The COVID-19 pandemic has caused potential long-term effects including deepening global inequality and driving political division, according to a U.S. intelligence report released Thursday.
The National Intelligence Council’s Global Trends report, issued every four years, predicts a possible future in which people clash over resources, governments struggle to meet the needs of their citizens and people live in increasingly fragmented communities by 2040.
“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic marks the most significant, singular global disruption since World War II, with health, economic, political and security implications that will ripple for years to come,” said the council, a center in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that releases forecasts based on U.S. spy agencies.
It noted that the pandemic is “slowing and possibly reversing some longstanding trends in human development,” while the response to the pandemic has fueled partisanship and polarization as people “argue over the best way to respond and seek scapegoats to blame for spreading the virus and for slow responses.”
As a result, the report predicts that people are likely to “gravitate to information silos of people who share similar views, reinforcing beliefs and understanding of the truth.”
In addition to the pandemic, the report also warns that the physical effects from climate change, sea level rise and extreme weather events “will impact every country.”
Technology is also expected to remain an integral role in daily life, with artificial intelligence emerging as a tool that will “benefit almost every aspect of life” accompanied with steep risks regarding civil liberties.