The inevitability of global government

Paul Raven @ 02-06-2009

United Nations, GenevaMichael Anissimov found an intriguing (and rather odd) post by one Britt Gillette, which argues that a single monolithic global government is not only possible but inevitable, and that the driving force will be the rise of molecular manufacturing technology:

Imagine a scenario in which a single individual in possession of unrestricted technology and resources could conquer the entire world. This will be our world in the era of molecular manufacturing. With such high stakes and an almost infinite number of potential threats, the world population will require some means of defense. And that defense will require around-the-clock, ever-present surveillance of the world at large.

A system of safeguards will have to be constructed in order to prevent emerging nation states, terrorist groups, and individuals from breaching the peace. A single global government will go a long way toward eliminating military conflict, as there will be only one military power with a unified purpose. However, in the era of molecular manufacturing, competing militaries could rise quickly, and to prevent a loss of its governing monopoly, a global government will have to deploy unprecedented measures.

This surveillance could be “god-like” in scope – seeing everything, hearing everything, and knowing everything. Imagine “nanodust” – nanoscale cameras and listening devices as plentiful and as difficult to remove as common, everyday dust. MM will enable the construction of trillions of these sophisticated devices at negligible cost.

It’s quite a lengthy post, looking at trends in political detente and weapons stockpiling since WW2 to justify the argument. Beyond the paragraphs quoted above it gets all Bible-literalist, but there’s some genuine logical thought going on before Gillette invokes a themed short-story anthology of dubious editorial provenance as a guide to future inevitabilities, and Anissimov concedes the validity of molecular manufacturing as a game-changing technology:

… MM will not arrive tomorrow, and probably not in the next decade (maybe in the next two), but if it does, I believe that global government is indeed probable, whether you like it or not. Go read Nanosystems. Even if MNT is implausible, hijacked ribosomes would still give rise to exponential manufacturing, so even “soft machines” could lead to the ability to build millions of missiles in less than a couple years. The crucial effects are the exponentiality and programmability.

I’d go with global government being plausible, but I’m not entirely sure it’s the most likely scenario. Personally, I tend to think that governance will become radically decentralised as the nation-state concept finally dissolves; molecular manufacturing would accelerate the erosion of geography that communications technology has already begun. Much as in the original comic books version of Watchmen, I think the only thing that could unite the planet into a single body would be an external existential threat on an equivalent scale to an alien invasion – and I don’t consider one of those to be very likely at all! [image by lilivanili]

That said, I think a global framework based on communications that allows local governments to interact with each other on an equal footing is fairly likely – as well as more appealing than the thought of some bureaucratic behemoth spanning the planet.

But I’m aware that’s not a majority opinion – so what do you lot think? Is a single global government inevitable, and would such a thing be desirable? What would be its causes, and what would be its flaws?

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One Response to “The inevitability of global government”

  1. Greg says:

    I agree that there is growing pressure, partly due to communications technology, for decentralized government, and I personally believe that that is the best possible scenario. What worries me, however, is that government seems to be moving in the exact opposite direction, whether here in the US, over there in the UK, or in any of several other countries. This trend, combined with the fact that ubiquitous surveillance will likely arrive long before molecular manufacturing, makes me very concerned that we may wind up looking at highly-centralized, omniscient government, even if each country continues having its own government. Information is power, government will always seek power, absolute power corrupts, etc, etc.

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