Adam in Scenario Magazine….again

Back in August we published a post on Adam’s contribution for Scenario Magazine on Alternative Currencies and Economic Transactions and yet he’s done it again. This time our current student Adam Cowart made a book review on the recently released Postcapitalism – A Guide to Our Future by Paul Mason.

Cowart_HeadshotHe starts with an intriguing title “Liberate the 1%”, and then analyzes both, the author background and ideas, and the main argument of the book. He points out the systemic perspective and how a set of the humanity’s biggest problems today will interact with one and other in the future: automation replacing skilled labor, chronic underemployment, mass migration, aging demographics, incomprehensible debt loads and climate change. Adam concludes that it’ll be our choice how to transition from capitalism to whatever is next.

 We are very pleased to be able to feature published student work — good job, Adam!

Futurists in Media: Highlights from October

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This week included a mention of a McDonald’s being referred to as a futurist restaurant because of its progressive technological installations being used to increase efficiency and improve the customer experience. There was a mention of the addition of Dr. Marie Puybaraud, a futuris
, to the Jones Lang LaSalle team as Global Head of Research for Corporate Solutions. Finally, there was an interesting Fast Company piece highlighting some cool demo pictures of the London Futurists.

A McDonald’s restaurant opening in Stratford Upon Avon, UK has been called a “futurist” restaurant because of its additions of new customer-facing technology including “digital menu boards and tablet computers for customers to enjoy while they dine.” There is a large amount of focus devoted to the claim that the restaurant will create jobs and will train employees, and comparatively, there is very little information on future practices of McDonald or any new back-of-house technologies being implemented by the company.

Paris based Dr. Marie Puybaraud, who is being called a “workplace futurist” presumably because of her Futures Workplace 2030 and Smart  Workplace 2040 work, has been hired as the Global Head of Corporate Research at Jones Lang LaSalle. Puybaraud will lead “the firm’s global research team in understanding how people, places, and processes can come together to advance the performance of organizations.” That sounds a lot like a futurist position to me, but there is still no mention of the future in her title, nor is there mention of any formal Foresight training on her LinkedIn profile. This may be a classic example of a futurist-by-attribution.

Most interesting to me was the Fast Company piece titled “Step Into The High-Tech World of London’s Futurists”, an article based on images of some of London’s interesting futurists from photographer David Vintiner. London Futurists appears to be a community excited about the Singularity. Their mission is “Serious analysis of radical scenarios for the next 3-40 years.” People portrayed in the piece include:

  • “DIY brain hacker Andrew Vladimirov”, who “uses electrical currents, magnetic fields, and lasers to alter his moods and state of mind
  • Anders Sandberg, “A futurist and Transhumanist, Sandberg’s research centers on societal and ethical issues surrounding human enhancement and new technology
  • Caroline Falconer, who “has created a virtual reality program for treating people suffering from depression”
  • Dirk Bruere, “party secretary of The Transhumanist Party, a political party that puts science, health and technology at the forefront of politics
  • Neil Harbisson, “who is widely considered to be the world’s first officially recognized cyborg. Born with a rare form of color blindness, [an] antenna is implanted directly into his brain and allows him to hear visible and invisible colors as sound. It also has a wifi connection so he can receive music or phone calls from satellites – along with extraterrestrial colors from space – directly to the brain”. I want one!

Futurists in Media: Why your company needs a resident futurist

Last month we turned up an interesting piece from EEO and Futurist in the media logoExecutive Consultant at Inquentia Group Elisabet Lagerstedt on “Why Your Company Needs a Resident Futurist.” It is refreshing to see someone blogging for a leading international business school to propose this, although it is clearly early in her discovery journey of our field.

An enjoyable perspective, Lagerstedt looks back more than twenty years to her college days, recalling an unnamed futurist speaker emphasizing deep futures research and connectivity.  This unnamed futurist reportedly got her mind moving toward the future. Lagerstedt, emphasizing futuring and megatrends, recognizes the futurist profession and references the World Future Society and the Inquentia Trend Report . She focuses on very basic megatrends, including digital society, aging population, urbanization, global growth, and sustainability. Again, good to see the recognition spreading and we can hope that it will continue to spread and mature. — Will Williamson

About Futurists in Media: The Houston Foresight program is tracking, collecting and analyzing mentions of futurists in the media in order to gather evidence for how we are being talked about in order to inform a potential strategic response.

New UH FAQs YouTube Videos

The UH Foresight Program has just released our first YouTube playlist composed of 7 videos (which can also be watched individually, of course) responding to some of the most frequent questions we get from those who are interested in our program.

