|Location||New York, USA|
|Participants||Judith Rodin, Peter Schwartz, Claudia Juech, Evan Michelson, Karl Brown, Robert Buckley, Lily Dorment, Brinda Ganguly, Veronica Olazabal, Gary Toenniessen, Laura Yousef, G.K. Bhat, Le Bach Duong, Aidan Eyakuze, Michael Free, Namrita Kapur, Paul Kukubo, Joseph Mureithi, Stewart Brand, Robert de Jongh, José Gomez-Marquez, Natalie Jeremijenko, Athar Osama, Isha Ray, Enrique Rueda-Sabater, Caroline Wagner, Andrew Blau, Tara Capsuto, Lynn Carruthers, Michael Costigan, Jenny Johnston, Barbara Kibbe, Brie Linkenhoker|
|Interests|| • pandemics|
• social control
|Description||A Rockefeller Foundation sponsored large scale simulation of a global pandemic followed by a world totalitarian outcome. Held October 2010|
Lock Step is one of four scenarios in a paper produced for the Rockefeller Foundation in cooperation with the Global Business Network and released in May 2010 with the bland title Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development. Lock Step is the scenario in which a pandemic "blanketed the planet", leading to tighter top down government control in all (or almost all) countries. The start of the simulation is 2012 and it is summarised as:
"A world of tighter top-down government control and more authoritarian leadership, with limited innovation and growing citizen pushback" (by 2025).
"In order to protect themselves from the spread of increasingly global problems — from pandemics and transnational terrorism to environmental crises and rising poverty — leaders around the world took a firmer grip on power." The "firmer grip on power" is reflected in the other scenarios as well, in a mix of soft power and hard power techniques.
The Lock Step scenario envisages what The Good Club's billionaire members long have pushed as an inevitable scenario, and have used their "philanthropic funding" to direct national and international health planning towards: "In 2012, the pandemic that the world had been anticipating for years finally hit, killing killing 8 million in just seven months, the majority of them healthy young adults."
The game plays out 4 scenarios, but the Foundation does not state which outcome it prefers. However, of the four scenarios, only Lock Step came to happen (in the government planning the Foundation has influence over, not in the severity of the pandemic), and it has its advantages for RF: "Larger philanthropies" - like the Rockefeller Foundation - will retain an outsized share of influence", where some foundations "might choose to align themselves more closely with.[...] "government objectives".
"China’s government was not the only one that took extreme measures to protect its citizens from risk and exposure... In order to protect themselves from the spread of increasingly global problems, including [...] rising poverty - leaders around the world took a firmer grip on power."
"By 2025, people seemed to be growing weary of so much top-down control and letting leaders and authorities make choices for them." The feeling lingered that sooner or later, something would inevitably upset the neat order that the world’s governments had worked so hard to establish.
"Scanners using advanced functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technology become the norm at airports and other public areas to detect abnormal behaviour that may indicate “antisocial intent.”
The summary found it worth to highlight the following from one of the players:
"It is possible to discipline and control some societies for some time, but not the whole world all the time" - GK Bhat, TARU Leading Edge, India
In 2012, the pandemic that the world had been anticipating for years finally hit. Unlike 2009’s H1N1, this new influenza strain — originating from wild geese — was extremely virulent and deadly. Even the most pandemic-prepared nations were quickly overwhelmed when the virus streaked around the world, infecting nearly 20 percent of the global population and killing 8 million in just seven months, the majority of them healthy young adults.
The pandemic also had a deadly effect on economies: international mobility of both people and goods screeched to a halt, debilitating industries like tourism and breaking global supply chains. Even locally, normally bustling shops and office buildings sat empty for months, devoid of both employees and customers.
The pandemic blanketed the planet — though disproportionate numbers died in Africa, Southeast Asia, and Central America, where the virus spread like wildfire in the absence of official containment protocols. But even in developed countries, containment was a challenge. The United States’s initial policy of "strongly discouraging” citizens from flying proved deadly in its leniency, accelerating the spread of the virus not just within the U.S. but across borders.
