The economic difference between those best and worst forecasts could be as high as $120 trillion worldwide over the next 15 years, according to a new report from the Atlantic Council think-tank and Zurich Insurance.
They teamed up with the Pardee Center for International Futures at the University of Denver to determine if the global benefits the Internet brings in terms of innovation and productivity would outpace – or be overshadowed by – digital threats.
“Tens and even hundreds of trillions of dollars are at stake … not to mention the social and cultural impact,” the report found. “These trends may be approaching a tipping point, with perhaps a small window of a few years to pull back and reorient towards a more secure and more resilient Internet.”
In the report’s paradisiacal vision of the Internet future, dubbed by the report “Cyber Shangri La,” the dreams of Silicon Valley are realized: New technologies are implemented quickly; secure online access is a human right. In this scenario, cyberdefense becomes cheaper and easier than offense – perhaps through mainstreamed autonomous or automatic defenses. In this future, the benefits of the Internet would yield a net global gain of $190 trillion by 2030.
Compare that with the report’s darker scenario it dubs “Clockwork Orange Internet.” In this case, the Internet is totally unstable and insecure – and is projected to cost the world $90 trillion in potential net economic benefit, which comprises the staggering $120 trillion difference from the best case model in the report.