These videos were created to respond to the questions we frequently get from those interested in the future and the program. The videos are short videos (less than 2 minutes per video) and are starred by our very own Dr. Andy Hines, UH Foresight Program Coordinator, and produced by GA Maria Romero (whose expertise was crucial to this effort!).

Here’s a list of the videos you can find on our YouTube Channel:

Please feel free to share them, like them and even subscribe to our channel to get future notifications about our upcoming videos.

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Futurist in Media — Week of October 5th

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This past week’s returns for “futurist” in media included some nice articles. Aside from several speaking events featuring Jack Uldrich, notably one alongside Condoleezza Rice, returns included Harvard graduate and Webbmedia Group founder Amy Webb’s rundown of what it means to be a futurist, a look at biologically integrated technology futures from Singularity University’s own Nell Watson, and an interesting look at Chris Barnatt of Nottingham University’s review of TCT show on 3D printing, among other things.

“What, Exactly, Is A Futurist?” asks founder of Webbmedia Group Digital Strategy and Harvard grad, Amy Webb. Webb notes that titles are becoming nothing and everything at once in the tech industry, citing such gems as “Rockstar Engineers, Tech Monkeys, Curators of Awesome, Directors of Chat Marketing, and Chief Ninjas.” Futurist, she says, is along these new lines. Webb says that the current “wave” of futurists is the third in history (“Ray Kurzweil, Michio Kaku, and Aubrey de Grey”), referencing the 40’s (“Ossip Flechtheim”) and 60’s (“Arthur C. Clarke, Herman Kahn, Anthony J. Weiner, Theo Gordon, M.S. Iyengar, Eric Jantsch, Yujiro Hayashi, Daniel Bell, Bertrand de Jouvenel, and Alvin Toffler”) as the other two “waves” of futurists. Futurists, according to Webb, live on the fringe, and good futurists know how to look for marginal trends, which will move into the mainstream in time.

Nell Watson, educated at Singularity University, is a “futurist, engineer, and tech entrepreneur” who delivered a talk at the Biohacker Summit in Helsinki, Finland, which is available in the form of a very nice video. Watson delivers her talk on the evolution of technology beginning with life itself, noting the comparative timely explosion of life and evolution once initiated. Watson walks through past information storage and into the new era of computing referencing spintronics, neurosynaptic chips, and ionic fluids which learn and compute at the same time, 3D printed meat, DNA origami, nanobots capable of detecting and destroying leukemia cells, engineered virus capable of engineering tiny transistors, bacteria that actually eat electrons rather than sugar and can be used to generate bioelectricity, and much more. I found her talk fascinating and energizing as she swept me along her phenomenal understanding of current and future developments blurring the lines between biology and technology.

Finally, CEO and consulting futurist, Rohit Talwar of Fast Future talks about the future of business and jobs. I found his subject provocative as he discussed the impact of “sharing” business models, automation, and increased human longevity in the future. According to Talwar, there is research that indicates that 30-80% of today’s jobs will be gone in the next 10-20 years, and we will rely on “harnessing the power of young people to conceive new ideas” in order to save the job market. This student feels that’s a lot of pressure. — Will Williamson

About Futurists in Media: The Houston Foresight program is tracking, collecting and analyzing mentions of futurists in the media in order to gather evidence for how we are being talked about in order to inform a potential strategic response.

Futurists in Media — Week of Sept 28th

Futurist in the media logoA busy week for futurists in the media. We start with a post from APF member Gray Scott outlining seven emerging technologies “that will change the world forever,” an event featuring The Millennium Project Team, and a well-promoted video update referencing the singularity from Google’s own organizational futurist, Ray Kurzweil as well as evidence of emerging needs for futurists in the insurance industry. The topics he explores certainly are intriguing. Perhaps the most intriguing, to this student, is the beautiful pink vertical garden scenario which is reshaping the life of the modern industria­l farmer. Eliminating the O, Y, G, and V bands of the visible spectrum via extremely efficient (and low temperature) LED light delivery systems are now being used to more efficiently produce greenery.

Washington DC’s Woodrow Wilson Center hosted the “2015-2016 State of the Future” launchg event on October 2nd. Speakers included Jerry Glenn of The Millennium Project,  Institute for Alternative Futures, Clem Bezold, and Director of the Science and Technology Innovation Program (STIP) at the Wilson Center, David Rejeski. The Executive Summary of the report reads, “It is time for intolerance of irrelevant speeches and non-actions by leaders. The stakes are too high to tolerate business as usual.”