However, a few countries did fare better — China in particular. The Chinese government’s quick imposition and enforcement of mandatory quarantine for all citizens, as well as its instant and near-hermetic sealing off of all borders, saved millions of lives, stopping the spread of the virus far earlier than in other countries and enabling a quicker post-pandemic recovery.
China’s government was not the only one that took extreme measures to protect its citizens from risk and exposure. During the pandemic, national leaders around the world flexed their authority and imposed airtight rules and restrictions, from the mandatory wearing of face masks to body-temperature checks at the entries to communal spaces like train stations and supermarkets. Even after the pandemic faded, this more authoritarian control and oversight of citizens and their activities stuck and even intensified. In order to protect themselves from the spread of increasingly global problems — from pandemics and transnational terrorism to environmental crises and rising poverty — leaders around the world took a firmer grip on power.
At first, the notion of a more controlled world gained wide acceptance and approval. Citizens willingly gave up some of their sovereignty — and their privacy — to more paternalistic states in exchange for greater safety and stability.
Citizens were more tolerant, and even eager, for top-down direction and oversight, and national leaders had more latitude to impose order in the ways they saw fit. In developed countries, this heightened oversight took many forms: biometric IDs for all citizens, for example, and tighter regulation of key industries whose stability was deemed vital to national interests. In many developed countries,enforced cooperation with a suite of new regulations and agreements slowly but steadily restored both order and, importantly, economic growth.
By 2025, people seemed to be growing weary of so much top-down control and letting leaders and authorities make choices for them. Wherever national interests clashed with individual interests, there was conflict. Sporadic pushback became increasingly organized and coordinated, as disaffected youth and people who had seen their status and opportunities slip away — largely in developing countries — incited civil unrest. In 2026, protestors in Nigeria brought down the government, fed up with the entrenched cronyism and corruption. Even those who liked the greater stability and predictability of this world began to grow uncomfortable and constrained by so many tight rules and by the strictness of national boundaries. The feeling lingered that sooner or later, something would inevitably upset the neat order that the world’s governments had worked so hard to establish.
The other scenarios
In this world, with partnerships and networks increasingly key, billionaire's philanthropies work in a more virtual way, characterized by lots of wikis, blogs, workspaces, video conferences, and virtual convenings. Smaller philanthropies proliferate, with a growing number of major donors emerging from the developing world.
There are considerable flows of cadres between the for-profit and non-profit sectors, and the lines between these types of organizations become increasingly blurred, so big corporations will merge with charities.
Centralized global oversight and governance structures sprang up, not just for energy use but also for disease and technology standards.
Flexible and rapid mobile payment systems drive dynamic economic growth in the developing world, while the developed world is hampered by entrenched banking interests and regulation.
The years 2010 to 2020 were dubbed the “doom decade”.. the onset of the West China Famine, caused by a once-in-a-millennium drought linked to climate change. Nations raised trade barriers in order to protect their domestic sectors against imports and — in the face of global food and resource shortages — to reduce exports of agricultural produce and other commodities.
The scenario planner found it worthwhile to highlight this quote from one of the players:
“We have this love affair with strong central states, but that's not the only possibility. Technology is going to make this even more real for Africa. There is the same cellphone penetration rate in Somalia as in Rwanda. In that respect, Somalia works. - Aidan Eyakuze, Society for International Development, Tanzania
Philanthropic organizations move to support urgent humanitarian efforts at the grass-roots level, doing “guerrilla philanthropy” by identifying the “hackers” and innovators who are catalysts of change in local settings.
The operational model in this world is a “fortress model” in which philanthropic organizations coalesce into a strong, single unit..Philanthropies’ biggest assets are their reputation, brand, and legal/financial capacity to ward off threats and attempts at destabilization.
The global recession that started in 2008 did not trail off in 2010 but dragged onward. The United States, too, lost much of its presence and credibility on the international stage due to deepening debt, debilitated markets, and a distracted government. Also China was in trouble.
Breakdowns in the global medicine supply chain accelerate the emergence of locally bioengineered super-strength homeopathic [?] remedies, which replace antibiotics in the dispensaries of many developing-world hospitals.
Philanthropy in this scenario requires a keen screening capacity to identify highly localized solutions, with specialized pockets of expertise that make partnerships more challenging and transitions between sectors and issues harder to achieve.