Inspiration for this work

The following phrases have helped provide motivation for this work:


Necessity for comprehensive scan for risks

  • The danger never dreamt of, that is the danger.

– Lancelot Andrewes, to King James and court concerning the gunpowder plot, 1606, cited in Adam Nicholson, Power and Glory, Jacobean England and the making of the King James Bible, Harper Perennial, 2004.


  • Hell is truth seen too late.

– Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan


  •  Prosperity at the expense of the environment is superficial and weak. It is only a delay of disaster.

– Zhou Shengxian, China’s environment chief. Planet Ark World Environment News. 13 March 2006


  • For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.

– Richard Feynman, Rogers Commission Report into the Challenger Crash. Appendix F: Personal Observations on the Reliability of the Shuttle, 1986.


  • His smile was one of the last of that crowd of sunny recruits who look out of their fading photographs in blithe and cocky ignorance of the horror they were to see. No faces are more haunting.

– The Economist on Albert Marshall, WW1 soldier


  •   To see what is in front of one’s nose requires constant struggle.

– George Orwell


  • Churchill noted for example, in an article in 1935, that the possibility of another war was being described by many writers as like the inevitable onrush of a Niagara Falls, with the ‘helplessness of man’ swirling ‘amid the current of destiny….  ..Nevertheless, I shall continue to proclaim that it is still in our power to ward off war, to curb barbarism, to preserve liberty, and to avert our doom. For what else indeed is free choice given to Man, and wherefore was this unique biped endowed with his glorious comprehension and mystic powers?’

Man of the Century: Winston Churchill and his legend since 1945, John Ramsden, Harper Collins, London, 2002.


  • Our approach to existential risks cannot be one of trial-and-error. There is no opportunity to learn from errors. The reactive approach – see what happens, limit damages, and learn from experience – is unworkable. Rather, we must take a proactive approach. This requires foresight to anticipate new types of threats and a willingness to take decisive preventive action and to bear the costs (moral and economic) of such actions.

–  Nick Bostrom, Wikipedia


  •   `The End of History and the Last Man’, a celebrated book by Francis Fukuyama,contains a little-noticed Nietzschean sub-theme which clouds his otherwise sunny optimism about the triumph of democracy and markets: without heroic projects and overarching ambitions even successful democracies risk decay.

– ” Nietzsche is not dead” The Economist, 15/10/94


  •  That organic whole of continuous plans, matured decisions, and measures carried to their conclusion, which we call policy.

The Complete war memoirs of Charles de Gaulle, 1968.


  •   Unity was established over the whole, improvised and dispersed though it was to the  last degree

The Complete war memoirs of Charles de Gaulle, 1968.


  • One wonders sometimes if science will not grind to a stop in an assemblage of walled-in hermits, each mumbling to himself words in a private language that only he can understand… The spread of specialized deafness means that someone who ought to know something that someone else knows isn’t able to find it out for lack of generalized ears.

– Kenneth Boulding, 1956


  • Generals have to sit where they can see all the battle

– Unattributed


Medium / channel / sensing for scan for risks

  • Sensing what goes on around us makes the difference between survival and extinction.

– Program on animal senses, BBC, 2005


Framework for organising results of sensing for planning and action, and its output

  • Plato constantly uses the image of the harmonious whole which determines the proper order of the parts.

– Unattribut


  • (Churchill) saw things in their true proportions…

– Sir George Arthur, cited in: Hilditch, N., In Praise of Churchill, London, 1947.


  • The role of government is to harmonise the differences of the state.

– Chinese proverb


  • “Much of what sophisticates loftily refer to as the “complexity” of the real world is in fact the inconsistency in their own minds.”

– Thomas Sowell


  • God forbid that we should give out a dream of our own imagination for a pattern of the world.

– Francis Bacon


  • It is the duty of philosophy to destroy the illusions which had their origin in misconceptions, whatever darling hopes and valued expectations may be ruined by its explanations.

– Immanuel Kant


  •  Yet here, as in other instances, Keynes did something important for the study of history. He asked the right questions; he saw the problem in a wide context; he provoked good and fruitful controversy; his was not the whole truth by a long chalk, but he was the means by which a greater degree of truth was to be achieved.

– Charles Wilson


  • An approximate answer to the right question is better than a precise answer to the wrong question.

– John Tukey


  •  The scientist can encourage numerical thinking on operational matters

and so avoid running war by gusts of emotion

– Unattributed


  •   If you measure it, you can manage it.

–  Adage


  •  Unless men are united by a common aim or moved by objective principles, each one’s hand will be against the rest and the unregulated pursuit of individual advantage may soon destroy the whole.  There has been no common purpose lately between nations or between classes, except for war…

-John Maynard Keynes


  • Bad systems beat good people every time.

–  Dr John Paterson, Head, Victorian Dept of Infrastructure