Valdai - New Generation: Seeing the Future Is Difficult, but Let Us Try
Sirius Federal Territory, the Park of Science and Art. 
List of speakers

What will the world look like in 2040? What new values does the younger generation offer? What is technological progress – a danger or an opportunity? Will people become “hamsters” and “cockroaches” for artificial intelligence? This was discussed by the participants of the Valdai Club workshops, held as part of the first Youth Conference of the Club on March 3–4 at the site of the World Youth Festival.

The Valdai Workshops are a confidential dialogue between the older generation of Valdai Club experts and young researchers who, in just a few years and just in time by 2040, will occupy leadership positions in their countries and make history. The workshops were held behind closed doors, but we will tell you what conclusions the participants came to and whether humanity should be afraid of the future (spoiler: yes, but no).

One more important thing. Young international specialists from different countries have prepared a report for the Valdai Youth Conference, titled “Charting the 2040: Younger Generation Insight on the World in the Making.” The report turned out to be very interesting and profound, and the first Valdai Workshop opened a dispute between the “masters” (experts of the older generation) and the “apprentices” (the authors of this report), since due to their different life experiences, everyone has their own vision of the “beautiful future”.

So what awaits us in 2040, according to the “masters”? 

Workshop "The Future of a Multipolar World: What Will the World Look Like in 2040?"

The future is no longer linear

For the last thirty years, humanity has been trapped in a cognitive delusion, having accepted the Western idea that the world is flat and history is over. However, the intellectual influence of the West is weakening. More and more countries are beginning to look at the world from their own specific, sovereign perspectives and formulate foreign policies based on their own vision of the world order.

Power and influence are flowing from the conventional West to the conventional East, and the geographic economic center of gravity in the foreseeable future will be somewhere along the border between India and China. This sets all other processes in motion.

Some countries, including Western ones, are transferring their subjectivity to “big brother”. However, this contradicts the challenges of the time - in the emerging environment, strategic independence is valuable when interacting with other countries.

Three pillars of the future

The United States does not want to put up with the influence and interests of other powers; it is closed in its own universe and refuses to change in the spirit of the times. One power cannot dominate international relations - this is not normal. The norm is a multipolar system, and the more countries participate in managing this system, the more coordinated the work is.

The multipolar system is based on three pillars, and by the year 2040 indicated in the report, it will take on clear outlines.

First pillar. We live in the century of Asia (and Russia, by the way, is also part of Asia). This Asian century means that global processes are taking on a different logic. Today many are unwilling to accept Western hegemony. The Global South has grown and can determine its own policies in an international context.

Second pillar. New economy. The economic system based on the dominance of the dollar has begun to fail. Many countries have begun to trade using their national currencies, which has changed the economic landscape. BRICS and its New Development Bank are contributing to this kind of revolution.

Third pillar. Culture and values. Although the West has tried for many years to fit everyone into the same mold, we are moving towards a multicultural world. We are different, but we can cooperate and live peacefully.

The world of 2040 will be fairer than the world today. However, there will still be an important factor of strength. 

Asian multipolarity

The scenario of the future offered in the Valdai Club report is excellent, but you can always add a few touches, especially to the understanding of multipolarity.

In 2006–2007, Russia, China and India became among the most dynamically developing countries in the world, forming a triangle as an alternative to the unipolar world. This was the beginning of real multipolarity.

The report examines a global multipolar world. However, what will happen to Asian multipolarity? According to the report, Asia faces challenges to maintaining its identity and sovereignty. Today everyone is talking about the Middle East, but there are plenty of crises of various kinds in Asia too - we shouldn’t forget about them. China, Japan and Korea are experiencing aging populations.

By 2040, Africa will account for an even greater proportion of the world’s young population, and global initiatives will come from there; this also needs to be kept in mind.

Knowledge and empathy

The science of international relations, in the form in which it now exists, can, in principle, be declared obsolete, since it over-relies upon the framework of the European paradigm. According to the current version of this science, several small states should rule the world. The truth is that international politics still depends on the decisions of strong, armed countries - the United States, China, India and Russia. Europe has already left this game.

The task for the future is to make a bridge from the power politics of the great powers to cooperation among many states. To solve the problem, it is worth remembering a forgotten idea: a war for peace. These are collective efforts aimed at ensuring that power politics does not lead the world to war, and that great powers integrate not only their own interests, but also the interests of other players into the world order.

Of course, our task is to understand what from today will remain important tomorrow. We can take trends that seem important today and project them until 2040, as the authors of the Valdai report did, but this will not make the world a better place. Why will it happen?

Two things are important: knowledge and empathy.

The fact that today many countries of the world majority are trying to build their policies based on national experience is undoubtedly commendable - this contributes to the democratisation of the world and reflects its diversity. However, excessive concentration on oneself prevents one from hearing others and interferes with empathy. Of course, we don't have to agree with each other, but we do need to know about each other; to understand why others behave in one way or another. This will help both in finding and in accepting a compromise.

To learn empathy, you need to study your own history, as well as the history of your neighbours. It is worth remembering that the impressions of some generations, according to Klyuchevsky’s definition, become the faith of those following them. 

Workshop "Technological Progress as a Challenge and an Opportunity for Civilisation"

This workshop was more of a master class: the “masters” presented the young generation of researchers with polar and very plausible scenarios of how technological progress will affect the future. One scenario suggests the rapid prosperity of humanity, the second - its rapid disappearance. So, you may choose according to your taste. 


We live in the era of the fourth industrial revolution. Technology helps us connect (e.g. mobile apps, social media) as well as develop (e.g. internet access opens up new opportunities for developing countries).

