The resurgence of terms such as 'cold war' and 'clash of cultures' in the media reflects a dangerous social dynamic that could drive societies to the brink of recession, civil war and societal collapse. We suggest that a more modern, open and scientific strategy might help to prevent history from repeating itself.
Today's strategic 'war rooms' use big data, artificial intelligence and cognitive environments to manage conflicts and crises or run big business. Recasting them as 'peace rooms' would be better in tomorrow's world — they would then be more democratic and would operate with greater transparency for legitimacy. This would help to build trust and expose flaws in the system.
Peace rooms could be run by interdisciplinary, international scientific teams to integrate the best available knowledge. They would rely on input from multiple stakeholders — including cities, civil society, non-governmental organizations, citizen scientists and crowdsourcing — to find solutions that work for as many people as possible. The rooms would be supervised by ethics experts to ensure that innovative outcomes are used responsibly.
This is in line with approaches such as democratic capitalism and digital democracy (see also go.nature.com/2vm2gua and D. Helbing and E. Pournaras Nature 527, 33–34; 2015). Peace rooms could change how strategic decisions are made in crisis situations, guiding us from uncontrollable conflict to the sustainable development that the world needs now.