniform human values and legal system
- A wide spectrum of activities comparable with the UN
- A lot of experience in large international projects, like the accession of 10 eastern and central European countries on 1.5.2004.
- Significant financial and material resources
- A system extending beyond a typical confederation, with the president (President of the Council of Ministers), the Government (the EU Commission), the prime-minister (the President of the EU Commission) and the Parliament (the European Union Parliament)
- Dynamism. What may surprise some people, is that there are very few other large organisations in the world that are as dynamic as the EU. Over the last 60 years the EU has been continuously adding new members, changing significantly the way it operates and continually distributing resources to poorer members on a very large scale.
- Ability to expand rapidly by integrating more countries, which are themselves significant global powers, such as Canada, Australia, and Japan, with which the EU has already signed wide-ranging treaties.
When in 2010 the European Commission conducted a poll on whether the people questioned think they have the EU citizenship identity, 62 per cent of the respondents said they already felt like EU citizens (Politico). In August 2017, 68 per cent of the population (33,000 people surveyed across the EU) felt “they are a citizen of the EU”. 56% of people across the continent were optimistic about the future of the EU in general – a rise in six points on the previous survey published in the autumn of 2016 (Stone, 2017).
So, why are people in the EU so optimistic barely a year after a bad experience with massive migration? Partially the sharp rise in optimism could be linked to the elections in the Netherlands and presidential elections in France, where Emmanuel Macron saw off a far-right challenger Marie Le Pen. The other factor could be the end of austerity in Portugal and the kick-start of the growth investment programme in the Southern European countries. But there are other less direct reasons to justify such a cautious optimism and they lie rather in the political than economic domain, like putting some structural reforms to managing the EU borders (Frontex agency) and moves towards closer integration sparked off by Brexit.
If life rejuvenation is successful, then most of you will see the first day of the 22nd century. But to arrive there, we need to go through a stage of transition. We need to begin the process of federalization of the Planet. And that may start with the federalization of the EU.