The main pain points of scientific and technological progress are excessive reliance on technology and control over big data. Today, digital technologies are in the hands of a few companies, the democratisation of the Internet has not yet begun, and financial systems are used as weapons. However, the future is still ours and countries have the power to control it. We must reflect on the importance of technological sovereignty.

More generally, science and technology represent a key driver of economic development. Thanks to technological progress, humanity has achieved enormous success: many people with a high standard of living have appeared and we are exploring space.

But colonialism has not gone away, it just changed its name. Most benefits are distributed unfairly: the world majority is excluded from this process. However, science, technology and innovation provide pathways to realise our ambitions. 


The duality of human nature is very important: we have both something animal (the desire to dominate, to fight for resources), and something human - some would say “divine” (the desire to create, to introduce new ideas, new technological objects).

We have reached a level of technological development where the world has ceased to be anthropocentric. It’s not that control over technology was totally lost, it just turned out that technology and science took on a life of their own, they acquired their own subjectivity. Technology develops according to its own internal rules.

The question is no longer whether we can control it; we no longer control it. The question now is whether we get along with this technology, whether we will be able to adapt to it and whether we will find our place in its world.

It’s most likely that we are the last biological generation. There is a development curve in the biological world, and the speed of development of the conceptual, technological world is fundamentally different. We have fallen behind the train that we ourselves started.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has already been created, and fortunately, so far it thinks the same way as us. But it is developing, and we cannot reduce this speed. It cannot be banned: if we ban it, and our neighbour says, “I refuse to ban it,” then we will find ourselves left out of the game. Therefore, artificial intelligence will soon outgrow our intellectual capabilities.

So humanity has two options, and the first is better.

The first option is that we will become either “hamsters”, which will be pleasant to artificial intelligence, or “cockroaches”, unpleasant to artificial intelligence. We will need to think about how to convince it that we are “hamsters” and not “cockroaches”, and how to provide it with values that do not contradict ours. In any case, we will cease to be the smartest creatures on this planet, and we need to find a new place, a new identification in this new world. This is a very serious challenge.

The second option is to stop scientific and technological progress, but this doesn’t come without a cost. The only way is to return to the level we were at some time ago. How is turning back the clock possible? For example, this would happen with the help of a global nuclear conflict that will kill off eight billion people. The population would fall to one billion, because that's the number of people we could support with the technology on offer in the 1960s.

Therefore, we propose accepting the first option and preparing for life in a world where we are no longer the smartest.

Workshop "Mosaic Unity or Melting Pot: Is Dialogue on Values Possible at the Crossroads of Different Cultures?"

In this workshop, a conversation took place about values, to which a separate chapter is devoted in the “futuristic” Valdai report. Everyone knows that these are different for all nations, and that the West has long tried to impose its values on the whole world. However, the young authors of the report proposed a completely new value system, which, in their opinion, could unite the world of the future: forgiveness, resilience, patience and acceptance.

It is interesting that one of the Russian co-authors said that these four values of 2040 were born already at the stage of agreeing on the text with foreign colleagues: “We were tied to a Eurocentric approach, and for us this was a complete discovery.” So this is the intellectual contribution of the world majority.

The “masters” (the older generation of experts), reflecting on the proposed system, outlined their vision, which, however, does not deny, but complements the image of the future proposed by the speakers. 

Situational solidarity

In recent years, the myth about there being one true universal path of development has been debunked, although its fallacy was recognised several decades ago. Even in Europe, there are national differences in the vision of the world within different countries. It is refracted in national characteristics.

All value systems are equally important. First, we need to study and recognise each other’s national values, and only after that rely on the values of interaction listed in the report. The latter are impossible without the former.

Recognising other people's values is especially important because the nature of international migration has changed: previously, mass migration was slowed down by the difficulties associated with traveling great distances, but now there are no such problems. People are faced with the need to coexist with others hailing form very different cultural systems.

The younger generation is commonly associated with the value of individualism, but this is wrong. This was manifest, in particular, in the reaction to the pandemic - when it turned out that the value of situational solidarity was important for the younger generation. This value contains a great resource: thanks to it, it is easier to unite in specific situations. It is necessary in the conditions of a new multipolarity, which we will reach in 2040.

Forgiveness and collectivism

The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission was created to understand what caused a person to commit a crime. The goal was to help victims of apartheid and their families. This process took a long time, but justice was restored. The concept of reconciliation was built into the justice system.

Of course, restoring justice depends on many parties: mediation and goodwill are needed to conduct a dialogue. You can’t just gather around a round table, shake hands and assume that reconciliation has occurred.

The idea of collectivism and interaction is popular in South Africa. So you should first forgive yourself, silence your ego a little and act together. 


The solution to future conflicts will always be dialogue. But how can you convey your point of view to others? Just a few years ago, few people cared about Russia's opinion, but now everything has changed. This happened, among other things, because Russia began to be actively present in the information field.

The policy of constructing values is very important; it plays a key role in the information war that accompanies current conflicts. So, it’s really important to formulate exactly what values we are promoting, and clarify what we offer. If this world order does not suit us, we need to clearly define what we exactly want to change and what we want to see in the future.

The very fact that we’re searching for something unifying, rather than following an imposed universal path, is important. 


Let us also add that during the first workshop, young researchers were asked to answer the question: what challenges to the world order will be the most significant in 2024–2040? The opinion of young people coincided with the consensus view of the older generation. In first place was the threat of a military conflict between the great powers (17.2 percent), in second place was the dysfunction of global governance institutions (14.3 percent), and in third place were the catastrophic consequences of global climate change (10.9 percent).

In order to cope with these and many other challenges, we need to unite the efforts of all countries and all generations. This is what the Valdai Club is striving for by connecting the community of young researchers with the launch of the “Valdai – New Generation” project. One of the goals of the project is to find new answers to key issues on the international agenda. Join us, we will search together.