What are Wild Cards?

Wildcards are low probability future events, but if they were to occur they would have a significant impact on our future.  Often, in scenario planning activities, participants will be asked to build a list of  these wild cards. 

Examples of Wild Cards:

  • Dramatic climate change, such that the rate of change of regional or global temperature (up or down) is beyond recent (10,000 years) historical norms.
  • Dramatic change in human lifespan enabled by a medical breakthrough.
  • Mass Terrorism Attack causing 10,000 or more deaths.
  • Nuclear war between regional powers (India-Pakistan, Pakistan/Iran, Iran/Saudi Arabia, etc.)
  • Religious conflicts on a world wide scale after local religious minorities have been interlinked by fundamentalists
  • New concepts for alternative energies allowing the mass storage of solar and wind energy as well as hydropower

Marcus Barber has written a paper on wildcards which you might want to peruse called Wildcards – Signals from a future near you.