A video referencing Ray Kurzweil covered a talk of his at Singularity University. In his talk, Kurzweil used the term “godlike” to describe the marriage of technology and the human mind. He spoke about the development of tools and the development of the brain’s neocortex as gradual and simultaneous. As we evolve, so too do our tools. Kurzweil sees the singularity as the next big tool, perhaps the new fire, and a natural and inevitable step in the progression along the timeline of human evolution. The video referencing Kurzweil had comparatively massive exposure to the typical returns on a futurist hit. Perhaps it’s his position at Google in concert with his use of the somewhat sensitive term “godlike” which caused so many links to pop up, but I definitely liked his conclusion “Evolution is a spiritual process, it makes us more godlike.” — Will Williamson

About Futurists in Media: The Houston Foresight program is tracking, collecting and analyzing mentions of futurists in the media in order to gather evidence for how we are being talked about in order to inform a potential strategic response.

Reflecting on past APF Gatherings

This year’s Gathering, the Learning Remix, curated by Derek Woodgate with the assistance of the fabulous Maggie, and Gatherings Guru Joe
Tankersly, added to the rich tradition of outstanding Gatherings. It also marked the close of “Gatherings Survivor” with Peter Bishop emerging as the winner – he is
now the only member to have attended every annual gathering, as Christian Crews finally had to miss one. It caused me to reflect on past gatherings, so I dug through my notes and put together this brief compilation of our 13 annual Gatherings over the years.

  1. The Applied Future Summit, Future-at-Work venue, Seattle, April 5 – 6, 2002, with a motto of “Creating the Future, One Futurist at a Time, was not actual an APF event, but in some respects a kind of birthing event for APF in that it was at that meeting that a core group of APFers decide to give it a go. Notable to me was the captivating three-hour “tell us why you became a futurist” intros.
  2. The Future of Futures, Austin, Driskill Hotel, Feb 28-March 1, 2003, was a scenario workshop on the futures of the field. Identified the Lifeboat, Nirvana, Rolling their Own, and All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Go scenarios. In addition to being a working event, it coincided with Mardi Gras on 6th
  3. The Future of Reality, Las Vegas, Green Valley Ranch, March 25-27, 2004. Vegas was the perfect setting to talk about reality as we probed beneath its façade. Notable for the infamous stretch Hummer limo tour of the Vegas strip at night.
  4. The !Futures Insurrection! Beach House Bal Harbour, Miami, April 31- March 2, 2005, covered our personal space as practitioners, the market space of clients, and the public space of public opinion for our work, and an open space session. Notable was the lively Lincoln Boulevard strip and for some a trip to the World Erotic Art museum.
  5. iMod: Hacking the Big Ideas, Bishops Lodge, Santa Fe, New Mexico, March 30-April 1, 2006, was focused on the art of storytelling. Notable for a fabulous opening from a Native American storyteller the 1st session of “Little Bigs” at an annual gathering.
  6. Future Identities, Vancouver, BC, April 19-21, 2007, on the future of identity. What was of note to me was that this was the Gathering knocked me out of Gatherings survivor.
  7. The Future of Social Media, New York, May 1-3, 2008, was a boot camp on social media tools and an exploration of their implications. Notable for me was my first exposure to Twitter and for the group it was probably the trip to the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art).
  8. Futures by Design, Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA, March 18-21, 2009 explored the intersection of foresight and design with a Serious Play session in which participants got down and dirty with Lego’s, and another interesting museum exhibit: Data + Art: Science and Art in the Age of Information at the Pasadena Museum of California Art.
  9. Foresight and the Power of Big Questions, Denver, May 14-15, 2010, was framed around two big questions: What you into the field? And what are the big questions for the next 15 years? Noted for its breathtaking location at the foot of the Rockies and the requisite mountain climb.
  10. Emergence: The Future of Governance and New Economic Models, Oxford University, September 10-12, 2011, featured more than a dozen speakers talking about various aspects of new models for the future, and was notable for its setting at the historic Oxford campus.
  11. Play, Games, Simulations and the Future, The Grand Bohemia, May 1-4, 2012, Orlando was an immersion into the world of games and play and their role in thinking about and experiencing the future, in which participants created their own game during one session, and of course, we were on the Disney property.
  12. Convergence: How Social Networkers, Makers, and Social Entrepreneurs Are Sharing To Shift The Future, San Francisco, CA, March 31- April 2, 2014 in which we explored the world of makers via Learning Journeys, notable in part of the trolley car shouting match between passengers that appeared ready to erupt into violence at any second.
  13. The Learning Remix, The Artmore, Atlanta GA, October 15-17 in which we explored the future of learning via site visits and discussions, notable for interacting with students working on AI to enhance creativity and some excellent debate enhanced by some on-site coaching. — Andy Hines

Guest Lecture: Nick Price on Presencing

nick priceIt was great to have APF colleague Nick Price recently visit our class and lead us through Presencing exercise. Nick is a graduate of the Australian Foresight program and is doing his own thing these days with “Of Things Immaterial.” Our paths crossed in his former experiences as an organizational futurist with Philips Design and Microsoft.

Several months ago I was lurking on an APF  discussion in which Nick mentioned a study he had done with a client that involved presencing. We have a Presencing module in Alternative Perspectives class. It is the idea that the future in a sense exists and our task is to bring it into the present – or “presence” it. In class, we’ve been talking a bunch about the idea of the “extended present,” which suggests that the present can be thought of not just as a single point in time, but as an intersection of past, present, and future. A particularly attractive aspect of these ideas is that the future is that they suggest the future is not just the next step resulting from the push of the past, but includes the pull of the future. The future exerts a real pull and presencing is a tool for helping us “sense the future that wants to emerge.”

Theoretically, it make sense, but in my experience it has been challenging to demonstrate. This is true in general with new approaches – the concept makes sense but is challenging to operationalize. That’s where Nick came in and led us through a class-long exercise that enabled the students to experience presencing. It was a pleasure to work with Nick as we “hacked together” an approach from a much more extensive real-world project to adapt it to a 2.5 hour class. Thanks Nick! – Andy Hines

Futurist in media — Week of Sept 21st

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A slow week for futurist in media returns, there was nevertheless one mention that stuck out to me. Australian minister of parliament Jamie Briggs is being called a “born-again urban futurist.” Briggs has apparently taken a turn from  a conservative present-focused to a more futuristic way of looking at urban planning in South Australia’s capital city, Adelaide. His newly found futurist ideals focused on public transportation. “There’s no doubt public transport is vital to cities, particularly big cities, and the Commonwealth must play a role in facilitating that.” He wants to deregulate liquor licenses in Adelaide to attract more small bars to the area, thereby increasing tax income, which could then be used to fund public transportation. He notes that “a huge portion of our GDP is driven from our capital cities – 80 % of our jobs and 75% of our population exists in capital cities.” That’s a massive chunk of the Australian population.

He also looked at livability factors of Adelaide. He sees a rise in difficulty associated with life in bigger cities like Sydney and Melbourne leading to increased attractiveness of Adelaide, which is about a quarter the population of Melbourne and Sydney. Briggs notes that “Heavy manufacturing is coming to a pretty significant end and we have to continue to think through what our strengths are and how do we play to them”. Briggs says engagement between citizens and government would go a long way, as would affordable housing. Briggs, though he isn’t a professional futurist per se, is looking to the future, and he is trying to solve some fairly broad issues felt by much of the dense urban areas of the world. Perhaps something new will show itself from the “born again futurist?” — Will Williamson

About Futurists in Media: The Houston Foresight program is tracking, collecting and analyzing mentions of futurists in the media in order to gather evidence for how we are being talked about in order to inform a potential strategic response.

Futurists in Media….Week of August 31st

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We are catching up on some recaps of mentions of futurists in the media. This week’s hits ranged from the ever-present Jack Uldrich promotions to a talk by futurist David Pearce Snyder, a futurist conference hosted by The Minneapolis Foundation, and the promotion of a new Pennsylvania police commissioner who made his name by looking to the future.

  • The new Pennsylvania police commissioner, Tyree Blocker, is being called a futurist. His success has largely been attributed to his penchant for spotting trends — a useful trait for a futurist to have. Futurist in Media is referring to folks who are called futurist — without necessarily seeking the title — as “accidental” futurists. (We are open to feedback on a better name!). T
  • The Minneapolis Foundation hosted the Face Forward Futurist Conference in mid-September featuring speakers Sir Kenneth Robinson, Dan Pallota, Michio Kaku, and Atul Gawande. The conference celebrated a century of service, and sought to “energize and inspire”.
  • David Pearce Snyder will speak in Ottumwa, IA on what he terms “The Knowable Future”. His talk will “give a glimpse of the decade ahead upon which to make commitments of both human and financial capital”. Specifically, Snyder postulates that there will be an increase in working from home in areas not including onsite work such as law enforcement, construction, and manufacturing.
  • Jack Uldrich’s promotions for his talks on the future of agriculture accounted for 50% of the scan hits on the keyword futurist. He is using multiple PR vehicles including Press Release Rocket, Virtual-Strategy, and PR Web to increase his media presence. His penetration has been exceptionally prominent.             — Will Williamson

About Futurists in Media: The Houston Foresight program is tracking, collecting and analyzing mentions of futurists in the media in order to gather evidence for how we are being talked about in order to inform a potential strategic response.